All posts by waynespencer

Science and the Age of the Solar System

From the 1960’s creationists in the sciences who believed God created in six literal days began doing research into Earth’s geology and also started to challenge the accepted old age views in geology. Creationists have had some ideas that have needed to be abandoned along the way, but I would say they accomplished a lot in showing evidence from geology and geophysics that affirms the Biblical view of Earth history. There aren’t many issues geologists can bring up anymore that young-age creationists don’t have an answer to, in geology. There are controversies where creationists may not be of one consensus view, but I would say much has been accomplished that makes a case for a young Earth and the truth of the book of Genesis. When I was a teacher at a Christian school in the early 1990’s there wasn’t much published by creationists on topics about the solar system or planetary science. I wanted to give a creationist view of the solar system in my middle school science classes but I found that there wasn’t much available to help me as a teacher. Also, what was available on solar system topics was very out of date. So this led me to start researching solar system topics. In the early 1990’s there was also much new information and new images of the outer planets from the Voyager 1 and 2 missions. My efforts in looking into planetary science continued beyond what I needed as a teacher. I started rethinking topics in planetary science from a young-age creation viewpoint.

In much of my published articles in planetary science my efforts have been to point the way or “start the ball rolling” in hopes that more research will be done by others after me. Christians always have to paddle against the stream of the world, as we look for a better set of answers and a better direction than those from the unbelieving world we live in. This is true in many issues, including how to approach counseling in dealing with personal problems, in medical ethics, in politics, and it is true in science. The young-age creationist view is built on a strong view of the inerrancy of Scripture and a high view of the authority of Scripture. God’s word doesn’t tell us everything about history or about the universe but it speaks with authority in everything it does say. This view is in line with the teachings of Jesus, and Apostles Paul and Peter in the New Testament. The young-age creation view has been attacked and treated with disrespect for many years now. Creationists were being “cancelled” long before anyone had heard of the term “cancel culture.” Creationists were also bringing up the issue of intelligent design long before the so-called “Intelligent Design Movement.”

Sometimes geology learned on Earth can be applied on other planets in our solar system. It’s fascinating to me to consider that God created all the planets, not just Earth. And, they are all different, very different from Earth. But applying science is challenging on other planets. Often things are in a very different context on another planet. For example there are certain types of sedimentary rocks found on Mars that are also present on Earth, but on Mars they are of limited thickness and scale compared to the Earth. Also they are not normally muds that hardened to rock, they are more often of the type called evaporites. So whereas Earth has massive layers of sedimentary rock deposited by water, Mars has relatively little of this and much more volcanic rock. There is evidence of water erosion on Mars but it has always been a mystery how this happened. So, although rock is rock, the history of other planets (and moons) are different from Earth. Also, other planets and moons in our solar system exist in various temperature regimes. So for example on Neptune’s moon Triton and on Pluto you can have Nitrogen geysers and Nitrogen gases condensing onto the surface because it is so cold. Water is common across the solar system except for Mercury and our Moon mainly. Even Venus has water in a certain sense in the acid that is prevalent in its atmosphere. But you won’t find a drop of liquid water or ice on Venus’ surface. Instead, you could melt lead on the surface. In the outer solar system water is normally in the form of ice. Mars has significant water also but it is often ice just below the surface or at the poles.

How Old is Our Solar System?

Is there evidence in our solar system that confirms or supports a young-age view? Some of the technical or non-technical articles I’ve published have addressed issues of age. I would say there are some good confirming evidences of a young age in the solar system. I will briefly mention some that are not my research then mention some that relate to my articles. First, in dealing with the age issue the topic of radioactive dating techniques is important. Creationists have shown there are many examples where different radioactive dating methods contradict each other or contradict geological observations. In the solar system the main problem with radioactive dates (such as of Moon rocks and meteorites collected on Earth) is probably the daughter isotope being present in the beginning. In radioactive dating, one radioactive isotope of an element (the parent) decays into a different isotope of a different element (the daughter). If some of the daughter were present at the start, it makes the sample appear older than it really is. Other effects in could interfere with getting correct radioactive dates as well. So the research creationists have done on radioactive dating on Earth does give some insight for the solar system. But generally, I would not trust radioactive dates, except for some Carbon-14 dates on Earth less than about 3,000 years. Below is a link to an article on radioactive dating and one of the best evidences for a young solar system, Earth’s magnetic field.

One area where there are strong confirmations of a young age view in the solar system is in regard to magnetic fields, for Earth and other objects in our solar system. The best work on this comes from a physicist named Humphreys who developed a creation model starting from the biblical idea of God creating in the beginning using water, like it describes in Genesis 1 and in 2 Peter 3. Then after creation the magnetic field decreases in strength, especially at the time of Noah’s Flood. Humphreys’ model not only explains Earth’s changing magnetic field well but it allowed him to predict the magnetic field strengths of Uranus and Neptune before the Voyager spacecrafts measured them! He had the numbers more correct than evolutionary scientists. He has extended his model to explain the planet Mercury and the Sun also. The magnetic field evidence supports Earth being less than about 9,000 years old.


One issue I have published a number of articles on is the issue of craters in our solar system. There are so many craters on the Moon, Mercury, Mars, and other objects in our solar system! It made me ask myself “what happened?” In a biblical timeline for history, there’s no way to fit millions or billions of years. The Bible says that all things were created within six days, so you can’t say that things in space are much older than the Earth (see Exodus 20:11). For some years I operated on the assumption that we should treat the Earth as any other planet regarding cratering but put almost all the impacts at the time of the Noahic Flood. I later changed my view on this and decided to accept the Fourth Day Impacts idea from Dr. Danny Faulkner (Astronomer at Answers in Genesis). In this approach, impacts from space are seen as part of the formation process for most objects in our solar system, however Earth was an exception. You have to understand the creation week as full of great miraculous events and Earth was formed in a different manner than other objects. Earth was not subjected to impacts until after the creation week, or perhaps not until the global Flood judgment. This explains how many impacts could happen across the solar system but Earth only has a relatively small number of impact craters. This fits a young age time scale of several thousand years. There is evidence on Earth for approximately 180-190 known remnants of crater structures. These would have happened surrounding the Noahic Flood.


Creationists have long used the lifetime of short-period comets as a young age argument. I wrote a technical paper to try and update this issue in the light of modern scientific ideas on comets (see my technical paper on comets). Comets are generally objects that are a mix of dust, rock, and ice often described as dirty snowballs. A few of them are more rocky but comets always have “volatile” materials in them that boil away as they come near the Sun. Some comets break apart and fall into the Sun as they pass through their perihelion (the nearest point to the Sun). There are also some comets that have broken up or collided with Jupiter. Jupiter has a great tendency to capture comets and alter comet orbits. Since comets are somewhat fragile and they lose material as they come near the Sun, they do not last forever. Many comets (long-period ones) are in very long narrow orbits and have never come near the Sun because they’ve never made it in to their perihelion.

The term “lifetime” should be explained to understand how comets point to a young age. As a comet passes near the Sun, it loses material. This will either make the comet fade so it can no longer be seen, it may break up and the pieces scatter, or it may fall into a planet or into the Sun. How long does this take for short-period comets? This needs to be answered by breaking the short-period comets into two groups, the Jupiter Family Comets (JFCs) and the Halley Type Comets (HTCs). The JFC comet orbits are near the same ecliptic plane that is like the planet orbits. But the HTC objects have more inclined orbits and some are retrograde (like comet Halley). This means they orbit the Sun in the opposite direction compared to the motion of the planets in their orbits. One estimate made by scientists in 1997 said that JFC comets would have a lifetime of from 3,000 to 30,000 years, with 12,000 years being the most likely lifetime on the average. The HTC comets take longer to complete an orbit and they may not come as close to the Sun, so they could last a bit longer. An estimate of the “lifetime” of the HTC comets from 2006 was 69,000 years on the average. These lifetime estimates are not my calculations, they come from scientists (not likely to be creationists) known in planetary science and comet research. These lifetime figures are consistent with the Biblical timescale. However, scientists believing in an old solar system would argue the short-period comets are replaced by other comets over time. However, there has always been difficulty in showing how the orbit changes could take place to replace the short-period comets frequently enough. So, I find that the young age argument from short-period comets is still very valid.

Heat Problems for Moons

Other age issues have to do with energy being available to be the driving mechanism for various geological or atmospheric processes. For example, Neptune is now considered the most distant planet since Pluto is now considered a “Dwarf Planet” and not a “Planet” (Click to see my article on this). In 2003, I wrote a paper for the International Conference on Creationism about Jupiter’s moon Io. Io is very interesting in being the most volcanically active body in the solar system. There are some volcanoes on Io that literally never stop erupting. On Io it’s like volcanism has gone wild. The volcanoes generate a great deal of heat that is given off in the form of infrared light waves. At the time of my 2003 paper, the observed amount of heat from infrared measurements was about ten times as much as what scientific models of Io’s interior could explain. Since 2003 there has been more research by scientists on Io. Today there are new ideas that come much closer to accounting for the observed infrared energy given off by Io. The new ideas have proposed that there is a partially molten layer under the crust of Io. This would mean that there is a lot of molten material in or under Io’s crust.

But, there is a fundamental question about these new models of Io — how could this be sustained for billions of years? On Io, if you sum up the total volume of all the lava erupting over time, it would be approximately 550 cubic kilometers every year! There is so much lava erupting from Io that at current rates it would require the entire mantle and crust of the whole moon to be recycled 140 or 150 times in 4.5 billion years. This is hard to accept. There is no plate tectonics on Io so it isn’t clear how material that made it to the surface would be remixed into the interior again to recycle it. Also the variety of lavas that erupt today do not really fit the recycling concept. In the recycling approach, the lavas would become always of the same composition over time, but that is not what they are. The lavas on Io vary in composition and vary hundreds of degrees in temperature. Calculating an age for Io can’t be done exactly but the problem is in explaining how it is feasible for such extreme volumes of lava to keep erupting for over four billion years.

Volcanism can take different forms with different moons in the solar system. There are a couple of moons in our solar system that have geysers that erupt salty water and other material. These are what I call the “warm icy moons.” One of these is Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons that is totally covered with water ice. Another one is called Enceladus, a small moon of Saturn. The basic problem is that a small spherical body cools off faster than a large spherical object. Thus, a small moon, particularly like Enceladus, should freeze solid in millions or billions of years. Yet, Enceladus still erupts material near its South Pole from certain ridges called the “Tiger Stripes.” Thus the problem is in explaining what could be a source of heat to keep water liquid for billions of years. Granted that salty briny water has a lower freezing temperature and Enceladus does have some heat from tidal forces from Saturn. But even so scientists have found it difficult to explain. A group of scientists wrote about the problem with Enceladus in the Journal Science in 2000, “Despite its small size, Enceladus emits considerable heat at its south pole, even long after simple thermal models predict that Enceladus should be frozen. The latest estimates of energy release range from 4.7 GW to 15.8 GW, depending on wavelength.” Thus, a young age view can actually be an easier simpler explanation than believing in billions of years. In several thousand years, it’s more plausible that Enceladus is still cooling down from creation.


These are just a few examples of things in our own solar system that point to a young age. I once wrote an article called “Our Young Solar System” for Creation magazine (see ). Some young age indicators allow actually calculating an age figure. I call these “Category 1″ arguments. The age estimate of 9,000 years mentioned above for Earth’s magnetic field is a Category 1 argument, but the 9,000 would be an upper limit. The actual age could be a bit less. Another example is about Saturn’s moon called Titan (see the creation magazine article above). In 2007 scientists wrote that the methane in Titan’s atmosphere should be used up by chemical reactions in about 10 million years. This is an upper limit and only a rough estimate. But an age of just thousands of years is possible for Titan; it just requires looking at the data a different way than most scientists are willing to do.

Other age arguments are what I call “Category 2″ evidences. These are more about showing the problems with an old age view and showing that there is another legitimate way to interpret the same facts. Category 2 arguments are often related to Geology but not always. I did articles explaining examples of both categories for Earth which are on my website below. One of the best Category 2 arguments for Earth are the cases of soft tissue and sometimes blood found present in dinosaur fossils that are supposed to be millions of years old (see the ‘youngearth2.htm’ article below).

The solar system issues I’ve mentioned are usually Category 2 arguments. The lifetime of short-period comets could be considered Category 1 but they are not my original calculation. On comets, I’m really reinterpreting the research of others. There are always other ways to interpret the same facts, when it comes to events of the past. It is appropriate to deal with the age issue for our solar system because from all the exploration that has been done from NASA missions and the missions from other nations, we have significant information to go on. Where we have the most data and the best data is on Earth, because this is where we live and we can gather more kinds of relevant data easier. But we don’t have all the same data for other bodies in the solar system. I would say that where we have the best data, for Earth, we have better evidence for a young age. For the solar system, the information we have has grown a lot and I don’t find anything about our solar system that requires us to believe in millions or billions of years. To us Earthlings, billions of years are required for believing biological evolution but not needed in a Biblical view of history. People tend to prefer believing in millions or billions of years because of what it implies about the authority of the Bible if you accept 6,000 years.

Wayne’s articles related to the above:

2006, Nov 10, Planet Definitions and the Creator,
2009, June 16, Answers in Genesis website, “Why Recent Creation?” (
2011, v33(4) October, “Our young solar system,” Creation magazine, pp 38-41 (
2014, (Sept.), “Evaluating the Day Four Cratering Hypothesis“, Answers Research Journal (
2014, v50(3) “Critique of Modern Oort Comet Theory,” CRS Quarterly, pp 146-153. (Creation Research Society)
2015, v29(3) “Warm Icy Moons” Journal of Creation, pp 97-103 (
2016, v30(3) “The Manx comet and naturalistic assumptions” Journal Of Creation, pp 12-14.
2020, v34(2) “The volcanism and age of Io” Journal of Creation, (August 2020) pp 117-123.

The wise men and the star of bethlehem

Every December people wonder about the account in the book of Matthew about the magi who made the trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to see the child Jesus. There have been many speculations about what the star was. But identifying the star has never been a burning question to me. Instead I’ve always been more interested in the magi themselves and their story in Matthew chapter 2 in the New Testament. The important thing is really what we believe about Jesus, not what we believe about the star of Bethlehem. Christians have a variety of opinions on the star. There are also some misconceptions Christians have about the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, from not fully understanding what the New Testament tells us. The account about the magi (or ‘wise men’ if you prefer) is only in Matthew 2. The account in Luke about Jesus’ birth does not mention it.

From movies, Christmas card images, and television programs the magi are usually depicted as being present the night of Jesus’ birth, with the shepherds. But this is not correct according to the Bible because the magi visited Joseph and Mary at a house somewhere in vicinity of Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary were not staying with the animals the whole time they were in Bethlehem! So the magi would have visited Jerusalem and Bethelem some months after Jesus’ birth. Another point misunderstood is that it is often assumed that anyone looking in the sky could have seen the special light or star that marked Jesus’ birth. But this is not certain. It could well be that only the magi saw this special light. When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Saul saw the light from Jesus but his companions did not (Acts 9:3-7). If it was only the magi who saw the light, then it certainly was something supernatural. However, often people today want to identify a natural astronomical event that would “explain” the star at Jesus’ birth. Thus people have proposed many astronomical events as being associated with Jesus’ birth in some way. Everything from meteors, to comets, to supernova, to various planetary conjunctions have been suggested. The problems with these natural astronomical events relating to the star of Bethlehem often revolves around either when it happened or how visible it was to the magi. It is worth noting that to Christian believers it may be encouraging to consider that a natural astronomical event corresponded to the “Christmas star,” but nonchristians may have the opposite reaction. A non-believer may be suspicious of Christians who try to connect Jesus’ birth to an astronomical event because to them it may seem forced and artificial. I would say God is sovereign over both natural and supernatural events, but He does not depend on a natural astronomical event.

What kind of astronomical event could be the star of Bethlehem?

This question has been debated for many generations. There are more than a dozen astronomical events that occurred in the years between 7 B.C. and 1 B.C. that have been suggested to possibly explain the star of Bethlehem. The natural astronomical events do not generally lend themselves to fitting the Biblical account. But we can consider some of them. In considering the astronomical events, we should point out that the Bible does not condone or encourage belief in astrology. So in order to relate an astronomical event to the Biblical account, it has to naturally fit a sound interpretation of the Bible, it has to be an event that would be considered very notable by the Magi, and it must agree with the dates and timing of the events in relation to both the Matthew chapter 2 account and the Luke chapter 2 account in the New Testament. I have doubts that any natural astronomical event can satisfy all these requirements. But we can consider the options.

First, in order to consider the astronomical events that could theoretically be relevant to the star of Bethlehem, we must narrow down the timing to whatever extent we can. This is often done based on the date of the death of Herod the Great, who died some time after Joseph and Mary went to Egypt to protect the child. Many scholars would put the death of Herod at 4 or 5 B.C. His death must be after Jesus’ birth. Some scholars question this date and so the time of the death of Herod has become a controversy in itself. The scholars who disagree with the common 4 B.C. date usually suggest it was 1 B.C. I am no expert on this but I think the later date of 1 B.C. is better for the death of Herod at reconciling various information with Luke 3:1 and 3:23. These verses mention several rulers and give important clues about dates. Luke 3:23 indicates Jesus was about 30 years old when he started his ministry. This and the death of Herod provide the clues to narrow down the time of Jesus’ birth. So I would put Jesus’ birth at probably 2 B.C., but many scholars would say it was more like 5 or 6 B.C., maybe even 7 B.C. So this means that the astronomical events to consider must take place between 7 B.C. and 1 B.C.

Second, for an astronomical event to explain the star of Bethlehem it must be recognizable as unusual and notable to the Magi, who were very likely familiar with making observations of the stars. I think the event should be bright but it is something people could overlook if they are not aware of the stars. The event must also have been visible to the magi in their location at the right time. Astronomical events like conjunctions or comets are not visible to everyone everywhere on Earth. So the when and where becomes important.

Third, the star or astronomical event has to fit the information from Matthew 2 and Luke 2 in the New Testament. It is important to consider who the magi were. They were apparently from Persia because Matthew 2:1 says they were from the East. The Bablylonians and Persian Kings employed “wise men” also known as “magi” to be advisors to the King. The term “magi” may be connected to Zoroastrianism which had been prevalent in Persia. There were also some Jews in Persia and there were some similarities between Jewish beliefs and the Zoroastrians since the Zoroastrians were monotheists. Some Jews never returned to Israel after the end of the exile period. Daniel was treated as apparently one of this group in the early reign of Nebuchadnezzar because Nebuchadnezzar threatened to kill all the wise men (see Daniel 2). Daniel was lumped into this group but God revealed the dream of Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel and so he was able to interpret it. This saved the lives of the wise men of Babylon at that time. We get our term “magic” from the singular terms “mage” or “magus” which referred to people like the sorcerers and others in these “wise men” of Babylon. These magi were very likely familiar with observing the stars and they may have believed aspects of astrology. The Jews were not supposed to believe astrology but we can’t be sure how astrology might have influenced some of them who were exposed to those ideas. It is not impossible that there could have been Jews among the magi but I would assume the magi at the time of the birth of Jesus were Zoroastrians.

From Matthew 2:1-12 there are certain key points to notice.

  • Matthew 2:1 indicates it was after Jesus was born that the magi arrived in Jerusalem.
  • Matthew 2:2 says the magi asked Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (NASB).
  • The magi apparently found out the significance of Bethlehem only after Herod spoke to the Jewish priests and scribes.
  • After they left Herod and started toward Bethlehem it says “the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” (Matt. 2:9-10, NASB).
  • Matthew 2:11 says they entered a house to see Mary and the child. Then they worshiped and presented their gifts.
  • We are not told how many magi there were. They could have had some soldiers with them and a large retinue of servants and supplies.

Could it have been a supernova?

A supernova is when a star explodes. Only large stars with enough mass can explode after they use up their hydrogen fuel. The Chinese reported an object referred to as a “guest star” in 5 B.C. that some thought could be a supernova. But later astronomers came to suspect it was only a comet. It was also described by the Chinese as not very bright. This makes it an unlikely candidate for the star of Bethlehem. There were two astronomers who proposed another interesting idea in 1978 and 1998. There is a pulsar with the designation PSR 1913 + 16b. This is a binary pulsar. These objects spin rapidly and give off pulses of radiation. It was proposed that the first of the two pulsars formed in 4 B.C. from one supernova and then the second pulsar formed in 2 B.C. from a second supernova. This sounded good but other astronomers used magnetic data to argue that the pulsars have existed for about 40,000 years. This would put the supernova that formed them much earlier than 4 B.C. Also the second object is relatively small and would not have enough mass to explode in a supernova. So this idea was abandoned. Supernovas would be notable events to people who observe the stars, but there doesn’t seem to be any known supernovas in the right time range of 7 B.C. to 1 B.C.

Could it have been an occultation of Jupiter by the Moon?

This was proposed by an astronomer by the name of Michael Molnar. Molnar studied ancient coins for evidence of ancient astronomical events. He found some coins from Antioch in Syria that show a ram (Aries in the Zodiac) looking back at a star, or a crescent and a star. These coins were reportedly from the early first century A.D. This was an argument from astrology. Aries the ram was considered a symbol for Judea. Jupiter is seen as the King of the planets. So some thought a new king would be born when the Moon passed in front of Jupiter. This occultation happened twice in 6 B.C. This has been seen as matching the two events where the magi saw the star, once when they were in the East and the other when they traveled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. The first of these occultations was March 20, 6 B.C. around sunset. The second occultation would have happened April 17th, 6 B.C. at Noon. A plus for this theory is that the March/April time for it could agree with Luke’s gospel regarding shepherds feeding their flocks at night. But this would not really be notable to people unless they believed astrology regarding these events pointing to something about a King. Also the second occultation happened at Noon, when Jupiter would not be visible. So this means the magi would have to know of an occultation that could not really be seen, though the Moon itself could be seen.

Could it have been a planetary conjunction?

Multiple planetary conjunctions have been proposed for the star of Bethlehem. A conjunction is where two objects come near each other in the sky. In some cases they can even overlap, making the object appear brighter than normal. Johann Kepler suggested the star of Bethlehem could have been from a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that happened three times in 7 B.C. The three occurrences were in May 29th, Sept. 30th, and Dec. 5th that year. Astronomers have found the closest approach of Jupiter and Saturn in these events was about 1 degree. This means Jupiter and Saturn would not look like one object to the naked eye they would be separate objects. So this does not seem very notable really. Would the magi consider it important? Another question is about the later two dates, in September and December. December can be cold enough in Israel that it can snow. So there is some question whether these dates would agree with Luke. Personally I would also consider 7 B.C. too early because this would make Jesus about 36 when he began his ministry, which may not agree with Luke 3:23. (Note that there was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21, 2020 that was similar to the one in 7 B.C. and the separation of the planets was one fifth of the diameter of the Moon.)

Another conjunction suggested was one of multiple objects in February of 6 B.C. This involved Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the Moon. All four objects were visible relatively near each other in the sky on Feb. 20th. The planets would have appeared separated by a few degrees, not “touching.” So, again this doesn’t seem notable enough because it was not that bright and they were separated in the sky.

Another interesting conjunction proposed is with Jupiter and Venus, which are the two brightest planets. On August 12, 3 B.C. Jupiter and Venus were rising in the East. Magi in Persia could have seen this near their eastern horizon. Then, on June 17, 2 B.C. Jupiter and Venus were setting in the West which would be good timing for the visit with Herod. In the second instance Jupiter and Venus came very close so that they would have truly appeared to the naked eye as one object. So it would combine the brightnesses of Jupiter and Venus to make a sight brighter than any planet normally is. I would consider this to be at times that would agree with Matthew 2. So this may be the astronomical event that comes closest to agreeing with Scripture. However, there is one significant problem with this. Astronomers have pointed out the second occurrence was only visible mainly in the Southern hemisphere such as South America and some of Africa. Though not all astronomers seem to agree on this, I doubt that it could have been seen from Jerusalem. But even if it could have been seen, it would be seen only very low near the Western horizon. Also, how could this guide the magi to one house where the child was? The magi had to travel South to get to Bethlehem.

So what is my opinion on the star of Bethlehem?

Below is how I reconcile the history and the Scripture about the star of Bethlehem. To me a natural astronomical event cannot explain what the Bible describes. Also, there is no need for astrological arguments with what the Bible tells us. How did the magi learn that the child would be born King of the Jews? I think the fact that this was part of their question to Herod indicates they had some knowledge of the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah. Or, possibly they encountered some Jews during their journey who told them about the prophecies. What they exactly understood and believed is something we can debate. God can use many things to draw people to Jesus. But in this case God used an unusual light in the sky that the magi knew was uncommon.

  1. The star was a miraculous light seen while the magi were in Persia. This would have been around the actual time of Jesus’ birth, probably in the Spring of 2 B.C. This would also coincide in time with the Luke account about Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.
  2. My speculation is that they had heard of Balaam’s prophecy from Numbers 24:17 about a star and a king coming out of Israel. This made them connect what they saw in the sky to Israel and made them expect a baby to be born king of the Jews.
  3. They did not arrive in Israel until some months after Jesus was born. So Jesus was at least a few months old, or he may have been a year or more old. When they arrived in Jerusalem they assumed that Herod would know about this child born king of the Jews, but he didn’t. So they asked where to find him. Then they found out about Bethlehem and started on their way. As they started towards Bethlehem, they saw the star again and they recognized it as like what they had seen before.
  4. After the magi visit Mary and Joseph and leave their gifts, they leave without returning to Herod. The angel then tells Joseph to leave for Egypt and Herod gives the order to kill children in the vicinity of Bethlehem.
  5. Herod’s plan fails. Then some months later, Herod dies in 1 B.C.
  6. Jesus grows up to fulfill many prophesies from the Old Testament, and be the only savior of mankind.

Merry Christmas!