For the first time in 800 years, the “Star of Bethlehem,” also known as the “Christmas Star,” will appear after sunset Monday — but only for a short time.

Some see the Christmas star as the sign of hope after a year of COVID-19 and a presidential election that led the Texas GOP chair to call for the South to leave the Union again. (He denies this claim.)  

But now doomsday prophets have entered the fray. 

Pastor Paul Begley, a doomsday author, claimed that the Christmas Star indicates the world will be ending soon. It’s just one of several doomsday claims he has been making. For example, in August, he claimed Armageddon will strike Israel now that President Donald Trump has brought them to the table with some of their neighbors for a peace deal. 

“In the book of Thessalonians it says that when you see the star, peace and safety and then sudden destruction cometh. The covenant of many will break down, all because of the Temple Mount.”

And similar to the Texas GOP chair, Begley later backed down from his claim in another YouTube video by quoting Matthew 24, which basically reports that no one knows when doomsday will happen except for God.  

But then why even make the claim? 

Not Alone

Begley isn’t the first person to predict doomsday. People have been predicting the end of the world since long before the Book of Revelations appeared in the Bible. The Mayans are probably the most well known with their 2012 doomsday prophecy when the mythical planet Niburu was supposed to collide with the earth. Thankfully, NASA cleared up the conspiracy confusion in a Dec. 22, 2012 report. 

In a Sept. 8, 2015 Smithsonian Magazine article, writer Marissa Fessenden points out that people have always been obsessed with doomsday for several reasons. “At The Conversation, Natasha and Anthony O’Hear argue that humans have used stories of the apocalypse for centuries for all sorts of purposes: to numb people from real-world crises like poverty and war, to push political agendas, and to promote hatred of certain groups.”

As Fessenden writes, the Christian religion and the Mayans aren’t the only ones who have been predicting doomsday. Old Norse mythology, for example, predicts the gods will battle in Ragnarok and bring about end times, which some conspiracy theorists predicted would happen in 2014. 

A couple of years later, Popular Mechanics dropped a report with a list of 10 failed end time predictions. Here are a few: 

  • the Essenes, a Jewish sect predicted Jesus would return in the years AD 66-70. 
  • in AD 999, the pope predicted Jesus would return at the turn of the millennium. 
  • the pope believed the apocalypse would occur in 1284 since it was 666 years after the formation of Islam. 
  • some astrologers believed the world was going to be flooded again in 1524.
  • people believed the world would end in 1666 due to the presence of 666, the Mark of the Beast. 

Star of Hope

On Sunday evening, Jupiter and Saturn will be lining up to create this magical Christmas star. Patrick Hartigan, an astronomer at Rice University, claimed this conjunction was an extremely rare event because of how close they will be, Forbes reported. It won’t be seen again until 2080. 

The first time it appeared, Christians claim the star was a sign from God that Jesus had been born. It marked a new era for a new religion.

The last time it happened was just before dawn on March 4, 1226. At the time, the civilized world was rife with problems. The sultan of Delhi was repelling a Mongol attack. The Crusades were in full swing, creating horror for Muslims and Christians who were not aligned with the pope as well as the pagans in northern Europe. Some saw the star as a sign of hope that this holy war would also soon pass. 

And it did a couple of hundred years later.  

This time… well, there is no need to rehash it. We all know what has happened this year. And while some would rather embrace the doom and gloom, I’d rather look at the hope offered by the appearance of the Christmas Star, especially with the COVID vaccine on the horizon.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t take two hundred years to eradicate.

The star will be visible without a telescope, but for best viewing, try to get away from the city lights. The best view should occur about 15-20 minutes after sunset.

Christian McPhate

Christian has been working as a freelance journalist in North Texas for more than a decade. His stories have appeared in the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, and Rolling Stone magazine. He covers a...