Eastern Star, Star of Wisdom

An Encomium to Ancient Wisdom Texts

Jackson Snyder, December 31, 2003

Matthew 2:1,2; Psalms 111; Hebrews 1:1,2; John 1:12,13, Numbers 24:15-19; Job 38:7; Wisdom 7:22b-26; Sirach 24:1-4,6-8; Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:52; Isaiah 53:3; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:3,4; Philippians 2:5-8; John 5:30,32,36; Matthew 11:15; 1 Corinthians 1:26-28; Proverbs 9:1-6; John 10:7; Matthew 11:26,29; Sirach 24:21,22; John 6:53-58; Acts 1:11.

 

 Scripture Checkoff

 

Matthew 2:1,2 “for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

 

Psalms 111 (Act of Worship, UMH 832, response 1)

 1.  Alleluia. I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 

 2.  Great are the works of Yahweh, studied by all who have pleasure in them. 

 3.  Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 

 4.  He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered; Yahweh is gracious and merciful. 

 5.  He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant. 

 6.  He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. 

 7.  The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy, 

 8.  they are established for ever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 

 9.  He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and terrible is his name! 

 10.  The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures forever! 

 

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.  Amen.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

   In many and various ways Yahweh spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these latter days he has spoken to his special ambassadors throughout the earth about the arrival of his Son, whom he once and for all appointed the heir of all things, and through whom also he created the world (from Hebrews 1:1,2 ).  And these words have of recent times, gone forth in secret to all those, highborn and lowborn, whom he would have to know the promise of the Son of Man, the man of heaven.  That promise is that not many days hence Yahweh’s only begotten, the firstborn of all creation, would descend to earth, taking the form of a mere babe, and forever live to turn the hearts of the loyal heavenward.

   You yourselves have read of Yahweh’s Wisdom in the sacred books of wisdom.  The soon-coming Son will enflesh this wisdom and teach all who will partake of him how sons and daughters of deity (of elohim) they might become. 

For as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of G-d, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12,13).

Wisdom that teaches how these godly offspring might discern the devil’s dominion and might, and through the power of Wisdom, save many from the ultimate enemy, death.  Wisdom that propounds the foundational truths of a theocratic kingdom that will take root in the earth, grow into multi-dimensionality among all species of creation, and last forever.  That Wisdom might be the King of all followers of Yahweh, and the light to show the way to his kingdom for strangers and foreigners; even those living afar off in both space and time. 

   The wise will recognize him as Wisdom when he comes, and direct the fool to enter his chamber, and become wise.  In the meantime, the wise of all ages watch and wait for the promised advent, then go and worship.  And behold, they traverse afar!

There came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (Matthew 2:1-2).

 

The Wise Men of Old  

   Who are these "Wise Men” of the east?  ¿Were they not a university of prophets who held the treasures of wisdom for many hundreds of years, unbeknownst to those in power and authority?

   Yes!  They live clandestine lives, in hidden enclaves, in the oases of arid deserts, where they perfect their craft: they know the secrets of medicine, of herbs and roots and plants, and how to use such to heal and restore the infirm; they know the way of ores and metals of the earth and how they might be foundried and fired to form plows and axes and weapons of peace; they know the intimate workings of the heavens, of the heavenly bodies, the points of light that rule the cosmos and dash the earth with rain or hail or thunders and lightnings; they know the hierarchy of the angels and principalities, the location of the seven heavens and the fires that burn eternally in the earth; they know how to discern omens, signs and supernatural powers, be they for good or ill, and how to recognize the true word from the false; they understand perfectly the literature of their times and that of the ancient sages, of prophecies and parables and psalms and chronicles of kings and the wise sayings of nameless pundits – and of those prehistoric traditions that speak loudly still of the eternal king who would rise in the west with the eastern star and bring peace, goodwill and wisdom to humankind.

 

The Prophecy and the Star

   Of late they’ve focused their wisdom on the celestial sphere, and upon the great prophecies of the shaking of the heavens that would expose the one special star spoken of in ancient days by a prophet of Moab:

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of Yahweh, and knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down, but having his eyes uncovered:  I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth.  Edom shall be dispossessed, Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed, while Israel does valiantly!”  (Numbers 24:15-19)

  ¿What is this prophecy and what is the star that it proclaims?  ¿Is it a comet, a boulder of fiery ice piercing the firmament of the earth and trailing over the ancient land of Ephrata (abundance)?  ¿Is it a meteor, a mountain that burst off some distant planet, westward leading, powered by the hand of some god?  Or is it angelic spirits brightly beaming in the sky, like that day when the “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of G-d shouted for joy” (Job 38:7), proclaiming the glory of the cosmos and creation?

Spirit of faith, come down, reveal this hidden night, and make to us the Godhead known, and witness with thy light.  Thy faith that conquers all, and doth the mountains part, so testifies to humankind, and speaks in every heart.  (adapted from C. Wesley, 1746, UMH 332).  O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light (J. Hopkins, 1857, UMH 254).

 

The Wise Still Follow

   The wise still follow the star, though the journey be arduous and dangerous, over hills, mountains, dry desert, marshlands infested by vile insects, unclean spirits and hungry beasts.  Nothing takes our eyes from the star for long – only long enough to transcend the present trouble in following it – yet even when the star isn’t clearly seen for the distraction, it’s still burning brightly in the mind’s eye of the wise.

   And the wise still inquire, “Where is he who is born the Wisdom of Yahweh?  for we have followed his star and are come to worship and be made wise.”  We know the ancients asked questions by studying their own sacred annals, books Yahweh preserved in caves for centuries, until, in our lifetimes, they might be discovered, and their thoughts and expectations made known.  And from these crusty scrolls we have learned that these pious Wise Men understood wisdom as not merely knowledge, insight, prudence, or “the sum of learning through the ages,” but that the Wisdom of Yahweh had been spoken forth from the very mouth of the Almighty and had been made alive by his word, that this Wisdom had hovered over the depths and was the substance through which all things and living creatures came to be, that this Wisdom was a friend to all living creatures and especially to humankind, that this Wisdom, so high and holy, was to be conceived in a woman, a lump of cells, growing in the nourishment of a womb to become a human child, helpless and vulnerable. 

 

Attributes of Wisdom Personified

   So much faith did Yahweh put in his people that he placed his Wisdom among them, helpless, to be crushed like the children of Sheth into the dust of Bethlehem’s road, had they so desired.  Yet this little vessel was so precious and unique, that the ancients who sought him out wrote of him, that in the child of Wisdom:

there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent and pure and most subtle. For Wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of his pureness he pervades and penetrates all things. For he is the breath of the power of Elohim, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into him. For he is the reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of Yahweh, and an image of his goodness. (Wisdom 7:22b-26 RSV)

   This wisdom-child will speak for himself through the sages, even before he is born a man:

“I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and covered the earth like a mist. I dwelt in high places, and my throne was in a pillar of cloud. In the waves of the sea, in the whole earth, and in every people and nation I have gotten a possession. Among all these I sought a resting place; I sought in whose territory I might lodge. The Creator of all things gave me a commandment, and the one who created me assigned a place for my tent. And he said, ‘Make your dwelling in Jacob, and in Israel receive your inheritance’” (Sirach 24:1-4, 6-8 RSV).

 

Wisdom Imparted in Later Generations

   An angel of dreams visits a wise man of the tribe of Judah in Israel who dwells in the land of Jacob and is a descendant of the patriarch, revealing to him Wisdom’s identity and name.  “Sir,

A son will be given and you shall name him Yahshua, because he is the one -- who is to save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  And Yahshua increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with Yahweh and with the people (Luke 2:52).

The wise writer of a later generation who knew Wisdom not as a child, but as a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), confirmed the ancient wise men’s identity of Wisdom, teaching us that:

He is the image of the unseen G-d, the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, thrones, ruling forces, sovereignties, powers, all things were created through him and for him. He exists before all things and in him all things hold together.  (Colossians 1:15-17)

   Furthermore, another inspired witness also writes of the power of Wisdom incarnate; that

He reflects the glory of G-d and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.  (Hebrews 1:3,4)

   And concerning his person, a wise man of the tribe of Benjamin recites the traditional “Psalm of Yahshua” in his admonition to a foreign, heathen people, saying:

Consider (froneite) Yahshua who, being in the form of a god (qeou, elohim), did not count equality with Yahweh (qew) as something to be stolen. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as humans are in every way; and he became yet humbler, accepting death, even the death of a stake (staurou) (Philippians 2:5-8).

 

Divine Wisdom Proclaims

   Hark!  Wisdom proclaims his heavenly origins in the word of Yahshua of Nazareth:

Truly I bear witness to what I have seen.  No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. (John 3:11,13).

   The world isn’t ready for the star, nor is it prepared for the Word of Wisdom.  The world will always be composed of fools, but Yahweh will sow the wise in the midst of them, and some hearts will be open to that which he proclaimed in the hearing of many fools one fateful day when he told them:

“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.  There is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true; that is, the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me.”  (John 5:30, 32, 36)

   And when the fools of the earth spurned his word and works, instead of burning them up with his eternal light, or crushing their skulls against the walls of mountains, he offered his wisdom as pabulum to mere babes, babes wiser than fools, and he prayed,

“I thank thee, Father, Master of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.”  (Matthew 11:15)

For ye see your calling, brethren,

how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But G-d hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and G-d hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath G-d chosen, yea,  and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are.  (1 Corinthians 1:26-28);

Now, Wisdom has built herself a house, she has hewn her seven pillars,

she has slaughtered her beasts, drawn her wine, she has laid her table.  She has dispatched her maidservants and proclaimed from the heights above the city, “Who is simple? Let him come this way.”  To the fool she says, “Come and eat my bread, drink the wine which I have drawn!  Leave foolishness behind and you will live!” (Proverbs 9:1-6).

Yahshua, the star of Wisdom, takes up residence in the house of his ancestor.  He cries to passersby,

 “I am the door”  (John 10:7)!  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:26,29).

   In the pages of the sages, Wisdom likewise provides daily bread for the simple-hearted and the babe, but cautions,

“Those who eat me will hunger for more, and those who drink me will thirst for more” (Sirach 24:21,22).

So there, by the side of the sea, Yahshua offers his body as food for the world, his blood as drink, for the wise and the foolish alike, the educated and the simple, the responsible and the derelict, so that those whom his Father loves might be revealed and live to conquer death:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.  This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever”  (John 6:53-58)

   But when he makes his offer to die for the sins of the world so as to give life to all who would eat and drink of him, many of his fair weather friends, who had tasted him and found him to be good, desert his company for teachers of inferior philosophies.  Only a few wise remain to eat, and these few behold again the star of Wisdom rising into the heavens from whence he came, with angels proclaiming,

“Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Yahshua, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall return in like manner as ye have seen him go” (Acts 1:11).

   For wise men of our day, this story means that those who are engaged in doing the work of the heaven, relying on the holy books for guidance, watching, waiting, and living life in expectation of eternity, and eating and drinking the Son of Man until he comes, and fervently keeping his commandments, will see his star again at his descent there in the east, in their hearts, in the New Jerusalem; and yea, they do see him even now.  Kings and paupers and philosophers and fools may follow that new morning star to his final resting-place upon the world’s throne, to share the banqueting table with their beloved king, rest from their labors, be wise and live forever.  Amen.

 

Scripture Check-off

[  ] In many and various ways...  Hebrews 1:1,2

[  ] For as many as received him... John 1:12,13

[  ] There came wise men ... Matthew 2:1-2

[  ] The oracle of Balaam ... Numbers 24:15-19

[  ] The morning stars sang  ...  Job 38:7

[  ] Spirit of faith, come down ...  C. Wesley, 1746

[  ] O star of wonder ...  J. Hopkins, 1857

[  ] There is a spirit that is intelligent ...  Wisdom 7:22b-26

[  ] I came forth from the mouth ...  Sirach 24:1-4, 6-8

[  ] A son will be given ...  Matthew 1:21

[  ] And Yahshua increased in wisdom ...  Luke 2:52

[  ] Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief ...  Isaiah 53:3

[  ] He is the image of the unseen G-d ...  Colossians 1:15-17

[  ] He reflects the glory of G-d ...  Hebrews 1:3,4

[  ] Consider Yahshua who, being in the form ...  Philippians 2:5-8

[  ] Truly I bear witness ...  John 3:11,13

[  ] I can do nothing on my own authority ...  John 5:30,32,36

[  ] I thank thee, Father ...  Matthew 11:15

[  ] How that not many wise men ...  1 Corinthians 1:26-28

[  ] She has slaughtered her beasts ...  Proverbs 9:1-6

[  ] I am the door ...  John 10:7

[  ] Come to me, all who labor ...  Matthew 11:26,29

[  ] Those who eat me will hunger ...  Sirach 24:21,22

[  ] Unless you eat the flesh ...  John 6:53-58

[  ] Why stand ye gazing up ...  Acts 1:11