A biblical look at the Shekinah Glory and its relationship to the Bethlehem Star. Comes in a pack of 10.
Since the beginning of time, the starry heavens have held the fascination of men. Some of the earliest writings of men have been on the subject of stars. It is extremely interesting to note that the Book of Job, which is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible, contains an abundance of references to the starry heavens. We are not surprised, therefore, to find that the Star of Bethlehem, ”His Star,” attracts a great deal of attention and interest.
In the Old Testament, a literal star of the heavens was called a Kokawb (Gen. 1:16; Isa.13:10; Joel 3:15) and means “a rolling or round blaze in the heavens”; hence, a star. In the New Testament, the general term Aster is used to identify all heavenly bodies or astral phenomena, except for the sun and moon (1 Cor. 15:41; Rev. 6:13).
However, the name “star” is symbolically attached to other objects; for example: angels (both fallen and elect) are called “stars” (Job 38:7; Rev. 8:10-11; 9:1-11); messengers are called “stars” (Rev. 1:20); and Jesus Christ is called a “star, at His glorious revelation (2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 22:16).
Since the term “star” is used so very loosely and generally, it will simplify our task of properly identifying “HIS STAR” – the Star of Bethlehem.
THE PURPOSE OF BIBLICAL STARS
God created the stars first of all in order that there might be a distinction between days and years and seasons (Gen. 1:14); and secondly, in order to “show knowledge” (Ps. 19:2). God wanted the stars to be for signs. This is, no doubt, the reason that God gave the stars names (Isa. 40:26; Ps. 147:4). Many of these names are recorded in the Bible, such as: Arcturus (the Bear, Job 9:9); Orion (Amos 5:8); Pleiades (Seven stars, Job 9:9); the Mazzaroth (the Zodiac or 12 signs, Job 38:31-32; 2 Kgs. 23:5); Castor and Pollux (Gemini, the Twins, Acts 28:11); and the Crooked Serpent (Draco the Dragon, Job 26:13).
I believe that God uses the stars to show knowledge or to be a sign in at least five areas:
As a sign to the Jews concerning their indestructibility and the faithfulness of God to His covenants (Jer. 31:35-37).
As a sign of the great glory and power of their Creator (Ps. 19:1, cf., Rom. 1:19-20).
As a sign of Christ’s second advent (the Revelation) (Lk. 21:25; Mt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12-14).
As a sign or testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Ps. 19:2-4, cf., Rom. 10:18).
As a sign of Immanuel’s birth (Num. 24:17; Isa. 59:20-60:3; Mt. 2:2).
“STAR” SUPERSTITION AND CONJECTURE
Inasmuch as a star was clearly to be a sign of the Savior’s birth, just about everybody (butcher, baker, candlestick maker, agnostic, newsman, preacher, pope) has a theory and just about everything that has ever flashed across the sky has been called the Star of Bethlehem. For example:
Origen of Alexandria said in 200 AD, “I am of the opinion that the star which appeared to the wise men in the East was a new star which had nothing in common with those stars which appear either in the firmament or in the lower levels of the atmosphere. It belonged to the category of those celestial fires which appear from time to time, and to which Greeks have given names according to their shapes: such as comets, fiery berms, starry hosts, starry tails or vessels or some such name.”
In 1910 Halley’s Comet was thought to be the reappearance of the Star of Bethlehem, and that its reappearance meant the end of the world.
A traditional Eastern prophecy said that a new star would appear in the Constellation of Coma (The Desired One), when He whom it foretold should be born.”
Kepler, a 17th century astronomer, presented the theory that the Star of Bethlehem was a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn.
In 1973, the Comet Kohoutek caused speculation to run high that this was indeed the Star of Bethlehem which would also mark the second coming of Christ.
Such conjecture obscures the true identity of HIS STAR—the Star of Bethlehem and reveals a gross amount of ignorance of Scripture and a total lack of logic in putting together the recorded facts about the star as found in the Book of Matthew.
A SPECIFIC STAR WITH A SPECIFIC PURPOSE
According to Matthew 2, we learn that this is a star with an identity. It is HIS STAR! When the wise men saw it, they immediately knew that it belonged to Jesus Christ. It was a star that could not be misinterpreted as belonging to another. Also, we learn that it was a star with a purpose. The wise men came looking for the promised King asking, “Where is He?”
Which star, comet, shooting star, conjunction of planets or another other astral phenomena could, by any stretch of the imagination, unmistakenly have either this identification or purpose.
AN ON-AGAIN, OFF-AGAIN STAR
The Star of Bethlehem first appeared in Matthew 2:2 (cf., Lk. 2:9) and then apparently disappeared only to reappear approximately two years later (Mt. 2:7, 16). Again, which star, comet, shooting star, conjunction of planets or any other astral phenomena could appear, disappear and reappear in such a manner as this amazing star?
A GUIDING STAR
HIS STAR—the Star of Bethlehem “went before them, ‘til it came and stood over where the young child was.” The Greek word for “went” is proago, which means “to lead the way” or “to move along before,” and the Greek word for “stood” is histeme which means “to stop.”
Now, it would be impossible for a star (as we would normally think of it) to both “go before” (being on the horizon) and to “stop over.” Neither could a star “stop over” a specific house close enough to point out that house without consuming it in flames. Nor could a conjunction of planets in outer space move down the winding, twisting, dusty road to Bethlehem and hover over a single house! I submit that none of these theories of ancient or modern times, concerning the Star of Bethlehem, stand the Bible test.
THE STAR IDENTIFIED
There is only one thing in all the Bible which fits its description of the Star of Bethlehem. This one thing is a star both in the literal sense (a round or rolling blaze in the heavens) and in the symbolic sense (a sign identifying the Messiah’s presence). This one thing is the Shekinah Glory (a theological term taken from the Hebrew words SHAKEN and MISHKAM meaning “to dwell” or “tabernacle”). The Shekinah Glory was a literal, visible manifestation of God’s presence in a cloudy pillar of fire!
The earliest account of the Shekinah Glory was a sword-like flame between the Cherubims at the gate of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). The Shekinah Glory was, no doubt, the altar at which Adam worshipped and the “presence of the Lord” which Cain departed (Gen. 4:16).
The Shekinah Glory later burst forth as a glorious fiery light by night and a pillar of cloud by day from between the cherubims and over the Mercy Seat of the Ark (Ex. 16:7-10; 13:21-22; 40:34-38).
It is of special interest to note that this Shekinah Star did not consume the goat hair and linen covering of the Tabernacle or the burning bush. This Shekinah Star has always identified God’s presence with man.
The Shekinah Star departed from Israel in the time of Eli (1 Sam. 4:21; Ezek. 8:4; 9:3; 10:19; 11:22-23), “Icabod…the glory is departed from Israel.” The Jews longed for its return.
The Shekinah Star did return at the time of the Savior’s birth. “The Glory of the Lord shown round about them” (Lk. 2:9). The “glory of the Lord” in the New Testament corresponds to the cloudy pillar of fire in the Old Testament. In my opinion, there is no doubt that this is the appearance of the Star that the wise men saw two years before they came to Jerusalem.
I believe the Shekinah Star will yet return again as the “sign of the Son of Man” (Mt. 24:30) to announce Jesus Christ’s second advent (cf., Mt. 25:31; 26:64; Lk. 21:27).
The Shekinah Glory is the only star that has even been peculiarly identified with God…hence, “HIS STAR.”
The Shekinah Glory is the only star ever used to announce God’s presence with men…hence, the SHEKINAH STAR announced Immanuel’s (God with us) birth.
The Shekinah Glory is the only star to consistently appear, disappear and reappear repeatedly and still be unmistakably identified.
The Shekinah Glory has, on a number of occasions, led weary travelers through the deserts (Ex. 13:21-22) and also the wise men.
The Shekinah Glory did not burn to a crisp the combustible goat hair and wooden Tabernacle or the bush in the Midian Desert. Hence, the Shekinah Star is the only star that could have stopped over the house close enough to identify it as a specific dwelling place and not consume it.
The prophet Isaiah has said, “Behold a viergin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name IMMANUEL, which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US” (Mt. 1:23). That’s what Christmas is!
Jesus Christ has come to earth to save people from their sins and God has taken care, over the centuries, to call attention to His presence. What a shame that so very few modern-day “wise men” ever take notice and come to the Savior. Will you come?
“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:16-17).”