This lesson enhances the study that was published in the Record-Herald, Dec. 31, 2015.
Tradition has brought us a stationary, dazzling star over Bethlehem being pursued by three wise men on the night Jesus Christ was born, was placed in a manger, and was surrounded by shepherds and animals on Dec. 25, year 0000. Christmas is and always has been an incongruous blend of tradition, imagination, and a little truth. An example is Matt. 2:1, 2 which should have been translated, “After (not when) Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, there came Eastern Magi from Persia (not wise men) to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Judeans for we have seen his star rising in the east shortly before dawn, and we have come to worship him.’ “
God’s Word clearly records two distinct appearances of the same star, one in Matt. 2:2 and one in Vs. 2:9, “…which they saw rising in the east…” Most people believe that the star seen by the Magi was exceptionally bright; however, God’s Word indicates that only the Magi took special note of it. Its brilliance is never mentioned, only its significance. Whatever the star was, it was important for its meaning, not its brightness.
We must realize that in ancient times, all astronomical bodies (except the sun and moon) were called “stars,” including what we know as planets. In Biblical usage, as well as in popular modern usage, “star” could refer to any luminous body in the sky. Thus the possibilities for “his star” could include a nova, a comet, a planetary conjunction, or a planet. However, serious research proves “his star” was the planet Jupiter, the planet of royalty and kingship. It was called the “king planet” since it is the largest planet in our solar system and was in the sky every night.
Why? The celestial body whose activity the Magi observed definitely was in motion in the heavens. Stars, used in the strict sense of the word, appear fixed in relation to each other because they are in distant space. The seven stars of the Big Dipper are the same distance apart from each other as they were 2,000 years ago. The planets of our solar system were termed “wondering stars” (Greek: planetes asteres). Planets are so close to us that we are able to follow their motions. A planet in its activity would attract far more attention than a fixed star in distant space. Jesus said there are 12 hours in a day. (John 11:9). On a day when the sun rises at 6 a.m. and sets at 6 p.m., the highest point in the sun’s arc is what we refer to as “high noon” and “it stood” in the Bible.
Mercury has long been called the messenger god. (Acts 14:12). Venus is known as “the bright and morning star.” (Rev. 22:16). Mars is associated with Archangel Michael who fights for God’s people. (Dan. 12:1). In mythology, Jupiter is the father of gods, the ruler, the king who reigned over all else. (Jer. 23:5). In astrological lore, Saturn is an evil star associated with Satan, the fallen archangel. No ancient beliefs surround Uranus, Neptune and Pluto because being invisible to the naked eye, they were unknown to the ancients.
Jesus Christ’s actual existence began with his conception and birth to a very special woman named Mary about 2,000 years ago. More precisely, on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 3 B.C. during the 81 minutes between 6:18 p.m. and 7:39 p.m., Jesus took his first breath of life and became a living soul, even as Adam did in Gen. 2:7, at the beginning of a new day. The closest tie Jesus has with December is when the Magi visited Jesus 15 months after his birth. Amen.
Sidney Terhune P. O. Box 6, Wash. C. H., OH