The Magi and the Star. How did they know He’s born?

magi-starAs we get ready to celebrate Christmas I thought it valuable to look at the theme the “Heavens declare the glory of God!”

The Scripture: Matthew 2:1-3 “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod, the king, behold, Wise-men (Magi) from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’ And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

The Magi were Astronomer/Astrologers probably some from Babylon and would have known Hebrew history through Daniel. What knowledge does their question imply? “The King of the Jews has been born (with certainty), but we don’t know where.” They had seen his star and also knew; “This King is worthy of our worship.”

The Astronomy: Leo – Lion, the constellation represented the Jewish nation for all ancient astronomers would appear in the early morning sky in the darkness about 2-3 hours before dawn in Jerusalem. Regulus, a central star in Leo, is been known down through the centuries as the ‘king star.’ On the other hand, Jupiter was also called the royal or king planet.

The Hebrew Calendar: Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of trumpets) and is instituted in Leviticus 23:23-25. The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of Sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.’”

The Sign in the Heavens: On the night of Rosh Hashanah, September 11, 3 B.C., Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, the lion. It passed across the star, stopped around the first of December and began a retrograde movement, crossing Regulus again on February 17, 2 B.C. It continued its backward trek 40 days, then turned around again and had a third conjunction with Regulus on May 8, 2 B.C. It must have had special significance to the Magi when Jupiter, the king planet had the first of three conjunctions with Regulus, the king star between the feet of Leo. Circling above Regulus, Jupiter seemed to draw a crown – signifying the arrival of the heavenly King.

“The remarkable thing about this triple conjunction is that the dying Jacob gave a prophecy on his deathbed concerning the coming of the Messiah from the tribe of Judah – to which he gave the sign of the celestial lion, the constellation Leo. Genesis 49:9-10a.

So the Magi came to seek Him after reading in the heavens, “the king of the Jews has been born, and He is worthy of worship!” They did not get the second part of this sign that the planet Venus was visible but Mars was not which signified the virgin birth.

Charlie is the author of “Always Be Ready to Give an Answer!” which develops an evangelism strategy that gets to the Gospel every time you witness. His second book ANSWERS For “The Hope That Is In You.” contains answers to more than 100 questions skeptics use to try to stump Christians. My third book, “Without 3 Miracles Darwin’s DEAD!” is currently in the final editing process and will be published later this year.

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