Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
It must have been a dark night in Israel. Hope had dimmed as God’s people suffered through 400 years of utter silence from God.
“Where is the Savior Yahweh promised?”
“Why do we continue to suffer?”
“Why is God so silent?”
“I thought He loved us. I thought we were His chosen people.”
“Yahweh promised there would always be a descendant of David on the throne.”
“God’s promises never fail. They seem utterly worthless to me.”
Can’t you hear the Israelites grumbling and complaining? We know from the Old Testament record that even when they saw God’s miracles, they quickly lost their faith, turned to grumbling and complaining. Can you imagine their attitudes in the midst of the darkest period of Israel’s history to date?
You see, the 400 years between the writing of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ were years of utter silence from God. It seemed His promises had died.
I am certain a faithful remnant continued to cling to the hope of His promises being fulfilled, of the promised Savior coming to earth to save Israel. Yet, I am sure there are many others who fell away, who in the midst of the darkest dark lost hope in the faith of their childhood.
And then it appeared in the horizon, shining brightly. A star. An unusual star. A star brighter than any previously known to man. A star that illuminated the path of the wise men as they journeyed to Bethlehem.
A star that led them straight to the Savior of the world, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
A sign of hope that not all was lost but that God’s promises truly do come true in His time, when He has successfully moved heaven and earth to create the perfect time for the fulfillment of His plans.
A reminder that hope always pierces the darkness, illuminates the truth, shines through the darkness of this life.
And I hope the reality is not lost in the midst of 2020, one of the most difficult years any of us will face in our lifetimes.
In the midst of a global pandemic.
In the midst of an economic shutdown.
In the midst of a tremendous loss of life.
In the midst of fear and panic.
In the midst of grief and sadness.
God is sending His Christmas star. A once in a lifetime event. To illuminate the night sky on the darkest night of the year (the winter solstice).
A reminder of hope.
A reminder of grace.
A reminder that His promises never die.
A reminder that He sees and knows.
A reminder that He is still at work even in the darkness.
A reminder that at just the right time, He will fulfill His promises.
A reminder that the tiny baby lying in the manger is still alive, is still at work, even in what seems like the utter silence of the Father.
Tonight, December 21, 2020, shortly after sunset, I will be outside peering into the western sky, looking for the 2020 Christmas star. But I don’t see it as just a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event. No, I will see a promise that my Father is faithful. I will see a reminder that He hasn’t forgotten us.
I will see hope. Hope for tomorrow. Hope for brighter days ahead. Hope that He is working things out and in His perfect timing He will fulfill His promises.
And I just might break out into a song of worship of the newborn babe we celebrate this week.
Merry Christmas, friends!