Lessons from the Star

by John Coblentz

taken from the December 2004 newsletter of
Deeper Life Ministries

The star that guided the wise men to the place of Jesus' birth has been the subject of inspiring hymns as well as a point of much debate.

Was this actually a star like the other stars in the sky -- millions of miles away? And if so, how could it lead them so accurately? Were these men astrologers, divining earthly events from signs in the heavens -- a practice forbidden in the Law? And if so, how could they have had the blessing of God upon them?

The questions probably are pointless. We must simply take the Biblical narrative as it stands, and trust that what God did was right.

But there are lessons from the star.

1. The star shows us that God can and does lead people who trust Him. The guidance of the star was the guidance of God. He used a light in the sky -- whatever it was -- to bring these men to Jesus. They followed the star and found what they were looking for, the newborn King.

God's ability to lead his people has not diminished with time. He is still able to show us the way, to point us to specific places, people, and activities. Our part is to trust; His part is to lead. As Solomon wrote long ago, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

2. The star shows us that God's leading is always on time. Mary and Joseph (and certainly Baby Jesus) did not know about the wise men and their interest in Jesus' birth. The wise men did not know Joseph and his family were from Galilee and were only temporarily living in Judah. They did not know Herod would send out an order for the annihilation of children. When they gave gold and expensive gifts to Mary and Joseph, they did not know this young family would soon have to run for their lives. God arranged for the wise men to visit Herod, and thus announce the birth of Jesus in royal halls and alert the Jewish religious elite as well. He directed the men from the east to go home another way, and He sent Joseph and his family to Egypt, expenses paid. When God guides people, He is never late, and He thinks of everything.

3. The guidance of God through the star brought a sense of security. We may well wonder what all went through the minds of the wise men as they journeyed from the east. It was a long journey. They knew a king was born, but they did not know where. Their inquiries brought them before the proud ruling king who grilled them with questions. This king sought the input of learned Jewish scholars. Freed eventually from all the pomp and maneuverings, and pointed in the direction of Bethlehem, the wise men again saw the star. Their joy in seeing the star indicates their relief in knowing God was again guiding their steps.

How often we find ourselves in perplexing circumstances and grow uncomfortable in the midst of unfamiliar territory or intimidating people. And then in some way or other, the Lord gives us His direction -- clear and unmistakable. The "star" not only points the way, but it assures us this way was chosen by the Lord.

4. The star shows us that when we follow God's leading, we experience joy. The wise men saw the star leading them to Bethlehem, and "they rejoiced with exceeding great joy" (Matthew 2:10).

In the middle of a journey, especially when a tangled problem rises along the way, we may wonder if God really knows what He is doing. Or He may ask us to do something we really don't want to do or go to a place where we really don't want to go. But when we follow God's leading, we may be assured that it is the best way.

The greatest joy any man or woman can have is in knowing he is exactly in the path God has chosen for him. The path itself may be hard. The decisions may be confusing. The responsibilities may be taxing. But when the star appears in the sky, assuring us of God's leading, we too can "rejoice with exceeding great joy."

5. The star shows us that when we follow God's leading, we arrive exactly where He wants us to be. The star "went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was" (Matthew 2:9). We don't know exactly how far the wise men traveled or how many side roads they might have turned onto along the way, but by following the star, they came exactly to the place in Bethlehem where Jesus was. No house number. No Rand McNally maps. No computer printouts. No GPS. But they were dead on. Exactly the right door.

God can still lead His people, not only in specific events, but all through life. If we follow His leading, we will find the way. We will avoid the wrong turns and eventually stand before the right Door. The leading of God takes us Home.

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