Daily Archives: December 12, 2021

The Bible and its Story: Death of the Firstborn

Even as God had foretold, so the blow of the tenth plague came. There was no forewarning of the Egyptians this time; the stroke was as sudden as it was sure. The night was one of early spring, near the beginning of April; and the Israelites spent it in preparation as they had been warned. They slew a lamb in each household, and daubed its blood upon the door-posts. They donned their marching garments, and stood each with a staff in hand and cloak about him. And so, standing, they ate their last meal in Egypt. The Israelites at least had confidence in Moses, they had watched his every miracle; and whatsoever he told them, that they believed implicitly.

‎Then even while they waited, the thing happened. The moment of midnight came, and in every Egyptian home through all the land, the firstborn fell dead. Whether it were a little babe, or a youth with eager eyes, or a stalwart man, prop of an aged father and pillar of the house; whether it were “the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne,” or “the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill”; not one was spared. And that one great cry of wailing went up, such as God in his mercy has promised shall never be heard again.

by Julius A. Bewer; Charles F. Horne

December 12 – The star of Jacob — Reformed Perspective

“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” – Numbers 24:17 

Scripture reading: Numbers 24:12-19

Balaam’s role in the Bible is memorable and filled with irony. Many will mainly remember the talking donkey who saves Balaam’s life. But the talking donkey was only a tiny preview of greater irony that was to come. Balaam was known as a diviner, wizard or fortune-teller of some kind. He claimed to be a spokesman for God, but his ways were perverse (Numbers 22:32). He “loved the wages of unrighteousness” and devised a plan to lure the children of Israel into wickedness (2 Peter 2:15Revelation 2:14). Balaam, as a “diviner for hire,” could hardly be expected to be reliable. Yet, though he was an unlikely speaker, God used Balaam to pronounce only beautiful blessings on Israel.

One of these prophecies was that far in the future, “…a Star would come out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” A star was the sign of the birth of a great King (Matthew 2:2), and the sceptre was the rod that was a symbol of His power. Balaam was foreseeing the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and even preaching the hope of His coming kingdom! There is in this event a double hope in the end, first that the Lord can use enemies to bless His people abundantly. Second, no matter how evil some in this world are, they cannot deny the coming of Christ. He has come and He now rules over all things, even all of the nations! (1 Peter 3:22). 

Suggestion for prayer

Pray for wisdom to see that God even uses evil and influential people to bless His children. 

Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel.

December 12 – The star of Jacob — Reformed Perspective

Christmas: God In The Manger (Part 1)

The Amazing Fact of the Virgin Birth

Extraordinary births are certainly not unprecedented in biblical history. As part of the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to send a son to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 17:19–22). They were both beyond normal childbearing ages and laughed at the prospect of being parents, yet they ultimately witnessed the miraculous arrival of their son, Isaac (Gen. 21:1–3). In Judges 13, an angel of the Lord told Manoah and his barren wife that they would have a special son. True to the heavenly messenger’s words, Samson entered the world and for a time delivered the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines.

Samuel, the first prophet, final judge, and anointer of kings, also demonstrated in his birth the providential power of God. He was the answer to the faithful, persevering prayers of his godly mother, Hannah, who had remained childless until then. John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, was also unable to have children until God graciously intervened when she was in her sixties or seventies and made her the mother of the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:15–17, 76–79). But none of those special births was as amazing as the virgin birth of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Regarding the Virgin Birth

Even though the fact of Jesus’ virgin birth is clearly and concisely stated in Scripture, the unconverted mind of sinful humanity, as with all essential doctrines of the Christian faith, resists embracing the truth of His unique birth.

First of all, ancient mythologies and world religions counterfeited Christ’s virgin birth with a proliferation of bizarre stories and inaccurate parallels. These stories undercut and minimized the uniqueness and profound impact of our Lord’s birth. Several accounts illustrate the point. The Romans claimed that Zeus impregnated Semele without contact and produced Dionysus, lord of the earth. Babylonian religion asserted that a sunbeam in the priestess Semiramis conceived Tammuz, the Sumerian fertility god (Ezek. 8:14). Buddha’s mother allegedly saw a large white elephant enter her belly when she conceived the deified Indian philosopher. Hinduism teaches that the divine Vishnu, after living as a fish,
tortoise, boar, and lion, entered Devaki’s womb and became her son, Krishna. Satan has propagated other similar legends, all with the purpose of undermining the nature of Christ’s birth and deceiving people into seeing it as just another myth or nothing exceptional.

In addition, the scientific age and the emergence of modern and postmodern theologies during the past two centuries have eroded many professed believers’ confidence in the reality of the virgin birth. (Along with that trend has been a noticeable decline in the percentage of “Christians” who believe in the deity of Christ.) But such skeptical thinking is foolish and directly contrary to the explicit teaching of all four Gospels, the Epistles, and the historical testimony of the entire early church that Jesus was none other than the virgin-born Son of God.

Unfortunately, a heart attitude of unbelief concerning Jesus’ identity has characterized the majority of men and women since the Fall. The Jews who opposed Christ vividly illustrated that attitude on more than one occasion (John 5:18; 7:28–30; 10:30–39). But such hostility and lack of faith should not discourage us or deter us from embracing and defending the truth of Christ’s virgin birth. The apostle Paul reminds us, “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:3–4, 10:16; Isa. 53:1). The world’s opinion, popular as it might be, is rarely a reliable source of truth.

Undoubtedly, therefore, the Holy Spirit acted with significant purpose in devoting an early passage from the Gospel of Matthew, at the front of the New Testament, to establish right away the humanity and deity of our Lord. His incarnation, properly understood, is foundational to Christianity. There could have been no genuine work of redemption apart from the fact of God becoming man and, by being both completely God and completely man, reconciling people to Himself through His substitutionary death and physical resurrection. If Jesus had not been both human and divine, there would be no gospel. (For further discussion on the necessity of believing and proclaiming the truth of Christ’s virgin birth and deity, see chapter 8 of my book Nothing but the Truth [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1999]).

Many skeptical New Testament commentators will concede that Matthew and other authors of Scripture sincerely believed and taught that the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus without any assistance from a human father. But such interpreters nevertheless glibly discount the validity of Scripture’s claims by immediately asserting that its writers were naive, uneducated, and subject to the myths and superstitions of ancient times. According to the critics, the Gospel writers merely adapted some of the familiar virgin birth legends to the story of Jesus’ birth.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Matthew’s account, for example, reads as history, but it is history he could know and record only because God revealed it and accomplished it by miraculous intervention. Matthew’s words are far superior to the immoral and repulsive nature of the secular stories he and the other writers allegedly drew from. Here is his clear, uncomplicated narrative of the Incarnation:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18–25)

Matthew declares Jesus’ divine lineage in this passage and reveals five aspects of His virgin birth: its first announcement, Joseph’s response to it, the angel’s clarification of it, its connection to prophecy, and its actual occurrence.

The Virgin Birth Announced

Matthew needs only one verse (1:18) to announce the fact of Christ’s virgin birth. Such a concise statement, though it doesn’t all by itself prove the point, strongly suggests that the notion of our Lord and Savior’s virgin birth was not simply a man-made story. A human author, writing strictly on his own initiative, would characteristically tend to describe such a momentous and amazing event in an expansive, detailed, and elaborate manner. But not the apostle Matthew. He does relate additional circumstances surrounding the virgin birth, but the basic fact is stated in one simple sentence: “After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew devotes the previous seventeen verses to Jesus’ human genealogy but just this part of one verse to His divine genealogy. As the Son of God, Jesus “descended” from His heavenly Father by a miraculous and never-repeated act of the Holy Spirit; even so, the Holy Spirit chose to announce that astounding truth by just one brief, declarative sentence. As all God’s Word does, Matthew’s simple statement contains the solemn tone of authenticity. By contrast, a human fabrication would tend to have that false ring of exaggeration to it, being filled out with much more “convincing” material than what this inspired version needed.

Scripture gives us little information about Mary and even less about Joseph. Mary was undoubtedly a godly young woman, probably a native of Nazareth who came from a relatively poor family. Joseph was the son of Jacob (Matt. 1:16) and was a craftsman, probably a carpenter (13:55). Most significant, he was a “just man” (1:19), one who placed saving trust in the coming Messiah.

Most likely Mary and Joseph were both quite young when they were engaged (“betrothed”). She may have been as young as twelve or thirteen, and he not any older than fifteen or sixteen. Such youthfulness at the time of a couple’s engagement was standard for that culture. Another standard aspect of the Jewish betrothal was its binding nature—society considered the man and the woman legally married even though the formal ceremony and consummation might occur a year later. The purpose of the engagement period was to confirm each partner’s fidelity when the two had little or no social contact with each another.

Mary and Joseph faithfully abstained from sexual relations with one another during the engagement period, as the contract required. That was also in accord with the Bible’s high regard for sexual purity and God’s commands for sexual abstinence prior to the marriage ceremony and for sexual fidelity afterward. Thus, Mary’s virginity was an important indicator of her godliness.

However, Mary’s virginity protected something much more important than her own morality and godly reputation. It ensured the deity of Christ and supported the veracity of His teaching and works as the Son of God. Had Jesus been conceived by natural means, with Joseph or anyone else as His father, He would not have been God and would not have been a true Savior of sinners. To be in accord with what Scripture reported about His life, He would have had to make false claims about Himself, and He would have had to endorse false stories or hoaxes concerning the Resurrection and Ascension. Meanwhile everyone would have remained spiritually dead, condemned forever by their unforgiven sins. But we know that all that is absolutely contrary to what God’s Word teaches.

The apostle Paul, for example, was also very clear and concise when he reiterated the true nature of the Incarnation: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). Paul includes no mention of a human father for Jesus because, according to the divine plan, God was His Father. Jesus had one human parent (Mary) so that He could be a man and identify closely with what it means to be human (Phil. 2:5–7; Heb. 4:15). And He had divine parentage so He could live a sinless life, perfectly fulfill the Law of God for us, and make the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Admittedly, all these centuries after Matthew’s divinely inspired Gospel declared that Jesus was born of a virgin, His miraculous conception remains impossible to understand by human reason alone. God chose not to explain the details of it to us, even as He chose to leave unexplained the intricacies of His creating the universe from nothing, the precise way He could be one God in three Persons, or exactly what happens when depraved sinners are born again as they repent of their sins and trust Christ. Many of the essentials of Christianity God wants believers to accept by faith. Full understanding will have to wait until heaven: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now [we] know in part, but then [we] shall know [fully]” (1 Cor. 13:12).

Joseph’s Response to the Virgin Birth

Initial news of Mary’s condition presented Joseph with a twofold problem. A caring and responsible person concerned about doing the right thing, Joseph was unwilling to proceed with his original plans once he perceived that a crucial part of those plans was no longer acceptable. His difficulty was intensified by the reality that he was a righteous man, genuinely concerned about doing what was morally and ethically right according to God’s Law. First, when Joseph realized Mary was pregnant, he knew he could not go ahead with their marriage. He knew he was not the father and, based on what he knew at the time, he had to assume that another man was.

Joseph’s second difficult decision concerned how he should then treat Mary. Because he was a good and loving man, he was grieved at the thought of shaming her publicly (a common practice in those days when a wife was unfaithful), and even more so at the prospect of demanding her death, as provided for in Deuteronomy 22:23–24. We don’t know if he felt anger, resentment, or bitterness, but he certainly experienced shame at what he had to assume was true. However, Joseph’s concern was not primarily with his own shame and embarrassment, but with Mary’s. Matthew 1:19 says, “not wanting to make her a public example, [Joseph] was minded to put her away secretly.”

Therefore, Joseph’s plan was to divorce Mary secretly so she would not have to endure the disgrace of everyone in the community knowing about her supposed sin. Not many husbands ever display such firmly held and deeply felt love for their wives. Of course eventually, when the marriage didn’t occur, everyone would have found out that something had gone wrong. But at least in the meantime Mary would be protected from humiliation and death.

The Lord, however, in His sovereign providence and wonderful grace, intervened directly into the situation and spared Joseph the further trauma of actually carrying out his divorce plans. “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit’” (Matt. 1:20). This verse underscores the miraculous nature of the virgin birth and the supernatural character surrounding the entire event of Christ’s birth. It also provides divine assurance to Joseph (“son of David”) and to us that Jesus had legitimate royal lineage that legally came through Joseph as a descendant of King David.

The angel’s words provide the ultimate and most irrefutable testimony to the essential truth of the virgin birth and to the proper response Joseph was to have to Mary’s extraordinary situation.

The Angel Clarifies the Virgin Birth

But what was the significance of Mary’s pregnancy even though she had not had relations with Joseph or any other man? Joseph likely would have spent some time puzzling over that question if the divine messenger had not immediately clarified his pronouncement with these words, “‘And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’” (Matt. 1:21).

The angel tells Joseph that Mary will actually bear a son. And not just any son, but Jesus, who “will save His people from their sins.” God chose the name Jesus for His Son because its basic meaning defined the fundamental, overarching purpose for the Son’s coming to earth. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, Jeshua, or Jehoshua, each of which means “Jehovah (Yahweh) will save.” The baby Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and would give birth to in the plan of God would grow up to testify to the Father’s salvation and would Himself be that salvation. By His own sacrificial death on the Cross and triumphant Resurrection from the grave He would save His own—all those who are drawn from sin to repentance and who receive faith to embrace His atoning work.

The Virgin Birth Prophesied

At the time the angel told Joseph about Jesus’ unique birth, the idea of a virgin birth was not one that was completely foreign to the Jews’ understanding of their Scripture. Although they misinterpreted it, many of the rabbis exegeted Jeremiah 31:22 (“a woman shall encompass a man”) in a way that suggested the Messiah would have an unusual birth. Their fanciful explanation of that verse (“Messiah is to have no earthly father,” and “The birth of Messiah shall be like the dew of the Lord, as drops upon the grass without the action of man”) at least preserved the general idea that the Messiah’s birth would be unique.

Actually the Book of Genesis gives us the first glimpse that Christ’s birth would be special: “‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed’” (3:15). Technically, the woman’s seed belongs to the man, but Mary’s impregnation by the Holy Spirit is the only instance in history that a woman had a seed within her that did not originate from a human man.

The later divine promise to Abraham concerned his “descendants” (Hebrew, “seed”; Gen. 12:7), a common Old Testament way of referring to offspring. The unique reference in Genesis 3:15 to “her Seed” looks beyond Adam and Eve to Mary and to Christ. The two seeds of that verse can have a twofold emphasis. First, they can primarily refer to all people who are part of Satan’s progeny and all who are part of Eve’s. The two groups constantly wage spiritual war against each other, with the people of righteousness eventually defeating the people of evil. Second, the word translated “Seed” can be singular and refer mainly to one final, glorious product of a woman—the Lord Jesus Himself, born without human seed. In that sense the prophecy is definitely Messianic.

Matthew 1:22–23 clearly identifies Jesus’ virgin birth as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy: “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Matthew’s quotation here of Isaiah 7:14 confirms that the prophet did in fact predict the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

The prophet Isaiah made this momentous prophecy during the reign of Judah’s wicked and idolatrous King Ahaz. The king faced a major military threat from the Israelite king, Pekah; and the Syrian king, Rezin; both of whom wanted to overthrow Ahaz and replace him with a more compliant monarch. Instead of seeking the Lord’s help during that crisis, King Ahaz turned to Tiglath-Pileser, the brutal ruler of the pagan Assyrians. Ahaz even induced their assistance by offering them gold and silver stolen from God’s Temple.

Ahaz refused to listen to Isaiah’s report that God would deliver the people from Pekah and Rezin. Therefore the prophet spoke the remarkable prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, which told Ahaz that no one would destroy the people of God or the royal line of David. And sure enough, although Tiglath-Pileser destroyed the northern kingdom (Israel), deported its population, and overran Judah four times, God ultimately preserved His people just as He promised.

Isaiah also said that before another child (Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz) was very mature or aware of events, the territories of Rezin and Pekah would be abandoned (Isa. 7:15–16). Again, the prophet’s divinely inspired words were completely accurate. Before the other child, who was born to Isaiah’s wife, was three years old, the two enemy kings were dead. Just as God fulfilled that ancient prophecy about Isaiah’s son, so He was about to fulfill the one concerning the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both were signs from the Lord that He would not abandon His people, but the greatest of the two was obviously the second one: that His Son would actually be born of a virgin, live among His people, and die for their sins.

In his original pronouncement in 7:14, Isaiah used the Hebrew word alma for “virgin.” That is a significant term, and it’s important to understand why the prophet used it. Alma occurs six other times in the Old Testament (Gen. 24:43; Exod. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song of Sol. 1:3; 6:8), and in each instance it connotes or denotes “virgin.” Until recent times, both Jewish and Christian scholars always translated the word that way.

It is interesting that in modern Hebrew either alma or betula can mean “virgin.” However, Isaiah did not use betula because in Old Testament Hebrew it can refer to a married woman who is not a virgin (Deut. 22:19; Joel 1:8). It’s apparent, therefore, that he used alma in 7:14 with the clear, precise conviction that the woman who would bear the Messiah would indeed be a young woman who never had sexual relations with a man.

Matthew’s use of Isaiah’s prophecy followed directly in the prophet’s path. The apostle was not giving alma a Christian “twist” to make its usage fit a theory of the virgin birth. Instead, Matthew gave the term the same meaning as Isaiah intended, demonstrated by his translation of alma with the Greek parthenos, the same word used by the Jewish translators of the Greek Old Testament.

Although the credibility of the virgin birth does not rest solely on the use of a Hebrew word, a general understanding of the background and usage of alma strengthens our belief in Christ’s unique birth. It also helps us to see that Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, knew exactly what he was doing when he related Isaiah 7:14 to the birth of Jesus and declared again the equally amazing truths that “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” In His virgin birth, Christ was, in the most literal sense, the Son who was “God with us.”

The Occurrence of the Virgin Birth

All of Matthew’s explanation of the significance of the virgin birth came within the revelatory dream God gave to Joseph. Such extraordinary, direct communication evidently occurred while Joseph engaged in the otherwise ordinary activity of sleeping. Matthew does not record any detail of Joseph’s immediate reaction, except to say that he woke up and obeyed the angel’s instructions: “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus” (1:24–25).

You can imagine how great Joseph’s feelings of amazement, relief, and gratitude must have been once he realized what the Lord, through the heavenly messenger, had told him. Not only could he go ahead and gladly take Mary as his wife with honor and righteousness, but also he could rejoice at the privilege of being allowed to bring up God’s own Son.

The wedding ceremony of Joseph and Mary likely took place soon after Joseph received the angel’s announcement. Matthew makes it clear that Mary remained a virgin until after Jesus was born, implying that normal marital relations began after that time. That, along with the references to Jesus’ brothers and sisters (Matt. 12:46; 13:55–56; Mark 6:3), proves Mary was not a virgin for her entire life, as some claim.

Finally, Joseph followed through on God’s command in Matthew 1:21 and named the baby Jesus, indicating, as we’ve already seen, that He was to be the Savior.

The amazing fact of Jesus’ supernatural birth is the only way to explain the perfect, sinless life He lived while on earth. A skeptic who denied the virgin birth once asked a Christian, “If I told you that child over there was born without a human father, would you believe me?” “Yes,” the believer replied, “if he lived as Jesus lived.”

Christ’s virgin birth is a necessary component that helps us believe and make sense of the entire story of His person and work. His extraordinary conception and birth, not before or since equaled, is an amazing reality that we should with joy and gratitude never take for granted.[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). God in the manger: the miraculous birth of Christ (pp. 1–12). Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.

December 12 Evening Verse of The Day

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2:2 The question posed by the wise men was an unintentional challenge to Herod’s reign. Jesus was born king in the sense that he was from David’s line and thus king by birthright. Herod, however, was neither a full Jew nor a descendant of David and thus was not genuinely qualified to reign as king. The word translated star can indicate many different astronomical phenomena, including comets, meteors, or planetary conjunctions. Matthew later (v.9) described the star as moving through the sky in order to point the magi to Jesus’s precise location. This indicates that it was no ordinary star. At its rising indicates that the star mysteriously appeared in the eastern sky to signal Messiah’s birth. The interest of the magi in astrology, a practice condemned in the Bible (Is 47:13–15), probably first directed their attention to the star. In another profound display of grace, God condescended to use the magi’s pagan superstitions to draw them to Jesus.[1]

2:2 star. This may have been a planetary conjunction, a supernova, or something purely supernatural. Whatever the case, it alludes to the star of Jacob (Num. 24:17), which was prophesied by another Gentile, Balaam.[2]

2:2 king of the Jews The Jews were already being ruled by a king—Herod. The political climate and traditional association of the Messiah with the house of David made it natural for Jews to assume that the Messiah would be a king.

star In the ancient Near East, people considered the movements of particular planets, stars, comets, meteors, and other astrological phenomena to be signs or portents. The reference to a star connects Jesus’ birth with the prophetic oracle in Num 24:17.

to worship him Implies the level of respect that citizens would pay to a king in antiquity.[3]

2:2 we saw his star when it rose. The wise men would likely have been familiar with OT prophecy through interaction with Jews in Babylon, and they may have remembered Balaam’s prophecy that “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Num. 24:17). This was understood by Jews to point to a messianic deliverer (e.g., Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 7.18–21; Testimonia 9–13). The movement of the star (Matt. 2:9) suggests that it is not a natural phenomenon (e.g., a comet, supernova, or conjunction of planets) but was supernatural, perhaps a guiding angel that appeared as a star, or perhaps some specially created heavenly phenomenon that had the brightness of a star. have come to worship him. The wise men likely traveled with a large number of attendants and guards for the long journey, which would have taken several weeks. For example, if they had come from Babylon by the main trade route of about 800 miles (1,288 km), averaging 20 miles (32 km) per day, the trip would have taken about 40 days.[4]

2:2 star. This could not have been a supernova or a conjunction of planets, as some modern theories suggest, because of the way the star moved and settled over one place (cf. v. 9). It is more likely a supernatural reality similar to the Shekinah that guided the Israelites in the days of Moses (Ex 13:21).[5]

2:2. A star could signal the birth of powerful men. In Jewish tradition a new star appeared following the birth of Abraham, and the Messiah is associated with a star (Nm 24:17; Rv 22:16). What was this star? Jupiter and Saturn were aligned in Pisces in 7 BC, but such planetary alignments were never called “stars.” Halley’s Comet was visible in 12 BC but this is certainly too early. That this star appeared (2:7) suggests it had not been documented previously, and 2:9 implies that this star moved around, supporting a supernatural origin, and may parallel the pillar of fire that led the Hebrews in the wilderness.[6]

2:2 “King of the Jews” This was Herod the Great’s title. This was the same title that was placed on Jesus’ cross (cf. Matt. 27:37). It was a way of referring to the Messiah (cf. 1 Sam. 8:7; Ps. 10:16; 29:10; 98:6).

   
NASB, NKJV  “we have seen His star in the east”  
NRSV  “we observed his star at its rising”  
TEV  “We saw his star when it came up in the east”  
JB  “we saw his star as it rose”  

This is literally “from the rising of the sun.” This could mean: (1) “we saw his star while we were in the East,” or (2) “we saw his star when it rose in the night sky.” It cannot mean it rose in the east because the star would have led them in the wrong direction, unless it rose in the east but moved to the western part of the sky.

The ancient world correlated the birth of important men or events with astrological occurrences. God revealed to them in a way they would understand. In a sense they represent the world seeking and finding the Jewish Messiah. This “star” may have related to the prophecy of Num. 24:17: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel.”[7]

Before leaving this subject it should be pointed out that in the original the word magos (Lat.—us) is also used in a different, though closely related, sense, namely magician, one who practices magic. The relation of these last two English words to the Greek is immediately apparent. The word magos is used in this unfavorable sense (magician) in Acts 13:6, 8, with respect to a false prophet, a Jew by the name of Bar-Jesus. The root of the Iranian word of which the Greek magos is a transliteration means great. It is cognate with the Greek megas, Latin magnus, as reflected in several English words, one of them being megaphone: a cheer-leader’s voice-magnifier. One can be great in one’s own estimation and in the eyes of deluded admirers. Such was Bar-Jesus. One can also be truly great, that is, great in the eyes of God. Such were the wise men whose story is told in Matt. 2, and with reference to whom we are now told that they were 2. saying, Where is the (new)born king of the Jews?

If the sudden appearance of these strangers rouses the Jerusalem citizenry, their question, repeated over and over, does even more. Not for a moment do the wise men express any doubt with reference to the fact as such of the recent birth of the One whom they call “the king of the Jews.” For them the birth is real and the title is true. What they desire is an answer to the question, “Where is he?” Unless they receive this information they cannot fulfil the purpose of their long and arduous journey. So much is clear from what follows: For we saw his star in its rising and have come to worship him. Two questions can hardly be evaded: first, What was the nature of this star?; secondly, How was it that the magi connected it with the birth of the king of the Jews?

As to the first, various answers are given; namely: a. it was a genuine “star” (in the sense in which the sun is also a star) of extraordinary brilliance; b. the planet Jupiter, often associated with the birth of kings and therefore called the king-planet; c. the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the Sign of the Fish; d. a comet acting erratically; e. a luminary hanging low in the sky; and f. the star of destiny, of hope, one’s guiding star within the heart; etc.

Answer f. can be dismissed immediately, for it is clear that the remarkable luminary was a physical object that could be seen and observed by the human eye (verses 2, 7, 9, 10). It was not a subjective monitor nor an optical illusion. As to answers a.–e., objections can be advanced against each of them, but the general statement should suffice that the nature of the astronomical object is not indicated in the text. Hence, we simply do not know. Even answer e. “a luminary hanging low in the sky,” though very definitely being in closer harmony with verse 9 than answers a.–d., is hard to bring into agreement with verse 2, especially with the phrase “in its rising,” which is the common Greek expression for the first appearance of a star upon the horizon. One might say, therefore, that in verse 2 whatever it was that the magi saw acts as we would normally expect a star to act, but in verse 9 (see on that verse) it behaves very differently. We are left in the dark, and should attempt no further explanation as to the identity of this astral phenomenon. Suffice it to say that the wisdom and kindness of God is evident from the fact that he “spoke” to these students of the stars in a language which they could understand, namely, that of a “star.”

With respect to the second question we fare no better. Though it is safe to assume that the wise men had been taught by the Jews to expect the coming of a Deliverer, an expectation that was probably rather widely spread in those days and by no means confined to the Jews (cf. John 4:25), their linking of his birth with the appearance of a definite star, called “his star,” remains unexplained. Had they received some information about the time when, on the basis of someone’s interpretation of Dan. 9:25, the One whom the Jews expected would be born; and did this make it easier for them to connect the appearance of the remarkable star with the fulfilment of the Messianic expectation? Did the star appear in that particular sector of the heavens which by them was somehow linked with happenings in Judea? had they heard about Balaam’s prophecy, “There shall come forth a star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Num. 24:17)? There are those who say that this passage, if the magi had heard about it, which is still a question, could not have influenced them in any way, since the word “star” is here used in a metaphorical sense as referring to a person, not to a bright celestial luminary. Is this reasoning sound? It should be borne in mind that expressions which were originally intended to be interpreted figuratively have often been taken literally. The New Testament is full of examples. See N.T.C. on the Gospel according to John, Vol. I, p. 125. The magi, too, might have linked Num. 24:17 with the appearance of a literal star announcing the birth of the king of the Jews. The passage cannot be legitimately used on either side of the argument.

Again, according to a rabbinical legend, in the night when Abraham was born the servants of Terah and the wise men of Nimrod arrived to celebrate the birth. When they left Terah’s house that night they saw a brilliant star. On its course through the heavens it devoured four other stars. Seeing this, these men interpreted this to mean that the newborn child would become powerful, etc. Some would argue, therefore that when, many centuries later, another brilliant star appeared to a similar company of wise men, the latter saw in this radiant luminary a definite sign that another majestic person, “the king of the Jews,” had been born.

It is obvious, however, that all of these opinions as to how and why the wise men connected the appearance of this star with the birth of the Messiah are mere conjectures. We do not have the answer. We are left in the dark.

This, moreover, is exactly what makes Matthew’s story so beautiful and instructive. Everything else is left out of the picture in order that the full emphasis may be placed on this one thing, namely, “We have come to worship him.” We are not given a detailed description of the star. We are not told how the magi connected this star with the birth. We are not told how many magi there were, how they dressed, how they died, or where they were buried. All that and much more is purposely left in the shade in order that against this dark background the light may shine forth all the more brilliantly. These wise men, whoever they were, wherever they came from, came to worship him! In the present instance, as is clear from verse 11, this can mean nothing less than that it was their intention to fall down before the Messianic King in humble adoration. Matthew is telling all those who read this story or hear it read that they too must do the same. If even the world of the Gentiles pays homage to him, should not the Jews—who have received the oracles of God—do so? And for the Gentiles there is this encouragement: the king of the Jews desires to be your king also.—Who would dare to criticize Rembrandt for the light-versus-shade contrast (the “chiaroscuro” effect) of that great masterpiece which is popularly known as The Night Watch? It was Rembrandt who shows in all of his best paintings that he has caught the spirit of the inspired Gospel-writers![8]

Ver. 2. Seen his star.

The guiding star:—It was revealed to the shepherds and then to the wise men. 1. The Jews had the priority of time, so also they had a superiority in the manner of the declaration. To one a living angel; to the other an inanimate star. 2. To the shepherds it was done much more feelingly than to the magi, it was loving, joyous, confidential, minute. “Fear not,” &c. 3. To the Gentile the intimation was distinct, sufficient, but it was a silent finger. But to the shepherds there were voices, “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,” &c. We all have a great amount of truth floating in our minds; what we want is, to have it made definite, and brought to a focus. That the “star” did for them. Probably it so drew them, that they could scarcely resist its attraction. We cannot be too thankful to God for it, that truth as such is fascinating. Every one who has once lost and then recovered a Christian hope will understand the joy of the magi when they saw the star again. As they went, where did they look? Not at the road, nor at their feet, but at the star high up above them. How many go doubtingly, slowly, heavily, wearily, wrongly, because they look at their feet and not at the star. (J. Vaughan, M.A.)

The Saviour’s star:—1. Shine like that star. 2. Speak like that star. 3. Lead like that star. (G. T. Coster.)

The star of grace:—Seen—1. In its creation; 2. In its position; 3. In its motion; 4. In its brightness. Let us follow the guidings of this star. (1) Diligently; (2) Lovingly; (3) Hopefully. (J. M. Ashley.)

The star and the wise men:—1. Science helps religion. 2. Nature needs revelation. 3. Knowledge requires action. (T. R. Stevenson.)

Faith a heaven-born insight.—There was not much in the appearance of that single star, but it spoke volumes to those men. You know what it is to be walking by the side of some man, and suddenly he leaps aside from you with an exclamation of pleasure, and dives down into some little obscure corner or hedge, and brings up some choice botanical specimen: you know what the feeling is; you have a kind of deep sense of inferiority; your own nature tells you that he possesses some secret knowledge and power that you do not. It is the insight of natural science. Well, the insight is analogous here. Men go through the world, and they see nothing of God, nothing of Christ; or what they do see is merely the building in which Christ dwells—a great deal about His Church, a great deal about His Word, but very little about Himself. The insight is in the Christ-born, the Christ-taught men who perceive Christ in everything. They take Him at every turn, they find Him lurking in every spot, because He is ever in their hearts. These men saw the star. There were thousands about them who looked upon the same star, and saw no meaning in it. It led them through the long desert to kneel before the Satisfier of their hopes. A picture that I once saw will illustrate what I mean. It represented the sea-shore, and standing beside it the great discoverer of the far-off continent of America; in his hand an image, rough-hewn and coarsely coloured; dawning through his eyes a keenness of observation, thought, and reflection—a dawning of some noble purpose. Behind him was the sea, broken by a brisk wind into little, fleecy waves. Beside him was his wife, half indifferent, half curious, looking on almost perplexed at the interest that he manifested. It showed that out of that strange little rough-hewn god there was born the thought of a far-off world to which he would go. But it told more than that. It told of a purpose that was graven in upon his spirit; and though the danger was great, though the sacrifice was the leaving of the wife who leant upon him, yet still, because of the deep thought which had been struck into his soul, he must perforce go, borne by the spirit of enterprise, till he had put his feet upon the far-off land. It is this insight of enterprise which God gives to His children. The star shot the thought of Christ into the hearts of the wise men, as the rough-hewn image shot into the heart of Columbus the story of the undiscovered continent beyond the seas. So is it with Christ’s children in this world. They see by an insight of faith what other men do not see. Christ’s religion vindicates itself by the spiritual insight. (W. B. Carpenter. M.A.)

Silent speech.—Or, if you were at sea, and saw a lighthouse, you know it would say, “Keep away from the rocks.” Its light through the dark night would speak that to you; or if you lived on a dangerous part of our coast, and heard the signal-gun fired by the coastguard men, you would know that that said, “A ship is coming on the rocks. Come and help, men of the life-boat, come and help!” Or if you saw flags flying from the church tower and many houses, you know that would speak of glad news, perhaps the birthday of the Queen, or the marriage of one of her children, or the coming of some great man to the town. So the star spoke to the wise men, and it told happy news. (G. T. Coster.)

The joy of a guiding light.—I was many years ago travelling among the Pyrenees. Our carriage had to go over a mountain, by a road which ran for a great part of the way along the edge of a frightful precipice. The rocks descended to a vast depth, and the river roared below out of sight. There was no wall or hedge on the side of the road. At the post-house at the bottom of the pass we were given horses and a postman to drive them, and we started. Night fell before we reached our destination, black with heavy clouds, obscuring the stars. The horses were wild, unbroken-in colts, and they plunged from side to side. Whether the driver had been drinking or had lost his head in the excitement I cannot say, but he was perfectly unable to control the horses. They dashed from side to side of the road, and the carriage rocked, and the wheels grazed the edge. Every moment we expected one of the horses or the carriage to roll over the edge, when we should all have been dashed to pieces. I was then a little boy, and I sat on my mother’s lap. My father, not knowing the danger, had walked on from the post-house by a short cut over the mountains, to the inn at the top of the pass, where we were to spend the night. My mother prepared for her end. The horses were plunging and racing about, so that it was impossible to descend from the carriage. She kissed me, and bade me say my prayers, and her lips moved in prayer also; I felt a shudder run through her at each sway of the carriage towards the edge. All at once, above us, shone out a bright light. The postman shouted, the horses seemed to become less restive. A strong hand was laid on their reins, the carriage was stopped, and my father’s voice was heard. He had arrived at the top of the pass long before us, and, uneasy at the delay, had walked down to meet us. The light we saw was in a window of the post-house, set as a guide to travellers. I cannot describe to you the relief, the joy, that rose in our hearts when we saw that guiding light, and when we heard the voice. We knew then that we were safe, following the ray of light we should reach our place of rest, guided by the firm hand on the bits of the untamed horses, we should be safe from being flung down the abyss. Our course through life is like that mountain journey. These wild undisciplined horses, ready to bring us to destruction, are our passions, the driver is conscience, the light is revealed truth, and He who meets us on our way and guides us is our Heavenly Father. (Baring-Gould.)

A boy who followed the star of right.—When Whitefield (the great preacher) went to America (he went five times), he stood on the steps of the Court-house in Philadelphia, and preached to the people; and there was amongst the crowd a little boy. The little boy saw that Mr. George Whitefield could not see to read his Bible very well, so he got his lantern, and lit it, and held the lantern for Mr. Whitefield to see to read by. Mr. Whitefield was very much obliged to him. The little boy listened—with all his might and main—to Mr. Whitefield’s preaching. He listened so much, that he let the lantern tumble down, and it was broken all to pieces. Many years afterwards Mr. Whitefield came back again to America, on his fifth journey. He stopped at the house of a minister, who said to him one day: “Do you remember, sir, preaching once in Philadelphia, and a little boy, who was holding the lantern, dropped it, and broke it?” “That I do,” said Mr. Whitefield, “and I would give anything in the world to know what has become of that little boy.” The minister said, “I was the little boy, sir. I held the lantern. I listened to you. I let it drop. Your preaching made me what I am, a Christian minister.” He “followed the star.” (J. Vaughan.)

False lights.—Of olden times on the coast of Cornwall there were wreckers. These men tied a lantern on the head of an ass, and drove the animal along the heights that fringe the shore. Ships at sea saw this light, and thinking them to be guides where open water was, ran towards them, fell on rocks, and were dashed to pieces. Then the wreckers came down to the shore, and took from the wrecked ship all that could be saved. There are a host of these false signals about in the religious world, leading men to destruction. What, then, are we to do? Look to the lighthouse of the Church, built by the hands of Jesus Christ. In it He has set the clear, steady light of revealed truth. (Baring-Gould.)[9]

2. There are several ancient accounts, pagan and Jewish, of stars heralding the birth of great men (see Brown, pp. 170–171). But probably Matthew had particularly in mind Balaam’s prophecy of the rising of a star out of Jacob (Num. 24:17), which was understood to refer to the coming deliverer. The Magi saw the star ‘at its rising’ (this is almost certainly the correct translation of en tē anatolē, which rsv renders in the East here and in v. 9 [see BAGD, p. 62a]; the noun anatolē, ‘rising’, provides a verbal allusion to Num. 24:17).

Attempts to identify the ‘star’ as a regular astronomical phenomenon have generally focused on three possibilities: 1. A planetary conjunction (of Saturn and Jupiter) in 7 bc. 2. A comet, usually Halley’s, which unfortunately appeared too early, in 12/11 bc. 3. A nova (a star which, owing to an explosion, appears temporarily with extraordinary brightness). But no known astronomical phenomena account for the movement of the star as described in v. 9, and this indicates that what Matthew describes is guidance by a miraculous occurrence, even if the initial interest of the Magi was aroused by a nova (or a planetary conjunction—or both!); see further, Finegan, pp. 238–248.

The verb worship (proskyneō) need mean no more than to pay homage to a human dignitary, but Matthew frequently uses it in contexts where Jesus’ more-than-human status is recognized (e.g. 14:33; 28:9, 17), and the same implication may be present here. For the title king of the Jews see above, p. 48, and on 27:11 below.[10]

2. Where is he who has been born King? The notion of some commentators, that he is said to have been born King, by indirect contrast with one who has been made or created a king, appears to me too trifling. I rather suppose the Magi to have simply meant, that this king had been recently born, and was still a child, by way of distinguishing him from a king who is of age, and who holds the reins of government: for they immediately add, that they had been drawn, not by the fame of his exploits, or by any present exhibitions of his greatness, but by a heavenly presage of his future reign. But if the sight of a star had so powerful an effect on the Magi, woe to our insensibility, who, now that Christ the King has been revealed to us, are so cold in our inquiries after him!

And have come that we may worship him. The reason why the star had been exhibited was, to draw the Magi into Judea, that they might be witnesses and heralds of the new King. So far as respects themselves, they had not come to render to Christ such pious worship, as is due to the Son of God, but intended to salute him, according to the Persian custom,2 as a very eminent King. For their views, with regard to him, probably went no farther, than that his power and exalted rank would be so extraordinary as to impress all nations with just admiration and reverence. It is even possible, that they wished to gain his favour beforehand, that he might treat them favourably and kindly, if he should afterwards happen to possess dominion in the east.[11]

Ver. 2.—Saying. The inquiry was on their lips at the moments of their appearance. Where is? Not “whether there is.” The Magi show no signs of doubt. He that is born King of the Jews; i.e. he that is born to be King of the Jews. Whether he is king from the very moment of his birth is not stated. The rendering of the Revised Version margin, “Where is the King of the Jews that is born?” would imply this. With either form the bystanders could hardly help contrasting him with their then ruler, who had acquired the kingship after years of conflict, and who was of foreign extraction. King of the Jews Notice: (1) This was, perhaps, Herod’s exact title (ver. 1, note). (2) They do not say king of the world. They accept the facts that the Jews alone expected this king, and that according to the more literal interpretation of the Jewish prophecies the homage of the world would be rendered to him as the Head of the Jewish nation. (3) The title is not used of our Lord again until the Passion, where it is only used by heathen (Pilate and the soldiers, ch. 27:11, 29, 37, and parallel passages, Mark, Luke, John, and especially John 19:21). The Magi and the Roman, learning and administration, East and West, acknowledge, at least in form, the King of the Jews. (4) The Jews themselves preferred the term, “King of Israel” (ch. 27:42; Mark 15:32, to which passages Luke 23:37, placing the gibe in the soldiers’ mouth, forms a significant contrast). The term “Jews” made them only one of the nations of the earth; “Israel” reminded them of their theocratic privileges. For. They state the reason of their certainty. We have seen (we saw, Revised Version); at home. His star. In the way of their ordinary pursuits they learned of Christ. The observation of nature led them to nature’s Bond (Col. 1:17). What this star really was has been the subject of much consideration without any very satisfactory result. The principal theories are: (1) It was the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, which took place in May to July and again in September, b.c. 7. (2) It was the rising of Sirius on the same day in the fifth, fourth, third, and second years b.c. (3) It was some strange evanescent star such as Kepler saw in 1603–4. (4) Astronomy can suggest nothing which satisfies all the conditions, and the appearance must have been strictly miraculous. Since Professor Pritchard’s article in the ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ this last has been generally accepted in England. A further question is—How came they to identify the star as “his”? i.e. What made the Magi connect the coming of the King of the Jews with a star? and what made them consider that this particular appearance was the one they expected? The latter part of the question can hardly be answered, except on the supposition that the star that they saw was in itself so extraordinary as to convince them that no greater star could be looked for. To the former part various answers have been given. (1) Balaam’s prophecy (Numb. 24:17) was understood literally, and the knowledge of it, with its misinterpretation, had spread to the Magi. For this literal interpretation, cf. the ‘Pesikta Zutarta’ (‘Leḳaḥ Tob’) on Numb. 24:17 (p. 58, Venice edit.), where it says that in the fifth year of the heptad before Messiah “the star” shall shine forth from the east, and this is the star of the Messiah (cf. also Edersheim, ‘Life,’ etc., 1. 212). Similarly we find the false Messiah of the second century applying the term to himself—“Barcochab.” (2) They had learned, by intercourse with Jews (cf. the influence of the Jewish Sibylline oracles on the fourth eclogue), that these latter expected a great King, and they had applied to his coming, as to all events, the science that they themselves practised. They believed fully in astrology, and the Divine ordering that a star should appear to them was a condescension to the then state of human knowledge. In the East (ἐντῇ ἀνατολῇ). Ellicott points out (‘Hist. Lects.,’ p. 73) that to translate this “at its rising” seems to be at needless variance with the use of the same words in ver. 9, where they seem to stand in a kind of local antithesis to “where the young Child was.” For the phrase as referring to the Eastern part of the earth, cf. Clem. Rom., § 5. It is more definite than the plural of ver. 1. And are come. “We saw … and came” (εἴδομεν … ἤλθομεν) without delay. To worship him. Not as God, but as Lord and King (ch. 4:9, note). The prostration of themselves bodily before him (προσκυνῆσαι; cf. also ver. 11) was not a Greek or Roman, but an Eastern, and it is said especially a Persian, form of homage.[12]

2. I should be led to conceive, that this visit of the Wise Men was not immediately on the birth of Christ, but perhaps a considerable time after. Some have thought nearly two years. For as the flight into Egypt could not have been so immediately on the birth, we may reasonably infer, that the over-ruling providence of the Lord, did, in this instance, as in that of Moses, conceal the wonderful event to the most suited time for discovery. Exod. 2:2. I mention this the rather, because it is no uncommon thing to behold representations of the virgin, and an infant, in pictures, by way of setting forth the nativity. Alas! how senseless and unbecoming are all such things in relation to the solemn subjects of holy scripture! And how much they degrade what they mean to embellish!—In relation to those wise men, we are wholly at conjecture who they were, or from whence, (more than from the East,) they came. Some have thought that they were men who practised magic, like Balaam. And it is remarkable, that this man prophesied of a star which should come out of Jacob. Numb. 24:17. And Jesus himself is called the bright and morning star. Rev. 22:16. But be this as it may, certain it is that an angel from heaven proclaimed to the Jewish shepherds the birth of Christ. And why should it be thought incredible, that the same glorious intelligence was communicated to Gentile philosophers by the ministry of a star? Reader! let us both pause over this account of the wise men. Did they come from the East, over vast regions, to hail the Savior? And shall not we feel constrained to welcome his approach? Did the Lord hang out in the heavens a light so direct to point to Jesus? And shall not you and I hope, that he will send out his light and his truth to guide us unto Jesus? Surely the grace shewn to those Gentiles ought to encourage us![13]

2:2 king of the Jews. When the magi ask for information about “the one who has been born king of the Jews,” Matthew portrays Herod’s response as one of agitation over this potential rival to his throne. The repeated emphasis on Herod as king (2:1, 3, 9) and his power to suppress any rivals (2:16) indicates that Matthew 2 is about political as well as religious authority and claims. For Matthew, Jesus is the Messiah or “king of the Jews.” As such, he threatens Herod’s claim to be king of the Jewish people, the very position granted to him by Roman authority. Herod understands Jesus to be a threat and responds by killing every boy in Bethlehem who might be the one whom the magi came to find (2:16), necessitating that Joseph and Mary take Jesus and flee to Egypt. Even when they return to Israel after Herod dies, they avoid coming under the rule of Herod’s son Archelaus by settling in the north, in Galilee.[14]

2 Their astrological deductions from the “rising” of a star had convinced the magi of a royal birth in the “westland” (Palestine), hence the title “King of the Jews.” The idea that a special star heralded the birth of famous people (and other significant events) was widespread in the ancient world.38 The magi were presumably aware of Herod’s royal position, and perhaps assuming that a birth had taken place within his family they had come to find out more.

Both astronomers and biblical historians continue to try to identify the nature of the rising of the star and its subsequent movements on the basis of Matthew’s brief description and of astronomical data, but with little consensus. Three recurrent suggestions40 perhaps deserve a mention.

1. A comet. Comets have long been held to herald the arrival of important figures on the world stage, and a comet visible in the western sky might well explain the journey of the magi, but unfortunately astronomers have not been able to identify a comet which would have been visible at about the right historical date. Halley’s comet appeared in 12–11 b.c., too early to fit the chronological data of the gospels.

2. A planetary conjunction (rather than a single star, as Matthew describes it). The favorite candidate here is a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces, which would have taken place in 7 b.c., and which could have been interpreted to mean the birth of a king (Jupiter, the royal planet) in Palestine (Saturn was thought to be the planet representing the “westland”), while the constellation of Pisces represented the last days. This unusual conjunction thus indicated, “There will appear in Palestine in this year the ruler of the last days.”

3. A nova (or perhaps a super-nova). This is the result of a stellar explosion and produces an extremely bright phenomenon which usually lasts for a number of months. This was the preferred theory of Johannes Kepler, even though he also noted the planetary conjunction of 7 b.c. Chinese astronomers recorded a nova which was visible for 70 days in 5/4 b.c., which would fit a date shortly before the death of Herod.

While proponents of at least the second and third of the above theories are convinced that their astronomical results sufficiently match Matthew’s description, those of us who are not astronomers may find it hard to envisage either of these phenomena first “rising,” then “leading on” the magi and eventually “coming to rest” in such a way as to indicate a specific location, even when due allowance is made for the phenomenal viewpoint of the story-teller’s language. Despite the fascination of astronomical explanations it may in the end be more appropriate to interpret Matt 2:9 as describing not a regular astronomical occurrence but the miraculous provision of what appeared to be a star which uniquely moved and then stopped (or at least which appeared to observers on the ground to do so), though of course there is no improbability in a natural astronomical phenomenon being the basis on which the magi made their initial deductions and set off on their journey.

The nature of the “homage” of the magi (the verb recurs in vv. 8 and 11) is not clearly spelled out, except for the offering of expensive gifts, such as might befit a royal birth. Their “prostration” (v. 11, literally “falling”) was a familiar act of homage in Eastern society, a recognition of social superiority. Neither term requires the attribution of divinity to the one so honored, and Matthew’s narrative does not indicate that the magi had any such notion (they came looking for a “king,” not a “god”), though he might expect his Christian readers with hindsight to read more into the “worship” of the magi.[15]

2 The Magi saw a star “when it rose” (NIV text note; see Notes, vv. 1–2). What they saw remains uncertain.

1. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler (d. 1630) pointed out that in the Roman year AUC 747 (7 BC), there occurred a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the zodiacal constellation of Pisces, a sign sometimes connected in ancient astrology with the Hebrews. Many details can be fitted to this suggestion (cf. Brown, Birth of the Messiah, 172–73; NIDNTT, 3:735), not least that medieval Jews saw messianic significance in the same planetary conjunction. Moreover, the conjunction occurred in May, October, and November of 7 BC, and one of the latter two appearances could account for 2:9. But there is no solid evidence that the ancients referred to such conjunctions as “stars”; and even at their closest proximity, Jupiter and Saturn would have been about one degree apart—a perceived distance about twice the diameter of the moon—and therefore never fused into one image.

2. Michael Molnar (The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi [Piscataway, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1999]) suggests that twice in 6 BC the moon comes in front of Jupiter, totally obscuring it (a lunar “occultation” of Jupiter), and that astrologically this indicates a royal birth. He then makes other connections to tie this to the birth to Judah. The problem is that these occultations were not visible in Babylon (the most likely provenance of the Magi) since Jupiter at that time of year was below the horizon. Molnar acknowledges the point, but thinks the Magi might nevertheless have calculated the occultation without witnessing it. Matthew, however, stipulates that the Magi “saw” the star (v. 2). Moreover, Molnar’s theory does not align well with v. 9 (see below).

3. Kepler himself preferred the suggestion that this was a supernova—a faint star that violently explodes and gives off enormous amounts of light for a few weeks or months. A recent defense of this view is that of Mark Kidger (The Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomer’s View [Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1999]), who argues for a nova in 5 BC, preceded by three precursors (e.g., a triple conduction of Saturn and Jupiter in Pisces in 7 BC). There is little confirming evidence, and it is difficult on this theory to account for 2:9.

4. Others have suggested comets, what some older writers refer to as “variable stars.” The most likely is Halley’s Comet (cf. Lagrange), which passed overhead in 12 BC; but this seems impossibly early.

5. Ernest L. Martin opts for a number of planetary conjunctions and massings in 3/2 BC. This suggestion depends on his entire reconstruction and late date for Herod’s death (see comments at v. 1), which is no more than a possibility. The theory also shares some of the difficulties of point 1.

6. In the light of 2:9, many commentators insist that astronomical considerations are a waste of time: Matthew presents the “star” as strictly supernatural. This, too, is possible and obviously impossible to falsify, but v. 9 is not as determinative as is often suggested (see comments at v. 9).

7. Because it is difficult to imagine a “star” of any conceivable astronomical variety guiding the Magi along the road to Bethlehem, Allison (Studies in Matthew, 17–41) suggests that the “star” is actually a guiding angel. It is easy to list many texts in which stars and angels are linked; it is more difficult to find convincing parallels in which a star simply represents an angel. Moreover, the difficulty many find with v. 9 is not nearly as great as some have thought (see comments at vv. 9–10).

The evidence is insufficient to come down firmly on one particular astronomical theory.

Matthew uses language almost certainly alluding to Numbers 24:17: “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” This oracle, spoken by Balaam, who came “from the eastern mountains” (Nu 23:7), was widely regarded as messianic (Tg. Ps.-J.; Tg. Onq.; CD 7:19–20; 1QM 11:6; 1QSb 5:27; 4QTest 12–13; T. Jud. 24:1). Both Matthew and Numbers deal with the king of Israel (Nu 24:7), though Matthew does not resort to the uncontrolled allegorizing on “star” frequently found in early postapostolic Christian writings (cf. Jean Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity [London: Darton, Longman, 1964], 214–24).

Granting Matthew’s informed devotion to the OT, he surely knew that the OT mocks astrologers (Isa 47:13–15; Da 1:20; 2:27; 4:7; 5:7) and forbids astrology (Jer 10:1–2). Nevertheless, it was widely practiced in the first century, even among Jews (cf. Albright and Mann). Matthew neither condemns nor sanctions it; instead, he contrasts the eagerness of the Magi to worship Jesus, despite their limited knowledge, with the apathy of the Jewish leaders and the hostility of Herod’s court—all of whom had the Scriptures to inform them. Formal knowledge of the Scriptures, Matthew implies, does not in itself lead to knowing who Jesus is. Just as God sovereignly worked through Caesar’s decree that a census be taken (Lk 2:1) to ensure that Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem would fulfill prophecy, so God sovereignly used the Magi’s calculations to bring about the situation this pericope describes.

The question the Magi asked does not tell how their astrology led them to seek a “king of the Jews” and what made them think this particular star was “his.” The widely held idea that the ancient world was looking for a Jewish leader of renown (based largely on Josephus, J.W. 6.312–13 [5.4]; Suetonius, Vesp. 4; Tacitus, Hist. v. 13; Virgil, Ecl. 4) cannot stand close scrutiny. The Josephus passage refers to Jewish expectations of Messiah, and the others probably borrowed from Josephus. The Magi may have linked the star to “the king of the Jews” through studying the OT and other Jewish writings—a possibility made plausible by the presence of the large Jewish community in Babylon.

We must not think that the Magi’s question meant, Where is the one born to become king of the Jews? but, Where is the one born king of the Jews? (see Notes). His kingly status was not conferred on him later on; it was his from birth. Jesus’ participation in the Davidic dynasty has already been established by the genealogy. The same title the Magi gave him found its place over the cross (27:37).

“Worship” (see Notes) need not imply that the Magi recognized Jesus’ divinity; it may simply mean “do homage” (Broadus). Their own statement suggests homage paid royalty rather than the worship of Deity. But Matthew, having already told of the virginal conception, doubtless expected his readers to discern something more—namely, that the Magi “worshiped” better than they knew.[16]


[1] Quarles, C. L. (2017). Matthew. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (pp. 1498–1499). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1363). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Mt 2:2). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1822). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 2:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Vanlaningham, M. G. (2014). Matthew. In M. A. Rydelnik & M. Vanlaningham (Eds.), The moody bible commentary (p. 1457). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[7] Utley, R. J. (2000). The First Christian Primer: Matthew (Vol. Volume 9, p. 13). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[8] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 152–155). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[9] Exell, J. S. (1952). The Biblical Illustrator: Matthew (pp. 8–9). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[10] France, R. T. (1985). Matthew: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 86–88). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[11] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, pp. 130–131). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[12] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 31–32). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[13] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s New Testament Commentary: Matthew–John (Vol. 1, p. 13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[14] Brown, J. K. (2015). Matthew. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 23). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[15] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 68–69). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[16] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 111–112). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

God with Us — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

God is with us now, not just in thought or in theory or in wishful thinking. But in actual fact.


All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: (Isaiah)”The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel–which means “‘God with us”  Matthew 1:23      

A little boy’s father had gone on a long business trip. He missed his father terribly, especially at bedtime when his daddy always read him a bedtime story. His mother, wanting to comfort him, gave him a photo of his dad to take to bed with him. He would clutch it under the blanket and fall asleep with it. One evening as he studied the photo he said, “I wish daddy would just step out of the picture and be here with me now.”

That’s what God did one Christmas. He stepped out of His heavenly frame and came down to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Infinity became an infant. Imagine!

God loves us that much! He came into the world in bodily form. Jesus died for us so we could have our sins forgiven and our relationship restored.

God is with us now, not just in thought or in theory or in wishful thinking. But in actual fact.

Are you experiencing His presence? Are you aware that God is with you? We don’t always feel His presence. But then feelings are not reliable. They change with the weather or a night’s sleep.

God says He is present in good days and in bad days.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10)

by Helen Lescheid
Used by Permission


Further Reading

•   Christmas Section
•   Come Worship the King – One way to celebrate Christ’s birth as a family
•  Salvation Explained

God with Us — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

May You Know the Love of God — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

“Being rooted and grounded in love.” Ephesians 3:17


May you know the love of God in its fullness, in its endlessness, in its loveliness, in its tenderness—

May you know the depths of love— reaching down and under girding you at the most painful level of your heartache, freeing you from the heaviest weight of your burden, restoring you in the deepest valley of your sorrow.

May you know the heights of His love—lifting you up from the miry clay, releasing you into the all-sufficiency of His conquering grace, opening wide your wings of faith to soar like the eagle.

May you know the breadth of His love—covering you in its all-embracing care, reassuring you in your trial, strengthening you in your weakness, drawing you close in times of uncertainty, holding you with all the mercies that come from the Father’s heart.

May you know the length of His love—bringing you release from the bondages of the past, walking with you in peace on your present pathway, going ahead of you and preparing the way for the rich treasures yet to come.

By Roy Lessin
Used by Permission


Further Reading

•  How to Know God Personally

•  How To Be Sure You Are a Christian (video and longer explanation)

•  Salvation Explained

May You Know the Love of God — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

The Bible and its Story: The Cry of Egypt

God now told Moses of the coming of the last, the terrible tenth plague, and warned him to prepare the Israelites against it. The angel of death was to pass through the entire land and take his dread toll from every family. In each among them all, the firstborn son of the house, the oldest, the chief heir, on whom all the future depended, he was to die. At a single moment this was to happen through the entire land. The Israelites, lest they too lose their firstborn in that great stroke, were each to mark the door-post of his house with the blood of a lamb, that the death angel might know this sign and pass over the house, without setting foot across the threshold.

‎Afterward God speaks of the angel’s deed as being His own, and says that He Himself “will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt will execute judgment; I am the Lord.” God foretold also the one sudden, awful cry of anguish which should swell up from every household at once in the moment of the blow.

by Julius A. Bewer; Charles F. Horne

Zechariah’s Song (Part 1 of 2) | Truth For Life Daily Program

download(size: 11 MB )
 The Christmas story centers around baby Jesus—born in a stable, wrapped in cloth, and placed in a manger. Jesus came to be our Savior. But we need to understand history to fully grasp the impact of His birth. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.

Listen…

Source: Zechariah’s Song (Part 1 of 2)

12 Dec 2021 News Briefing

Image

Bennett takes off to UAE for first Israeli PM visit
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett departed to Abu Dhabi on Sunday to meet with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, on the first trip by an Israeli prime minister to the United Arab Emirates. “I’m happy to be taking off for a historic visit, the first of its kind, to the United Arab Emirates,” Bennett said on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport.

2nd-Temple-period synagogue found where Gospel’s Mary Magdalene was born
A 2,000-year-old synagogue was discovered in the ancient Jewish settlement of Migdal in Galilee, the second synagogue from the Second Temple Period uncovered in the town, also known as Magdala. The location is prominently featured both in the Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus’ writings, and as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene in the Gospels.

Defense Min. Benny Gantz presents Iran attack timeline to US officials
Defense Minister Benny Gantz updated American officials that he has set a deadline for when the IDF will need to complete preparations for an attack against Iran. The Americans did not voice opposition to the Israeli preparations when presented with the date by Gantz on Thursday, a senior diplomatic source said the following day.

Covid in Austria: Mass protest in Vienna against measures
Tens of thousands of people have staged a protest in Austria against measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, including mandatory vaccinations. Police say about 44,000 people rallied in the capital, Vienna, the fourth straight weekend of demonstrations. Last month Austria became the first western European country to reimpose a lockdown for those who are vaccinated, which ends on Sunday.

G7 ministers seek to present a ‘show of unity’ against Russia
Foreign minister of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations gathered in the British city of Liverpool have sought to demonstrate “a show of unity against global aggressors”, with the host, the United Kingdom, expressing deep concern about the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border.

Strong and shallow M6.5 earthquake hits west of Macquarie Island
A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.5 hit west of Macquarie Island, southwestern Pacific Ocean, about halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica, at 08:58 UTC on December 12, 2021. The agency is reporting a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). EMSC is reporting the same magnitude and depth. The epicenter was located about 1 820 km (1 128 miles) SW of Bluff, New Zealand.

1,000-Plus UK Church Leaders Prepared for Imprisonment Over Controversial Issue
More than 1,000 church leaders and ministers across the United Kingdom say they will continue to proclaim “the Lordship of Jesus Christ” and call “people to find life in Him,” even if it means they will go to prison. According to Christian Concern, 1,400 pastors have signed a petition asking the government to strike down a proposal that would ban so-called conversion therapy.

Biden’s New “Regressive” Methane Tax Will Raise Average American’s Gas Bill By 17%
At a time when the Biden administration is panicking in an attempt to keep energy prices down, the House has slapped a “fee” on methane that is being called a “stealth tax” on natural gas and everyone who uses it. The House bill results in an “escalating tax on methane emissions by oil and gas producers,” a new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal points out.

Julian Assange Has Stroke in British Prison Day After Court OK’s Extradition to United States
Julian Assange had a stroke in Belmarsh Prison in the United Kingdom, and his fiancée, Stella Moris, suggested it was triggered by the stress generated by his ongoing time in jail.

CNN Producer Arrested, Accused Of Raping Children As Young As 9
A senior producer at CNN has been arrested and charged with enticing minors as young as 9-years-old to engage in unlawful sexual activity.

Violent tornado outbreak hits U.S. South and Midwest, leaving up to 100 people dead
A violent tornado outbreak took place across the U.S. South and Midwest on Friday, December 10 into Saturday, December 11, 2021, placing more than 16 million people under a tornado watch.

Pfizer Vaccine Batch Suspended After 120 Children Hospitalized In Vietnam 
Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa province suspended using Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine batch after more than 120 students were hospitalized after the vaccination.

Where the Despairing Log On, and Learn Ways to Die
…Most suicide websites are about prevention. This one — started in March 2018 by two shadowy figures calling themselves Marquis and Serge — provides explicit directions on how to die.

Seventy Thousand Russian Troops at Ukraine Border; What’s to Stop Putin from Invading Ukraine?
Seventy Thousand Russian Troops at Ukraine Border; What’s to Stop Putin from Invading Ukraine?

Smoking gun: Lord Fauci states COVID PCR test has fatal flaw; confession from the “beloved” expert of experts
As my readers know, I’ve been proving for well over a year that the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t exist. Therefore, any test for it would be absurd.

Fauci says its a matter of ‘when, not if’ the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ will require booster
Dr Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday that the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ in America will eventually change to require a booster dose as well.

6 Pack: Pfizer-BioNTech plan another 3 mRNA shots for Omicron
The CEO of BioNtech, which produces what most refer to as the “Pfizer shot,” (Pfizer is BioNtech’s Western partner and is primarily responsible for the logistics, delivery, and marketing related to the mRNA shots) stated Wednesday that the company intends on selling a three-dose regimen for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Now it’s covid booster shots for teenagers (then children, then babies, etc.) 
On Thursday, U.S. drug regulators granted authorization for children as young as 16 to start getting “booster” shots of the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19).

Stung By The Semi Shortage, Chinese Auto Sales Fall For The Seventh Straight Month
The country posted total sales of 2.52 million vehicles in November…

Miscarriages and Other Tragic Side Effects of the mRNA Shots
With each passing day, the list of people suffering tragic consequences from the novel gene therapies marketed as COVID “vaccines” gets longer. Slews of professional and amateur athletes have collapsed and died in recent weeks, and mainstream media act as if those things are either normal or inexplicable.

No one can truthfully claim the Pfizer shot has been proven by a clinical trial to save lives 
On November 8, 2021, the FDA published a report which included updated clinical-trial results of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA-based vaccine. The well-publicized trial included approximately 44,000 people over the age of 16, equally divided into two groups receiving either vaccine or placebo.

Vaccine Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (VAIDS): ‘We should anticipate seeing this immune erosion more widely’
‘If immune erosion occurs after two doses and just a few months, how can we exclude the possibility that effects of an untested “booster” will not erode more rapidly and to a greater extent?’

California Is Hiding $300 Billion A Year In Spending From The Public, Claims It’s For The People’s Own Good
California’s Controller claims her office “couldn’t locate” a single payment. No, that’s not fake news, or a comedy punch line. California’s top financial officer actually argued this in court recently, despite admitting she paid 50 million individual bills last year.

Source: https://www.raptureready.com/2021/12/12/12-dec-2021/

Headlines – 12/12/2021

Trump: I thought Israelis would do anything for peace, but found that not to be true

Jared Kushner, NGO leaders sign Abraham Accords memorandum in Abu Dhabi

Bennett to make historic visit to UAE on Sunday for meeting with crown prince

Moroccans asking where they can study Hebrew

Senior defense official: ‘Blocs’ prioritized but all settlements have right to exist

Over 200,000 Palestinians cast ballots in rare West Bank municipal elections

Gantz: Iran foremost a threat to global peace and only then a threat to Israel

Gantz at IAC: Israel is the only country in the world that Iran seeks to destroy

US Mideast military chief: Attacks by Iran-backed militias ‘may provoke a response’

Gantz: I told the US I’ve ordered the IDF to prepare a strike against Iran

Defense Min. Benny Gantz presents Iran attack timeline to US officials

Israel consulted with US before covert strikes on Iran missile, nuke sites – report

Erdan: US effectively agrees with Israel that Iran deal doesn’t block path to bomb

Iran’s Raisi says Tehran serious about nuclear talks if US removes sanctions

Iranian ambassador to Britain blames Israel for June factory blast

Czech president objects to incoming FM, citing ‘distant attitude’ toward Israel

UK Govt Threatens ‘Severe Consequences for Russia’ over Ukraine

EU warns Russia: ‘Aggression comes with a price tag’

‘More and more convergence’ with allies on costs to Russia if they invade Ukraine, says State Department official

UK seeks unity at G-7 meeting over Russia’s ‘malign behavior’

Mayor Declares State of Emergency in Arizona City Rocked by Illegal Immigration

‘Diplomacy Is Back’: South Africa Boycotts Biden’s ‘Democracy Summit’

Former President Donald Trump: U.S. ‘Much Weaker Now’ Under Joe Biden; ‘We’re Not Respected Anymore’

Jimmy Fallon Gushes over Biden: ‘You’re Bringing Class Back’ to the Presidency

Georgia’s Perdue Sues over 2020 Election, Pushes Fraud Claim

Julian Assange Suffers Stroke In Jail, Fiancee Says ‘never-ending Court Cases Stressful’

Julian Assange’s U.S. Extradition Ruling Strikes A Blow To Press Freedom

Capitol rioters’ social media posts influencing sentencings

Turkish president calls social media a ‘threat to democracy’

‘The internet’s on fire’ as techs race to fix software flaw

Amazon Says ‘Unexpected Behavior’ Caused Huge Cloud Outage

6.5 magnitude earthquake hits west of Macquarie Island

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near La Serena, Chile

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits Lospalos, Timor Leste

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits Hirara, Japan

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands region

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands region

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Hirara, Japan

Sangay volcano in Ecuador erupts to 21,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 18,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Semeru volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Nevados De Chillan volcano in Chile erupts to 13,000ft

Earthquake swarm under Davidof volcano, U.S.

Cyclone Ruby forms northwest of New Caledonia

Thousands lose power as high winds exceeding 70 mph rip through Michigan

At least 30 tornadoes reported across 6 states, dozens dead

‘Quad-State Tornado’ crossed four states in four hours, a rare December tornado

Catastrophic tornado was on the ground for 227 miles, Kentucky governor says

Kentucky tornado may have broken 1925 ‘Tri-State Tornado’s’ longest continuous path record

National Weather Service says ‘ingredients for devastation’ caused monster tornado outbreak

Widespread damage from the Midwest to Southeast in nighttime tornado outbreak

Wedge tornado caught on video between lightning strikes in Arkansas

1 death reported after tornado strikes nursing home in Arkansas

‘Mass casualty incident’ at Amazon warehouse in Illinois after roof collapses due to severe weather trapping 100 workers

Tennessee hit by 15 to 18 tornadoes, state in ‘very hazardous situation’: report

Night of devastating tornadoes likely kills more than 100 in Kentucky

Deadly tornado flattens Kentucky town

In an Instant, a Kentucky Factory Destroyed, Dozens of Employees Missing

Kentucky Gov. Beshear calls tornado ‘worst, most devastating, most deadly’ in state history

Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron puts tornado price-gougers, scammers on notice by activating hotline

Biden Approves Kentucky Emergency Declaration for Tornado Disaster

Biden says he will visit area impacted by storms: ‘We’re going to get through this together’

Biden uses tornado tragedy to push climate agenda, suggests storms are ‘consequence of the warming’

Storm drops more than 20 inches of snow in parts of Minnesota

Powerful storm heading to Sierra Nevada, NorCal bringing heavy rains, up to 10 feet of snow

New York to Rockies May Be Basking In Record Warmth Next Week

‘It will feel more like early fall’: December heat wave to send temps soaring

Brazil: 3 Killed During Heavy Rains and Flooding

Heavy snow hits Austria, snow levels at almost ten-year high

12 missing after building collapses in Italy following gas explosion

Sam Brownback Calls on Woke Corporations to Pull Advertising Dollars Out of Beijing Winter Olympics

Michigan Catholic diocese says gay, ‘transgender’ individuals should be denied sacraments

UK Conversion Therapy Ban Delayed After Widespread Criticism

CNN producer, former Chris Cuomo staffer arrested for allegedly inducing minors for sex

Josh Duggar’s Sister Jill Speaks Out After He’s Found Guilty in Child Pornography Case – “This trial has felt more like a funeral”

State judge rules citizen enforcement of Texas abortion law unconstitutional

Texas Right to Life receives bomb threat at Austin office: ‘This is a spiritual war’

Gavin Newsom says he’ll use Texas abortion law as model for gun-control measure

Hamas claims COVID oxygen bottles, not weapons, exploded in Lebanon blast

Moderna Stock Crash Has Wiped Nearly $100 Billion As Flu Vaccine Results Trigger Latest Plunge

‘Three shots of Pfizer COVID vaccine 4x less effective against Omicron’

Australia: PM Steps In as Officials Bicker over Vaccine Mandate for Tennis Star Novak Djokovic – PM affirmed he has to prove he took the vaccine to play in the upcoming Australian Open

Mass protest in Vienna against Austria’s controversial COVID restrictions

Armenia will allow employers to fire unvaccinated workers

Occupy Democrats: Force Unvaccinated to ‘Pay Out of Pocket’ for Hospital Treatment if They Catch Coronavirus

Pentagon considering COVID booster mandate for all troops

Navy commander fired over vaccine refusal

Oklahoma National Guard: Vaccine Refusal Could End Military Careers

Arizona county could ‘reduce’ jail population if more corrections officers don’t get vaccinated

President of California medical board tweets ‘terrifying’ encounter with anti-vaccine group

CO Gov. Polis: COVID ‘Emergency Is Over’ and We Don’t ‘Get to Tell People What to Wear’

Pennsylvania’s high court strikes down school mask mandate

Psaki: It’s OK to let children eat lunch in the cold ‘to keep kids safe’

Vermont’s Middlebury College reverts to remote learning due to COVID-19 with 99% of students vaccinated

Rand Paul: Pro-Vaxxers ‘Won’t Be Happy Until They Get Your Newborn’

Google plays vaccine ‘propaganda’ to Android users who ask to hear a song

Dr. Oz says Fauci should be ‘held accountable,’ suggests he resign after ‘misleading’ Americans on COVID

Biden on Approval Ratings: People Are Getting ‘Inaccurate Information’ ‘About Their Situation’ and Are Worried about COVID

Biden Calls High Inflation ‘Bump in the Road’; Blames Coronavirus, Not Trillions in Government Spending

Massive U.S. Debts Could ‘Trap’ Powell as Fed Fights Inflation

AP: Huh. Maybe we shouldn’t spend $5 trillion with this much inflation

Meat sticker shock hits as the labor shortage continues – Prices up by as much as 25% with farmers and consumers taking the hit

The other supply chain crisis: American farmers can’t ship food abroad because foreign shippers won’t take it

Source: http://trackingbibleprophecy.org/birthpangs.php

“Honored and Delighted to Join Jeff Zucker and His Great Team” – Chris Wallace will Join CNN as Anchor for CNN+ — The Gateway Pundit

Never-Trumper Chris Wallace announced on Sunday that he is leaving FOX News.

Wallace is most famous for joining the Democrat Party, teaming up against President Trump and carrying Joe Biden’s corpse across the finish line in a 2020 presidential debate.

Chris Wallace will be joining CNN as an anchor for CNN+, a streaming subscription service – and he is “delighted” to work with Jeff Zucker.

“I am thrilled to join CNN+. After decades in broadcast and cable news, I am excited to explore the world of streaming. I look forward to the new freedom and flexibility streaming affords in interviewing major figures across the news landscape—and finding new ways to tell stories,” said Wallace. “As I embark on this adventure, I am honored and delighted to join Jeff Zucker and his great team. I can’t wait to get started.”

This is CNN:

  • Jeffrey “Zoomin” Toobin was allowed to return to CNN after he exposed himself to colleagues at The New Yorker
  • Chris Cuomo was fired for alleged sexual misconduct
  • Don Lemon has been credibly accused of sexual assault
  • A CNN producer was recently arrested on federal charges for allegedly abusing underage girls and enticing their mothers to help him do it, according to the DOJ.

“Honored and Delighted to Join Jeff Zucker and His Great Team” – Chris Wallace will Join CNN as Anchor for CNN+ — The Gateway Pundit

Austria ends latest lockdown only for vaxxed residents | RT World News

Austria ends latest lockdown only for vaxxed residents

Austrian theaters, restaurants, and other businesses have begun to reopen after Chancellor Karl Nehammer ended a Covid-19 lockdown, but unvaccinated people remain barred from non-essential outings.

However, Sunday’s lockdown halt for vaccinated residents comes with some strings attached: A national 11pm curfew is still in place for restaurants, and mask-wearing remains compulsory in indoor public spaces. Also, each of the country’s nine states can tighten restrictions based on local conditions; in fact, business reopenings won’t begin in some areas until later this month.

Nehammer announced the easing of Covid-19 rules on Wednesday, calling the move an “opening with a seatbelt,” referring to the remaining restrictions and the ability of states to clamp down as needed. As for keeping unvaccinated citizens locked down, he said, “There is the offer of science – that, by getting vaccinated, these troubles can be quickly put aside and that, then, common freedom can actually be lived together.”

Read more

People wait in front of a vaccination after Austria's government has imposed a lockdown on people who are not fully vaccinated, in Vienna, Austria, November 18, 2021. © Reuters /Leonhard Foeger
Austria may lock down the vaccinated too

Austria has been wracked by protests over home confinements and vaccine orders, including a demonstration in Vienna on Saturday that police estimated was attended by 44,000 people.

Its citizens face a nationwide vaccine mandate that’s scheduled to take effect in February 2022, making it the first Western democracy to impose such a requirement. Those who don’t comply – only about 68% of Austrians are fully vaccinated – can be fined as much as €3,600.

The country imposed a lockdown last month on unvaccinated Austrians in a move that was cheered by many who had elected to obtain a jab. However, with Covid-19 infections still rising, the order was expanded a few days later to include everyone. Governors in states such as Upper Austria and Salzburg had pressed for the wider restrictions, citing concerns that their hospitals could be overwhelmed by surging coronavirus infections.

Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations in Austria continued to rise during the lockdown, even as new cases declined. The country’s hospitals currently have 567 Covid-19 patients in their intensive-care units, up from 514 on November 19 – the day the widened lockdown was announced.

Source: Austria ends latest lockdown only for vaxxed residents

Grab popcorn & watch US dollar collapse – Max Keiser | RT Business News

Grab popcorn & watch US dollar collapse – Max Keiser

Washington is struggling to figure out how to regulate the digital asset market. Some in Congress say that banning crypto could help preserve the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. RT’s Max Keiser disagrees.

The US dollar has been losing world reserve status for decades. With or without bitcoin, the dollar is toast,” the host of RT’s Keiser Report and prominent crypto advocate says.

Read more

Aerial view of South Beach in Miami, Florida.
Florida may accept tax in crypto

Many members of the US Congress are concerned about the US dollar’s fate, and whether it will be able to keep its status as the world’s reserve currency amid the rise of digital tokens. Earlier this week, Congressman Blaine Leutkemeyer asked, “As digital assets become more common in the global marketplace… how do we ensure the dollar remains the [world’s] reserve currency?” With the crypto market fast approaching $3 trillion, Max Keiser believes this ship has already sailed.

Bitcoin is a USD and Federal Reserve Bank killer. It accomplishes this by starving the dollar of the energy it needs to survive. Not even America’s military can stop countries, corporations and individuals from converting all the energy available to them to mine and hoard bitcoin… this pattern will repeat endlessly until the US dollar is truly dead,” Keiser states.

Read more

RT
World’s first ‘Bitcoin City’ about to arise

He predicts that the US government will soon have no other choice but to side with crypto.

Congress will do whatever donors want. Since bitcoiners are becoming hugely wealthy, expect more friendly bitcoin laws in Congress. I expect a bitcoin-friendly president in 2024,” Keiser muses.

Some in the US Congress already are turning towards the crypto, with Congressman Ritchie Torres saying the US should encourage the development of USD stablecoins – digital assets linked to traditional assets such as the US dollar and used to facilitate trading in other cryptocurrencies. The official suggests the move “reinforces, rather than challenges, the status of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.” Keiser, however, believes this would not be enough to save the US greenback.

Stablecoins are securities, and securities are regulated differently in different countries. Stablecoins have no impact on bitcoin,” he says, adding that even tax collection will not do much for the US dollar at this point.

The taxes America collects are non-material to the current mess of fiat money-printing in the hundreds of trillions in America and globally. The best course of action is to buy as much bitcoin as you can, and this applies to individuals, corporations and countries, and grab some popcorn and a good seat to watch the world reserve currency collapse,” Keiser says.

Source: Grab popcorn & watch US dollar collapse – Max Keiser

Germany: Clashes between police and protesters at Greiz anti-COVID restrix rally

Police in Greiz deployed a contingent of hundreds of officers to patrol an anti-COVID restrictions rally through the streets of Greiz in Thuringia on Saturday night. The clashes between protesters and state forces came after an unauthorised demonstration of around 500 participants was reported. According to the authorities, around 50 vehicles including some water cannons were needed to disperse the demonstrators who were throwing pyrotechnics, bottles, and eggs at law enforcement officers. “After it became known to the police that there had been a call for a walkabout in Greiz this Saturday, the Gera State Police Department under the leadership of the State Police Headquarters was able to be deployed in Greiz this Saturday evening in addition to police officers from the Gera State Police Department itself, police officers from Saxony, Bavaria, and the Federal Police were deployed and, of course, other forces from the Thuringia State Police,” explained a local police officer at the scene.

Source: Germany: Clashes between police and protesters at Greiz anti-COVID restrix rally

Yellow Vests hit the Paris streets yet again

There seems to be no end in sight for France’s Yellow Vest protests, as the Paris streets fill up again with flares, banners, and thousands protesting Macron’s policies. #news #trending #currentevents ————————————————————————————————– Freedom over censorship, truth over narrative.

Source: Yellow Vests hit the Paris streets yet again

Australia: Protesters return to Melbourne streets to decry COVID vaccine mandates

Once again, hundreds of anti-COVID vaccine mandate protesters took to the streets of Melbourne on Sunday to accuse their government and Prime Minister Daniel Andrews of curtailing their freedoms.

Source: Australia: Protesters return to Melbourne streets to decry COVID vaccine mandates

Billions Of People Are Affected By This & They Don’t Realize It | Dr. Robert Malone 2021

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 • Inspired – YouTube.com

Dr. Robert Malone, inventor of the mRNA vaccine, breaks down the “mass formation” phenomenon that makes it difficult to reason with those who have fallen victim to the globalist leader propaganda. Hear what he says is the hope we have before a total takeover.

UK: Protest against COVID health pass held in London

A group of locals protested near the Palace of Westminster in the British capital on Saturday to denounce the implementation of COVID health passes in the country. “I just don’t see any reason why you should have to prove your vaccine status to be able to take part in normal life,” explained a protester, saying that his decision to get vaccinated has “got nothing to do with anybody else.” Last Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tightening restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK. #COVID19 #coronavirus #London #UK

Source: UK: Protest against COVID health pass held in London

Ukraine: Hundreds protest mandatory COVID vaccination in Kiev

Follow us on Telegram: https://t.me/s/ruptlynews Subscribe to our channel! rupt.ly/subscribe Hundreds demonstrated against compulsory COVID-19 vaccination in European Square, Kiev, on Sunday. Participants were seen gathering before marching to Taras Shevchenko Park.

Source: Ukraine: Hundreds protest mandatory COVID vaccination in Kiev