The Magi Series – III. The Magi – Astrology/Astronomy and a Living Prophet

What was the “star” which brought the Magi?  Some think a supernova; others, perhaps a comet; still others, a special conjunction of stars, and still others, some unique extraordinary heavenly event.  The problem was that in each year, each century, each millennia a great number of these heavenly events have been occurring – how could the Magi ever associate any one of them with Israel as well as with the birth of its King at a specific point of time?  When the Magi showed up on Herod’s doorstep, they did not say, “We had seen an angel…”, but rather, “We have seen His Star…”   Who had connected the dots (or stars) for them?

Indeed, in the background of these astronomers/astrologers, there was a wise and knowledgeable man, a proven prophet, yet even more than a prophet, since he brought with him the knowledge accumulated through centuries of prophecy and of God’s activity!  They had been introduced to the Jewish festival year, the history in the Torah (the Books of Moses), and especially the prophecies which would play such a key role in their search of the One born “the King of the Jews.”

Daniel would be familiar with the Lion of Judah [Genesis 49:9; Numbers 24:9]; Balaam’s prophecy of Numbers 24:17, “A Star shall come out of Jacob, a Scepter shall rise out of Israel”; Isaiah 7:14’s  “Behold, the young woman/virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel”; Isaiah 60:3’s “The Gentiles shall walk to Your light, and kings to the brilliance of Your dawning”; and of Daniel’s own prophecy in chapter 9, concerning the timing of the Messiah, the Prince, Who would be “cut off” [v 26].

But why did the Persian Magoi make such a perilous trip at all? There were 3 reasons. Firstly, the Hebrew prophet Daniel had been held in high regard in the Persian court. In Daniel 9, the Magoi had the prophecy of Messiah’s sacrifice as a man cut off at age 35 (in the midst of his years). They knew that this event would occur 483 Babylonian years of 360 days after a specific decree. Backtracking 35 years gave a birth date for Messiah of 448 Babylonian years or 442 actual years after the decree. As It turned out, that decree was Issued by the Persian king Artaxerxes in his 20th year which was 445/444 BC. The Magoi consequently knew the time of Messiah’s birth as around 3/2 BC on our Calendar. [Barry Setterfield, The Christmas Star (]

[Note: There was no year “0” – only *point* “0”; the next day after December 31, 1 BC was January 1, 1 AD.  If Jesus was born later in 1 BC, then when He died on the Day of Preparation, 33 AD, He was in His 33rd year.]

Who would have taught the Magi the connection between the sign in the sky (the Star) – and the Light of the world lying in a manger?  Driven by the rejection of the fortune-telling astrologers, we automatically disallow anything to do with the stars.  Yet in Genesis 1:14 God says that the heavenly objects are for “signs” – the Hebrew “OTH” often was used to describe physical evidence of Covenant, such as the scars resulting from the cuts made by Covenant participants who mingled their Blood, or a rock cairn as a monument of such a mutual commitment.  What would qualify as a “sign” in the heavens?

This is where constellations with their respective stars come in.  Consider how In especially the earliest sky maps: Virgo, was always emphasized as a virgin, was also always depicted as bearing the Seed (the brightest star of the constellation) – the sheaf of wheat in her arm – and the other arm held *The Branch.*  Martin Luther observed that since throughout the Bible children are called the seed of the man, when the Lord talked about *the seed of the woman* in Genesis 2, it meant Mary had to be a virgin mother.  Of its “decans” (three minor constellations associated with a main one), the first is that of a child who was Coma (“the Desired One,” “the Desired of Nations”).

The constellation Scorpio was always depicted in conflict with its decan Ophiuchus, which was a man wrestling a monstrous serpent, holding it immobile, with one foot about to crush Scorpio’s head, while the other foot is raised as if stung by the scorpion’s deadly tail.

In regard to Gemini,, in Hindu mythology, Yama and his twin sister Yami, later his wife, were the first couple to inhabit the earth – which really is not far off the mark, since Adam and Eve had exactly the same DNA except for the gender chromosomes: the two “X” of Eve and the “X-Y” of Adam.  They were also the symbols of the fall: the female was considered the goddess of death, while the male was the lord of the underworld.

What were the skymap image-concepts for?  In a visit to a cathedral in Germany where Martin Luther preached, a tour guide pointed out how there was a rich content of symbolism in the stained glass windows, in various carvings, and so much more in that church.   Since few at that time knew how to read, and even fewer had access to a copy of the Bible (even those chained to the library wall were rare), the cathedral itself became the “poor man’s Bible” – that was where he could be encouraged and comforted (at least in theory), as wherever he looked he was reminded of the stories, the personalities, and the doctrines (e.g., forgiveness, judgment, Baptism, Holy Communion) of the Christian faith.

So also in the world of the first chapters of Genesis, or perhaps after the flood, or after Babel, when there were no books commonly available – there was always the sky, and that would be with them wherever they went.  There above them were persons, themes, and doctrines, as reminders and encouragement for any believer.  All they would have to do is look up, perhaps before drifting off to sleep.  In fact, the gift of the signs may yet still be useful when the endtime future suffering Jesus’ warned about starts to come true.

The “signs” in the heavens were not Satan’s idea.  The Bible’s oldest book, Job (contemporary to Abraham?), refers to the signs of the sky [38:31-32: the Pleiades, the belt of Orion, the Mazzaroth [Jewish Zodiac], the Great Bear; also 9:9] without condemnation.  There are strong images in many of them particularly reflecting Genesis 2-3

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So, yes, note the corruption in II Kings 23:5:  “Then he removed the idolatrous priests … and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven” (which is why modern astrology has come to the state it is now).  Yet as Jesus still took the bronze serpent back to its original meaning, so also could the prophet Daniel teach the Magi what the signs in the heavens were actually about, as he equipped them to search for Him Who was born King of the Jews..

Next: Astrology/Astronomy meets the Jewish Festival Year  – Crowning the King Part 1


Who were the Magi?  Why did they come to see Jesus?  What caused them to start their journey?  These are the topics which will be discussed throughout this series, based on research I had done for my book *Creation’s Ballet for Jesus*.  The attempt here was to keep each topic short, however that was not always possible, and Topic V, although not specifically dealing with the Magi, was added to include the missing major festival of Passover into the consideration.  The topics will be posted daily here in the following order for eight days, and also will be included on my Blog, ** (the specific blog address for each topic is listed with each day’s post).

I. The Magi – Who were they?  [p=1257 – same address as below, simply insert this location instead]
II. The Magi – Zoroaster meets Yahweh  [p=1260]
III.  The Magi – Astrology/Astronomy and a Living Prophet

The Magi Series – III. The Magi – Astrology/Astronomy and a Living Prophet

IV.  The Magi – Astrology/Astronomy meets the Jewish Festival Year – Crowning the King Part 1
V.  The Magi – Astrology/Astronomy meets the Jewish Festival Year – Crowning the King Part 2
VI.  The Magi – Creation Mourns the Death of Its Creator and the Nation of Israel is Ended
VII.  The Magi – Herod’s Fear
VIII. The Magi – Epilogue


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