Something new burned in the sky that night; an astronomical object or some other supernatural phenomenon. Wise men from the east were aware of the usual night sky occurrences, and on this night, they knew something was different. They said later to Herod, after they had traveled to find the baby Jesus, “we have seen his star…” (Matthew 2:2). They referred to him as “king of the Jews.” They told Herod they came to worship Him.
Were they regularly seeking signs in the sky, or simply observant? Or both? Once they saw the star, they knew it was “his star”, and they began their journey, but we know it must have been months before they arrived. The exact number of wise men who traveled is unknown, but we do know what gifts they brought.
I wonder if anyone else noticed the phenomenon in the sky that night. Were so few people looking and searching? Or, did they notice, but didn’t know what it meant? Perhaps some looked, marveled, but then turned back to their business and lives, quickly forgetting the mystery and wonder of the night sky.
I also wonder if the star was only visible in the East? Not only that, I wonder if it was only visible to the wise men? These wise men knew the meaning of what they saw in the sky and who they were going to see. These wise men must have been accustomed to seeking and searching, and God gave them the gift of finding who they were seeking. It’s a pretty remarkable story if you stop and think about it.
In Matthew 2:9, we are told; “…and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” So the star itself seemed to direct them.
On the night Jesus was born, we are also told in the book of Luke that an angel visited some shepherds nearby. After that initial announcement, a whole host of angels joined in a proclamation of praise.
Why did angels only appear to lowly, humble shepherds? Why shepherds, who smelled like sheep, were dirty and accustomed to working hard outdoors?
We are told the shepherds were “nearby”, so they were able to find the baby quickly with this sign: “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
Sometimes good news is just too good to keep to oneself. We can be that way when we have good news: we just want to tell someone! But God? Was He bursting to speak? I wonder if God just didn’t want to keep silent. I am amazed at God’s restraint, though. He has creative power – and chooses when to use it. He can control what He says and to whom, and that is something many of us humans have to learn better how to do. Somehow I like to imagine God was just bursting at the seams and couldn’t wait to tell someone the good news that Jesus was born, and that His plan from the beginning was unfolding in time that very night.
So, who could He tell? Who’d believe? Who’d not be so sophisticated to dismiss the heavenly messengers? Who’d be the right ones? Who would the shepherds tell next?
The notices didn’t come to the politically powerful or the most wealthy; rather, they came to the wise men and to the lowly and humble shepherds.
in our day and age, we can get messages and news sent out instantly. With social media and television today, an image can travel in a matter of microseconds to almost anywhere on the planet. A live scene can be broadcast as it is happening, all over the world. It’s pretty amazing.
On that quiet night when Jesus was born, God could have dispatched a larger heavenly host. God had (and has) the capability to make an announcement to the entire world that the Savior, His son, was born.
Why didn’t God avail Himself of all of that power and make a huge birth announcement that would have rocked the entire world? He could have turned night into day with the light and glory of angels singing. He could have held the moon longer in the sky and kept night time longer than usual.
Yet God chose these two unlikely vectors- shepherds and wise men- to spread the news of this incredible event. God had the entire sky available to him to proclaim the news, yet he did not proclaim the news to all, but to a few.
Nowadays, it is pretty interesting how some folks feel the need to post many details of their lives on social media. News of any kind, good or bad, is heralded on Facebook. It’s kind of fascinating to me why some people feel the need to do this, and why others don’t.
Interestingly, with all of these tools at His disposal from the beginning of time, God restrained himself from making the world’ biggest birth announcement. He’s pretty secure, God is. He doesn’t need the accolades and affirmation of millions; in today’s terms, God doesn’t need the million “likes” and “comments.” He’s God. He’ll love our praise and worship of who He is, but it isn’t going to change His nature if we don’t or if we do. He’s still God and He’s still good.
So, God in His wisdom chose to reveal the Christ child’s birth to some wise men and some lowly, humble shepherds. Word spread from these unlikely sources. All over the world.
The wise noticed and came.
The lowly heard and came.
Do we notice when God is trying to get our attention and do we come to Him in prayer?
Do we hear what God may be trying to tell us (not audibly but in other ways) and come to Him in prayer, seeking Him?
I think we need not worry about God’s omnipotence or omnipresence. He’s got any situation we’re under pretty well covered. He can get news transmitted in ways we cannot even fathom- better and faster than the fastest wireless connection or satellite imagery. He has a heavenly host at his disposal. He has Jesus at his right hand. And, well this is God we’re talking about. He’s Himself.
So why again may I be worried about the future? I think God can handle it, whatever it is. He has unlikely agents He will use; people and ways and methods that the rest of the world wouldn’t think of utilizing.