This holiday season, many of you will unwrap your “Christmas Star” from the carefully swathed boxes that lay dormant in your attic for eleven months out of the year. Whether the star becomes your Christmas tree topper, or is a part of your Nativity Scene, the use of the star during the celebration of all things Santa represents one thing – the Star of Bethlehem. Interestingly enough, the real story of the star is not often told.

So here is the Biblical explanation of the so-called “star,” as taken from the recordation made by Matthew.

King Herod and the "Three Wise Men"?

The book of Matthew opens by telling us that Jesus had been born in “Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod.” We are then told that astrologers from the East came to Jerusalem asking where the "King of the Jews" was born and saying they "saw his star when we were in the East, and we have come to do obeisance to him." These were not “wise men,” nor does the Bible ever indicate there were three of them.

It’s true that a delegation from the East paid homage to the young Jesus. But it's worth noting that these “magi” – astrologers and followers of Zoroastrianism who practiced interpretation of dreams, stars and the casting of spells – were not worshipers of the God of the Hebrews.

In fact, they practiced an art expressly condemned by God. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

These men even jeopardized the life of Jesus. How so? Verse 3:

“At hearing this [that a King of the Jews was born], King Herod was agitated, and all Jerusalem with him. On gathering together all the chief priests and scribes, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.” In answer, the scribes, knowing the prophecy about the Messiah, quoted from the prophet Micah, and correctly pointed out to Herod that it was indeed in Bethlehem.

In turn, verse 7 tells us that Herod secretly pooled his astrologers and "carefully ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearing.” So the “star” initially led these magi, not to the young child Jesus, but to Herod! After questioning them about the star, Herod commenced a ruse, telling the men to look for the baby Jesus, "and when you have found him, report back to me so that I too may go and do obeisance to him.”

The despotic and unstable Herod had no interest in paying reverence to a poor Jewish family and their baby boy.

Herod knew quite well what the prophecies said – that a King would rise up, a “Prince of Peace” whose rulership on the throne of David would have no end. (Isaiah 9:6,7) He had no desire for that!

The "Star"

Verse 9 then says the star the magi “had seen when they were in the East went ahead of them until it came to a stop above where the young child was.” So the star moved, leading the astrologers from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. After presenting their gifts, verse 10 tells us the magi were “given divine warning in a dream not to return to Herod,” and so they departed.

If there was any doubt as to the King's intentions, it became immediately when Herod realized he had been duped. Verse 16: “Then Herod, seeing that he had been outwitted...flew into a great rage, and he sent out and had all the boys in Bethlehem killed, from two years of age and under, according to the time that he had carefully ascertained from the astrologers.” The contemptible Herod went on a genocidal killing spree in an attempt to destroy the baby Jesus!

So what kind of “star” would lead these men, first to Herod, and then to the helpless Jesus? Why would God, who had used angels to inform humble shepherds Christ's birth, now employ an envoy of Pagans, unknowingly in collusion with a murderous King, and a “star” to place his only begotten son directly in death’s door? In fact, who, other than the enemy of God, Satan the Devil, would use such a sinister "star" to try to have Jesus killed, knowing what he was sent to earth to accomplish?

Would a Christian wish to perpetuate a fabled Nativity that distorts the truth?