Tuesday, December 24, 2013

From the Star of Bethlehem to the Moon Covered in Blood

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.  Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.” – Genesis 1:14-16

From the beginning of time, God created the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens to be “for signs and seasons”.  But astrology has gotten a bad name because it often leads to the worship of the sun, moon, and stars.  In Deuteronomy 4 Moses warns for us not to become idolaters, and he says in verse 19 “ And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them”.  Yet, God did give them for a particular purpose.
When we learn of the heavenly bodies God created, we learn of Him, and His love for humanity.  One such lesson can be found in identifying the Star of Bethlehem.  Frederick A. Larson, a lawyer who became interested in the history of the Star of Bethlehem and its identity has written an entire study on the Star of Bethlehem.  His study is backed up by God’s word, and the prophecies of Jesus Christ.  And even more importantly to this daughter of God, it shows God’s magnificent beauty in showing His love for us.

The stars were created to be signs for us in a universally seen form, and they have been studied even at the oldest point of Biblical history.  Job gave the names of two clusters of stars when he writes in Job 38:31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?” God named the stars himself according to Isaiah 40:26 which says “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; Not one is missing.”  Again in Psalms 19:1 David writes “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.  Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world”.

The stars are God’s creation and are used by God to deliver signs to those of us on Earth.  One such sign was the Star of Bethlehem. In his study to determine which star was the Star of Bethlehem, Larson employed the mathematical equation of Kepler, a mathematician of the 1600’s.  This is the same equasion used by NASA, and allow us to place the stars in a particular place in the sky on a given date and time, based on the earth’s rotation and the revolution of the stars. 

Using that equation, Larson had to find the exact timing of the appearance of the star, and Jesus’ birth.  He used God’s word to determine the time, which had to have been during the reign of Herod, who died in 4BC.  He also understood that the star had to rise from the east according to Matthew 2:2.  And, the star had to stop.  It had to appear stopped over Bethlehem.
In knowing these things, he looked to see if anything significant had happened in the night skies over Bethlehem in the time that Jesus would have been born, which is considered by many to be 3-2BC.  And yes, there is something amazing that happened.

There is a star known to the Babylonians as “Regulus Sharu”, and to the Romans as “Regulus Rex”.  During this time, Jupiter, travels and passes Regulus.  But something unusual happens.  Jupiter then goes backwards three times, circling Regulus. 
The beauty of this comes from understanding the name of the star Regulus, which in both Babylonian and Roman, is “King”.  It was the King star.  Jupiter is known as the King planet.  The King planet circled the king star three times, creating the effect of a halo over the star, as if the planet of kings was crowning the king star.  And in what constellation did this occur?  It occurred in Leo, which is the Lion constellation.   God’s word says in Genesis 49:10 that Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah, which carries the symbol of a Lion.

But this would not have shown a great light, nor given time for the Magi to have followed the star. Yet nine months later, from conception till birth, Jupiter does something else unusual.  Travelling through the sky Jupiter meets courses with Venus, the mother star.  They join, with Jupiter sitting atop Venus, in the form of an infinity symbol, the mathematical symbol for eternity.  The brightness was so great that this is still shown in planetariums today.  This is the bright star that was seen, and is confirmed through other incidents, such as the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  However, to the uneducated eye, it would have appeared to just be a star, hence the reason Herod did not know it had happened.  The Magi that travelled to follow the star would have been of Jewish descent, and would have understood the significance of what they had seen based on the prophecies of the Messiah.  Jupiter, travelling ahead of the Magi, would have appeared to stop over Bethlehem, based on “retrograde motion”, which is the same effect we see of a car going backwards when we pass it on the street.  When did this occur?  It would have been the night of December 25th, 2BC, when Jupiter entered retrograde motion. 

But during this time, something else happens in the night sky.  The new moon, a phase of the moon, is shown, and it rises from the feet of another constellation, Virgo, the Virgin. No one can miss the analogy of the new moon starting at the feet of a Virgin, and Jesus being born from the Virgin Mary.  But there is another symbolism made from this sign in the stars.  To fully understand this, we have to move 33 years forward to the time of Christ death on the cross. 
Joel prophesied of Jesus’ death in Joel 2:31, saying “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”  Peter quotes this scripture on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  On the day that He died, there was a lunar eclipse, a time when the moon, created for darkness, overtook the sun, created for light. Evil is often referred to in God’s word as darkness, as righteousness is referred to as light.  In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

The day in which Christ died was a Friday, called a “day of Preparation”, because the Sabbath was on Saturday. It was during the feast of the Passover, which occurred during the lunar month of Nisin.  Since Passover would start between Nisin 14 and 15, Larson found the exact date by looking at when this would have occurred on a Friday.  The exact date of Jesus’ death, according to the Jewish lunar calendar, would have been Nisin 14, 33AD.  That day on our calendar is April 3, 33AD.
It is on that day that many ancient astrologers record a lunar eclipse, and the earth being overtaken by darkness at noon.  One such, Trallianus, wrote in “Olympiades” that “In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad, [AD 32–33] a failure of the Sun took place greater than any previously known, and night came on at the sixth hour of the day [noon], so that stars actually appeared in the sky; and a great earthquake took place in Bithynia and overthrew the greater part of Niceaea”.  At that time, according to Matthew 27:51-54 the earth quaked with such a great shake that tombs opened, and the curtain that separated people from the “Holiest of Holies” in the temple was torn from top to bottom, removing the barrier between the mercy seat of God and man.

And on that night, in the night sky, a full moon was seen.  As is with any lunar eclipse, the earth casts a blood red shadow over the moon.  This time, the moon, blood red, was again at the feet of Virgo, but this time, it was a full moon, as a life fully lived out and covered in blood.
(All this information was gleaned from www.bethlehemstar.net, and the work of Fredrick Larson. There is a DVD that tells the full story, which was produced by the same producer that gave us “The Passion of Christ”.  It is available on the site and on Christianbook.com.)

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