The Star of Bethlehem

“My eyes have seen your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

These words spoken by Simeon the prophet in Luke 2:30–32 show the wonder of the first advent. Jesus, the Messiah, the God-man had come to earth in a miraculous way, and God proclaimed His coming with the shekinah glory.

Who Were the Magi?

Even though the figures of the three wise men riding on camels abounds in our popular culture, we don’t read those details in the Gospel account of their coming to worship Jesus. What we do know is that they saw a star and came to worship the King.

When the magi came to Jerusalem in search of Jesus, the King, they went and asked where the King was born. The Jewish leaders had an answer—Bethlehem—but they had not bothered to check it out. They knew, but they were not responsive to the revelation that had been given to them. The magi, on the other hand, believed because of the star they had followed, and they went to worship Jesus.

The Star of Bethlehem

The star that led the wise men to Jesus is mysterious. In order to determine what it was—i.e., a natural or a supernatural phenomenon—we need to look at its qualities:

  1. The star failed to catch the attention of the general public.
  2. The star disappeared and reappeared
  3. The star had a directional capacity that enable the magi to pinpoint the precise location of the Messiah’s house.

One of the possibilities was that this star was a part of a meteor shower. Others have suggested it was a bolide (fireball), a comet, a supernova, or perhaps a planet or a bright star. Still others have suggested various conjunctions of the planets. None of these suggestions, however, fit the description of this special star.

Based on the evidence we see in the text, it would seem as though this star was the shekinah glory of the Lord. The shekinah glory was a localized manifestation of the presence of the Lord. This glory appeared to Moses in the burning bush, as the pillar of fire guiding the Israelites, and as the brightness in the Tabernacle and the Temple. Not only that, but this shekinah glory is referenced regarding Jesus’ second advent (Matthew 24:21–29).

Christ’s Second Coming

Thinking of the Bethlehem Star in terms of the shekinah glory of God reminds us that Jesus will come again. This time, He will not be born in a manger—He will return to earth as reigning King.

In celebrating the season of advent, we experience a longing for Jesus’ return. This world can never satisfy us; we long for Jesus to come again and make all things new.

For more on the Bethlehem Star, check out the following resources: