Monday, December 5, 2016
What was the Star of Bethlehem?
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." Matthew 2:1-2
Most of us have heard about the three wise men or magi from the east who saw the bright star and knew that a mighty king had been born. But have you ever wondered what this star was? Where did it come from? Why was it so bright? Or how they knew what it meant or where to go to find this king? If you remember the story, they traveled to Jerusalem and ended up asking King Herod, assuming he would know about a new king being born. Of course Herod didn't know, nor did any of the pharisees, scribes, Jewish leaders, or prophets of the day. At least none that we know of, for no one came to visit the baby Jesus except some shepherds who had found out from angels and then, of course, these three wise men.
So how did these wise men know? Of course none of us were there, but most theologians agree that these wise men came from Babylon, and if you know your Bible, you'll remember that the Babylonians conquered the nation of Israel around 600 BC and took most of the Israelites captive to Babylon, including Daniel the great prophet. Because God's favor was on Daniel, he became quite a powerful prophet and adviser in the kingdom. The people of Israel lived there for 70 years, and no doubt brought their sacred texts along with them--the Torah, the writings of the prophets and probably the writings of Enoch. I don't know how much of the Old Testament the Israelites had at the time, but within that sacred text we now know there were multiple prophecies of the first and second coming of the Messiah, a great King who would eventually rule the world in righteousness and peace.
These magi must have also had a great understanding of the stars and the constellations. Before you click away, claiming this is astrology. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Biblical astronomy. Yes, there is Biblical astronomy. The Jewish people had their own zodiac called the Mazzaroth. You see, God placed stars in the sky in certain alignments to represent the story of the Gospel and to give us signs. These constellations were revealed to Enoch by God and are written about in the book of Enoch. For more information Visit this Website or purchase the book, The Witness of the Stars by E.W. Bullinger. The Bible is very clear that one reason God gave us the stars is for signs.
Note: It was only later that Satan perverted the message in the stars by twisting their meanings and making it all about fortune telling.
So what was the Star of Bethlehem? What made these magi take note of it so much that they were willing to travel to a different country to find the king it foretold? And a Jewish king at that!
To help understand it all, let's examine what the following stars and planets represented in Biblical astronomy.
Jupiter = King planet
Regulus (where we get the name regal) is the King Star
Leo (the Lion of Judah) is the King Constellation
Venus = bright morning star
Saturn = Satan
We also need to know the following terms:
Conjunction = The coincidence of two or more heavenly bodies at the same celestial longitude.
or the state of two or more such coinciding heavenly bodies. In other words, two more stars or planets moving near or seemingly on top of each other.
Retrograde action - a heavenly body appearing to move on the celestial sphere in the direction opposite to the natural order due to the revolution of the earth. In other words, this refers to the illusion of a planet or star moving backward to our viewpoint because we are on a moving planet.
If you use Stellarium or purchase an astronomy program like Starry Sky, you can type in a date and actually move through time and view what the sky would have looked like from a certain point on earth. The Magi were in present day Iraq and we know from historical records that King Herod died around 1 BC, so if we start searching the skies above Iraq from 3 BC to 1 BC and look for anything unusual that would stand out to people who were used to looking at the stars, this is what we find.
Staring around Sept 11, 3BC, the king Planet Jupiter forms a triple conjunction with the King star Regulus. What that means is that Jupiter moves right on top of or right beside Regulus, then moves away for a distance, then turns around and comes back again to Regulus, then moves away again and then comes back a third time. (Notice the King planet and King star)
This is called a triple conjunction and is EXTREMELY RARE.
The really cool thing is if you follow the movement of Jupiter, it appears to be forming a crown over Regulas.
This would have definitely caught the eye of the Magi, but though it was rare, it wasn't something they hadn't seen before. So, this alone probably wouldn't have sent them to Jerusalem.
However, there's another point to make. And that is that Jupiter and Regulus are doing their little dance INSIDE the constellation Leo, the Lion, which is the constellation of the tribe of Judah, which as you may remember is the King tribe into which David and Jesus were born.
So now we have the king planet in a triple conjunction with the king star in the king constellation. Hmm. That would have definitely gotten their attention. Note the Trilogy here.
However, they still wouldn't have gone in search of the new king just for this sign. It's cool and definitely means a king is coming, but they would have seen this at least once before.
Here's a screen shot of what Stellarium looks like
If we fast forward in our Astronomy software (9 Months) to June 2BC, we find something phenomenal.
Enter Venus, the Bright Morning Star planet, also known as the Mother planet. You may also remember that Jesus calls Himself the Bright Morning star in Revelation 22:16
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.
So, this is what we now see in the sky, just 9-10 months after Jupiter crowned Regulus in Leo (which could possibly be the conception of Jesus) we see the king planet Jupiter is in conjunction with Venus (Bright morning star planet), which means these two massive planets are sitting side by side, forming a giant figure 8. This never happened before and would have been the BRIGHTEST STAR anyone had ever seen.
So why am I telling you this? Not only is it really cool information, but when I learn things like this, it increases my faith and it also makes me realize what an amazing God we serve. How He truly is in command of the stars, the planets, the universe, and how everything is designed to preform exactly according to His will. I also love how He put in place signs in the sky that point to major events He has planned or is planning for this present age. And for those of us who are paying attention, it only confirms the truth of God's Word and His promises.
If you want to watch a short video presentation of this, I recommend Scottie Clark's
If you're interested in a longer documentary, This is a good ONE. This guy, Rick Larson, also has a website that is interesting.