The nativity story is full of angels, stars, a heavenly host coming down to earth, and even a star that stops above a house in a small, Judaean town. Many unbelievers might snort in ridicule. They regard such narrative elements as embellishments at best, and at worst, evidence that the whole thing is just a fairy tale.
Before the Copernican revolution, mankind would look at the heavens with the sense of looking up, whereas we have the sense of looking out. The heavens weren’t perceived as the cold, empty vacuum of the materialist worldview. Rather, it was thought that the heavens were warm, full of life and song. It was our planet that was cut off from the perfect dance of the heavenly bodies, and we were left out of the heavenly choir.
We shouldn’t let modern materialistic thinking skew how we read Scripture. The materialist wants you to look at stars and see flaming balls of gas, the result of a violent explosion, placed in a void of outer space. Stars formed as the result of impersonal forces of time and chance. Now that is the makings of an outlandish fairy tale.
But Ramundu’s rebuke of Eustace in Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is what we need to hear:
“In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”C.S. Lewis
“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.”
Scripture repeatedly wants us to think of stars and angels as going together.
- The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches (Rev. 1:20)
- When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)
- There is no speech nor language, where their [the heavenly bodies] voice is not heard. (Psa. 19:3).
- [The dragon’s] tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth (Rev. 12:4).
This is not a matter to blush about. God made the heavenly host. We should not be surprised that He imbued them with personality, movement, dance, voice. Isaiah tells us, “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. (Isa 40:26).” God gave the stars names. They sang with him at the creation of the world. A third of them were led astray by the dragon.
At Bethlehem a host of them arrive to sing a song heralding the reunification of earth with heaven by means of this blessed Child. The ancients knew that the order and life displayed in the heavens was something we’d been cut off from. But the angels come to tell this silent planet that God was coming to make peace with us. The silent planet would be silent no more, but man, in Christ, might join in the heavenly songs of praise to our God. Then the angels “hyperdrive” back to their heavenly positions. Then, as if all of this isn’t marvelous enough, one star gets the job of guiding the wise men to the exact house in which Christ and his parents were dwelling.
Truly, it is good to sing:
All thy works with joy surround thee,Henry Van Dyke (Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
earth and heaven reflect thy rays,
stars and angels sing around thee,
center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
flowery meadow, flashing sea,
chanting bird and flowing fountain,
call us to rejoice in thee.
Materialism cannot account for such an event. But it is the most likely of things to happen: when God became a man the stars and angels made sure we saw the signs for which they’d been appointed (Gen. 1:14). This was the beginning, after all, of a new creation.