What was the star seen at the time of Jesus’ birth?

Many are familiar with the story of the birth of Jesus, and the events that preceded and accompanied it. The Shepherds, the Angels, the inn in which there was no room. And there was something about a star…

Supernatural Star

Matthew 2:1 "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,

Matthew 2:2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." 

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Matthew 2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

From this account by Matthew, it is clear the wise men “saw” the star, but nobody in Jerusalem did. Christians have attempted for years to identify an astronomical source for this star. Some have proposed it was Jupiter, or a combination of the visible planets aligned, or perhaps, a comet.

But, none of these are striking enough, miraculous enough, unusual enough to herald the birth of The Messiah. And, none of them could have been seen by the wise men, yet missed by the ruling elite of Jerusalem. Astronomy was and still is an essential part of the Jewish calendar. We can’t claim Herod and his court weren't paying attention to the stars. Yet, none of these give a satisfying answer. How could the wise men “see” it but no one in Jerusalem reported this?

There’s more about this star in the following verses. It tells us the wise men, upon leaving Jerusalem headed North toward Bethlehem. Any celestial object would have moved from east to west through the night sky. Yet, this star went before the wise men, moving from south to north. It stopped over the place where Jesus was.

There is only one rational explanation – this was a miraculous event. Not natural, but supernatural. 

 Map Of Wise Men's Journey

The gifts of these wise men tells us more about their journey’s purpose. They had come from the east. It was while they were still "in the east" they saw the star. In the east was the ancient kingdom of Babylon and Assyria. The Jewish people had spent seventy years in captivity under those kingdoms. During that captivity, the wise men of Babylon and Assyria studied the writings of the Jewish people.

And, a very prominent leader during both kingdoms during the captivity was a Jew. His name was Daniel. Daniel wrote extensive details about a coming king. A coming deliverer. A coming Messiah. Perhaps the wise men had read the detailed prophecies, and understood the timing of Jesus' birth. Perhaps while still in the east they began their journey with knowledge of the timing that is detailed in the prophecies. The star signaled the birth of a great king. So, they set out to find him. Perhaps it was a literal star. In either case, they knew what they were following. They new what they were seeking. The prophecies were precise and clear.

Micah 5:2King James Version (KJV)

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

The clearest prophecy about Jesus is the entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah. Isaiah 53:3-7 is especially unmistakable:

Isiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Exactly what is meant by “seventy sevens”? The phrase by itself is ambiguous, but taken in context the meaning is clear. Daniel’s prayer in verses 3-19 of the chapter refers to the fulfillment of a specific seventy-year period, the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity (as prophesied by Jeremiah). Daniel received the seventy sevens prophecy in response to his prayer. The prophecy foretold a period of seven times seventy yet to come, or seventy seven-year periods. Seventy seven-year periods equals 490 years.

The prophecy goes on to say that “from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven sevens (49) and sixty-two sevens (434). . . . Then after the sixty-two sevens the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing.”

According to this prophecy, the Messiah would show up, present Himself as Messiah to the nation and then be “cut off” some time near AD 30. This was fulfilled as Jesus Christ presented Himself to the nation of Israel on Palm Sunday, was crucified on Preparation Day (the annual day on which the Passover Lamb was slain), and rose from the dead on Sunday.

The prophecy then goes on to say that, subsequent to the Messiah’s being killed, “the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Within one generation of Christ’s crucifixion, Titus razed Jerusalem and destroyed the temple.

There is some debate about the exact date of the decree that began the 483 years. There is also debate as to whether the days should be counted on our modern 365-day calendars or the 360-day lunar calendar. Regardless, Daniel's prophecy lays out an amazingly accurate time line. If we knew all the exact dates of Daniel's prophecy and timing, we would find it predicted the very day of Christ's death—over 600 years before it occurred.

These wise men showed great knowledge of this king they were seeking. One gift they brought was the gift of gold – the sign of wealth, power, authority. The sign of a king. They gave the gold as an act of worship, acknowledging this was a king.

A second gift was frankincense - incense. This was a gift often reserved for a supernatural being. It was a precious sacrificial offering of incense. Why give it to a baby except to acknowledge and confess what they had learned in the east by studying the writings of Daniel and Moses, and other prophets? They knew this was no ordinary man. This was not just another king. This king was God in the flesh. They brought the gift of incense as an act of worship.

And, yet, they also brought myrrh. Myrrh was commonly used in funeral preparations of the dead body. Here was their third act of worship in acknowledging this child had come as the Lamb of God – to be offered for the sins of the world. This King Who Is God would be killed. He would die, willingly lay down his life. But, not without purpose. With extreme, Godly purpose. To justly pay the cost of my sin. Of your sin. And in so doing, to purchase or redeem us back to Himself.

Yes you must have faith to believe that a supernatural star guided the wise men to where Jesus was born.

Yes you must also have faith if you believe in evolution. Your faith is in man's ability to explain the creation of himself by nothing. To me this is misplaced faith but still the atheist has faith that he was created by a big bang or evolved from some spontaneous action of matter.

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