The Star of Bethlehem Was the Shechinah Glory

Star of BethlehemTheories as to what the Star of Bethlehem was are myriad.  The usual answers look to celestial objects ranging from real stars to comets.  Indeed, the inquiry has been so wide sweeping that virtually every object appearing in the sky has been posited as the Bethlehem Star.  However, when Scripture is examined the identity of the Star is evident.  The Greek ἀστέρα or astera simply identifies a shining or gleaming object that is translated as star in Matthew 2:1-10.  The magi specifically referred to it as, “His star” (v. 2) .  In addition, the behavior of this Star alone is enough to discount any natural stellar phenomenon.  The Star led the magi from the east to the west toward Jerusalem (vv. 1-4).  Then the Star moved from the north to the south in Bethlehem (v. 9).  The Star would disappear and then reappear before it finally came to hover over where Jesus was staying (vv. 7-9).

If not a regular stellar object then what exactly was the Star of Bethlehem?  The synoptic narrative in Luke’s Gospel provides an answer:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. Luke 2:8-9 (ESV)

The glory of the Lord here is a powerful example of the Shechinah Glory.  This type of glory is a visible manifestation of God’s presence come to dwell among men.  The Shechinah was often accompanied by a heavenly host (e.g. Ezek. 10:18-19) and so it was at the birth of Christ (Luke 10:13).  The Shechinah Glory declared Messiah’s birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-11).  The Star of Bethlehem likewise declared to the magi that Messiah had arrived (Matt. 2:9-10).  No doubt this is because Matthew and Luke were describing the same brilliant light in their respective gospels.

Although the Shechinah takes on various appearances in Scripture, it often appears as something very bright.  This includes but is not limited to a flaming sword (Gen. 3:24), a burning bush (Ex. 3:1-5; Deut. 33:16), a pillar of cloud and fire (Ex. 13:21-22), a cloud with lightning and fire (Ex. 19:16-20), God’s afterglow (His “back”) (Ex. 33:17-23), the transfiguration of Jesus (e.g. Matt. 17:1-8), fire (Acts 2:1-3), a light from heaven (e.g. Acts 9:3-8) and the lamp of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23-24).

It was the Shechinah Glory that dwelled in the Holy of Holies.  It was last in Solomon’s temple but departed as seen by Ezekiel (Ezek. 9:3; 10:4-19; 11:22-23).  Haggai prophesied that the Shechinah Glory would return to the temple in Israel and in a superior way (Hag. 2:3; 2:9).   And yet it would seem that this never happened for the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.  Perhaps though the Shechinah did return.  The Star of Bethlehem was the Shechinah Glory declaring the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and residing in His person.  And why not?  The Messiah was prophesied to come as a star (Num. 24:17), and Jesus is called the, “bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16).  Jesus Himself said that His return would be as lightning flashing from the east (Matt. 24:27).  The same direction that the Glory will come from as it fills the messianic temple (Ezek. 43:4-5).  And it was from the east where the star of Bethlehem came from (Matt. 2:2).

Comments

  1. Just about every theory has been proposed and keeps on being so because none can be rigorously and convincingly proved under any system. Except one, the one people don’t want to hear or at any rate not go far into because it’s astrological. Evidence in this realm can now be proved and reading back onto the original planetary data (itself relevant to messiahship and Israel) such as the name, place and concept asteroids and the Parts unknown at the time. With these the most complete portrait and biography of Jesus emerges. There is such a vast array of meaningful coincidences against all statistical probability it could not possibly not be Jesus’ birth chart, it’s exact as a fingerprint with even the ancestors written into the right place. But an arrogant dismissal of astrology by science and religion alike prevents the truth from being known. I give some outlines and a feature article that supply some current proofs for the still working data for Jesus issues here
    http://bit.ly/18LQOad
    It will be interesting to see if you or anyone replies. Even if they do I doubt any trouble would be taken to promote it no matter how true it is and after two thousand years as remarkable in its way as finding the DSS. Everyone ducks for cover and looks after their reputation in religion or academe and so doesn’t want to know. It’s easier to follow the glamorous biblical astronomy nonsense from Rick Larson whose film is misleading everyone not just about when Jesus was born but when he was crucified.

    • By your response I can assume that you do not find my explanation convincing. I work from the position of Sola Scriptura. If something can be explained by a considered exegesis of the Text then any derived answer is to be preferred over one that is based on primarily outside sources. Of course outside answers may be considered if Scripture is not clear on a given issue. What was it about my consideration of the Shechinah as the Star that made you dismiss it?
      Thank you for the comment.

  2. I’ve maintained for years that both what the Magi saw while in Persia and what they saw outside Jerusalem that led them to Messiah was supernatural not necessarily astrophysical. Since they only followed the “star” after consulting with Herod and that light moved ahead of them it could well be the Shechinah.

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