The Open Scroll - The Magi Series: Part I

The Magi Series: Part I

By Bob Schlenker  (Prints about 10 pages) (Part 1 of 3)
Table of Contents (for Parts 1-3)
The Basis for Biblical Astronomy
The True Spiritual Function of the Heavens
Two Thousand Year Cycles of Significant Births
Biblical Accounts of Those Who Understood Celestial Revelation
    Abram's Vision
    The Magi
The Star of Bethlehem
A Great and Wondrous Sign
Rosh HaShanah: The Feast of Trumpets
The Crown Reveals the Year
Celestial Signs Marking His Baptism
The Sign to the Magi Reappears!
Jacob's Deathbed Prophecy
    Celestial Revelation Insights
Leo Roars
He Came in Judgment
Corroborating Signs

The Basis for Biblical Astronomy

It is a simple fact that behind every counterfeit lies a genuine. Behind astrology lies what may be called biblical astronomy. The heavenly lights do indeed testify of deep spiritual truths. What is this message which has been crafted so magnificently by their Creator? According to the record of the fourth day of creation, their purpose is to give light on the earth. Physical light, yes, but too, SPIRITUAL LIGHT! This heavenly witness speaks about God's plan of redemption for man; the messianic plan and its outworking. As this inaudible testimony goes forth, an ever-changing revelation from God to man is revealed. Perfectly synchronized with the events in heaven and the events on earth, the celestial chronometer bears witness of the same.

But who can understand its curious language? What is its vocabulary? Did this knowledge perish with the ancients? Is there some mysterious scroll to be unearthed that will reveal to us this most wonderful language? Perhaps such a help will someday appear, allowing us to perfectly interpret the celestial message, but then again, perhaps not. It may be that everything we need to know has simply been hidden in plain sight within the pages of the biblical text. I would be very surprised if the language were not encoded by some clever means we just haven't yet discovered. But even without such an aid, in these latter days there is a light spreading over this shadowy domain. Those of you familiar with the work of Dr. Ernest Martin, or, who have read the report I've offered entitled A Sign to the Magi have seen evidence of this remarkable providence granted to us, upon whom the end of the age has come.The author of the plan revealed in the heavens is alive and certainly well able to speak to us by whatever means He desires. For us, in our day, to be able to have true knowledge of the celestial record of Jesus Christ and to understand its synchronous and harmonious relationship with the scriptural record is an almost incredible blessing! We are so very privileged!

Right in the heart of the tenth chapter of the book of  Romans, a very focal passage dealing with the critical issue of salvation is being passionately preached by a most skillful Apostle, Paul. By revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ, the point he makes about Israel's accountability for having heard about the message leading to faith is driven home with reference to a familiar passage from the Psalms.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. {18} But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Romans 10:17-18
The Apostle Paul asks, didn't they hear the word of Christ so they could believe it? This "word of Christ" (word "about" Christ) can be seen from the context as that which is declared in verses 9 and 10:
That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. {10} For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
The message of these two verses is rather important, don't you agree? Now, think about this for a moment: Would God hold people accountable for having heard the message if He hadn't made it accessible? That wouldn't be fair, would it? So, did the Jews hear the word of Christ? Paul said by revelation; "Of course they did." The next line reveals how they heard. Its a quote from Psalm 19 and points clearly to God's celestial revelation as the source of their hearing! That's right! Don't miss it! Psalm 19:1-4a:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. {2} Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. {3} There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. {4} Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
Paul's words in Romans 10:18b were: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." He quoted verse 4 of this Psalm to inform us as to how the Jews (and yet, not only the Jews but also the whole world, even to the ends of the world) received the message about Christ! The "voice," which can also be translated as "line" or "message," is the message about Christ, which God declared via the heavens!

How many times have you read that section in Romans and glossed over this wonderful truth? But, its really quite clear, isn't it? The heavens declare the glory of God not just by impressing upon us the mark of a divine creator but they actually make known Jesus Christ, the agent of man's redemption! To deny the reality of God's revelation of Christ via the heavens is to deny the words of the Apostle Paul and of the Psalmist. Do you see that?

If I may speak candidly, I'd like to say to you that if we're going to learn anything about what God is doing today, we're going to have to take God at His word. We're going to have to respect the things written as they are indeed the words of God. And, we're going to have to recognize the celestial heavens as being made by God to declare Christ.

When God declared in Isaiah 34:4 that "the sky rolled up like a scroll," I think that imagery is particularly interesting in that the scrolls were the format in which God's written word was found in Isaiah's day. Being that God's word is written in the heavens, when its promises are fulfilled, it will be rolled up like a scroll! And, I would just bet that, as the circle of the Zodiac has its beginning marked by the constellation Virgo, the sky will roll up with its breaking between Virgo and Leo!

For further examination of the scriptural basis for biblical astronomy, let me point you towards the study E. W. Bullinger did in his work Witness of the Stars. He expounds Psalm 19 in detail, recording so eloquently for our benefit: "Surely there is something more referred to here than a mere wonder excited by the works of the Creator! When we read the whole passage and mark its structure, and note the words employed, we are emphatically told that the heavens contain a revelation from God; they prophesy, they show knowledge, they tell of God's glory, and set forth His purposes and counsels."

You may want to take this opportunity to read Psalm 19, a division of the Bible which should be noted as being emphasized by reason of its placement as the 19th division within the 19th book. It will be helpful for some of you to meditate upon its teaching and become comfortable with the reference made by Paul in Romans 10 before you continue. When you are consenting to the divine ordination of the heavens and have done some homework, perhaps enjoying the work of Bullinger and Seiss, or more recently of D. James Kennedy or Marilyn Hickey, you will rejoice to see how wonderfully God has  fashioned the heavens for the fulfillment of his glorious purposes. Have you ever observed that the four living creatures seen around the throne of God in Revelation 4:7 and Ezekiel 1:10 have the faces of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. Are these not symbolic of the four main constellations of the zodiacal seasons which are depicted pictorially as those very things? The man is Aquarius, the lion - Leo, the ox - Taurus and the eagle - Scorpio.

The True Spiritual Function of the Heavens

The spiritual function of the heavens is first declared in the creation record. I believe that I have found one of the keys to its interpretation in the architectural structure of the passage. By our use of this interpretive tool, we shall make a deeper inquiry into the record of the fourth day of Creation.

Notice that in both of the sections labeled A) we find the phrases "in the expanse of the sky" and; "to give light on the earth." God does not ramble, nor does he waste his breath. The thematic repetitions evidenced throughout scripture bring to our attention a design intended at least in part to conceal and then reveal certain truths.

Notice that in the sections labeled B), we find: "to govern the day" and (to govern) "the night." Coincidence? Not likely!

It is thus apparent that the author intentionally matched certain portions of the passage. By reason of the order in which this was done, we can infer that He intended to also link the sections I've labeled C). Even though there seems to be little, if any, similarity in the themes of these two sections thus linked, an intelligent and careful observer would be forced to conclude that they are indeed a matched pair because of the structural relationship between them. "And to separate light from darkness" somehow relates to "He also made the stars." A riddle is thus posed to the inquiring student. By reason of the architectural structure of the passage, God has clearly defined the purpose of the stars but only for those who seek it out.

The function of the stars is to separate light from darkness. But, this makes little sense when we consider only the physical nature of the stars. The significance of "light" isn't limited to its physical nature (which can be described as the spectrum of visible electromagnetic radiation). According to the Bible, "light" also has a spiritual connotation. Doesn't it make sense that both the physical and spiritual functions are necessary to life on Earth as the Creator intended it?

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." II Corinthians 4:4-6
This separation of light from darkness designated as the purpose of the stars must be a matter of a distinction and a discernment involving knowledge about the glory of God in the face of Christ. God really has ordained the stars to separate the spiritual light from the darkness. They do this via their message about Christ!

Did you notice the reference to the creation account in the above verse? When find a reference in the text of the Bible, do your homework. Follow the reference for insight into both source and target because the passages are divinely linked. Just as we have learned from Paul's paraphrased quote of Psalm 19:4 in Romans 10:18, so we learn from his quote of the creation account in II Corinthians 4:6: The message revealed in the celestial heavens teaches us about the Messiah and thus enables us to discern spiritual light!

Let's continue this inquiry into the depth of the fourth day of Creation by returning to Genesis 1:14, where we find the function of the sun, moon, stars and planets together referred to as "lights."

And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years
All the "lights" described above have a familiar function in the physical realm. These are first said to separate the day from the night (which should be noted as differing from separating the light from the darkness). We then learn that these lights are to serve as signs. A "sign" is any indicator of something that is itself not directly perceptible. The Hebrew word for "signs" here means "a sign of something or someone to come." These signs mark, or, signal. They mark "seasons, days and years," which, to some merely suggests the passage of time, but there is much more involved. The Hebrew word translated "seasons" specifically denotes the cyclic nature of time in contrast to the linear continuity of time we generally think in terms of in the Western culture. It is obvious these terms refer to the familiar cycles of time that we observe by our almanacs, clocks and calendars, but, is the interpretation of this verse limited to the merely physical aspects of creation? I think not.

Just as the motion of the earth and the other celestial bodies provides signs indicating the physical realities, these heavenly lights which are viewed from earth provide signs which the Creator ordained to indicate the spiritual realities. We have learned the great lesson from the Apostle Paul's reference to the Psalmist's revelation about the voice in the heavens which goes out into all the earth to lead people to the Messiah. We have learned the lesson about the God ordained purpose for the stars and planets; they separate spiritual light from the spiritual darkness. It is this message which continually goes forth about the Messiah which is the subject of the signs. It is logically, therefore, the seasons, days and years which relate to the Messiah as the redeemer of man which are marked by these signs. Yes, the signs are indeed indicators of someone to come.

Now, the Hebrew word for "seasons" points not at the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter but at those seasons which God has established in regards to our relationship with Him. These cycles of time are appointed, implying that these are purposefully set. They are literally "appointments" marked on God's schedule which He has provided for our benefit. In a sense, they can be viewed as rehearsals as the cycles repeat, eventually reaching their appointed conclusions. We see this reflected in Colossians 2:16-17 as certain of these appointments are spoken of as a shadow:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
We have found that the message about Christ is the basic spiritual function of the heavens. We should now realize that the stars not only proclaim what, but also, when as the Sun, Moon and planets move purposefully in their paths through the starry expanse. In the totality of this revelation, the "lights in the expanse of the sky" give spiritual light on the earth, as revealed in the record of the fourth day of creation. In our continuing quest for truth, we want to learn the message that has been given so specially by the Creator of all things! It will be most helpful in this quest to observe the fact that cycles are always recognizable by the repetition of certain characteristics, but yet, each cycle is discernibly unique and . So it is with those cycles of the Messianic plan. We must carefully study these cycling seasons, days and years as we watch according to our Lord's admonition in Mark 13:36-37:
If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'

Two Thousand Year Cycles of Significant Births

It's interesting to note that a repeating cycle, or, period of heavenly revelation finds a remarkable parallel in the development of biblical history. I don't think this is merely a coincidental correspondence between the spiritual realities and the celestial signs. Rather, this should speak loudly to us about the content of the spiritual light which has shone so dimly of late.

Every 2000 years, because of an astronomical phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes, (which has a period of about 25,000 years) the sun has moved 1/12 of the way through the circle of the Zodiac. This 30 degree progression is equivalent to the portion of the sky assigned to a Zodiacal sign. Although apparently unrelated in cause, this same period of 2000 years brings many of the planets into very similar alignments, thus marking a correspondence in their cycles. This particular interval can thus be seen to have been given some special significance.

Scanning biblical history in intervals of about 2000 years, consider what we find! Adam's "birth" was in about 4000 BC. Abraham was born about 2000 years later. Jesus was born about another 2000 years after that. It is now almost 2000 years since Jesus' birth. If the trend is to continue consistently, and we have no reason to expect that it won't, another kind of "birth" around this time is thus implied! Isn't this exactly what we're expecting in the schedule of events foretold in prophetic scripture?

In Isaiah 66:7-8a we find one example of a birth which has already taken place in 1948 - the birth of a son which is the nation of Israel.

Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. {8} Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Although the pain suffered by the Jews by the hand of Hitler just prior to the national birth was severe, the son - the nation of Israel was born before the pains would come upon her, before she goes into labor. The labor pains then are yet to come in what is known as the time of Jacob's trouble. From this same passage in Isaiah, reference is made to another birth which will shortly be cause for great rejoicing.
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. 9 Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God. 10 "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.  Isaiah 66:8b-10
Israel's barren womb will be opened as soon as Zion is in labor and her children will be brought forth. This is not the son Israel brought forth before the labor, but the children delivered as soon as she is in labor. I believe that these will number 144,000! Consider Isaiah 13:6-9:
Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. {7} Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man's heart will melt. {8} Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. {9} See, the day of the LORD is coming-a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.
Here are the labor pains which follow the birth of the nation of Israel. Jeremiah 6:22-30 contains a similar declaration.
This is what the LORD says: "Look, an army is coming from the land of the north; a great nation is being stirred up from the ends of the earth. {23} They are armed with bow and spear; they are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they ride on their horses; they come like men in battle formation to attack you, O Daughter of Zion." {24} We have heard reports about them, and our hands hang limp. Anguish has gripped us, pain like that of a woman in labor. {25} Do not go out to the fields or walk on the roads, for the enemy has a sword, and there is terror on every side. {26} O my people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes; mourn with bitter wailing as for an only son, for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us. {27} "I have made you a tester of metals and my people the ore, that you may observe and test their ways. {28} They are all hardened rebels, going about to slander. They are bronze and iron; they all act corruptly. {29} The bellows blow fiercely to burn away the lead with fire, but the refining goes on in vain; the wicked are not purged out. {30} They are called rejected silver, because the LORD has rejected them.
You may also want to read Jeremiah 13:21 and Hosea 13:13. You see, as we are now drawing to the close of this third period of 2000 years, each begun with a significant "birth," another birth in the near future should be our expectation according to the emphatic declaration of the holy scriptures. As there are cycles established in the heavens of this same period of 2000 years, we might well expect that the times appointed for these children to be brought forth are marked in them for those who hear their voice, that silent voice which bears testimony of the love of a merciful God, but yet speaks of the consequences due those who reject that love.

Biblical Accounts of Those Who Understood Celestial Revelation

If indeed the message has gone forth from the celestial messengers and been received, and if people are able to be held accountable for having heard and understood it, there must surely be some biblical record in which this communication can be found. There are two which seem to me quite clear which are in addition to that which can be inferred from the book of Job. The first we will investigate is the record of Abram as he receives the promise of offspring.

Abram's Vision

Here's the record of Genesis 15, verses 1 and 4-6.
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. '      {4} Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." {5} He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." {6} Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Let me ask you this very crucial question. Is there any righteousness for man outside of faith in Jesus Christ? Well, I'll tell you that there isn't. Since Adam's fall, there has been no righteousness for man outside of faith in Christ. If there could have been, there would have been no need for the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus. This implied but really rather obvious fact reveals that there's something else that should come to our attention beyond simply Abram's belief that God would multiply his progeny through the son (Isaac). Jesus Christ must somehow have been brought to Abram's attention by his looking at the heavens. I believe that there are clues in the context which suggest that God showed Abram one or more celestial configurations which prophesied vividly to him about the coming redeemer.

There's a verse in Galatians which I think is relevant here. Chapter 3 verse 16:

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ.
If you study the places where the promises are recorded, like Genesis 12:7, 13:15 and 24:7, it seems quite fitting that the Lord was actually referring to Jesus Christ when He said in Genesis 15:5; "So shall your offspring be." The singular offspring here is also Christ! Thus, it makes perfect sense that the Lord credited it to Abram as righteousness because God brought his attention to bear upon Christ via the heavenly narration!

The ancient historians bear record of Abram's fame in regards to his celestial observations. It is recorded that he taught the Egyptians about the starry heavens. And yet, today, we're almost shocked to think that he actually might have understood the truths revealed in them.

So, we may ask why  God said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can count them"? Well, I don't think that's the most appropriate translation of the text. The Hebrew word translated "count," "caphar," is also translated as "declare," or "narrate." In fact, this is the very same word used in Psalm 19:1 where it says, "The heavens declare the glory of God." I think God told Abram to look at the celestial configuration(s) shown him in the vision. God told Abram to narrate, to tell the story depicted by that configuration, if indeed he could. I believe that Abram could, and, because he then understood and believed the message revealed through the narration about the coming Messiah, God counted it to him as righteousness. Remember, without faith in the risen Lord Y'shua, there is no righteousness for man. The configuration shown to Abram in the vision was quite possibly that which the Magi would see in another 2000 years, (like Revelation 12:1-5 ) or what would come into view another 2000 years later (like Genesis 49:10 or Matthew 24:30)!

Others identified in the Bible as having understood celestial revelation are known as the Magi.

The Magi

The second chapter of Matthew is a familiar record to many of us because it's traditionally taught at Christmas time as the record of the wise men and the star of Bethlehem. In the account of our Lord's birth, we learn of two distinct groups of people who were knowledgeable about the timing of this very significant event (excepting Mary, Joseph and a few others). The shepherds of Luke 2:8 were told of the birth while they were in the fields near Bethlehem by the angel Gabriel. Men from the east known as Magi acquired the knowledge through God's celestial revelation!
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: 6 "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.Matthew 2:1-16
You may have been taught that there were three wise men, or kings, who visited the baby Jesus. Tradition probably derived "three Kings" from the three types of gifts they offered to Jesus. These men were astronomers called Magi, and there were very likely many more than three of them. In those days, three wealthy men would have been the easy target of thieves along their journey. People traveled in caravans for safety. These men, however many there were, arrived in Bethlehem when the child was perhaps around 15 months old. If these Magi had been idolatrous astrologers, as tradition might lead us to suspect, we then have to as, "Why were they given the privilege of visiting God's only begotten son?" How did they know where and when to find the child? Let's look at their background. Exactly who were these men?

They were Medes and Persians that had been taught by a man named Zoroaster. After Zoroaster died, the Magi split into sects. Some basically adhered to their former religion; nature and sun worship. From the activities of this sect of the Magi, we have derived the words "magic" and "magician." They were astrologers and false seers. The Magi who visited the Christ child would have been followers of another sect, "biblical astronomers," if you will, who continued to follow a more pure form of doctrine.

In around 537 BC, the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon. At that time, many Israelites were in Babylon as captives. They remained captive in Babylon for a time until they were released by the Medes and Persians to return to their land. During this period of time, the prophet Daniel was in Babylon. His position is noted in Daniel 2:48 and is likely the key to how these Magi were so well informed about the coming King.

Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.
These Magi must have loved to learn. When they met up with Daniel, they probably had quite an exciting time comparing notes.

I've already presented evidence that Abram understood the message of the heavens. I submit to you that Daniel also understood the celestial teaching and that the Magi were his faithful students. These Magi would have passed along their knowledge to successive generations of scholars resulting in the continuing faithful of the Magi recognizing the announcement of the King at the time of His birth. These Magi were presented with the proclamation of the first coming of the son of God via celestial signs.

Although the appearance of some heavenly luminary in the record of the Magi's visit to Bethlehem is common knowledge, I believe that the traditional teaching of the "Star of Bethlehem" has done a great disservice to us. Instead of becoming informed about the true nature and function of God's heavenly witness, we have remained in the dark about this magnificent facet of divine revelation.

The traditional teaching of the "Star of Bethlehem" is that there was a phenomenon, a special one-time occurrence of an object of great magnitude that mysteriously moved about as a beacon, guiding the Magi to the very manger of Christ. Now, I don't deny that God could have led them to Bethlehem in that way, but it seems far more likely to me that God had carefully prepared the revelation of His plan from the beginning as He set the heavenly lights in the expanse of the sky and that this was the intended means of delivering the message about his son's birth. This seems a logical inference because, after all, these astronomers were uniquely honored. They weren't "more spiritual," in a religious sense. Nor were they plumbers who divined pipes. Nor were they your everyday mathematicians. Neither were they astrologers. When you really understand what the celestial lights were made for, doesn't it seem obvious that the source of guidance for the wise astronomers came through certain celestial configurations that appeared for the signaling of special signs?

What were the signs that convinced the Magi it was time to go find the child? From the evidence available to us now, it seems that there were at least two celestial signs, one general and one specific. Additionally, I think they may have had another clue as to the time of Christ's appearance, a clue from scripture itself. It seems likely that these Magi would have been aware of Daniel's prophecies, even and especially those found recorded in the book of Daniel. Daniel 9:25-26a reads:

Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree 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. {26} After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.
The Magi would certainly have been able to note the date of the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. It wouldn't have been too difficult for them to count the years from that time. The Magi might possibly have had more information than what is recorded in the book of Daniel - we just don't know. Confusion reigns still today when it comes to interpreting this prophecy. A question of no small importance that comes to mind is this, "If the information given in the prophecy recorded in Daniel 9:25 and 26 were all that was necessary, why didn't anyone else beside the Magi show up to honor the Christ child?" Good question, isn't it? Further information must have been required. Why were the Magi, these Persian astronomers, the only ones to have this information or the only ones to understand it? I believe the answer to that question gives us a commentary on our time as well.

How can it be that, after seven years, I still haven't heard of anyone else who's recognized the significance of the celestial sign which occurred in 1991 declaring the return of Christ in judgment? It appears that the men who have been responsible to teach about God's message in the heavens have not been faithful and haven't really understood the message. The Magi were the only people of their time who were faithful watchmen of the heavens. They recognized the revelation of God's Son's appearance and were allowed the privilege of visiting Jesus as a child. Those whom we might think should have known, who had the religious positions and credentials of the day didn't have a clue as to when the King should be born. Recall the record of Matthew 2:3-7.

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. {4} When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. {5} "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: {6} 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' {7} Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
See, Herod didn't inquire about the exact time from the chief priests and teachers of the law. He called the Magi secretly. Herod was convinced that the Magi knew what they were talking about, convinced enough to decree that all male children in and around Bethlehem under 2 years old should be killed. Of course, Herod was only acting out the will of Satan who, since he failed at preventing Jesus' appearance, would now seek to murder him.

The Star of Bethlehem

Now, the general sign offered in the heavens I mentioned relates to what Bullinger called a "traditional prophecy, well-known in the East." It states that "a new star would appear in this sign when He whom it foretold should be born." Bullinger suggests that this sign in which the new star was very likely located was the constellation "Coma," a decan of (constellation associated with) Virgo.

The appearance of a star at that time is well supported by the historical evidence. The Chinese recorded the appearance of a new bright star at that time. Hipparchus was inspired to produce his catalogue of stars upon the sudden appearance of this star in about 125 BC. It was visible for perhaps just over 275 years, being almost to dim to be distinguishable by the time of Ptolemy, 150 years after Christ. A Christian writer, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch in AD 69, is quoted as saying, "At the appearance of the Lord a star shone forth brighter than all the other stars." Ignatius might not have been speaking of his first hand experience, but certainly, in 69 AD, the star would yet have been visible in the sky and a significant body of evidence would have existed to substantiate his comment about its visibility at the time of the birth of Christ.

It could be that this star which attended the birth of Christ appeared in fulfillment of Balaam's oracle (or, prophecy) recorded in Numbers 24:17.

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.
The appearance of a new bright star in the head of Coma would have spoken loudly to the Magi. They had probably been growing in anticipation of further signs to be given since its appearance in about 125 BC.

The ancient name of the constellation Coma is spelled "Comah," and is a Hebrew word which means "the desired," or "longed for." The word is found translated thusly in Haggai 2:7:

I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty.
The association with Jesus Christ is really quite obvious! About this constellation, an Arabian astronomer named Albumazar (eighth century AD) is quoted as saying; "There arises in the first Decan (which means: "part," or, "associated constellation") as the Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, and the two Hermes and Ascalius teach, a young woman, whose Persian name denotes a pure virgin, sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant boy, having a Hebrew name, by some nations called IHESU, with the signification IEZA, which in Greek is called Christos." The boy in the virgin's lap is widely recognized as symbolic of Jesus Christ!

The evidence suggests very strongly that this bright star was a sign for the Magi, but at best, being a star which remains fixed in its position in the heavens, would not likely have been as specific a sign as would have been necessary for them to show up in the time frame they did. There were more specific signs given, signs that would have convinced the Magi it was finally time to depart on their pilgrimage to Israel to find the one born King. The celestial signs of his coming that the Magi had to have seen are easily discovered by making use of astronomy software. Turning back the clock about 2000 years allows us to see the night sky represented as those ancient Magians saw it, revealing a remarkable series of celestial configurations. Knowing what they saw and how one particular sign that marked our Lord's birth is actually described in detail in the holy scriptures is exciting, but to see how the whole matter set the precedent for the way the signs of the return of the King would be presented - and then to see a similar sign appear in the heavens with a similar scriptural description, well, what can I say!  Are the Magi of the last days paying attention?

Next in this series:The Magi Series: Part II