In Revelation 13:8 we read of the “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world1” demonstrating the incredible planning employed by God even before He began Creation!!!
Within the very small passage above there are a myriad of truths to be revealed. Among these are that a Sacrifice and a Savior was prepared before there were even any members of the human race to commit sin; and, for a Savior to be sacrificed He must be born into a world of sin – yet live a sinless life Himself.
Having this in mind let us look at the greatest of all the ‘signs’ the Lord God placed in the heavens2 when He created the sun, moon, and stars3 – the sign that would one day herald the birth of the ‘King of kings’ and ‘Lord of lords’4.
Coincidence with Bible Prophecy & Christ’s Crucifixion
In the article entitled: Does the Bible Really Present a Six-Millennia-Old Earth? appearing on the Creation Club website, a case is built for the Crucifixion of Christ taking place on Friday, April 11, 32 AD. Please refer to the above named article5 for additional information on the related prophecy found in Daniel 9:25-26.
Subtracting the supposed age of Jesus at the time of His Crucifixion (approx. 33½ yrs.) from the date at that time we arrive at a date for His Birth roughly sometime in mid-October, 2 BC. Since there is no ‘Year 0’ on the calendar (it goes from 1 BC directly to 1 AD), the time span from 2 BC when the ‘star’ would have heralded the Birth of Messiah to 32 AD would be 33 years, making the year of Jesus’ Crucifixion 32 AD. This coincides with the FINAL (and most prolonged) appearance of a ‘star’ which culminates with the conjunction of two planets. We know from Mt. 2:11 that the wise men from the East did not arrive to see Jesus until some time AFTER his Birth, when the family had relocated into a house in Bethlehem.
We may conclude then that the final appearance of the ‘star’ most likely took place very near (or even on) the very day that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. As we shall see this would have made the total preparation and travel time of the wise men from the Orient to Jerusalem approximately six weeks.
The Celestial Event
A number of historical methods have been used in the past in an effort to affix a firm date to Jesus’ Birth with a wide range of results. Some methods employ assumed dates of the reign of King Herod the Great (the first of four ‘Herods’ mentioned in the New Testament); while, others attempt to manipulate calendar mathematics and history in an attempt to claim variations on the proper dating of the first year AD.
Fortunately for those who believe in the immutability of the Scriptures, there is a single celestial event mentioned in Matthew 2:2 that clearly coincides with a significant event on record that can be traced back to the fall season of the year 2 BC. This event is the conjunction of the two brightest planets in the night sky – Jupiter and Venus.
No other natural celestial event took place during this time period which even comes close to both the brilliance and duration of the conjunction of these two planets in the night sky. Furthermore, this event took place not once, but TWICE during that same year – first for about 3 hours after sunset on June 17, 2 BC; and again for about 3 hours before sunrise on October 13, 2 BC. The first event appeared in the WESTERN sky in the Middle East and the second event appeared in the EASTERN sky6.
The duration of the first of these events was only about 2-3 nights – taking place in the evening WESTERN SKY. Following this conjunction, the planet Venus (which was the brightest object in the western sky for nearly the next two months) continued to proceed nightly on a westerly path until it finally disappeared over the western horizon in mid-August. This would have provided a perfect directional indicator from points east toward Jerusalem.
The event on October 13, 2 BC was quite significant in that beginning on this night the planet Venus, which is a very bright object in the night sky, first came into conjunction with Jupiter. Then, while Jupiter continued to progress through the sky each night, Venus remained virtually locked in position in the EASTERN SKY until its conjunction with Mars from approximately December 5th – 13th of that same year.
During this time another fascinating event took place in which Jupiter began to slow its progression across the morning sky eventually appearing directly over Bethlehem as seen from Jerusalem on December 8, 2 BC. This clearly coincides with the star ‘in the east’ that ‘stood over where the young child was’ as recorded in Matthew 2:9-10.
As a side note, another incredible event took place on the above date as well. The conjunction of Venus and Mars, which could now be seen in the SSW sky from Jerusalem, was at rest over Jesus’ soon-to-be home of Nazareth!
Since camel caravans could travel at an average speed of about 15 miles per day through the desert at that time, anyone witnessing the SECOND conjunction would have been able to reach Bethlehem from a distance of about 800-900 miles (about the distance to modern-day Tehran, Iran) – following Venus continuously for up to the first two months of their trek.
More astoundingly than that however, any wise men witnessing the FIRST conjunction in June of that same year could have come from as far as 2000 miles away! This means that the Baby Jesus could well have had visitors from lands as distant as modern-day Palestine and India!!!
The Journey and the ‘Leading Star’
Since the only information given to us in the New Testament is that Jesus is visited by wise men ‘from the East’ with no specific location(s) (and no specific number of persons) being given, it is reasonable to consider that there were a number of individuals representing several different nations present.
We also know nothing from the Gospel account about how these men came together, or where they met, or how long they traveled together before reaching Bethlehem. What we do know is that they first arrived in Jerusalem7 together which led to a meeting and a strong interrogation by King Herod8 – and that they followed a ‘star’ which led them to their eventual destiny9.
Again, it would seem reasonable to infer that these men, if they did indeed represent a number of separate kingdoms, acted independently – being aware of the significance of the ‘sign’ in the heavens. They most likely met as they traveled to their destination; and, by the time of the October 13 conjunction were probably all travelling together.
After having met with King Herod at his palace in Western Jerusalem, the wise men continued on to Bethlehem to worship the “King of the Jews” with the ‘star’ going before them9. This coincides with the position of the conjunction of Venus and Mars during that same December. In fact, just before sunrise on December 8, 2 BC the near conjunction of Venus and Mars to the SSW, along with Jupiter in the SSE, would have been a fantastic sight in the clear, morning sky above southern Judea.
From our previous section we can conclude with reasonable certainty that as following the October 13 Venus-Jupiter conjunction, there was a ‘handoff’ in which Jupiter now became the ‘star’ heralding the current location of the Baby Jesus; while, Venus and Mars would indicate His return destination of Nazareth11.
God’s Sovereignty in ‘Hiding a Thing’
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” – Proverbs 25:2
What is equally intriguing in this account is that no one except for the wise men seemed to know the significance of this ‘star’, or even be acutely aware of its presence!
For one, neither King Herod, nor any of his astrologers seemed to pay any heed to the ‘star’ that had been appearing in practically the same location for nearly two months by the time of the arrival of the wise men from the East. Likewise, no one took particular notice early on that cold desert morning when another ‘star’ gently increased in its brilliance and shined directly over the location where the Savior of the world would soon be residing among them. This condition bears a striking similarity to call for Salvation in Christ Jesus which is plainly, clearly, and openly offered to all – though few will ever seek it. Jesus Himself would later proclaim the same in the Parable of the Marriage Feast10 as He said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Clearly among His Creation of the vast universe, the Lord God has orchestrated a symphony in the heavens using our nearest celestial bodies – the very planets of our Solar System – to herald the Birth of His Holy One. Using not one, but three planets in total, He announced His birth, led others to worship Him, and even indicated His place of residence and rearing – all according to the Scriptures.
Throughout our examination of Creation and the Scriptures we are compelled to come to the inescapable conclusion that the Lord God is supreme in His planning for all things. From His planning to create an earth for habitation, to His Creation of the heavens that show forth His Glory. From His Creation of mankind in His own image, to His careful preparation for reconciling that same Creation from a fallen state by His Own Sacrifice – the Lord shows that His Love, Sovereignty, and Might are all unified in His Glorious majesty.
Wishing you a Blessed Christmas!!!
In His Love,
Dr. Jack L. Burton
(1) New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, King James Version. James Strong, LLD., S.T.D. Nelson. ©2005.
(2) Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. W.E. Vine. Nelson. ©1996.
(3) TheSky Astronomy Software © 1894-2000. Software Bisque, Inc.
(1) Video: The Bible is the Word of God 9:20-22:30
(2) The Star of Bethlehem
- Gk. κοσμος (kosmos). In this context literally ‘ages’ inclusive of the world (earth) and the universe (i.e. ‘before Creation’)
- Gen. 1:14
- Heb. כוכב (kokab). Representative of all visible unnamed celestial bodies (stars, planets, etc.). Akin to Gk. αστηρ (astayr) referring to any of the objects ‘strewn’ or ‘positioned’ in the night sky.
- 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16. See also Rev. 17:14
- Article: Does the Bible Really Present a Six-Millennia-Old Earth. Dr. Jack L. Burton
- Additionally, there was also a conjunction of the planets Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars on August 26, 2BC in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
- Mt. 2:2.
- Mt. 2:7.
- Mt. 2:9-10.
- Mt. 22:2-14.
- Mt. 2:23.
- All Bible quotes in this article are taken from the KJV.
- Bible passages in double quotes (“) appear exactly as found in the KJV.
- Bible passages in single quotes (‘) have been modified for emphasis or ease of reading only (such as capitalization of pronouns referring to God, bolded text, or modernized punctuation, etc.) without altering the actual wording of the text.
Disclaimer: While to the author’s knowledge all of the information cited in the referenced material related directly to the content of this article is correct and accurate, the author in no way endorses any of the cited references in their entirety – especially where the material contained therein is in direct contradiction with the Creation account given in the Word of God.