The Magi (Wise Men) didn’t just look into the night sky and see an unusual star and hop on their camels for their 800 mile journey to Bethlehem. No, the Magi had been expecting and looking for this phenomenon for over 500 years.
You see, the Jews were taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar who forcibly removed them from their home land to Babylon in 587. But preceding the fall of Jerusalem, many noblemen and leaders were forcibly exiled to Babylon.
One of those taken in was Daniel who would prophesy under several tyrants including Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Cyrus, and lastly, Darius.
Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion of Persia, and the Magi were priests in this religion. They were a powerful political-religious group that the King often consulted to tell him the future and for the meaning to strange events. Recall that the “Wise Men” (the Magi) were called to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s disturbing dream but were unable to do so. Enter Daniel. He interpreted it by the gift that God had given to him.
In Daniel’s last prophecy under the Persian King, Darius, he correctly predicted the coming of the Messiah. This prophecy is dated 539BC. The Jews would return to Jerusalem from their Babylonian captivity and rebuild Jerusalem and the Messiah would eventually come. Daniel saw into this future. “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
The Magi priests were all into stuff like looking to the stars for meanings and signs. They developed the Zodiac and horoscope from which they believed they could divine the future. So, it was a natural outgrowth of their belief and study to take what Daniel prophesized and look to the stars for some sort of meaning and fulfillment to what this Jewish prophet saw. For hundreds of years, they wondered, studied the heavens, and waited especially as to what they had interpreted to be the time when Daniel’s vision would be fulfilled in the strange 70 week prophecy.
Now, even though they were pagan Zoroastrians, this religion did believe that there is one universal, transcendent, supreme god that they called 'Wise Lord'. So, they put two and two together and no doubt were quite excited to think that this “Wise Lord” would visit the earth as a human.
They were seekers and God always reveals himself to true seekers. On that special night, in the shower of stars, appeared one special star that they had never seen before. The Magi interpreted this as “His Star,” and off they went to Bethlehem. When they got to Jerusalem, they did something most men won’t do. They asked people there for directions and said, “We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" (Matthew 2:2). Thus, Christ is proven to be born the Savior for the world as God revealed Himself to these foreign pagans who believed and no doubt were saved and became missionaries back in their Persian home.
Rev. Dan White is founder and pastor of North Columbia Church, Appling, GA, and has been published in both secular and Christian newspapers and magazines. You can contact him at
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