The wise men in the East see the star. How did they know what this star meant? I’m thinking they were some form of ancient astronomers. How many other new stars had been seen in the heavens before and signified something critical in history? I’m assuming from the position of the star they judged it to be relevant to the Jewish people. I’m NOT an astronomer (as you can probably tell) but how did they know? What made them “follow” it?
I’m going to make up a story here. It is for my benefit but you might like it too. It’s a night like any other. Nothing special is happening. On a quiet hilltop somewhere far to the East of Jerusalem an observer is watching the night sky. This is not any observer but someone with some learning and connections. His attention is drawn to a particular star in the night sky. This star was not in this position before. (My bible says it “rose” so I’m going to say its change in position is what drew this learned man’s attention to it.) He has seen meteors before as they streak across the sky, but this star didn’t fade away but shown even more brightly in its new position! What could this mean? It had to be important. He had never observed anything like this before in his lifetime. He had to tell someone!
He told a couple of friends about what he had seen. That night they went out to see for themselves this new phenomenon in the heavens. Sure enough their star charts needed an update. There was a new star and it seemed to say something to their hearts. They had heard of previous changes in the heavens had been tied to the birth of kings. Surely this one was too. They HAD to follow it and see where it lead.
They packed up the next morning and headed out. They brought with them the best gifts they could find, for they believed with all their heart that this star represented an anointed King had been born.
They followed it every night as it appeared in the sky. It might have even been visible during part of the day. This makes me think of following rainbows as a child, where no matter how long you walked towards it you never seemed to get any closer. They keep moving away. That is not how the star was for them though. They got closer and closer to it each night, until they finally arrived in the land of Judea where the star seemed to be right over their heads.
Now where? They had come so far and there didn’t seem to be any overt sign saying “right here,” so they stopped and asked for directions in the most logical place of all. Surely the current king would know where this new King was born. Shouldn’t it have been his son?
Herod was totally surprised by this news. How had they missed this? It was right above their heads! How could they be so blind? These visitors hung out for a little bit while Herod tried to answer their question. Their visit was the talk of the town and no one knew quite what to make of it.
Herod called together the best minds in the country. He gathered anyone he thought could answer this question. He gathered the religious leaders, political leaders, philosophers, and anyone who might have a clue. He had to know. His future and his kingdom were on the line.
I can identify with Herod’s mistake here. I often miss what is obvious to others, and as a result have to seek help to understand what is going on around me or in me. I identify with the wise men here too in that after looking for SO long, I get frustrated and try and find a “short cut” to the answer I’m seeking. If only I had kept my eyes on my “guiding star.”
We will see tomorrow how they found renewed direction in the star and it leads them DIRECTLY to the one they were seeking. They didn’t need to ask again. But their stopping for directions would result in dire consequences for others. But even that was already predicted in prophecy. (I have to stop here or I’m going to start asking questions again that need to be addressed in part 2 of our story.)