The story has become so famous that people hang a representation atop Christmas trees to signify the night when Christ was born. That was a longstanding tradition in my birth family. I must say that reading what the Bible actually says about this star challenged many long-cherished beliefs I held as a child. Why?
Take for example, the account at Matthew 2:1-2. If you read those verses you will notice that the wise men from the east were not initially led to baby Jesus. They were led to Jerusalem where King Herod was made aware of Christ being born. Ask yourself, why did this star lead these men (the Bible does not say three men) to the one man who had a motive to kill baby Jesus? Did you notice that neither these wise men nor Herod knew where to find Jesus? According to Matthew 2:4, Herod demanded to know from the chief priests and scribes where Christ was to be born.
Once Herod was told that Christ would be born in Bethlehem, some six miles away, verses 7 and 8 said it was Herod who sent the wise men to Bethlehem, not God. So, instead of leading them directly to Jesus, this “star” alerted God’s enemy to the saviors’ whereabouts.
Matthew 2:9 said, “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.”
Since real stars don’t suddenly reappear, fly ahead of people and stop over a single destination, could this guiding light have been something else? If what these wise men saw was visible to all eyes, why didn’t other people run to this location also?
More importantly, if this “star” was from God, why were the wise men given a divine warning not to return to Herod and an angel warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Jesus in verses 12 and 13? If the star was from God, why would He have endangered His own Son by leading these men to His enemies first? This is so inconsistent with the way God dealt with His servants in the past and His way of informing His true servants of Jesus’ birth in Luke’s account.
According to Luke chapter 2, on the actual night of Jesus’ birth, God used an angel to alert shepherds in the field that His Son was born. Think about it. God used angels to inform His servants of events surrounding the coming of the Messiah. He used prophets, visions, dreams and angels but never did God use a star to lead pagan stargazers anywhere, much less to the enemy.
Let’s not forget that the results of King Herod being tipped off by the wise men being led by this star had horrific consequences. The star and these wise men became instrumental in the king having all the boys of Bethlehem, from 2 years of age and under, executed mercilessly, according to Matthew 2:16. Screams of hapless mothers who saw their children murdered all over Jerusalem must have rued the day these wise men were led there by this star!
It is interesting that the Greek word, magi, translated “wise men” also means “astrologers.” The book, “The Dawn of Civilization and Life in the Ancient East,” says, “The Chaldeans made great progress in the study of astronomy through an effort to discover the future in the stars. This art we call ‘astrology.’”
Question: Would God use astrology and a star to guide “astrologers” to His enemy in Jerusalem, and then toward His Son in Bethlehem, yet warn Mary and Joseph to flee? Hardly.
Could anyone else have been behind the appearance of this “star” to thwart the birth of our Lord and Savior? Keep in mind that 2Corinthians 11:14 tells us, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” — New International Version. Who, more than Satan, wanted to destroy this child in order to oppose God’s purpose? Wouldn’t this be a clever way of doing it?
Another fact came to light concerning the time these astrologers found Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Artists’ renderings have three wise men standing over the baby Jesus lying in a manger. According to Matthew 2:11, by the time they arrived, Jesus was not a babe in a manger but a child in a house. The only ones recorded in the Bible as seeing Jesus on the night he was born were shepherds alerted by God’s angels.
Luke 2:16 said, “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Based on what King Herod learned from the astrologers, all the boys in Bethlehem 2 years of age and under had to be murdered, indicating Jesus may have been a child as old as 2 by the time the astrologers met him in his house!
Besides, had these “wise men” come at Jesus’ birth in a manger, bringing gold and other valuables, wouldn’t Mary and Joseph have been able to afford a better sacrifice than the “two young pigeons” mentioned at Luke 2:22-24? That provision was reserved only for the poor.
Reasoning on the Bible’s account of events before, during and after that “star’s” strange arrival — as well as whose interest was served best — can open new insights if the Bible alone is our guide. Pray for truth and understanding.
Everyone must decide for themselves what to believe. As mentioned at the outset, nothing like it has ever been recorded in the annals of history. Read the account again, objectively, and see if that star seems innocent.
Whatever that controversial star from the east was, it will never replace Jesus, the bright morning star mentioned at Revelation 22:16, which leads to our salvation.