Matthew 2:1-12 – “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 3. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” NKJV
Here we are on Christmas Eve and I’ve been thinking about the “Star” that the wise men saw that led them to Jesus.I am not suggesting that December 25th is the exact date of Jesus’ birth only that because this is Christmas Eve I have been thinking. The question that comes to my mind is, “What was it about this star that caused the Magi to leave their home country and travel to Israel and ultimately to Bethlehem to pay homage to the Messiah?” It could not have been an ordinary occurrence for that would not have compelled them to take this action. It had to be something out of the ordinary and possibly something they had been watching for over the years. Although we cannot fully answer that question there are some things that we do know and can say with regard to this star.
Who these three men were is not fully known but they must have been impressive for they were given an audience with Herod very quickly, something not afforded to ordinary travelers. They caught Herod’s attention in their reference to this star for Herod knew of the prophecies about Jesus and viewed this birth as a threat to his kingdom and power. This causes one to wonder about the star. It had to be subtle in its appearance for Herod had to ask when it appeared. If it had been some great spectacular occurrence it would seem that Herod, a controlling despot ruler would have known about it, but he didn’t. One has to wonder why these men from the East came to worship a newborn Jewish King.
I believe that it is quite possible that they were of Jewish descent themselves and possibly have lineage dating back to the time of Daniel and the captivity in Babylon. It is also likely that they were skilled astronomers. I did not say astrologist for that was a capital offense in those times but astronomers. I would suggest that they were schooled in the Biblical prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah as well. The star did not follow the normal pattern of planetary rotation for it continued or stayed over Jerusalem & Bethlehem the entire time of their travels.
There is Biblical precedence for noting the heavenly constellations for information about supernatural events. David wrote Psalms 19:1-6 – “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. 6 Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.” NKJV Jesus declared in Luke 21:25-26 – “”And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” NKJV
Some historians suggest that the magi were from Babylon, which is East of Jerusalem about sixty miles from where Baghdad is today. They suggest that in September of 3 B.C. the magi would have looked into the Western sky and observed a planet named Regulus. Regulus was known by the Babylonians as Charu, which is interpreted, King. The Romans called it Rex, which is also interpreted, King. Thus we have Regulus which was known as the King Star. The planet Jupiter was in close proximity to Regulus and passed it moving toward the South on the horizon. Then Jupiter seemed to change its course in the sky and move back Northward toward Regulus.
Jupiter passed Regulus three times. This is called a triple conjunction, which is very rare among those two stars. This motion is referred to as retrograde motion. If you tracked the path of Jupiter on paper it would look like three circles over Regulus, or possibly a better description, a halo or a crown. In simple terms, what the magi observed would have seemed to them that Jupiter was crowning the King Star, Regulus.
An Interesting side note: Jesus came from the tribe of Judah. The symbol of the tribe of Judah is the lion. (See Genesis 49:9-10) Regulus happens to be one of the stars in the constellation Leo. It is the lower right star of Leo, or better yet the paw of Leo. Jupiter circled the paw of Leo, which is a lion and a king’s scepter would be held symbolically by the lion’s paw.
In the Book of Revelation we find in verses 1-5 the following: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.” NKJV
The Book of Revelation was written by the apostle John and what he was describing here could have been the birth of Jesus as it is shown to him being played out in the heavens. If that is accurate then the child here would be fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 49. The woman would be Mary. The dragon would be the devil in the spiritual, but in the natural Herod the Great. The magi actually saw this develop in the sky to the west of them and would elect to seek its source and find this prophetic king being born.
To make this more or less complicated the magi would have also observed the next constellation rising in the sky after Leo, which was Virgo, or the virgin. Mary was a virgin about to give birth to the Messiah. Virgo was a constellation rising in the western sky and she was clothed in the sun means that the sun was behind Virgo and shining brightly through the constellation. The magi would have seen all this and with their knowledge of Biblical prophecy and astronomy, they would have deduced that this was incredibly significant thus inspiring their journey.
In June of 2 BC, the magi would probably have still been in Babylon and watching the developments in the heavens contemplating them. They would be focusing on Jupiter and Venus. Jupiter is known as the king planet and Venus is the brightest star in the sky with Jupiter being the second brightest. In June 2 BC these two planets joined together to form a figure eight. They sat side by side creating the illusion that they were one incredibly bright star. Viewed with the naked eye it would have appeared that they were one star and the brightest that anyone had ever seen! This is likely when the magi began their trek to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem. I submit that they did not arrive on the night Jesus was born but months or years later for in Matthew it says they came to the house, not the stable where the young child, not the baby was.
What is my point in all this? Simply that through the study of history and events in the heavens among the stars, planets, and constellations we have evidence of something incredible happening that corresponds with the time of Jesus’ birth. I say this to show that true science helps to validate the Biblical report, though I need no further validation for I know He lives because He lives in my heart and I know the change that transpired in my life when I received Him as my Lord and Savior! Yet, on this Christmas Eve, I believe it is good for us to consider the incredible events that took place surrounding the miraculous birth of Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and the Hope of mankind!
So as you look up to the heavens tonight think about that star and what it meant to the magi, the shepherds in the field, the angels who rejoiced, and the untold millions who have lived since that event. This event is of Eternal Consequence and without it, we would have no hope! It is important because without it we would not have the sinless life of Jesus, the sacrificial death on the Cross, the resurrection, and the promised return of our Lord! So as you prepare to celebrate Christmas please REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON and CELEBRATE JESUS on this night and tomorrow! Set aside some time in your festivities to recognize what Christmas is really all about!
May God bless you richly is my prayer and may you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and an incredibly HAPPY & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR! Looking forward to 2019 and beyond should the Lord tarry His coming! We are living in exciting times and the time of the End!