Here is the excerpt from the Christmas Eve message by Chuck Foreman at First Christian Church of Phoenix:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” ~Matthew 2:1-2
The Magi— A Greek word used to describe educated men who specialized in magic, sorcery, enchanting, astrology, and interpreting dreams. But we can tell that these guys were actually scientists, astronomers. Probably from Persia or Babylon. They were historically enemies of God’s People. The Babylonians had conquered and taken Israel captive 800 years B.C. And the Jews never forgot!
What about—The Star?
We actually have software now which enables us to look at what’s happening in the sky 2-3 years prior to Herod’s death. The heavens were full of activity! And here are some of the coolest astronomical occurrences: During this time period, the star Regulus (King) lined up with Jupiter (King Planet) 2 times—once on Sept. 12, 3 BC and again on Feb. 17, 2 BC. Then on June 17, that same year, Jupiter (King Planet) & Venus (Mother Planet) aligned. This would have looked like the largest star you’d ever seen! By God’s design, the Heavens were telling about the coming of a King.
It just so happened that some astronomer dudes in Babylon were watching. Get this—when this alignment of the King & Mother planets occurred, it happened w/in the Constellation Leo (the Lion). The Lion, is the symbol of Judah, which told these eastern astronomers right where to find this new King.
A Disturbing Visit
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. ~Matthew 2:4
Why? We know why Herod was disturbed-jealousy. He wanted no rivals to his throne. (After the Eastern Astronomers left, he sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the boys 2 yrs. & under.) But why was all Jerusalem disturbed? I’ll tell you why—it was that the news of their long awaited Messiah was brought to them by these uncircumcised foreign heathens! How dare God reveal the birth of His Son—the Messiah—to such people!
What do they know?! What part could they possibly have in our Messiah?!
But you see, I think that for the same reason Matthew included women—and not just women, but unmentionable women—in his genealogy of Jesus, he also included these Eastern Astronomers in the Story of Jesus. God’s gift of Himself was not just for the pretty people—not just for the Chosen People, it was for the messy people, the foreign people, the most unlikely people. Just as Luke’s poor, dirty, smelly shepherds were told by the angel, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL PEOPLE! Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!” –so also God revealed the cosmic arrival of His Only Son to these outsiders. He told them before He told those who considered themselves to be God’s Chosen People!
Micah’s Prophecy and Herod’s Treachery…
When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘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 shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”~Matthew 2:4-8
A Traveling Star?
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.~Matthew 2:9
Really? This is the part I had trouble swallowing. But look…We now know that On Dec. 25, 2 BC, Jupiter went into retrograde motion [motion which is contrary to the rotation of the primary]. From a person’s vantage point on earth, who might just happen to be in Jerusalem, it would appear that Jupiter had actually stopped in the evening sky right over a little Judean town called—Bethlehem.