"A star will come out of Jacob ..."
Last year, while visiting family in rural Vermont, my wife and I stood on a hillside marveling at the sight above us. A night sky looks totally different in the country than in the city. In the pitch darkness, stars take on new sparkle. The Milky Way lives up to its name-a blur of spilled milk coursing across the heavens.
I might not have noticed the star that heralded the coming of the Christ. But the Magi, those Gentile astronomers and seers of the ancient world, were familiar with every corner of the night sky.
Yet how effective are the stars for predicting the future? Not very. Those who believe that the position of the stars at their birth determines their future are sadly mistaken. Astrology is a false religion. The star at Jesus' birth, however, was not a matter of astrology but prophecy. "I see him, but not now ... A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel."
It was a Gentile seer (or magus) named Balaam who delivered that prophecy. He originally intended to do great harm to Israel. But God turned curse into blessing. Balaam spoke a prophecy that would one day lead a small community of Gentile seers to the Christchild.
The prophecy on the page pointed to the star in the sky. Those who search the Scriptures still make amazing discoveries concerning the work of God.
Lord, forgive our neglect of your Word. May Christ's Spirit bring us to your ancient Scriptures so that they speak with fresh power to us today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!