Was it a sort of primitive GPS? How obvious was it?
well it just seems to me that someone else would have at least noticed SOMETHING.
Particularly Herod and company.
Did God speak directly to them? Did an angel stop by for an explanation?
Did they see a vision?
Were they directed in a dream? (Later, yes, but now? No record.)
It seems certain they did not have the whole picture (thus the dreadful Herod detour) but I have to give them huge credit - they followed what they knew.
Bravely, wildly, they set out in search of a king, across the known world (maybe 800 miles or more) with a handful of hunches and a star for GPS (clear nights only??)
Granted, if God was the power source and true home of the star, they couldn’t go wrong. But did THEY know that?
Or, did they just go with what they knew – their one bright unmistakable piece of guidance – and move forward? Apparently that star wasn’t always visible…as evidenced by their side trip to Jerusalem/Herod…
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. Matthew 2:3-9
Herod was one mean monarch, one bossy boss, issuing orders left and right (two of which they were already going to do: GO and SEARCH diligently…) This dark and ugly detour in the Magi storyline caused unimaginable grief as Herod’s henchmen eventually slashed their way through Bethlehem in search of a tiny king. I think the Magi had a hunch that they had made a wrong turn; even wise men aren’t always so wise. But they weren’t stupid, as the text indicates: after listening to the king, they went on their way. How did they feel as they left Herod’s presence? Bewildered? Confused? Foolish? Ready to give up?
Sometimes following the brightest bit of direction can somehow go terribly wrong, and even the wisest among us find ourselves on roads we never imagined.
I don’t know what the Magi were thinking, but my guess is that Bethlehem was not the type of destination they were expecting. So, the timing of the next bit of God’s guidance was perfect. (Of course. It always is. But I will admit to losing track of that reality. Regularly.)
Had the star been gone? It seems that they read the original Star Message and headed out based on their calculations, with nary another sighting of the star again until now. And how they rejoiced, “exceedingly with great joy,” their hearts overflowing with deep joy as their holy hunch was confirmed by God, by the star’s reappearance… “over the place where the child was.”
What did the star look like?
How low did that star stoop to point out one remote town (five miles from Jerusalem),
one two-bit inn or house,
and “the place where the child was”?
Did the star ask God to “beam me down,” to give those wandering Wise Men a precise GPS coordinate for the greatest geocache in human history?
Matthew 2:11, 12
Although the reappearance of the star thrilled them, the Magi happy dance ended abruptly when they entered the house and found the One they had been seeking all along. When they saw the Him, they fell down and worshiped Him.
I like these wandering wise men. They didn’t give up; across the wilderness, into and out of Herod’s sinister presence, they sought the Presence. They followed the star, but when they found Jesus, the star was forgotten, left behind like a tattered map fragment. The star was not the point, only the Pointer. Their destination had always been – Jesus.
Let me not be overawed by stars or angels or signs…let me remember the role of pointers is simply to point, while Jesus is The Point.
Let me not be over terrified by the Herods which seem to arise in every era, power brokers who think they are the point, ruthless bearers of death swords. They will never silence the Prince of Peace.
Let me not lose my way, or, when I do, let me watch for the direction God has promised to give to all who call on Him.
Let me keep seeking Jesus, day after day, and when I find Him, let me fall to my knees with the Wise Men and worship.
Let me open my treasures and offer the best I have to give, every gift given to the One who has given every good gift.
And when I have done this – rejoicing and worshiping and offering my gifts, I suddenly have my own epiphany. I realize that I can keep following the way of the Wise Men, trusting that God will point out to me, by sign, by Word, by dream, by any method He chooses, the path He wants me to take to find my way home. Any day is a good day for (an) epiphany.