“The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem … has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise human orbits…”

art by Marni Butikofer

I’ve always assumed that the star leading the wise men was a clear and constant guide, but the more I studied, the more unlikely this seems.

The wise men saw the star at the start of their journey, but it seemed to only provide a general direction, judging by the fact that that they asked “where is the king of the Jews?” when they reached Jerusalem.

From Jerusalem, it was Herod that sent the wise men to Bethlehem, rather than the star.

The wise men began their journey to Bethlehem and “lo, the star which [the wise men] saw in the east went before them, til it came and stood directly over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”

Why this exceedingly great joy or the need to ask for directions if the star had been clearly guiding them the whole time?

To me, the star represents how the Lord most often gives revelation. 

Many times, we are led in the general right direction. But future, more specific revelation is often withheld until we first expend our own efforts. We must search, question, ask, and act to understand God’s will, sometimes stumbling in the dark, before the details are revealed to us.

Even as we seek and act on revelation, we will undoubtedly make mistakes—for instance, the wise men unwittingly alerted King Herod to the infant Messiah’s existence. 

But, when we are actively trying to do what is right, God makes up the difference. The wise men were prompted to not return to King Herod, and Joseph was visited by an angel, giving him the direction he needed to flee to Egypt before Herod’s slaughter of Israelite children began.

As Elder Holland said, “Cast not away your confidence […] Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had.”

Remember, wise men still seek him.

Meaning, yes, wise men today seek Him. But maybe, something different as well.

Despite trials, despite mistakes, despite the star leaving them in the dark at times, wise men STILL seek him.

And we can too.



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