Remember the wise men from the east in the Christmas story? They were expert at studying the night skies over time. We don’t know there were three but it was certainly at least three based on the three gifts that they presented in the presence of Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child. These men had authority, wealth, wisdom, and spiritual wisdom. Because of their overall reputation, it is likely they traveled with a group that assisted them in their travels. These things can be reasonably deduced by their reception in Jerusalem, the value of the gifts, and the peer consultation that occurred with Herod’s wise men.
The obvious but forgotten aspect of their part in the “Christmas story” is their initial coordination with each other in regard to their observing capabilities and wisdom. Coordination among observers makes observations better in general, and they used their exceptional (for that period) night sky observation expertise as well as spiritual knowledge to make an important conclusion together. They proceeded to make a plan to prove what they had discovered, and acted upon that plan. It is fascinating that the God of Creation would use them to confirm the birth place, purpose, and authority of the Messiah. They were also wise with respect to government and people, or else they would not have left the Jerusalem region in the manner they did. Having been warned in a dream (that at least one of them had) they left in secret, to avoid contact with Herod, because Herod fully intended to kill the Christ Child immediately.
It all started with the coordinated expertise and observations of the night skies from the day’s experts from the east as they watched the heavens over time in a disciplined manner.
Now let’s move the the present in a simple example of making observations in a coordinated way, and see how that process helps or broadens the observation of an object or event….
Jack Huerkamp is a friend of mine. He observed a comet with a set of equipment different than mine and from a different place (Louisiana). He picked up detail about Comet Catalina and a galaxy (actually two) that he could see through the comet’s tail. I observed the same comet in Virginia at about the same time but did not see the galaxy. My equipment captured a wider field with a little less aperture, so it could not see the galaxy, but I did get a little more information on the comet. Both of us recorded the event. He digitally recorded it. I sketched my observation. Later, after he gave me permission to use his recording, I did a combined observation sketch and observing sheet to record his unique detail as well as mine. I corrected a couple of my star positions, added the galaxy detail, and included the comet detail I had observed previously and recorded on my first sketch. The net result is below:
It is interesting to make an observation, but even more interesting to improve that observation with coordination from another observer. While I hope the reader enjoys the results, it is the process that is more important. Without the benefit of both observations and our relationship, it could not have been done.
Now when you read about the wise men from the east who played a part in the announcing of the birth and purpose of Jesus Christ, you realize, perhaps, that the work of these men took effort, time, and discipline. What transpired after their conclusions was used by God and recorded for our benefit. Their observing process was improved as they did it together, and they also had the wonderful benefit of a famous trip to confirm what they had deduced.
While Jack and I were not used, of course, in such a dramatic way as these men from a couple thousand years ago, we enjoyed the opportunity to coordinate observations. This made the observation better. However, I can also make a spiritual conclusion that is extracted from Psalm 19:1 and placed on the observing sheet. Truly, the heavens declare the glory of God.
Bible reference: Matthew 2:1-12, Psalm 19:1