WOW! Christmas is almost upon us! I still have a few things to get ready, but for the most part I am done. Yeah! Being able to slow down a little, I have taken the time to pause and gaze at the beautiful night sky. How incredible God made the night sky! Can you imagine seeing a star shining brighter than any other star, even dimming its neighbors? Have you ever wondered: what exactly was the star of Bethlehem?
Let us start out with what the star of Bethlehem was not. Going back to the bible, we know that the magi were educated men, having studied astronomy and history. Yet they spoke of a star. This can eliminate comets, meteors, local atmospheric phenomenon, or even a theocracy (the appearance of a heavenly being such as an angle). The wise men would have known the difference and referenced the strange new light in the sky appropriately. They would even have known if the bright new star was the conjunction of several stars, star groups, or planets because they would have been able to observe the paths of these celestial objects getting closer and closer. “The Persian Magi in particular were very competent observational astronomers, not astrologists. If they were not Jews or Jewish proselytes (either of which is a good possibility), they were Zoroastrians, and the Zorastrian religion was similar to Judaism in many respects, among which was an aversion to astrology.”
Thus “unless God created a brand new star at this time, which is possible, of course, the most realistic explanation is that it was either a nova, or (more probably) a supernova – a gigantic explosion of an existing, but previously unknown, star.”
An interesting script was written not to long after the event occur (relatively speaking). An apostolic father by the name of Ignatius (died 107 A.D.) lived closest to the time of the New Testament writers. He recorded, "[It was] a star which so shone in heaven beyond all the stars, its newness caused excitement." Even the secular scientists agree, "The Star of Bethlehem," published in Science Digest in December 1976, James Mullaney says: "The considered opinion of nearly all who have studied the question is that a nova or supernova seems the most likely explanation for the Christmas star of all those put forth to date" (p.65).
The very nature of a supernova agrees with what this star could have been. Both supernovas and novas are very rare, occur suddenly, and are utterly unpredictable explosions of existing stars (which were originally created on day four of the creation week). “Somehow what seems to be an ordinary star suddenly increases tremendously in brilliance, continuing so for several months until it finally fades away.” Because supernovas are unpredictable and only occur very infrequently, they have no astrological importance. Thus, the early astrologers would not have associated any pagan significance with this event.
Yet the star was predicted in the Old Testament, 1400 years before it occurred. Balaam's prophecy of a new Star, which would signal the rising of a great King in Israel (Numbers 23:17) was a Messianic prophecy that predicted this supernova. How could Balaam have possibly known? Through God of course! Only God can see the future like that.
So the next time you are star gazing, remember “Nothing is impossible with God!”
PS. for the rest of this month, around 9:00pm the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) will be visible almost directly overhead. To the unaided eye where there is little light pollution, it looks like a faint elongated cloud.
Merry Christmas everyone!
References: http://www.icr.org/home/resources/resources_tracts_whentheysawthestar/ by Dr. Henry Morris, Ph.D.