Often we use things without giving them a second thought, well, at least that’s true for me!
Take GPS, for example. Your car might have it, your phone might have it. or you might even have a GPS device. But do you know what GPS stands for?
Just in case you don’t, and I didn’t know until doing some research, it stands for Global Positioning System. GPS is a global navigation satellite system and below are its five main uses:
1) Location — Determining a position.
2) Navigation — Getting from one location to another.
3) Tracking — Monitoring object or personal movement.
4) Mapping — Creating maps.
5) Timing — Making it possible to make precise time measurements.
Perhaps the most used features are determining where you are (position), how to get from there to your destination (navigation), where you are during the trip (tracking), and how long it will take to get there (timing).
The Guiding Star
Part of the Christmas story is a GPS of sorts. While it could be called a Global Positioning System, I would tend to call it God’s Positioning System. And, instead of a satellite system, this GPS used a star:
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matt 2:2) “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.” (Matt 2:7) “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” (Matt 2:9)
Much has been written and discussed over the years about what really happened in this account from the book of Matthew. For example, who were the wise men? What purpose did the star serve? Did it guide them the whole way?
Without getting into the details of the discussion, including the areas of agreement and disagreement, many believe that the wise men came from Persia. While we don’t know much about their beliefs and their faith, they felt compelled enough to travel far to worship the one who was born the king of the Jews.
When the star did appear to them, somehow these wise men recognized that it was part of the announcement of the birth of this king. This announcing star probably appeared to them while they were in Persia and that likely was their starting location for God’s Positioning System to direct them.
In addition, the star likely provided the navigational information they needed to head off in the right direction. It also appeared to them at the right time for them to begin their long journey, a journey that probably took up to two years, and brought them at the right time to see this king.
And while we don’t know from the account if the star guided them the whole way, we do know, from the historical account in Matthew, that they at least saw it when it first rose and also when it stopped over the place where Jesus was.
Arriving at Your Destination
But God’s Positioning System also did much, much more. It wasn’t just about location, navigation, and timing, it was about the positioning of the heart. From the historical account, the GPS was very successful in that regard:
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matt 2:10-11) Yet, this Christmas star, as part of God’s Positioning System, pales in comparison to another star that shines far brighter: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Rev 22:16)
God’s Positioning System’s design has always been to lead us to Jesus. While it may not necessarily still use the star that the wise men saw, it does use things like the cross and the empty tomb to point us to the bright Morning Star that we might know Him and worship Him.
This Christmas season, intentionally set your heart to follow God’s Positioning System to the bright Morning Star. And when you see Him, may you fall down and worship Him!