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Saturday, December 15, 2012

All About the Star

I always have questions about things that seem obscure. I want to know. I want to understand. I’ve always been fascinated with the Christmas star.
  • How did the wise men know it was a new one?
  • How did they know it harkened the birth of the Messiah?
  • What did it look like?
  • How big was it?
  • How exactly did it lead them? How did it move? (How did they know it was leading them to where they wanted to go?)

Yes, I always ask a lot of questions!

Let’s turn to the Bible for some answers.

The story of the Christmas star is told in Matthew 2. Here are the sections about the star: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, 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. . . .Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. . . . When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (Matthew 2:1-2, 7, 9-10)

The wise men saw the new star, one they understood to be the star for the King of the Jews. It seems they were acquainted with Numbers 24:17a, I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel. This passage obviously refers to the Messiah. I looked up the word “Star” that’s used in this passage, and it can mean a literal star, “blazing thing,” or the Messiah Himself.

The wise men studied the stars. Back in those days, all the kings had their wise men, astrologers, and magicians. (Think back to the Pharaohs and the kings in the Persian Empire.) It was normal for kings to have smart people, with a background of knowledge from many different books, advising them.

So, these guys are gazing into the sky and they see a new star, something different. They also associate it with the new King of the Jews.

It’s been suggested that the Star of Bethlehem was a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus . . . or Jupiter and Saturn . . . or Halley’s Comet (12 B.C.). I have a problem with these ideas, simply because it seems that this was a new star, something they weren’t expecting at that time. Halley’s Comet had appeared too early for the timing to be right, so I rule that theory out as well the conjunctions.

Another reason I think this was special is that it disappeared and then reappeared to the wise men when they left Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. They knew it was that same special star. It went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. I don’t think it could do that if it had been a normal space occurrence. This star moved and hovered.

What do you think it was?

I’m always impressed by how God uses nature for His own means—when He wants, and how He wants. He can change time (twice in the Old Testament), calm the storms, make a big fish swallow a man (Jonah), make an axe blade float, make it rain in one place and not another . . . all Bible examples of His control over His own creation.

I have no problem believing that, on the occasion of God’s Son’s birth, He signaled it with a new star as a testimony to men living far away. I have no difficulty believing God could move that star as He wished and make it lead them to the house where Jesus was. Our God can do what He wants, when He wants.

For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).
Not even a star!

(You can read my post about the most recent planetary conjunction between Venus and Jupiter here.)    

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