What Kind of Star Led the “Wise Men” to Jesus?
Popular Christmas stories portray the star as a good sign from heaven. Was it really?
▪ The peculiar nature of the star caught the eye of “wise men” from the East, eventually leading them to young Jesus, relates the Bible writer Matthew. (Matthew 2:1-12, King James Version) Popular Christmas stories portray the star as a good sign from heaven. One reference work refers to the star as part of a “divine pre-arrangement whereby . . . the child Jesus was honored and acknowledged by the Father as his beloved Son.” Even Christmas carols honor that star. What was this star?
Some have suggested that it was a natural celestial phenomenon. A number of scholars have proposed that it was a conjunction of planets. However, as The New Bible Dictionary points out, “such a phenomenon could not naturally be referred to as ‘a star.’” Multiple planets passing close to each other would still appear as individual points of light and not as a single star. Some have suggested other celestial phenomena, such as a comet or a supernova. However, none of these phenomena could maneuver through the sky in a way that would lead the men to a specific city and then stop over a specific house.
Could the star have been a natural event or could it have appeared by divine providence? Consider some facts: The “wise men” were not what we would today call academics; neither were they kings. They were, as most modern English translations read, “astrologers.” They engaged in a practice condemned in the Holy Scriptures. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Note that only these astrologers were reported to have “seen” the star. If the star had been an actual star, it would have been as visible as a beacon to the public in general. But even King Herod had to ask them about the details of its appearance. This star guided the astrologers first to Jerusalem, to Herod, a mortal enemy of the future Messiah. He intended to kill the child Jesus. Then the star shifted direction and led the astrologers south to Bethlehem where Jesus was, thus placing Jesus’ life in danger.
These facts give evidence that the star was from an evil source, most likely Satan the Devil. The Bible describes him as using “lying signs and portents.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9) It should thus not surprise true Christians that Satan could make only astrologers see a starlike object and could jockey that “star” to lead them to God’s Son, whom he wanted to destroy. Of course, no one can outmaneuver Jehovah God. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Devil’s ploy to bring an early death to Jesus was thwarted.
It is noteworthy, however, that God did in fact announce Jesus’ birth through miraculous means. On the very night of Jesus’ birth, an angel appeared to a group of shepherds and announced the birth of a “Savior.” The angel also provided directions so that the shepherds could visit Jesus. Then a multitude of angels appeared and proceeded to praise God. (Luke 2:8-14) God used these angels and not the star to inform people of Jesus’ birth.