Signs In The Heavens; During Jesus Birth

COPYRIGHT WARNING

What was the Star that the kings from the East saw over Bethlehem? They believed that it was a sign from God that a great King was about to be born. They arrived at this conclusion from reading the Hebrew prophecies that concerned the coming of the Messiah. In Numbers chapter 24, Balaam is acting in the capacity of a Prophet. He describes the coming of the Messiah at a later date–by “a Star out of the line of Jacob.” This was likely one of the Prophecies that these wise men from the East had read, and determined to follow this Prophecy to Israel during an astronomical event of great significance, as it had been observed in the night skies, all over the world.

Numbers 24:17b “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob…”

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 2:1-8 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, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

Luke 1:30-33 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

To consider that Balaam could call the Messiah The Star from the line of Jacob, hundreds of years before He arrived on earth, is amazing. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He was born to parents who were from the line of Jacob, under a sign that had appeared over Israel that they described as His Star (Matthew 2:3). The Kings who came from the East had read the Hebrew prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. They were also students of Astronomy, as they carefully studied the movement of the constellations in the heavens and observed a formation of stars, which caused them to believe that a King was about to be born in Israel.

Matthew 2:1-12 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…

First of all, notice that this verse does not say that there were three wise men. There were probably many, many of these wise men who came to Jerusalem. The term wise men is probably not the best translation of this verse because these men were really Astrologers. They studied the stars, as they moved through the visible sky, and they noticed something incredible. Apparently, these men were also students of Old Testament Prophecy, and they believed that these prophecies were inspired and written by God to announce the coming of the Messiah of Israel.

It is likely that these wise men from the east had read the prophecy from book of Micah that predicted the coming of the Messiah at Bethlehem: (See Prophecy 321)

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

Along with their study of the Scriptures, these men also observed an event in the movement of the stars which led them to believe that this King, described in Malachi’s prophecy, was about to be born in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:2-4 The wise men saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

Notice that these men, who came from the East, had followed a sign in the heavens, which they attributed to the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. He would be the Greatest King the world has ever known—the Transcendent One—who came out of eternity and took the body of a human being, forever. They were following what they believed to be His Star, and they came for the purpose of worship to this new King, whom they believed to be the promised Messiah. Many of the Old Testament prophecies that are a part of this book were the evidence which convinced these highly educated and extremely brilliant men to come on this difficult and long journey to find the One who was prophesied to be the King of the universe.[1]

They are lost

Notice that true to the male species, these wise men are lost and have finally come to a place of humility, where they will ask someone for directions. One might postulate that if they had been “wise women” from the East, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought disposable diapers as gifts.[2]

One of the questions that we should ask at this point is: “Why weren’t the scribes and the Pharisees interested in the birth of Jesus?” They were appointed by God as the teachers of His Law, representing Him before the people. The Lord held these leaders responsible to know His word and the timing of the Messiah’s arrival. More importantly, they should have been anticipating the coming of the Messiah at any moment. In the Gospel of Luke, he records that at the time that John was Baptizing in the Jordan river, the people were in great expectation that the Christ, the Messiah, was about to arrive.

Luke 3:15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not…

A knowledge of the coming Redeemer was not limited to Israel. The whole world was likely aware of this promise which had been made in the word of God. The Hebrew scriptures were not only known in nations around the world; they were held in high regard and studied intently because of the great number of these predictions which had already been fulfilled.

We should understand that the entire history of the world is confirmed by the record of the Old Testament. Every major civilization that existed at the time the Old Testament was written is listed in the first five books of the Bible. The Book of Daniel predicts the rise and fall of every worldwide kingdom that has existed, with stunning accuracy, all the way up to the coming of the final kingdom which will be ruled exclusively by the Messiah.

The people of many kingdoms who had read the prophecies of the Old Testament were probably anticipating the coming of an individual who was predicted to be the King of all kings. Why were the leaders in Israel not looking for and anticipating His arrival?

Daniel Chapter 9 gives us the exact date that the Messiah was prophesied to arrive in Jerusalem.

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. (Literally in Hebrew a Shabua: 69 periods of 7 years or a total of 483 years) See Prophecy 309 for details.

We understand what a prophetic week is, from the context of Genesis 29:27, where seven years are spoken of as being a week.

Genesis 29:27 Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.

When this prophecy was given to Daniel, Judah had already been overtaken by Nebuchadnezzar and carried back to Babylon. The Lord revealed to Jeremiah the Prophet that a period of 70 years were determined for the people of Judah in which they would be carried away captive to Babylon.

Jeremiah 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

Jeremiah 29:10 For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.

According to the prophecy of Daniel 9:25, when a command is given for the captives of Babylon to be set free and return to Judah, 483 years later the Messiah will arrive in Jerusalem. According to the Book of Nehemiah, King Artaxerxes (Longimanus: “longhand”[3]) gave this command for the captives to return to Judah on March 14, 445 B.C.

Nehemiah 2:1-2 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, (March-April) in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. 2 Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” So I became dreadfully afraid…

To clarify the identity of Artaxerxes whom Nehemiah speaks of, we look to the secular historical record. Artaxerxes the first, is given the nickname Longimanus because the fingers of his right hand were longer than the finger on his left hand.[4] He ascended to the throne of the Medo-Persian empire in July of 465 B.C.[5]

According to Nehemiah, this was July of 446 B.C, the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes.[6] Nine months later, in the first month of the Nisan by the Hebrew calendar, which is March/April of our current calendar, Artaxerxes issued the command to return to Jerusalem. According to Hebrew tradition, when the day of the month is unstated, the first day is assumed.[7] On the first day of the month of Nisan, our 14th day of March, 445 B.C., Artaxerxes Longimanus issued the command for Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to restore and rebuild the city.[8]

A secondary confirmation of this date is found in a secular record of history revealing that Tiberius Caesar began his reign on August 19th, 14 A.D.[9] According to Luke’s Gospel, in the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign, Jesus was baptized at the Jordan river by John the Baptist in the Fall of 28 A.D.

Luke 3:1-3 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins…

Luke 3:21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized…

Jesus began His public Ministry at 30 years of age, in the Fall of 28 A.D., by the testimony of the Luke’s Gospel.

Luke 3:23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at thirty years of age…

Jesus birth

We know the precise date of Jesus’ birth from the historical records which were kept by secular writers, who described the events of the Roman General Titus when he sacked the city of Jerusalem and burned the Temple in 70 A.D.

By the text of the New Testament we know that Jesus was not born in December because shepherds do not keep watch over their sheep outdoors this late in the season. Luke testifies that during the time of Jesus’ birth, there were shepherds with their sheep out in the fields.

Luke 2:8-20 “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

In Bethlehem during the winter, temperatures often fall below freezing. Shepherds did not attend to their flocks at night in winter because it was too cold. Once the frost set in, shepherds would bring their flocks into pens at night.

The fact that Luke mentions that the shepherds were outside with their sheep at night is a evidence for the time of year that this took place. Also remember that a census had been ordered by the Roman government. Every man was required to return to the place of his ancestors’ birth to register for this census. The Roman government would not have called for people to return to their place of birth during winter; this would have been extremely poor planning by the Roman government who were always meticulous in their organization of every event. The Romans called for the census to be conducted in the Fall, when temperatures were moderate and travel was much easier.

The best and most reliable source for the correct time of year of Jesus’ birth is the Bible itself.

Luke 1:5 “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

John the Baptist’s father Zechariah was a priest who served in the temple. Each man took his turn to serve according to the division or course in which he belonged. According to Luke 1:5, Zachariah belonged to the division of Abijah.

There were eight divisions, with each priest serving two weeks in the temple.

We know from history that when the Roman army came in and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Roman soldiers also destroyed the temple. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that the first course of these priests had just taken place when the temple was burned.[10]

Knowing when this first course of the temple service had begun in 70 A.D., it is very easy to count backwards to determine when Zechariah would have been serving in his pre-determined course of Abijah.

We know that as soon as Zechariah came out of the temple and had finished his time of service, that his wife Elizabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist shortly thereafter. We know that John the Baptist is 6 months older than Jesus. If we count 6 months after John the Baptist’s birth, we can determine the date of Jesus’ Birth.

The following chart will help you visualize how and when these events took place. The first course of Jehoiarib began on August 5, 70 A.D. We know this from the writings of Josephus. Counting backwards, as these times of service were consistent in the precise months they would occur, we know that in 3 B.C. When Zechariah received his turn to serve in the temple, it would have been during the course of Abijah, on July 13.

Zachariahs course in the temple chart
The New Testament account of Elizabeth and Mary’s conceptions:

Luke 1:24-31 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

Gabriel tells Mary the date of Elizabeth’s conception, which allows us to know the date of Jesus’ conception:

Luke 1:35-36 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.”

We know that at the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Mary had already conceived Jesus in her womb:

Luke 1:39-44 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Having established the date of Jesus’ birth, we can now determine the time when He began His public ministry—at 30 years of age. Coincidentally, 30 was the age that a Hebrew man could begin His ministry, as described in the traditions of the elders.

• Jesus was born on September 29, 3 B.C.
• Adding 30 years, we come to the Fall of 28 A.D., the first Passover during Jesus’ ministry in April 28 A.D.
• Adding 3 1/2 years or four Passovers, we come to 32 A.D, when Jesus was Crucified on Passover, April 14, 32 A.D.

3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

These dates are verified by the secular record of history, revealing that Tiberius Caesar began his reign on August 19th, 14 A.D.[11] According to Luke’s Gospel, in the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign, Jesus was baptized at the Jordan river by John the Baptist in the Fall of 28 A.D.

Luke 3:1-3 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins

Having established the date of Jesus’ birth from history, both Biblical and secular, and verifying the exact date that He came into Jerusalem as the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 9, we can go on to examine the commandment given to Nehemiah which was made by Artaxerxes for the Jews to return to Jerusalem to restore and rebuild the city.

As I stated earlier in this chapter, the dating of Nehemiah’s recording of the command by Artaxerxes is recorded for us in history. For the sake of clarity, I will restate the context of this again:

On the first day of the month of Nisan, our 14th day of March, 445 B.C., Artaxerxes Longimanus issued the command for Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to restore and rebuild the city.[12]

Nehemiah 2:1-2 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, (March-April) in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. 2 Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” So I became dreadfully afraid…

The reason that Nehemiah was filled with fear was that after fasting and praying for the past 3 months, it is apparently showing on his face. Nehemiah is the Cupbearer to the king. It was his job to taste the king’s food and drink before he consumed them, insuring that they were safe.

It was the task of the cupbearer to die for the king, if necessary.

According to the law of Babylon, to come into the presence of the king with even a hint of sadness on your countenance was considered a great insult to the king and punishable by death.

Once in the presence of the King, you were expected to be joyful and happy. To approach the king of Babylon with sadness on your face could cost you your life. For this reason, Nehemiah is fearful that the king has noticed the despair he feels for Jerusalem.

Remember that Nehemiah has been praying and seeking the Lord for the three months leading up to this day. He should be expecting that the Lord will answer his prayer. Perhaps Nehemiah never anticipated that the answer to his intercession would come from a pagan king. It is an important principle; that the Lord will often work in ways which we are not anticipating. Often, our deliverance may come from the most unlikely of sources. This will be proven true for Nehemiah and the people who have been in captivity for seventy years.

It was said of King Artaxerxes Longimanus that he was a good, easygoing king.[13]

Even though the normal protocol for a cupbearer was to maintain joyful countenance when he would come before the king, Longimanus does not seem to mind that Nehemiah is sad. In fact, this good natured king seems to care that Nehemiah is sad, requesting the reason for his sadness.

Nehemiah 2:3-4 and (Nehemiah) said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.

Notice that when the king asks Nehemiah what he needs, very quickly, Nehemiah shoots up a prayer to the Lord: “What do I say Lord? Give me wisdom.”

There are many times when we don’t have time for a long prayer. The need is instantaneous with our prayer, we require the Lord’s help right at that moment. When you pray a short prayer in time of need, you can be sure the Lord will hear you and help you.

Whenever someone approaches me after I have taught a Bible study to ask me a Bible related question or to ask for advice, I always shoot up my own silent prayer: “Lord, please give me wisdom right now…”

Matthew 10:19 (Jesus said) But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak

It is comforting to know that when we need help quickly, the Lord will answer us and provide the wisdom and direction required.

Nehemiah spoke silently in his mind: “What should I say Lord?”

Nehemiah 2: 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”

Apparently, the Lord told Nehemiah to be direct and tell the King: “I want to go back to Jerusalem and help rebuild the city…”

Nehemiah 2:6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

Why does the Holy Spirit include the bracketed section of this verse: The Queen was sitting beside Him? It is my opinion that this Queen may have been Esther, from the Book of Esther.

Esther 2:16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, (Ahasuerus is not a name, it is a title for the king that means: “High Father”) into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

Esther was a Jewess who was brought to the throne of Artaxerxes at the precise moment that God had ordained to save the entire Jewish nation from being murdered by the evil Haman.

Esther 4:14 (Mordecai) For if you (Esther) remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 9:25 but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.

It is the opinion of many who make commentary on the Bible that this Queen, who is spoken of here in Nehemiah 2, is that same Esther who saved the entire nation, as described by the Book of Esther.

Nehemiah continues with his request to Artaxerxes:

Nehemiah 2:7-8 Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

The letters that Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah, granting him permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it, was the same decree which is described in the prophecy of Daniel Chapter 9. When a Persian King wrote anything, it was always referred to as a Decree. This was due to the fact that all of his words were considered the words of a living God. Once spoken then could not be undone, even by the king who declared them.

Daniel records this decree in his prophecy of chapter 9:25. See Prophecy 309 for more details.

Daniel 9:25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command (This command by Artaxerxes to Nehemiah) To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

• Sir Robert Anderson from the Royal Observatory in England computed the exact day this event took place.[14]
• Taking into account all of the changes in the calendar for leap years and the changes from a 360-day Babylonian calendar year to our current 365.25 days per year calendar.
• According to Daniel’s prophecy, the period of time required for this command on March 14, 445 B. C. until the coming of the Messiah, there would be 173,880 days.[15]
• Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on this exact day, April 6th, 32 A. D.[16] and announced that He was the Messiah.
• This was Palm Sunday, the day that the Passover Lamb of Exodus 12 was to be inspected for defects, four days before He could be offered as the Passover Lamb.
• This all happened exactly as Daniel had predicted, 700 years before.

These prophecies were widely known at this time; in fact, it was the hope of every young girl in Israel that she would be chosen as The Virgin of Isaiah’s prophecy to bear the Messiah.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

This is why the name Jesus, also known as Joshua, was so popular during the time that Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth. Yeshua is His Hebrew name. His Greek name is Jesus. The name Jesus means: The Lord is our Salvation. See Prophecy 26.

This is the name that the angel instructed Mary and Joseph to call their Baby:

Matthew 1:21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.

The coming of the Messiah should have been anticipated by the leaders in Israel; instead, He arrived with the scribes and Pharisees completely unaware. When Jesus returns the second time to remove His church from the earth, many of the religious leaders of the world will again be caught unaware.

Matthew 2:5-10 So they (The Wise Men) said to him (Herod), “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” (Micah 5:2) Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

Matthew does not define how many wise men came from the East. Notice also that he also does not mention their names, nor does he provide any details about how they made their journey.

Over the years, it has generally been assumed that the wise men (or magi) were three in number, because Matthew 2:11 makes mention of three gifts:

“they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.”

No place in the Bible does it describe how many men there were. In some of the Eastern religions, they have claimed that perhaps up to twelve men, and their entourage made the journey to Bethlehem.[17] The names of the Magi, “Gaspar,” “Melchior,” and “Balthasar,” do not come from the Bible and did not appear in Christian literature until over five hundred years after the birth of Jesus.[18]

Nothing in the Bible describes the wise men as coming on camels (or any other animal). They may have made their journey from the East on foot for all we know. It is for certain that these men were educated—perhaps some of the most brilliant of their day. Quite a contrast from today, where the highly educated consider the historical record of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as a “myth” and condescend those who believe such things as foolish and naive.

However many wise men there were and by what means they arrived in Bethlehem, the Bible tells us they arrived after the birth of Jesus and most likely, slightly before He turned one year of age. Contrary to the traditional Christmas story, the Magi came to see their baby after Joseph, Mary and Jesus were back in Jerusalem; not at Bethlehem during the manger scene that is depicted in the gospels earlier.

Luke 2:22 Now when the days of her (Mary’s) purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.

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 2:11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What was the star or sign in the heavens which led this entourage of astrologers to believe that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem?

What did they see? What were they following? Astronomers and other experts have proposed a variety of objects which they claim could have been the Christmas star.

Some claim that the star the Magi saw was a Comet, an exploding star, or a grouping of planets. Others suggest that the star that was observed was a miracle created especially by God for this occasion.

Today, by the use of computer models of the Stars and planets, Astronomers can look backwards into the past history of the heavens and see what the stars and planets looked like 2,000 years ago. Experts simply run a computer program of the current movement of the stars and planets, in reverse, back to the point in past history that they want to observe.[19]

It is reasonable that the Star of Bethlehem could be observed by sky watchers elsewhere in the world, not only by the Magi. Although the men are known as wise men or kings, they were actually priests who relied on astrology.

Between September of 3 B.C. and June of 2 B.C., Jupiter passed by the star Regulus in the constellation Leo. Jupiter reversed itself and then passed Regulus again, turning back to pass the star a third time. This was a remarkable event since astrologers considered Jupiter the “Kingly Planet” and regard Regulus as the “Kings Star.”[20]

The crowning touch came on June 17, when Jupiter seemed to approach so close to Venus, that even without magnification, the two looked like a single star with greatly increased brilliance.

This whole sequence of events could have been “signs” enough for at least three astrologers to go to Jerusalem and ask Herod: “Where is He that is born King of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.”

Years ago, I presented a study based on the work of Frederick Larson in his presentation of “The Star of Bethlehem,”[21] which I feel is the best theory for what the wise men saw.

What was the Star of Bethlehem? Was it just a legend? Was it a Miracle? Was it a real astronomical event that actually happened when Jesus was born?

The Old Testament scriptures speak of the stars as speaking of God’s glory and and handiwork.

Psalms 19:1 (Declares) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Psalms 36:5 Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens

Psalms 89:5 And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD

Proverbs 8:27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there.

Joel 2:30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth.

What we can assume regarding the star that the Magi saw:

• It was something new which had not been seen before.
• The wise men saw it and considered it significant enough to travel a great distance from their homes in the East.
• The star appeared twice.

Was the star a single object, or was it two or more objects which were gathered together?

• We know that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on April 6th 32 A.D.
• We know that Jesus was 33 ½ years old when He was Crucified.
• This makes the year of Jesus’ birth 3 B.C.

The sign that the Magi saw in the heavens was certainly not a Comet, as these types of formations were thought to be evil.

Was it a Meteor? A Meteor cannot linger over Bethlehem; they are short-lived events.

Was the object a Supernovae? This is a possibility, except that we have no indications from computer models that a supernovae happened during this time.

This leaves only one possibility:

The Magi were probably Babylonian Astrologers who studied the movements of stars and planets. If we look at the computer models for 2-3 B.C., we see that there is a very exciting possibility.

During this time, there was a conjunction or joining together of two large planets—Venus and Jupiter—which might have looked like one single bright star to anyone observing the night sky at that time. It is interesting that the conjunction of these two stars which formed the sign for a King to be born was in the constellation Leo, which from the Biblical account, is a representation of Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Jesus Star over Bethlehem[22]

It is common knowledge in the study of Astronomy that as the earth and other planets orbit the sun, they will sometimes come into alignment together in what is called a conjunction. When this happens, the planets which are in the same line together, appear to be a single star, even though they may be millions of miles apart.

Near the time of Jesus’ birth on September 29th, 3 B.C., this conjunction or joining together of the large planets Jupiter and Venus, took place at the end of August of that year.

The Magi had their own pagan names for these stars; but to them, it would have been a very important alignment and said to them that a King, the Messiah predicted in the Hebrew Bible, was about to be born.

Because the Earth is closer to the sun than Jupiter and Venus, we are moving around the sun and completing our rotation more quickly than Jupiter or Venus. As Earth approaches and overtakes Jupiter, it appears as if this large planet is moving backwards, or stopping in the night sky. The same phenomenon occurs when you are traveling down the freeway and your car passes another car. As you look in your rearview mirror, the car which you have passed appears as if it is moving backwards against the background, even though both you and the car are still moving forward.[23]

This is called “Retrograde Motion.”

When Jupiter and Venus aligned themselves near the time of Jesus’ Birth, they appeared to slow down over Bethlehem, stop, and then move again.

Finally, in June of the next year, about the time that the Magi arrived in Jerusalem, Jupiter and Venus still being close together, appeared as one huge bright light in the night sky. This was most likely what the Magi observed.

These Astronomers from the East saw this alignment of Venus and Jupiter as a sign that the King, predicted in the Old Testament Book of Micah, had arrived (Micah 5:2).

Matthew 2:7-10 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

Of course Herod did not want to worship Jesus. He was in fear that should a new King of the Jews be born, he would lose his title as “King of the Jews.” Herod was so paranoid that someone from his own family would try to take his crown, it was reported that he had his wife and some of his sons killed. It was said of Herod that: “It is safer to be one of Herod’s pigs than one of his sons.”[24] See Prophecy 294.

Notice that this star, as it is in Retrograde motion in verse 9, “came and stood still over the place Jesus was born.”

This is a confirmation that the alignment of Jupiter and Venus happened to cause this brightness. This event actually was not a star; it was the alignment of two very large planets. Jupiter is 318 times the size of the earth. It is interesting that on March 12-13, 2012, both Jupiter and Venus again came very close to each other and created a similar event.[25] Could this be a signal that Jesus is about to return to Earth again?

According to Space.com:

“…circumstances involving specific conjunctions between Venus and Jupiter repeat under almost identical conditions after a time span of just over 24 years.”

This means that this conjunction has repeated itself 84 times, since Venus and Jupiter aligned themselves to give the Magi a sign that a king was going to be born in Bethlehem. We should understand that the alignment of these two planets did not take place over Bethlehem. The conjunction would appear from earth, looking into space, all over the world. The Magi concluded that a king would be born in Bethlehem, from Prophecy 321:

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.

Today, we have the technology to confirm by computer models that an alignment of Jupiter and Venus occurred on June 27th, 2 B.C. The computer simulations also confirm that between September of 3 B.C. and June of 2 B.C., Jupiter passed by the star Regulus in the constellation Leo. It reversed itself and then passed Regulus again, then turned back and passed the star a third time. This is interesting because Jesus was born on September 29, 3 B.C.

Computer models confirm the Biblical account of the star over Bethlehem during that time described in Matthew’s Gospel. This was the sign that the wise men from the East were following, which they believed was an indication that a Great King was about to be born. Today, we know that in this same year, Jesus was born on or about September 29th of that year, when this alignment of stars occurred.

Since Astronomers know today that these events actually happened in past history, as confirmed by computer models, why is it that many skeptics still insist that the person Jesus Christ was not born, did not live, and that the reports of His death and Resurrection were all a contrived hoax? Every year, new discoveries are being made in the fields of Astronomy, Archeology, Science, and Mathematics, that confirm Biblical truths which were written thousands of years ago. Along with these discoveries are the 365 Old Testament Prophecies of this book which prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Jesus Christ is the Messiah promised by God.

See Also:

Signs In The Heavens; During Jesus Crucifixion

The above article is from the following books by Robert Clifton Robinson, now available at Amazon

    


NOTES:
[1] Tacitus, The Histories, Book V
[2] Source unknown. I have had this story in by notes for years without knowing the original source, If you know who wrote it, please email me so that I may give credit to the author. 365Prophecies@gmail.com
[3] Plutarch, Artaxerxes, l. 1. c. 1. 11:129 – cited by Ussher, Annals, para. 1179
[4] Ibid.
[5] Encyclopedia Britannica 1990 Edition, section on Artaxerxes I.
[6] Plutarch, Artaxerxes, l. 1. c. 1. 11:129 – cited by Ussher, Annals, para. 1179
[7] 1. JewishEncyclopedia.com”. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
2. See Willie Roth’s essay The International Date Line and Halacha.
3. Appendix II: Baal HaMaor’s Interpretation of 20b and its Relevance to the Dateline” in Talmud Bavli, Schottenstein Edition, Tractate Rosh HaShanah, Mesorah Publications Ltd. (“ArtScroll”) 1999, where “20b” refers to the 20th page 2nd folio of the tractate.
[8] Sir Robert Anderson, “The Coming Prince”, ISBN-10: 1479215945
[9] Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius, also Barnes notes on the Gospel of Luke, chapter 3, and Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Gospel of Luke chapter 3.
[10] Flavius Josephus, the Wars of the Jews, account of the destruction of the temple.Translated by William Whiston, 1737
[11] Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius, also Barnes notes on the Gospel of Luke, chapter 3, and Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Gospel of Luke chapter 3.
[12] Sir Robert Anderson, “The Coming Prince”, ISBN-10: 1479215945
[13] Plutarch, Artaxerxes, l. 1. c. 1. 11:129 – cited by Ussher, Annals.
[14] Sir Robert Anderson, “The Coming Prince”, ISBN-10: 1479215945
[15] ibid, Sir Robert Anderson
[16] ibid, Sir Robert Anderson, “The Oming Prince” Location 1550-1551
[17] 1.Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 18 January 2011
2. Mair, Victor H. (1990), “Old Sinitic *Myag, Old Persian Maguš and English Magician”, Early China 15: 27–47.
[18] Excerpta Latina Barbari, page 51B: “At that time in the reign of Augustus, on 1st January the Magi brought him gifts and worshipped him. The names of the Magi were Bithisarea, Melichior and Gathaspa
[19] The Handbook of Biblical Chronology, Jack Finegan (Revised Edition; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998) ISBN 1–56563-143–9.
[20] The Bethlehem Star, written by Frederick A. Larson. http://www.bethlehemstar.net
[21] ibid, Star of Bethlehem
[22] Graphic Illustration by Rob Robinson
[23] The Star That Astonished the World, Ernest L. Martin (Second Edition; Portland, Oregon: ASK Publications, 1996) ISBN 0–94-5657–87-0.
[24] Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius c. 395-423, Saturnalia, book II, chapter IV:11: “Cum audisset inter pueros quos in Syria Herodes rex Iudaeorum intra bimatum iussit interfici filium quoque eius occisum, ait: Melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium,”
[25] http://www.space.com/14852-venus-jupiter-alignment-facts.html

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s