What Does the Star of Bethlehem Look Like?

Willow Creek | December 11, 2022

What does the star of Bethlehem look like? The star of Bethlehem was a physical, astronomical phenomenon in the sky that the wise men followed to Bethlehem, to meet and worship the Messiah; Jesus.  

“We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2b).

Jesus had just been born in Bethlehem, the wise men knew He had been sent from God and had come to save the world. The star of Bethlehem was a sign from God that our Saviour had arrived on Earth.

As for what the star of Bethlehem looked like exactly, most scientists agree it was a singular bright body of light that resided in space, anything from a star, planet, comet, asteroid, or meteor. It’s actually a topic of great debate and interest as it seems the star appeared and then reappeared at a later time. In recent years, astronomers have speculated it may have been a recurring nova.

As for what does the Christmas star mean or what does the star of Bethlehem mean, those are two questions we can answer!

Who is the Virgin Mary?

Though popular depictions of the wise men refer to them as kings, they were likely astronomers from Persia. These men were wealthy aristocrats who studied space, probably for other rulers, in an effort to make predictions about the future. 

In fact, there was a famous man in the Bible, Daniel, who made such a prediction:

“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Daniel 9:25-26).

This passage references a set time for these astronomers to expect a sign. Though these men were Persian and Daniel was a Jew, the wise men would have likely known of his prediction, and here’s why: at a young age, Daniel was captured and brought to Persia where he served as a spiritual leader to the Persian court; this made the wise men’s arrival in Bethlehem even more significant when we consider scripture–these visitors to Jerusalem represented prominent non-Jews coming to worship Jesus. 

In many places, but particularly in the books of Amos 9:11-12 and Genesis 28:10-17, scripture depicts the Lord’s plan to unite Jews and non-Jews under one leader. 

Does God give us signs now?

The star–this sign in the sky–signaled the fulfillment of the predictions made in the books of Genesis, Daniel, and Amos, that a ruler or leader would be born who would unite all of humanity.That Savior, Jesus, had arrived! 

Christmas lights today represent that; modern-day Christians use light displays to disrupt the darkness as a symbolic representation of the Star of Bethlehem and in reference to Jesus being the light of the world.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1: 4-5).

This is the story of the Christmas star. It was a symbol of the change heralded by the birth of Jesus. 

For all of our content about Christmas, including answers to many more of your Christmas questions, click here: What is Christmas?


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