Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Star of Bethlehem and Freedom

This week, the skies have displayed one of the greatest pairing of planets in our lifetime.  According to Fred Schaaf, a local author and astronomer, “It also is a near-replay of what some scholars believe was the most spectacular appearance of the Star of Bethlehem.  June 30, is when the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, come closest of all to each other in the sky.  They come almost as close to each other as they did on June 17, 2 B.C., when Magi in Babylonia or Persia would have seen the two merge into one single blazing light as the pair descended to the horizon in the exact direction of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.” 

Since it was cloudy and overcast on June 30, the night the planets were closest together and brightest, Larry and I drove to a place close by without many artificial lights around so we would be able to see the planets clearly.  Every night since, we have been able to see the planets from the end of our driveway.  They will be closely paired this entire week.  It is amazing to realize that the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter that brilliantly announced the birth of Jesus to the Magi is what we witnessed, too!

June 30, 2015
It looks like there is a nativity to the
right of the church.

July 1, 2015
Larry zoomed in with the camera on his phone.

July 2, 2015

 The Magi saw the brilliant Star of Bethlehem, but it’s what they chose to do after seeing the star that made a difference in their lives.  The Magi had been searching for a King of the Jews.  When they saw the bright star rising in the East, they set out to inquire about the royal birth from King Herod.  Upon finding out that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the Magi followed the star until it stopped over the house where Jesus was staying.  When they saw Him, they bowed down, worshiped Him, and gave Him gifts.  After being warned in a dream, in obedience the Magi returned home a different way and didn’t report back to Herod.

Even though seeing the incredible Star of Bethlehem each night has been a memorable and amazing experience, the importance has not been lost on the significance of the event.  The same Creator God, who made the planets Jupiter and Venus and determined their paths, is the One who lovingly gave His Son Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins.  Today God is still looking for wise men, women, young people, boys and girls, who will seek Him, listen and obey His instruction, worship Him, and share His love and message with others.  And when we know the Truth, the truth will set us free.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
Genesis 1:14-19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
Psalm 19:1-4

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-12

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31b-32

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