Does this condone the practice of looking to the stars for prophetic direction?
Matthew 2:1 - 10
ESV - 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem. 2 Saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.
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The Bible condemns astrology (or interpreting the motion of the stars and planets as influencing human behavior or predicting/determining future events), as well as those who practice it, in multiple passages, such as Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Isaiah 47:13-14; Jeremiah 10:2; and Zephaniah 1:4-5. However, this condemnation does not extend to astronomy, or the legitimate scientific study of heavenly bodies themselves, which, in fact, declare God's glory, as noted in Psalm 19:1. The Old Testament also contained prophecies (such as those in Daniel 9) that spoke of specific time frames connecting various events with the appearance of the Messiah. (The wise men themselves may have become familiar with these prophecies as a consequence of Judah's exile in Babylon.) In addition, God has power over natural phenomena to use them to further His will, as He did when He lengthened the day (with none of the catastrophic resulting effects that might be expected from a natural standpoint) in Joshua 10:12-14. There was apparently such an unusual astronomical occurrence at the time of Jesus' birth, since Matthew's gospel mentions not only the wise men being prompted to journey from their country of origin to Jerusalem by it (Matthew 2:2), but also speaks of this phenomenon leading them directly to the exact place where the Messiah was located (Matthew 2:9). This would suggest that God intended this phenomenon (whatever it may in fact have been) specifically for this purpose. This interpretation would be further reinforced by Matthew's gospel noting that God communicated with the wise men in a dream, warning them not to return to Herod (as Herod had requested or commanded them to do) after the wise men had found and worshiped the Messiah. This would strongly suggest that God Himself prompted the visit of the wise men for His purposes. Based on all these considerations. I think that the Biblical record as a whole makes it clear that, whatever the practices were in which the wise men may have been engaged, they did not consist of the types of activities that God specifically condemns elsewhere in Scripture.
Timothy has done a fine job of answering the question. I would only add a suggestion that you watch the video "The Star of Bethlehem" which deals in depth with your question. There is a big difference in divination of astrology and recognizing God's Majesty through astronomy.
Since these men were called Magi, they must have been involved in some practice that would qualify themselves as "wise men." Astrology is involved in constructing horoscopes which requires making calculations about planetary and star positions in the sky. There is no real evidence the Magi were actually astrologers. It is much more likely they were "stargazers" (Isa. 47:13) who looked to the stars (including planets) for revelations, since each star was believed to be associated with an angel. This is a very ancient belief predating astrology and even the Bible associates stars with angels in Rev 1:20. In line with this is the dream of Joseph of the sun, moon, and 11 stars in Gen 37:9. The star the Magi saw may not have been an actual light in the sky observable by anyone on earth, They may have only seen a vision of a star, in accordance with their religion, which could not be seen by anyone else. Certainly, there were no new stars in the sky recorded at that time by anyone. "Looking to the stars for prophetic direction" cannot save anyone from disaster, or the wrath of the true God, as the scriptures say more than once. Likewise, angel worship is equally ineffective. Real salvation can only be obtained from the true God, as the Bible tells us at its center of gravity, (in my opinion) in the stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedego in the fiery furnace, and Daniel in the Lion's den.
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