An academic, writing for the Wall Street Journal, was convinced he had incontrovertible proof that the star wasn't a star in the sky at all. Rather, he claimed that since the Wise Men from the east were merely astrologers, it was an astrological sign they were following!
Other scholars claim this star was Halley's Comet or another comet visible at the time. A comet, they argue, would have been quite noticeable in the sky and would have caught the attention of ancient astrologers/astronomers. Others claim the star was a meteor. Still others argue for a planetary conjunction. One such unusual conjunction occurred in 7 BC, consisting of Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. Still others claim this star was a supernova.
I don't put much stock in any of these theories. The Wise Men (Magi) were learned astrologers/astronomers from the east, practiced and precise in their craft. (BTW, astrology and astronomy were combined, respected academic disciplines during that time.) These Magi labeled the bright light which they followed “his star.” (Matthew 2:2) Why should we argue with them? What’s more Matthew’s inspired record names this bright light “the star they had seen. . .” (Matthew 2:9)
Plus—consider what happened after the Wise Men stopped in Jerusalem and were told by Herod to search for the “King of the Jews” in Bethlehem! “After listening to the king, they went on their way. Then the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them, until it stood still over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with overwhelming joy.” (Matthew 2:9-10) When’s the last time you were hopelessly lost in a state forest, and a star suddenly appeared in the sky, guided you through the heavy underbrush and pitch-black night, until that star stopped right over the front door of your cabin? Why should we feel that our Lord lacks the power to create a special star that served as a Divine GPS leading the Wise Men on to their destination? After all, according to the Psalmist, our Lord is the one who set “the moon and (all) the stars” in place, as if hanging ornaments on a tree with his fingers! (Psalm 8:3) Hanging one star in the sky for the Wise Men was a piece of cake by comparison.
And anyway, why spend all our energy debating the star in the sky? THE REAL STAR OF BETHLELHEM was found in the house that stood under the guiding star.
“After they went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
I pray that in this New Year, you and I will be eager and overjoyed to bow down next to the Wise Men and worship the Real Star of Bethlehem—Immanuel, God With Us, our Savior, our Shepherd, our LORD, and our King.
More about the Wise Men and the Real Star next time. Stay tuned.
Privileged to Serve,
Rev. Glenn Schwanke