POST ADVENT Story Revealed part 18

RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN

We come to the hardest part of the Christmas story. It is rarely told around the Christmas tree for it depicted a dark event. But I believe it should be told, the reason for which I will explain later.

So, let us take a closer look at Herod the Great.

Though Herod was king of Judea, he was not a Jew. He was actually a puppet-king of Rome. Herod was not loved by the Jews but he gained their grudging respect mostly because he rennovated their Temple. One other thing about him was that he was extremely power hungry and not willing to share it. So, when the Magi from the east came looking for the new King of the Jews, the despot in him wanted Jesus dead and he’ll do anything to get it done.

Now, the Magi found the Christ child and we will pick-up the story from here.

Matthew 2:12,16
And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

This horrendous event was actually foretold.

Matthew 2:17-18
Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.”

Ramah, by the way, is the area of Bethlehem.

Anyway, what happened to Jesus?

Matthew 2:13-14
Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.

So, let’s get back to why I believe this part of the story should be told around the Christmas tree; yes… even to little kids. How can kids and adults really appreciate the light unless they realize that darkness affect them.

What Herod did was an aftereffect of the original sin. Our history is filled with it. We are constantly surrounded by the darkness of sin.

One thing about darkness though, it cannot stand up to light. And Jesus, even as a child, escaping to Egypt is a big light piercing that darkness.

For that child grew and 33 years later, He said…

John 8:12
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Christmas Season is over again but the light of Jesus is there. All you have to do is walk in it. How?

B E L I E V E

POST ADVENT Story Revealed part 16

“A Star, A Star… Shining in the Sky”

The Bethlehem Star is represented in practically every Christmas decoration through out the world. Just look at most Christmas trees and you’ll find at its crown a sparkling star. In nativities, you’ll find a star above. In the Philippines, the ornamental lantern parol which can be found outside every building and house represent the star of Bethlehem.

Some say that the Bethlehem Star was a comet or a distant supernova. There are many theories. But what does the Bible say?

Matthew 2:2-10
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”
After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

Let us talk about the star. Now, I will not focus on exactly what the magi saw in great detail. At the end of this article is a link to a Youtube video which I found intriguing and uplifting. I hope you would watch it after.

For this article, we will focus on the biblical aspects.

vs2 – …we saw His star in the east…

In our last post, we identified the magi as being astrologers/astronomers. When they said they saw his star in the east it is a funny statement because all stars rise on the east because of the earth’s clockwise rotation. So, what did they really see to cause them to travel to a distant foreign country?

As astronomers they would have developed a discipline of observing and plotting the stars’ relative positions. Keep in mind that the magi plotted what visible to the naked eye (because telescopes were not yet invented) and utilizing primitive tools.

The majority of the night sky were stars that were relatively stationary. Among those stationary twinkling lights are grouping of stars that form recognizable patterns. They are called constellations. Each constellation were assigned a name based on its apparent form. For example, a group of stars in the shape that looks like the head and horns of a bull with an angry red eye is the constellation Taurus.

Not all stars were stationary. The night sky also had objects that move, though at most times these objects were hardly noticeable to the common eye except for the magi and their like. I’m not talking about the moon or shooting stars. I’m talking about planets. One particular planet interested the magi at the time of Jesus’ birth. It was the planet Jupiter – the king planet.

I wish I can spend the time to tell all about what they may have observed about Jupiter and it’s movement. (Watch the video below.) What I will say is that at the time of Jesus’ birth, Jupiter rose in the east appearing at the extended paw of the great constellation Leo, the lion, which was also another symbol of king. As many nights past, the magi plotted the movements of Jupiter as it traversed up and down on Leo’s paw like it was holding something significant. To the magi, it was enough for them to scour through Scripture (I believe). And I think they would have found, at least, this biblical reference.

Genesis 49:9-10
Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

How does this connect? If you draw a line following the plotting of Jupiter’s movements that went up and down on Leo’s paw. It would look like Leo or the Lion of Judah receiving the royal scepter. By the way, by biblical reference, Jesus, the Son of God, is ultimately the Lion of Judah.

Some may argue that the star they followed could have been a comet or something visibly spectacular. All I can say is that the Bible says otherwise.

Look at the reaction of Herod in Matthew 2:3 when the magi asked “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (vs2).

vs3 – When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

If there was a comet or any cosmic spectacle in the night sky, Herod and his own wise men of Jerusalem would have taken heed. But instead he was quite surprised and troubled mainly more because they inquired about another King of the Jews.

What about the star that led them to Bethlehem? Did it really stop over where the child was according to verse 9? For myself, I have no problem of believing that the movement of Jupiter led them directly to the house that Jesus was in. If you watch the video below, you’ll get to watch exactly what Jupiter did to fulfill this. It is quite spectacular.

I want to pause this blog for us to take note on the rightful reaction of the magi when they saw the star.

Matthew 2:10
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

I think when we gaze into the night sky, we should consider the psalm and rejoice.

Psalm 19:1-2
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 032

JOANNA THE HONORABLE WIFE
32 AD – The Messiah’s Proof – Sepphoris, Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

“Chuza, I am going,” Joanna exasperatedly said.

“Joanna, did you not understand what I said? The king is seeking him. If they find him, they will arrest anyone who is with him. And if they take you, the king will wonder how is it that the wife of his household’s chamberlain is among a man he has been trying to track down since he had served the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter to the Lady Salome?”

“Let’s get this right, Chuza,” she said pointing at him. “He is no king!”

“Yes, yes! I know that. The whole court knows that, but none of us don’t want to end up nailed to a cross, so we bow down to him.”

“Oh, why did you take the post as his chamberlain? We could have been back home in Gath-hepher.”

“Because I did not want to spend the rest of my days pressing cheap wine. I wanted something better for us! Besides, it was your own father that arranged it with the king’s head steward. The king is so rich and he reward those of his household.”

“Yes. And at times, he is like his father, the old king.”

“No, he is just half like him… like that mad king. I was just a lad when the old king ordered the senseless slaughter of all those infants in the Bethlehem District. That was about thirty years ago. I really thought Antipas was not like his father until what happened to the Baptist. But then, he does fear some kind of divine reprisal. After the slaughter of those children, the old Herod suddenly died a very painful death. Antipas is rightly convinced that it was divine retribution. Yet, I think he does not fear the Lord enough. I just don’t know anymore. I’m afraid for you, Joanna.”

“I know you are, my sweet. But I am still going.”

“Joanna, what is it about this carpenter’s son that makes you traipse around the district following him?”

“I have seen such wonders, Chuza. For months, I have followed him visiting one village after another throughout the countryside. Wherever he went, the lame walks, the blind sees, the lepers are cleansed and the possessed are freed. Even my own cousin from Magdala, Mary, was set freed of seven demons that tormented her. But it is not just the miracles. It’s his teachings!. He gave a lesson that he taught a number of times about a wedding feast and ten virgins.

“He started with ‘the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.’ The five who were foolish did not take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight they were roused by the shout that the bridegroom is coming. The bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. But the five foolish ones’ oil had ran out . They asked the others to share some of their extra oil. The wise ones refused because there were not enough oil for them. So, the foolish ones went off to buy all. Unfortunately for them, while they were off buying oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ But he called back said, ‘Believe me, I do not know you!’

“Then the rabbi finished his lesson with these words, ‘So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.’ ” [Matthew 25:1-13]
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 32nd segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.