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Star of Wonder, by Kim Koluch
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”—Psalm 19:1

    I couldn’t stop staring at it—it was so beautiful! From our backyard, it was no more than a tiny smear in the sky. But, after a short drive away from city lights it was magnificent. It was hard to believe that the Hale-Bopp Comet was nothing more than ordinary space dust and debris.

    As I gazed at it, I couldn’t help but wonder what the sky looked like at the time of Christ’s birth. What could be spectacular enough to draw three of the most learned men to travel so far, and yet go unnoticed by so many others? What kind of celestial event did God choose to announce the birth of His Son?

    In the book of Matthew, the Greek word “Aster” is used. This is a much more general word than our English word “star.” It refers to any heavenly body such as a star, planet, asteroid, comet, or meteor. Three explanations are most often given for the Christmas Star. Scientists speculate that it could have been a conjunction of the planets, a comet, or a supernova.

What kind of celestial event did God choose to announce the birth of His Son?
    A supernova seems unlikely because they are so spectacular that nearly all observers would have noticed it. The Star of Bethlehem receives no mention in any writings of that period other than the Bible. The Jewish leaders seemed oblivious to it.

    A comet is also unlikely. Comets are so common that the Magi probably wouldn’t have paid special attention to it.

    The Bible clearly describes one star. At the time of Christ’s birth, none of the planets would have appeared any closer to the naked eye than the diameter of the moon. Therefore, the common explanation of a conjunction of three planets is also questionable.

    One explanation might be a recurring nova. An easily visible nova occurs about once every decade. Most novae experience only a single explosion; however, a few have the capacity to have recurring explosions. This could account for the star going “ahead of them” since it could have disappeared and reappeared many times as they followed it.

    At first, scientific attempts to explain the Christmas Star troubled me. After all, it couldn’t have been an ordinary phenomenon—or could it? It was then that I finally understood what fascinated me about the Hale-Bopp Comet last spring. Our Heavenly Father is in the business of creating beauty from the ordinary! He took ordinary space dust and made it sparkle and dance across the sky. His own Son wasn’t born in a palace, but a dirty, dusty stable. Just imagine what He can do with an ordinary life fully surrendered to Him!

“…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”—Philippians 2:15

HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
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Article copyright © 1997, Kim Koluch. Used by permission.
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