The news of a “Christmas Star” that will appear on December 21, 2020 has once again inspired people to study the verses in the Bible that talk about the star that the Magi saw. The “Christmas Star” is not probably the “Christmas Star” that became the guide of the Magi more than 2,000 years ago but it is still very interesting to see because it is 800 years in the making. So, the “great conjunction” of the planets Jupiter and Saturn will be like the brightest star that we will probably see in our lifetime.
Going back to the star that the Magi saw, what lessons can we learn from this event?
First, extra-biblical sources support the historicity of the birth of Jesus Christ.
We can ask the question: did anything interesting happen in the night skies over the Middle East in 3 or 2 BC?
The site bethlehemstar.com tells us that when you use a modern astronomy software based on the works of Johannes Kepler, you will find out that something amazing happened during those ancient times.
A magus or magi watching the skies would two objects that had a “conjunction.” These two objects were the planet Jupiter and the star, Regulus. Regulus is where we got the English word “regal.” The Babylonians called this Regulus Sharu which is translated as “king” while the Romans called it Regulus Rex which is also translated as “king.” So, at the beginning of the new Jewish year, the Planet of Kings met the Star of Kings. What is even more interesting is that the researcher said that there was a “retrograde motion.” This was what probably caught the attention of the Magi.
He wrote, “After Jupiter and Regulus had their kingly encounter, Jupiter continued on its path through the star field. But then it entered retrograde. It “changed its mind” and headed back to Regulus for a second conjunction. After this second pass it reversed course again for yet a third rendezvous with Regulus, a triple conjunction. A triple pass like this is more rare. Over a period of months, our watching magus would have seen the Planet of Kings dance out a halo above the Star of Kings. A coronation.”
The author also pointed out many more scientific discoveries that verified the account in the Gospels. These things point out that the Christmas story is historical and truthful.
Second, God can use anything around us, including the stars above to convey His message.
It is very interesting that the names of constellations are also in the Bible. Job 9:9 says, “He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.” Isaiah 40:26 also tells us that God created the stars and also call them by their names. Jesus also tells us in Luke 21:25 that “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars…”
So, God used the “Star in Bethlehem” to convey a message to the Magi, the first Gentiles outside of Israel to hear the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords. For us, it could be anything. We just have to continue to open to God’s revelation to us.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Office of Communications
Central Philippine University