How could one follow the Christmas star?

Question
The wisemen followed the Christmas Star. How is it possible to follow a star? Matt. 2:9-10. Isn't this a reason to doubt Scripture?
Answer

Thanks for your question. First, the events surrounding the birth of Christ are all rather miraculous. From the prophecies (Isa. 7:14), to the announcement (Luke 1:26-38), the actual birth (Matt. 1:18-25), and what happened thereafter (Matt. 2:13-14) God was mysteriously at work in many ways. To say the very least, God becoming man is the miracle of miracles (John 1:1-2, 14).

Second, the Greek word for star is aster, which is where we get our word astronomy. This star could have been any luminous point of light in the night sky; a star, supernovae, comet, or even a conjunction of planets. Speculating, it probably wasn't a normal comet as everyone would have seen it which is inconsistent with Scripture (cf. Matt. 2:7). And while a normal supernova or exploding star could be followed it would need to be eliminated as it normally wouldn't be able to rest over a single location (cf. Matt. 2:9-10). There was a conjunction of the planets of Jupiter and Venus - the two brightest planets - in 2 B.C. While this conjunction of planets could be followed, how did its light rest over a single house (cf. Matt. 2:9-10)?

I believe in miracles. In Exodus 13:21, we observe that God guided the Israelites by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The walls of Jericho fell in a miraculous manner. Axe heads float and God closed the mouths of the lions in Daniel's day. Jesus resurrected from the dead!

The God that created the universe and the very stars in it (Gen. 1:16; Psa. 8:3) could have easily created an event in the heavens that would have directed the wisemen westward to Palestine. After all He actually calls the stars by their name (Isa. 40:26). This Christ-star - His star (Matt. 2:2) - could have miraculously taken a specific path like a comet but only discernible and followed by the wisemen. Having been instructed to take the road to Bethlehem (Matt. 2:8), this Christ-star could have been low on the horizon and a particular building silhouetted against the evening sky. But the light from the Christ-star could have just as easily fallen in a miraculous fashion upon the house; "the glory of the Lord shone around them" (Luke 2:9; cf. Matt. 17:1-8).

While this side of glory we don't know everything concerning the Christ-star, there are numerous possible biblical explanations of how this could have worked. We can trust the Bible.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).