I met people who claim to be Christians, but also have astrology among their passions. I felt obliged to draw their attention to the fact that reading in the stars and any other kind of divination is forbidden by God, and an abomination before Him (at least every time I read the Bible, I understood that, and inside I know that it is so). But I was confronted with the fact that the three Magi from the east learned about the birth of the Messiah from the stars, and they were used by God to protect the newborn Jesus, and they themselves were protected by being sent back by a different route. Here, from the perspective of many, there is a contradiction and an imperfection of God’s Word, although it is nowhere mentioned in the Bible that reading in the stars would be a thing permitted by Him.
The Magi were the wise men of the time who sought God
It is important to understand the meaning of the word “magi” in the text found in the Gospel of Matthew to which you referred. Here is the full text:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “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.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For from you will come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the magi and determined from them the exact [e]time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went on their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on ahead of them until it came to a stop over the place where the Child was to be found. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And after they came into the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And after being warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:1-12 NASB)
The word translated as “magi” is the Greek μάγος, a name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians and other peoples of the east to the sages, teachers, priests, doctors, astrologers, seers, dreamers, fortune tellers, and sorcerers. This was generally the name of the sages or philosophers of the East. So we shouldn’t understand by this name that the magi were only astrologers and that they only read in the stars.
From the text read above, one thing becomes clear – these magicians were people who sought the true God. They lived among the heathen peoples, among the idols, but they wanted to know the true God, and by sending them this guiding star, God revealed himself to them and led them to the Savior who is Christ. Speaking to the Greeks (also pagans) in Athens, the Apostle Paul told them that God is not far from every human being and that they should persevere in seeking Him by groping. This is how these magicians sought him, using their knowledge and efforts. And then, in ancient times, astrology and astronomy were not separated as sciences. God did not forbid us to study the stars (astronomy) but forbade us to foretell the future by reading in the stars. The text above shows us two other important details:
- The star went continuously and guided them, so God left them this star to be their continual guide that led them to the baby Jesus. The star was not a sign that only had to be read and interpreted, but the star was a continuous indicator.
- This was not the whole revelation, just the star. God also communicated messages to them through the angel. So he told them to return home on another road without going back to Herod.
The Magi did not have the Holy Scriptures (If they were to know the Holy Scriptures they would not come to Jerusalem, because they would know where the place of birth is) and they came to know Him precisely through the star that was sent to them by God to guide them. It’s like a dream. God forbids the interpretation of dreams, except when He gives them the interpretation, as was the case with Joseph or Daniel. So with this star. God forbids the divination of the future according to the signs, but here God sent a special star that guided the Magi to the Lord Jesus.
Star reading is categorically condemned and forbidden by God
Still in the Old Testament God gave this command:
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, a soothsayer, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who consults the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God is going to drive them out before you. You are to be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations, which you are going to dispossess, listen to soothsayers and diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.(Deuteronomy 18:10-14 NASB)
Those who know this Word of God must take it seriously and not spoil or distort it, but receive it with a pure heart as the Word of God before God and fear evil. Let them no longer defend and seek excuses for their sinful practices of guessing the future by the stars or of being led by the zodiac signs, for thus they gather for themselves a treasure of wrath for the day of judgment. Any human soul who has been caught up in this evil practice of horoscope or divination should hasten to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of all his sins and beware of the pagan influence of the horoscope.
Translated by Didina Vicliuc