As a child, I had an advantage when the Christmas lights appeared. My need for corrective lenses hadn’t yet been discovered, so every bulb produced an exquisite explosion of light! Even today’s laser light shows couldn’t compete.
According to christmas-light-source.com, the first Christmas tree was illuminated by electric lights in 1882. Edward Johnson, a friend of Thomas Edison, engineered the display. Before that, yule trees were decorated with candles, no doubt a plague to fire brigades!
But those were hardly the earliest Christmas lights. No, the first ones shone over 2,000 years ago!
In a double meaning of cosmic proportions, a prediction was made about these lights, strangely by a prophet-for-profit named Balaam. Hired by Moab’s king to curse Israel, every time Balaam opened his mouth, God reprogrammed the soundtrack and a blessing came out. Among other prophecies, he said, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel….” (Num 24:17)
Living about 14 centuries before Christ, this man is described as “the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia.” (Deut 23:4) One of the famous Persian magi, or wise men, he gave counsel to the royal court.
Centuries pass. Babylon now rules the region. Daniel, a young Jew, is forced into exile but, due to his wisdom, rises through the ranks to become “chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon.” (Dan 2:48) He, no doubt, is familiar with Balaam’s prophecy concerning this Star/Scepter, and makes a famous prophecy himself, giving a timeline for Messiah’s appearing. (9:24-27) Daniel’s skills are so valuable that he survives the defeat of Babylon by Medo-Persia and continues as chief of their wise men, too.
Again time passes, but succeeding generations of wise men watch for the alignment of the prophecies of these two renowned prognosticators. And, sure enough, as they scanned the sky one evening, they saw it! Tracking this King Star, they began their long-anticipated journey, ending at a humble house in Bethlehem to which the star led them.
My father, an old air force pilot, explained to me how triangulating with stars could give you a “dead reckoning position,” the method they likely used to find the house where the real Christmas Star, a little Boy not quite two, was living.
En route, they had asked the telling question, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Mt 2:2) Ah, the Star and the Scepter!
Strangely, those in Jerusalem who heard this, and knew the prophecy that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, (Mic 5:2) didn’t ride the four miles south to check!
I grieve for America as the lights go out across the land. It just takes one generation without the Bible for everything to go dark. Jesus is rightly called a Light to enlighten the nations (Lk 2:32) and how much we need this Light now!
When you see some Christmas lights, remember this. Jesus said, “While you have the light, believe in the light…I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” (Jn 12:36, 46)
The Light is shining for you.
Jabe Nicholson of Starkville is an author and publisher. He loves engaging with people on life’s key issues. Reach him at [email protected] or visit www.uplook.tv