“A Star, A Star… Shining in the Sky”
The Bethlehem Star is represented in practically every Christmas decoration through out the world. Just look at most Christmas trees and you’ll find at its crown a sparkling star. In nativities, you’ll find a star above. In the Philippines, the ornamental lantern parol which can be found outside every building and house represent the star of Bethlehem.
Some say that the Bethlehem Star was a comet or a distant supernova. There are many theories. But what does the Bible say?
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”
After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Let us talk about the star. Now, I will not focus on exactly what the magi saw in great detail. At the end of this article is a link to a Youtube video which I found intriguing and uplifting. I hope you would watch it after.
For this article, we will focus on the biblical aspects.
vs2 – …we saw His star in the east…
In our last post, we identified the magi as being astrologers/astronomers. When they said they saw his star in the east it is a funny statement because all stars rise on the east because of the earth’s clockwise rotation. So, what did they really see to cause them to travel to a distant foreign country?
As astronomers they would have developed a discipline of observing and plotting the stars’ relative positions. Keep in mind that the magi plotted what visible to the naked eye (because telescopes were not yet invented) and utilizing primitive tools.
The majority of the night sky were stars that were relatively stationary. Among those stationary twinkling lights are grouping of stars that form recognizable patterns. They are called constellations. Each constellation were assigned a name based on its apparent form. For example, a group of stars in the shape that looks like the head and horns of a bull with an angry red eye is the constellation Taurus.
Not all stars were stationary. The night sky also had objects that move, though at most times these objects were hardly noticeable to the common eye except for the magi and their like. I’m not talking about the moon or shooting stars. I’m talking about planets. One particular planet interested the magi at the time of Jesus’ birth. It was the planet Jupiter – the king planet.
I wish I can spend the time to tell all about what they may have observed about Jupiter and it’s movement. (Watch the video below.) What I will say is that at the time of Jesus’ birth, Jupiter rose in the east appearing at the extended paw of the great constellation Leo, the lion, which was also another symbol of king. As many nights past, the magi plotted the movements of Jupiter as it traversed up and down on Leo’s paw like it was holding something significant. To the magi, it was enough for them to scour through Scripture (I believe). And I think they would have found, at least, this biblical reference.
Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
How does this connect? If you draw a line following the plotting of Jupiter’s movements that went up and down on Leo’s paw. It would look like Leo or the Lion of Judah receiving the royal scepter. By the way, by biblical reference, Jesus, the Son of God, is ultimately the Lion of Judah.
Some may argue that the star they followed could have been a comet or something visibly spectacular. All I can say is that the Bible says otherwise.
Look at the reaction of Herod in Matthew 2:3 when the magi asked “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (vs2).
vs3 – When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
If there was a comet or any cosmic spectacle in the night sky, Herod and his own wise men of Jerusalem would have taken heed. But instead he was quite surprised and troubled mainly more because they inquired about another King of the Jews.
What about the star that led them to Bethlehem? Did it really stop over where the child was according to verse 9? For myself, I have no problem of believing that the movement of Jupiter led them directly to the house that Jesus was in. If you watch the video below, you’ll get to watch exactly what Jupiter did to fulfill this. It is quite spectacular.
I want to pause this blog for us to take note on the rightful reaction of the magi when they saw the star.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
I think when we gaze into the night sky, we should consider the psalm and rejoice.
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.