By Lambert Dolphin
During the design and construction of the universe God determined that clocks and calendars would be based on the motion of the moon, the earth, the planets and other objects in the heavens.
And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs ('oth, markers, indicators) and for seasons (moadhim, "solemn assembly") and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19)
"Dynamical" time is to this day measured in terms of the rotational period of the earth on its axis, the month is basically a lunar cycle and the year an orbital period of the earth's motion around the sun. In Newtonian physics these clock rates depend on the mass of the objects involved, the gravitational constant, G, the size and separation distance of various bodies and any initial momentum imparted to them during creation week. Atomic time (the rate of radioactive decay processes, or the internal periods of motions within the nucleus), is the standard clock of modern science. Atomic time and dynamical time are probably not running in lock step, the proportionality constant being c, the velocity of light, which experimental data suggests is not a fixed constant as G is. God's clocks and calendars (as far as history is concerned) run on dynamical time not atomic time.
The sun (a type of Christ) rules the day on earth, and the moon (type of the church) rules the night (of Christ's visible absence from among us). Special stars (the Star of Bethlehem being one example), comets, meteors, super novas, eclipses, and the alignments of the planets may in some cases have been intended by our Creator to mark special seasons of history on our planet. The feasts of the Jewish lunar calendar year most certainly were intended to be teaching tools pointing to the redemptive history of Israel. (2)
Were the positions of the constellations and the alignments of the planets throughout the year intended by God to be teaching tools for His people? Is Babylonian (and the later Egyptian and then Greek) astrology a corruption of what was once a pure proto-Hebrew star-chart system intended for spiritual enlightenment? Astronomer Danny Faulkner thinks not. (1) Writing for an Australian creation journal, Faulkner argues that modern gospel-in-the-stars arguments originate from only two principal sources Joseph Seiss and E. W. Bullinger (3, 4) who both seem to have been influenced by Frances Rolleston (5) who wrote on this topic in 1862. Faulkner suggests we abandon what he feels is a lot of extra-biblical baggage concerning the stars and constellations.
From Daniel it is clear that magic arts, divination and astrology were indeed an important part of the religion and culture of Babylon. Earlier, Moses presented a clear warning to Israel, "beware lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and worship them and serve them, things which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven." (Deuteronomy 4:19) That divination, astrology and channeling pose grave, occultic dangers to God's people is clear:
"When you come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD; and because of these abominable practices the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you so to do. (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)
Idolatry consists in revering the created thing rather than the creator. Behind the worship of sun, moon and stars are the demonic powers of the heavenly realm (1Cor. 10:20). Angels, fallen and unfallen, are God's instruments in the government of the physical world and nature (Hebrews 2:5). Seeking answers about the future in the stars-then or now-brings us under the control of demonic agencies-to our own harm and destruction.
The case for the Gospel in the Stars can not be settled definitively with the present evidence. I agree with Malcolm Bowden in preferring not to dismiss myths, legends, and even folk-tales as part of a genuine legacy of truth concerning actual, historical realities transmitted by tradition and literature-to be studied with discernment yet with respect. If I discard Bullinger and Seiss from my library (because these authors did not write inspired books that are recognized in the Biblical canon), I may as well throw out my sermon collections, favorite hymns, my C.S. Lewis collection, J.R.R Tolkien, and George MacDonald. Into the trash would go "The Legends of the Jews," my copy of Josephus, and my William Corliss collection on the anomalies of science. After such a purge, my library would be a tidy place indeed--reduced to a few books on modern science (needed for my work), a Bible or two, and a half-dozen lexicons and dictionaries. I love my books, without them my spiritual and emotional life would be sterile indeed. The full truth about God and the mysteries of the universe we live in is not that easily reduced as Faulkner would have us believe. God questioned wise old Job in his mature years and found him quite ignorant of many things,
"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements --surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home. Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth. (Job 38)
The Bible indicates that God not only named the stars Himself, but that He established them for signs as well as seasons. The ancients must have known this, or the magi would never have recognized the sign in the stars indicating the birth of Christ. It is just as easy for us to fall into the error denying God's uses of the stars on the basis of currently known science as it is to swing the other direction and become involved in the errors of astrology and fortune-telling. As God reminded Job, there is much we do not know and cannot explain. Let us keep an open mind and constantly evaluate information from other sources alongside the solid, unchanging truth of Scripture.
1. Danny Faulkner, Is There a Gospel in the Stars? Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2, 1998 PO Box 6302, Acacia Ridge, D.C., Queensland, 4110, Australia.
2. Chuck Missler, The Feasts of Israel, audio briefing package, Koinonia House, 1994.
3. Joseph Seiss, The Gospel in the Stars, Kregel Press 1972. (First published in 1882)
4. E. W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars, Kregel Press 1991 (First published 1893)
5. Frances Rolleston, Mazzaroth, or The Constellations, 1863 (op). Other recent books based on Rolleston, Fleming, Kenneth C., God's Voice in the Stars: Zodiac Signs and Bible Truth, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey, 1981 and Capt, Raymond, E., The Glory of the Stars: A Study of the Zodiac, Artisan Sales, Thousand Oaks, California, 1976.
6. Malcolm Bowden, True Science Agrees with the Bible, Sovereign Publications 1998, Box 88, Bromley, Kent, BR2 9PF.
7. Chuck Missler, Signs in the Heavens, audio briefing package, Koinonia House, 1994.
8. In his book Signs in the Heavens Avi Ben Mordechai presents evidence from middle-eastern archaeology and from ancient Jewish writings confirming the antiquity of a genuine Hebrew astrological system of teaching linked to the Bible. ISBN 978-09643355-7-3. Available from Millennium 7000 Communications Int'l., Millennium 7000, P.O. Box 700, Kila, MT 59920. Telephone inquires: 1-800-880-2656.
9. Internet web sites dealing with this subject abound. Here are just a few.
a. STAR LIGHT - STAR BRIGHT, The Gospel in the Stars, by Frederick C. Kubicek http://www.unlimited glory.org/starlight.htm
b. E. W. Bullinger: http://philologos.org/
c. The Correct Way to Read the Constellations http://www.hsv.tis.net/~sammie/page11.html
d. Astrology Myths and legends, http://www.hsv.tis.net/~sammie/;
e. "Let Them Be for Signs" (a defense of Seiss and Bullinger), http://www.netcom.com/~horse/head.html
f. Astronomy and the Bible, by Dr. Donald D. Young suggests a corruption by Satan of an original message in the stars, http://www.carleton.ca/~jchevali/revlinks.html
g. Ezequiel Gonzalez discusses references in the Bible to astronomical events and "God's Law written in the Heavens, http://home.coqui.net/ezekiel/file0003.html
h. D. W. Belote discusses Biblical signs in the heavens and the probable corruption of ancient knowledge, http://www.ipa.net/~rkbelote/orion.htm;
i. The Gosepl in the Stars, or Astrology and Occultism, by Dave Hunt http://rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/astrol.htm
j. The Twelve Mystical Signs of the Zodiac (non-Biblical)http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/2093/zodiac.html
k. Is the Gospel Spelled Out Gospel in the Stars? (Christian Answers Net)http://christiananswers.net/q-sum/edn-c019.html
and finally, the web site
l. http://www.ukans.edu/history/index/europe/ancient_rome/E/Roman/RomanSites*/Topics/Religion.html lists 47 web sites on astrology and religion and mythology.
October 29, 1998
March 19, 2019
Despite technological advances from the printing press to the web, people still remember information best if it is put into the form of stories or songs. Men have not changed in this regard. We do not have cultural memories of past technological achievements, but we do have memories passed down to us of events and truths put in the form of what we today regard as legends and mythologies. We know the mythological elements can build fast even within a person's lifetime. We already need to strip away mythological elements from the lives of people such as John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, and Princess Diana if we want to know about them. This is even more true of George Washington and Johnny Appleseed and others who really lived and had an impact on their times. If we want to know about these people, we need to be able to take out the mythological elements and hone in on the truths that are there underneath. How much more so do we need to be conscious of the realities that might easily lie behind the ancient stories?
The introduction to Larousse World Mythology, (1965, Auge, Gillon, Hollier-Larousse, Moreau et Cie; and the Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. English translation by Patricia Beardsworth, published in the USA in 1989 by Gallery Books, New York City), p. 9, the following brings light to the current understanding of mythology in history:
[T]oday the myth is no longer considered a mode of thought reserved for primitive societies. If each one of us considers the matter carefully and honestly, he will be forced to recognise that myth is far from foreign to our daily thought, and, what is more, that it is far from opposed in essence to scientific thought.
It is the object of the myth, as of science, to explain the world, to make its phenomena intelligible.
I would also submit that it is the object of the myth and the legend to transmit known events and truths from one generation to another. There is a myth that comes out of the Solomon Islands regarding a change in appearance of the moon. People threw rocks at it and scarred its face. ["Why the Moon Has a Dirty Face" from Fairy Tales from the Pacific Islands, as retold by A.W. Reed, A.H. and A.W. Reed, New Zealand, 1969]. Take away the mythological elements and there is a question that remains: is there, within the memory of men, a time when the moon was hit so severely by meteor or asteroid impacts that its appearance, even from earth, was changed? There are some other interesting elements in this story, including a possible reference to a time long before that when the moon seemed larger, and that there may have been objects that struck the earth at the same time that the moon's face was getting dirty.
People like Velikovsky and Hancock have tried to follow some
of these trails left by the myths and legends and have been ridiculed.
Language and memories deteriorate with time, but that does not
mean that still, at the heart of them both, there is not much
to be learned that is true and real. As medicine looks more closely
at ancient remedies and is finding some modern answers, as archaeology
is looking at the Bible and finding references that explain what
it is finding in the ruins, as history itself is also taking a
closer look at some ancient writings, so we also need to be very
cautious about throwing out the old stories because they contain
mythological elements. We need to know if there are truths underneath
the mythological wrappings. We need to pay more attention to what
our ancestors have passed down to us.
In the Biblical book of Galatians, the Jewish Rabbi Paul, who had studied under the well-known and widely respected Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), made a significant comment. In Galatians 3:8 Paul stated that "the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached in advance the Gospel unto Abraham ..." The end result is stated in Genesis 15:6 namely "that Abraham believed God (by faith) and it was counted to him for righteousness." Paul's comment in Galatians implies that just as Abraham believed the Gospel by faith when it was preached to him by God, so, in a similar way, the Gentiles will be justified by faith in the same Gospel. The question is, "How did God preach the Gospel to Abraham, and what was that Gospel?" A brief glance at Genesis 15:5 shows that the stars were intimately involved in this process, while Galatians 3:16 implies it was not the number of stars but the story they told that was important. So star names seem to be involved in this process. Let us look more deeply into this.
WHO NAMED THE STARS?
In Genesis 1:14 we are told that the stars are to be for SIGNS,
seasons, days and years.
The seasons, days and years are familiar to us, but what about the SIGNS? Signs are designed to give us information; they carry a message. If we are traveling down the freeway and see a sign that reads "Los Angeles 200 miles", this gives us information. In a similar way the star signs also carry a message. But how is this message given? It is certainly not through demonic astrology which is condemned by the Scriptures of Truth. No, rather it appears that the message of the stars may be given by their NAMES and the constellation patterns. This conclusion is reached as a result of further Scriptural comment on the matter.
In Isaiah 40:26 and Psalm 147:4 we find two statements that God personally gave the stars their names. This is significant. Adam was given the prerogative of naming the animals, but God felt it important enough to name the stars Himself. It might be asked when did this naming take place? The answer is given in Isaiah 40:26. when He "Brought out the (starry) host by number, He called them all by their names", that is at the Creation event. So these star names have been known since Creation. In Psalm 147:4 the second statement reads "He TELLS the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names." The word translated "TELL" (Hebrew 'saphar') is a census-taking word. It literally means "to recount, to list in sequence (as with a name and a number - like the military), to enumerate, to take a census of, to tabulate, to tell-out, or number."
STAR NAMES AND LANGUAGES
One important fact emerges here. Many star and constellation names in a variety of languages around the world have a similar meaning. For example, one constellation was known as Virgo to the Romans, Bethulah to the Hebrews, Parthenos to the Greeks, and Kanya to the Indians, but all mean "VIRGIN". Linguistically, this strongly implies there was a common origin for the names. It is accepted theory that the three main linguistic branches from which most languages diverged had a common origin in Anatolia (see Gamkrelidze and Ivanov in Scientific American March 1990, or Colin Renfrew in Scientific American October 1989). Scripturally, this division of languages occurred at Babel, which was near Anatolia. This would imply an origin of star and constellation names prior to the Babel event which suggests that they may have been known as far back as Noah and the Flood. Linguistically, that is as far back as we can go. However, the Isaiah 40:26 statement takes us right back to the Creation and Adam.
In the mid to late 19th century, star names became fixed by astronomical convention. The name chosen for a given star was sometimes the Latin, or Hebrew, or Chaldean, or Arabic version of the original name. As a result of this process, some names have been lost. However, those who studied this topic in detail, namely Frances Rolleston, Joseph A. Seiss, and E. W. Bullinger wrote at a time when the star names in other languages were still extant. Some important information on these matters can also be found in Jamieson's Celestial Atlas of 1822 which appeared well before astronomical convention fixed the names.
Rolleston's work of 1862 comprised 221 pages of small typeface in four parts. The author died just prior to the completion of Part 4. In Part 2 there is an extensive study of star names in a variety of languages, and their primitive roots. Most give a concordant testimony. However, as noted by a number of recent commentators on the topic, modern Arabic interpretations are often discordant with the overall picture that emerges. However, Rolleston did point out the source of this problem on page 5 of Part 1. The difficulty arises because modern Arabic use of the basic roots of words gives meanings that are divergent from ancient Arabic. By reference to the ancient Arabic use of roots, corroboration of the story given by the other star names is usually obtained.
SEASONS AND CONSTELLATIONS
The time or season of the year used to be known by the constellations passing overhead or the one that the Sun was in. In Job 38:32 God said to His upright servant "Can you bring forth Mazzaroth (the 12 signs) in their season?" These 12 signs form the path that the Sun appears to take in the heavens, namely the Zodiac. The word ZODIAC comes from the Greek word ZOAD meaning "a way, a step, a circuit, a circle". In Chaldean the word has similar associated meanings. Psalm 19:6 actually uses the Hebrew equivalent of this word where it states that "(the Sun) goes from one end of heaven, and his CIRCUIT is unto the other end of it:"
There is evidence that the constellation patterns making up the Zodiac, and indeed the rest of the night sky, were formed and named by God. In Job 26:13 we find the statement "By His Spirit He has garnished and decorated the heavens; His hand has formed the FLEEING SERPENT." Note that in Hebrew poetic style the heavens and the fleeing serpent are connected. So we ask "Is there a fleeing serpent in the heavens?" The answer is YES! The constellation of HYDRA. It is a particularly apt constellation to remark upon as it is the longest constellation in the sky. It takes 7 hours to pass overhead. This comment in Job implies that the Spirit of God Himself formed and decorated the heavens with the constellation patterns, and, as shown above, He gave them their names as well. Obviously, Abraham was familiar with the constellation patterns and star names because God used the message there to instruct him. What is this message?
THE STARS CARRY A GOSPEL MESSAGE
In Romans 10, Rabbi Paul gives us some key verses to help with this. Verse 15 states "and how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written 'How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the GOSPEL OF PEACE, and bring GLAD TIDINGS of good things'." So the bringing of the GOOD NEWS, the GOSPEL OF PEACE is what Paul is talking about here in this context. In verse 18, Paul then goes on to say: "But have they (the heathen) not heard? YES! Truly they have heard! For 'their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world'." What a fascinating statement! Paul says here that the heathen have heard the Gospel of Peace, because "THEIR sound went into all the earth and THEIR words unto the ends of the world." The question is who are the "THEY" that are doing the preaching? Well, if you have a marginal reference, you find that Paul is quoting directly from Psalm 19:4 where the stars are being spoken of. Indeed, Psalm 19:3 gives the additional information that "there is no speech or language where (the stars) voice is not heard." Therefore, the "THEY" in Psalm 19 and Romans 10:18 are the stars in the heavens. As a consequence, it can only be concluded that it is the stars that are preaching the Gospel - in a particular way by their names and the arrangement of the constellation patterns.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUN
The next point to note comes from Psalm 19:4-6. Dr. D. E. Spencer
paraphrases verse 4 as "In amongst these starry witnesses,
God has established a dwelling place for the Sun." The next
verse goes on to describe the SUN as the Heavenly Bridegroom,
who comes forth to run his race and returns to his place of origin.
But in the Bible, John the baptiser speaks of Christ (Messiah)
as coming down from heaven, and calls Him the "Bridegroom"
(John 3:25-31). The beloved disciple John also refers to the relationship
of Christ to His Church as that of a heavenly bridegroom with
an earthly bride, while Rabbi Paul echoes the idea in Ephesians
It is therefore apparent from Psalm 19 and the other passages that the Sun represents Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom.
This idea is accentuated by the prophet Malachi. He calls Israel's Messiah the SUN of Righteousness who will blaze forth for the sake of His people in the Last Day (Malachi 4:2). So the Sun represents Christ, the light of the world (John 8:12), who came from heaven, ran His race on earth, and returned to Heaven. The race that the Sun runs is given by the Zodiac constellations or star patterns, so all the strong-man figures along the Zodiac represent Christ the SUN of Righteousness and the work He was to do. Note further that Psalm 19 is in two parts: In Part 1 we have the message of the stars - In Part 2 we have the message of God's word, the Bible being discussed. One is set against the other in such a way that David, who wrote this Psalm about 1000 BC, is implying that the message in the stars and the message in the Scriptures are one and the same.
THE STRONG MAN CONSTELLATION FIGURES
The story told by the strong man figures of the sky has been corrupted by Greek and Roman mythology. This was recognised by Jamieson in his Celestial Atlas published in 1822. On page 40 he states that "The Lion does not seem to have been placed among the zodiacal symbols because Hercules was fabled to have slain the Nemean Lion. It would seem, to the contrary, that Hercules, who represented the Sun, was said to have slain the Nemean Lion, because Leo was ALREADY a zodiacal sign." Notice here that this nineteenth century astronomer actually states that the Sun (the light of the world) is symbolised by the strong man Hercules. This is in agreement with the Biblical interpretation which identifies the strong man who runs his race along the path of the Sun as Jesus Christ the victor.
Another point is also pertinent. The Greeks thought of each of these "strong man" figures as being a different deity. In the Biblical interpretation they represent different works of the same person, namely Jesus Christ the Messiah. Even though it will pre-empt the discussion later, an example may be appropriate. To the Greeks, the Zodiac sign of Gemini the Twins represented Apollo and Hercules, the twin sons of Zeus, the chief deity. The Roman equivalent was Castor and Pollux which star names are retained today. It is shown later that these two pictures are of the same Lord Jesus Christ in His twin role as the Son of God and also the Son of Man.
THE ORIGIN OF MYTHOLOGY AND TRADITION
Interestingly enough, the skeptic Volney is recorded by Rolleston as saying that "Everywhere in antiquity is the existence of the tradition of the expected conqueror of the serpent, a divine person, born of a woman, who was to come." Rolleston noted that Volney "sees this tradition reflected in the constellations, but why it should be there he does not say."(Part 1 page 19). A very similar statement is made by Depuis in L'Origine des Cultes who admits that this tradition was prevalent in all nations. Greek, Roman and other pagan mythologies have been built around this message from the stars and as a result must be considered as a perversion of the original. Nevertheless as Dr. D. E. Spencer concluded "Pagan mythology still retains sufficient of the truth for you to recognise it." (Word Key "Mazzaroth," broadcast over radio HCJB 1972).
Rolleston (Part 1 p.23) elaborates on this: "Should the tradition of the Divine yet woman-born Conqueror of the serpent, crushing His foe, but suffering from its venom, be met with among all nations, it is only what might have been anticipated among the descendants of one common father. From the Grecian Hercules, half human and half divine, subduing the hydra and dying from its poison; from the Indian incarnation of the Divinity, the virgin-born Krishna, slaying a serpent and wounded by it in the heel; to the serpent-worship of Mexico, and that of the woman-born and unfathered deity Mexitli; this image is everywhere present, pointing to one origin of the tradition and the race."
Dr. Spencer gave a further example of interest. In mythology "Zeus, the supreme deity of the Greeks reigned on Mount Olympus 'in the midst' of the twelve lesser gods of the Greeks." He then points to the pre-existent truth that has been corrupted by this mythology and makes an important observation. "Is it not more than chance that just as the blazing fire of the Sun dwells in the midst of the twelve constellations of Mazzaroth, so the blazing pillar of fire was the dwelling place of Jehovah in the midst of the twelve tribes of Israel? Furthermore, can it be mere chance that Jesus Christ, 'the Light of the world', is the One who dwelt in a tabernacle of flesh in the midst of the twelve disciples?" (The Gospel in the Stars, pp. 20, 53).
GOD'S PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
As noted at the beginning, Galatians 3:8 says that God preached the Gospel unto Abraham. It is important that we know when He did this as the stars were mentioned by God to Abraham on two distinct occasions, once in Genesis 15, then again in Genesis 22. We must not confuse these two separate incidents. Galatians 3:6 gives us the answer to this question. Rabbi Paul states that it was on the occasion when "Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness." Importantly as we search both Genesis passages, it becomes apparent that this quote comes directly from genesis 15:6. The context was given by Genesis 15:5. Abraham was childless and had no heir. Then God "brought him forth abroad, and said, 'Look now towards heaven, and TELL the stars if you be able to list them'; and He said unto him, 'So shall your seed be'."
Several important points emerge from this interview that Abraham had with the Almighty. In the first place, the word "TELL" is the same census-taking word as used in Psalm 147:4 so the star names are in view here. The second point is vital. The Almighty made a key comment when Abraham had finished listing off the star names. He said: "So shall your seed be." Does this mean that Abraham was to have many children? We have Rabbi Paul's exegesis of the original Hebrew on this. In Galatians 3:16, Paul says: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds (plural) as of many; but as of one, 'And to your seed (singular) WHICH IS CHRIST!"
Here is an amazing statement! Abraham lists the star names in sequence from constellation to constellation telling the story of the stars from their names, and God says to him "So will your seed, the Messiah, be." Here was the promise to Abraham that the Messiah would come from his lineage. Furthermore, the Gospel was obviously associated with these star names as Galatians 3:8 states that God preached the Gospel to Abraham on that occasion - a Gospel associated with the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
It is important not to confuse this incident in Abraham's life with a later one. On the second occasion in Genesis 22:17, Abraham was promised seed like "the stars of heaven and the sand of the sea shore for multitude." This is a different interview with the Lord when the Patriarch received a different promise. According to Paul in Galatians 3, it was specifically on the first occasion in Genesis 15 that Messiah was promised from Abraham's lineage and Abraham believed God. Finally note that God preached the Gospel of Christ to Abraham by this method, and by faith Abraham accepted the message. The stars must therefore be preaching the same message in every language around the world, because Psalm 19 states that there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SPHINX
Well, if there is a message in the stars, where does the story begin since the Zodiac is a circle. An important clue is obtained from the Sphinx in Egypt. The word SPHINX comes from the Greek word SPHIGGO which means to "bind closely together". The significance of this meaning becomes apparent when ancient Egyptian Zodiacs are inspected. In those zodiacs such as one in the tombs of the kings at Karnak, the sphinx curiously linked the 12 signs together. Its woman-like face gazed upon the sign of Virgo, while its lion-like body and tail pointed to Leo. Dr Spencer notes that several other places in the Near East have similar inscriptions. Dr Spencer writes: "The sphinx is the key symbol which shows where the story in the stars begins and ends. It begins with Virgo the Virgin, and the first coming of Jesus Christ as Saviour; and closes with Leo the Lion, marking the Return of Messiah as the Lord of Glory. It begins with the story of His coming in humility and seeming defeat, and climaxes with the story of His coming again in power and overwhelming victory."
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Dr Spencer had a reason to be sure of that. On his radio study "Mazzaroth", he stated that on one occasion in the late 1960's he preached in Los Angeles at the Church of the Open Door on Romans 10:18 and concluded that all men had heard the Gospel in one way or another. After the service was over a very old woman introduced herself to him. She had been a missionary in Japan in her youth. She said to Dr Spencer: "I was sent far up into the hills to teach a class of women who had never seen a Christian of any kind. They had never heard the Gospel. They had never heard the name of Jesus from the lips of anyone. It was before the days of radio and television, and few of them could even read. They were totally without the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ as far as I knew. Yet when I had finished telling them the beautiful story of the Redeemer, whose shed blood had paid the price for their sins, an old crone stood to her feet and said 'Missy! That is the same story that I have been telling my village for years, but this is the first time we have ever heard the Redeemer's name.' Upon careful inquiry, I discovered that she had been repeating the names of the stars along the path of the Sun from the ancient Japanese charts of the Zodiac. These, she said, told exactly the same story that I had shared with them concerning the Lord Jesus Christ." This missionary then went on to tell Dr. Spencer that the Gospel message is even hidden cryptically in the characters of the Oriental alphabets. For example, the Chinese word for "COME" consists of a figure on a large central cross with a smaller cross on either side, while the word for "RIGHTEOUSNESS" consists of a slain lamb over the pronoun "I."
With that introduction, we are now prepared to examine briefly the 12 signs of the Zodiac to see what the Story says in its essence. Let us take note of the clue given by the Sphinx and begin with the constellation Virgo.
Star Stories: Fact or Fiction?
by Barry Setterfield (3/19/19)
Barry Setterfield's Web Site
1. Astrology a deceptive replacement
If the meaning behind the names of the constellations and stars were to be a reminder of God's plan of salvation for fallen mankind, we would expect this to be attacked by Satan. He would adopt his usual tactic of transforming it into a deceptive practice so that its original meaning became totally obscured. This is probably the reason for the rise of astrology and its use of the constellations to delude those who are ignorant of the Christian message they contain.
2. A Biblical basis for this approach?
Bullinger refers to Romans 10:18 where Paul is saying that the gospel was clear to all men:
But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, "their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world".
Paul is quoting from Psalm 19 which reads as follows:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he hath set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race (Psalm 19:1-5).
In this passage we see the glory of God set forth for all to see. Now this may be in the awesomeness of space and of the uncountable numbers of stars. These are there for all to see and wonder. But it is also possible that it was in the names of the constellations and stars that the real message lay that Paul could have been referring to. Indeed, this is far more likely when we are told that it was God himself who named the stars in Psalm 147:4:
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
We will see the spiritual significance in very many of the names given to the stars in what follows, but if God gave them their names, surely this is added evidence that they were named not just for identification but so that He may set out His plan of salvation for fallen mankind.
3. The Universality of the names of stars and constellations
Bullinger says that "the twelve signs are the same, both as to the meaning of their names and as to their order in all the ancient nations of the world (emphasis his)" (Bull:9). He then refers to the antiquity of the Chinese, Chaldean and Egyptian records but gives no evidence. Rolleston however supplies more on this.
She notes that all constellations began with Aries - in Latium, Egypt Arabia, India and China (p 11). Astronomers also measure their star positions from the "First Point of Aries". In the Chinese names, nine of them were obviously connected to the present system. The Sanskrit was also said to have a complete correlation. The Buddhist system, which started with Aries, had. eleven with similar names (p27). Traces of the zodiac were also found in China, India, Egypt, South Seas, Etruria (Etruscans) and Mexico (p15).
Several ancient authorities state that they had a spiritual
intention. The Arab astronomer Albumazar said that "many
attributed to them a divine and prophetic virtue." Cicero
said that "The signs are measured out, so that in so many
descriptions divine wisdom might appear.
Depuis, in L 'Origin des Cults had collected a vast number of traditions prevalent in all nations of "a divine person, born of a woman, suffering in conflict with a serpent, but triumphing over him at last, and finds the same reflected in the figures of the ancient constellations."
4. The ancient origin of the names
Rolleston says that the zodiac is attributed to Seth (the son of Adam) and to Enoch. She suggests that the Jews kept the word and the prophecy, the Arabs preserved the names of the stars while the Greeks and the Egyptians transmitted the figures to which they belong (p11).
Persian and Arab traditions and Josephus ascribe its invention to Seth and Enoch (Bull: 10). The Jews called Enoch the Great Scribe who wrote books on sacred wisdom, particularly astronomy, and he is quoted in Jude vv14-15.
The Chaldean Epic of Creation says that the great god Anu created the "mansions in the sky". Again we see the naming of the constellations by the supreme God himself and not by a human being. With the names being so widespread, then, as with the folk stories of the Flood, we can assume that their origin was before the dispersal from Babel. If the raditions are accepted, then we are dealing with God's revelation to Adam of the way of redemption after his Fall.
We have set out the ancient origin of the names in order to support the claim that that they have been given by God, particularly in view of Psalm 147:4 quoted above. We can, therefore, expect them to have particular significance for fallen mankind. The languages most frequently mentioned are Hebrew, Latin, Arabic and Persian and it will be obvious that these are all fairly near each other geographically. We will give the various names of some of the stars which have the same meaning in different languages when they are provided.
5. Critics of the Gospel interpretation
Seiss notes that secular anthropologists acknowledge that many ancient cultures had mythologies that were remarkably similar to the basic events of Christian history. They often have a god who is born to a virgin mother, slays a dragon to save mankind, was entombed and rose again, eventually ascending to heaven. So similar were these accounts that Volney tried to claim that Christ never existed and was only a mythical character who embodied these concepts.
One critic is Allen (Alle) who is dismissive of those who read the gospel into the names. He charges them with attempting to "alter the sky figures" for their own purpose and calls them "iconoclasts" of the accepted scheme. However, having listed twelve notable authorities, he specifically comments; "The recent efforts of Miss Frances Rollestonand Dr. Seiss are especially remarkable" (Alle:28). This is almost his only comment on her work and he seems to be according it grudging approval for its scholarly research. Bullinger is not mentioned.
His only other reference to what he admits is her "singular" work is to criticises her explanation of how the name of one star was derived (p20 1). Her work may contain other errors he chose not to mention but as this was the only fault he points to, it could indicate the thoroughness and reliability of her work.
6. The pictures and constellation shapes
One of the most surprising aspects of any constellation is the almost complete absence of any correlation between the shape of the star pattern and the picture painted around them. About the only constellation to which this would not apply is the Southern Cross which is obvious, but for all others there seems to be no relevance.
For example, who would have made the shape of a flying horse,
Pegasus, from one bright star and few others in the constellation?
Indeed, take any of the constellations and see if there is much
connection between the positions of the few stars in it and the
picture around it in Fig. 1.
How could these ancient pictures have become attached to these specific groups of stars? One can only conjecture that this was yet another gift from God to mankind for all generations. It is possible that he has presented these pictures to Adam of His redemptive plan and they have been transferred in these forms down through succeeding generations.
Obviously, it is also possible that they are the figments of man's imagination for godless purposes, but as we examine the names of the stars the evidence gradually supports the proposal that they have a deeply spiritual Christian meaning.
7. Modern names
There were efforts in the 17th century to give names to groups of stars not within the known constellations. The banality of such names as the Air Pump, the Telescope, the Indian, the Balloon etc. only served to highlight the more significant and meaningful names that the ancient constellations possessed. Of all the many aspects of life that could have been portrayed in the names of the constellations and stars, it is significant how many. refer to "judgement", "strong saviour", "weighed in the balance" etc.
As the true meaning of the names was lost, nations such as the Greeks gave some of them spurious names which they acknowledged. However, the original names can be obtained from older cultures. Bullinger points out that if the names were given to enable astronomers to identify the stars, then all the stars would have been included. In fact, the reverse is the case for certain stars are used to identify the pictures - the more important consideration.
8. Did Abram "tell out" the gospel story?
In Genesis 15:5, in the Authorised Version, we read that God told Abram to "tell" (Hebrew "sephar") the stars, if thou be able to number (sephar) them: and he said unto him 'so shall thy seed be'". This is usually translated in more modern versions as "count the stars" and the NKJV adds "so shall your descendants (zera, seed) be." (NIV - "offspring").
It is noticeable that the word "sephar" is used for both "tell" and "number" and to translate it as referring to "counting the number of the stars" is perfectly acceptable, but should it be used in this passage?
The Hebrew word "sephar" can also mean "recount, commune, account, declare, shew forth, speak, talk, tell (out), writer." All these imply more than just counting a number of objects but can allude to recounting a story.
Furthermore, Paul examines this passage in detail in Galatians 3:16 where he says "He saith not, 'And to Seeds', as of many; but as of one, 'And to thy seed, which is Christ'". He is at pains to point out that the word "seed" was singular in the Hebrew and referred to Christ (as the Coming One). Now if the word "seed" is singular, it does not fit with the translation of this passage as referring to counting innumerable stars and saying "this is how many descendants you will have".
There is therefore an alternative, or additional, view of this passage as Paul considered it. It could refer to the future advent of one person - the Saviour. God may have told Abraham to "read out" the story in the stars of the gospel record of future events that was apparently also known by ancient peoples.
Accordingly, this passage could therefore be loosely paraphrased:
Go outside your tent and recount to yourself [and to future
generations?] the story that is in names given to the stars and
constellations. They will tell you of one person, descended from
you, who will come - Christ - who will save His people.
9. Job's witness.
The oldest book in the Bible was written by Job who lived about 2150 BC, not long after the Flood. Already the names of the stars and constellations are fixed for he refers to Orion (38:31), Mazzaroth (the zodiac) and Arcturus (3 8:32). His reference to "binding the Pleiades" (38:31) is interesting as this group of stars are unaccountably stationary in their relative positions and not moving away from each other as expected. How did Job know this? This particular question struck Barry Setterfield forcibly before he became a Christian and made him rethink his life.
In Job 26:13 we read:
By His spirit He hath garnished the heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent.
The first reference is the to the heavens but it is not clear
whether the second reference is to living serpents or the "fleeing
serpent" in the sky (Hydra). If the latter is intended, as
suggested by the first statement, then it is God Himself who shaped
the constellations, and then gave them the spiritual message that
10. The Tower of Babel?
Before continuing, we will examine one doubtful reference by Bullinger. In the Authorised Version, the incident of the Tower of Babel refers to men "building a tower whose top may reach unto heaven". In the original the "may reach" is not there and has been added to make sense. It literally reads "a top unto heaven" and could indicate that the top of the tower would be dedicated to heaven, i.e. the worship of heavenly bodies. It is this that would have angered God more than just the building a high tower.
Bullinger quotes a Lt. Gen. Chesney who excavated the ruins of Babylon and who described the mound known to the Arabs as Birs Nimroud. This is 153 ft. high and the square base has 400 ft. long sides. He claimed that there were seven stages made of bricks in different colours each representative of one of the planets. On the top was a tower on the summit of which were the signs of the Zodiac.
This sounds very interesting but Bullinger obtained the information in a very roundabout way; from the sermon of a preacher who said he had copied it from Chesney's private notes. One would have thought that this very specific archaeological evidence, that considerably alters our understanding of this important event in the Bible, would have been corroborated by other excavators and become more widely known. As this seems to be the only reference it should be treated with considerable reservation.
11. The days of the week.
For the reader's interest, this might be the best point to give the origin of the names for the days of the week. They are all based upon the names of the planets that were those of Saxon gods and Seiss gives the following:
Sun-day, Mun (moon) - day, Tue (Tuisco - Anglo-Saxon name for Mars) -day, Wed (Woden - A. Sax. for Mercury) - day, Thurs (Thor - AS. for Jupiter) - day, Fri (Friga or Freiya = AS. for Venus) - day, Satur (Saturn) -day.
That a seven day week has been known from the earliest days of antiquity and have been followed in most civilisations is evidence that they were based upon the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest as we read in Genesis
With that introduction, we will only briefly refer to the various Christian aspects of the names etc. We would mention that for each main constellation in the Zodiac on the path through which the sun passes, there are generally three other constellations, associated with it, called "decans". These are listed A, B, and C under each constellation. In what follows we will be brief and use only a "note" form.
In both books, each author gave the name of many stars and then would say how this was relevant to some aspect of the Christian faith. At times, these connections were somewhat forced and one had the impression that virtually every star name had to be fitted into the system somewhere. There is sufficient evidence of the spiritual nature of the Zodiac names without forcing every name to comply.
Those given below are only a selection of the best of those where the relevance is clear. The Christian allusion will be obvious to most, but we give some of the biblical references. There are a number of "strong men", such as Hercules, Ophiuchus, Centaur etc. who are symbolic of the coming Christ and the various names and roles relative to the Gospel hardly need explanation. Surprisingly, I could find no star chart that gave both the lines joining selected stars used in astronomical charts and the figures of the zodiac. The zodiac chart illustrated on pages 420-1 was compiled With some difficulty by carefully combining these two sources.
The start of the Zodiac
Although Rolleston said that the constellations start with Aries, Bullinger and Seiss start with Virgo, the woman, and the last one is Leo, the lion. Bullinger contends that this is indicated as the starting point in the Egyptian pantheon of gods by the Sphinx, which has the head of a woman and the body of a lion. Thus the two ends are joined to complete the circle.
This is the first constellation of the circuit which the Greeks wrongly renamed Ceres. A virgin (Is. 7:14) holding a branch (Jer. 23:5-6) and an ear of corn. Corn = seed (Latin Spica, the modern name of this bright star. Old name was Arabic Al Zimach seed). Star Zavijaveh means "gloriously beautiful" (Is. 4:2).
(A) Coma. Woman with a child on her lap - Name means Desire of all nations"
Albumazer, an Arabic astronomer of the 8th century, said that the Persians, Chaldeans and Egyptians said this was a young woman (Persian = virgin) on a throne nourishing an infant boy, having a Hebrew name Ihesu which in Greek is called Christos. Shakespeare referred to this as "the good boy in Virgo's lap" (Titus Andronicus Act 4 Sc. 5).
Original Egyptian name Shes-nu = the desired son. Renamed by the Egyptians as Coma Berenice = The hair or wig of Berenice.
The possible connection of this decan with the Star of Bethlehem will be discussed at the end of this section.
(B) Centaur. Half man - half horse. Said to indicate the two natures of Christ (?). Hebrew name is Beza or Al Beze (Arabic) = the despised (Is. 53:3)
(C) Bootes. A man with a spear and sickle (Rev. 14:15-16). Name The Coming One (Ps. 96:13). Arcturus, the name of the bright star in the left knee= the keeper (of those) going up on the heights. Star Nekkar the pierced (Zec. 12:10).
Latin = Libra (scales). A pair of scales (Heb. Mozanaim). Arabic - Al Zubena (= purchase or redemption).
Star names; - lower scale - Zuben al Genubi - Arabic (the price which is deficient) (Ps. 62:9) - upper scale - Zuben al Chemali - Arabic (the price that covers). Alternative name - al Gubi heaped up (the value of the redemption). Zuben al Akrab - The price of the conflict.
(A) Crux = the cross
(B) Lupus or Victima (Beast slain or victim)
(C) Corona = A crown
3. SCORPIO A Scorpion.
Cqptic = Isidis (the attack of the enemy)
(A) and (B) Ophiuchus and Serpens. The "strong man" Ophiuchus (serpent-holder) wrestles with the serpent who is reaching for the crown.
The scorpion is stinging the heel of Ophiuchus, who is treading on the
scorpion (Gen. 3:15). In his heel is the star Antares (= wounding).
(C) Hercules - the mighty vanquisher. Foot is placed on the coiled dragons neck. Star Ras al Gethi = the head of him who bruises (Gen. 3:15).
4. SAGITTARIUS - The Archer
Same meaning in several languages (Rev. 6:2). Star Naim = The gracious one.
(A) Lyra - The harp. The name indicates the praise of God. Brightest star is Vega = He shall be exalted. (Ps. 2 1:13)
(B) Ara - the Altar. The burning fire prepared for His enemies.
(C) Draco - The Dragon. The name comes from the Greek = Trodden on (Ps. 91:13). Brightest star Thuban = The subtle. Names of other stars all refer to similar aspects of the dragon.
5. CAPRICORNUS - The Sea Goat
Ancient pictures are half goat, half fish; i.e. the sacrifice and those who it is sacrificed for (Christians use of the fish as a symbol). Second brightest star Deneb al Gedi = the sacrifice cometh. Others have similar meanings.
(A) Sagitta = The Arrow that pierces (Ps. 38:2).
(B) Aquila = Eagle. This has been wounded by the arrow. Names of stars are "wounding piercing" etc.
(C) Delphinus - The Dolphin. The one who rises.
6. AQUARIUS= The Water Bearer (Is. 44:3)
(A) Piscis Australis = The Southern Fish. Star Fom al Haut = the mouth of the fish
(B) Pegasus = The Winged Horse
(C) Cygnus = The Swan. Brightest star Deneb = The Judge or Adige = flying swiftly.
7. PISCES = The Fish.
Star names indicate "the fish (multitudes) of those who will follow"- i.e. The Church (Ps. 115:14).
(A)The Band - (that unites the two fish) (Hos. 11:4)
(B) Andromeda - The Chained Woman (who will be delivered).
(C) Cepheus - The Crowned King.
8. Aries - The Ram or Lamb (John 1:29)
Brightest star El Nath = wounded, slain; (others similar).
(A) Cassiopeia - The Beautiful Enthroned Woman. The captive woman now delivered. Brightest star Schedir (Hebrew) = freed. 2nd star Caph = The Branch (of victory). (Is. 54:1-8, 62:3-5).
(B) Cetus - the sea monster. The enemy bound.
(C) Perseus - The Breaker. Hebrew = Peretz. Greek = Perses (Micah 2:13). Winged feet = coming swiftly. Head he carries wrongly called Medusa by Greeks; Hebrew Rosh Satan = Head of the Adversary.
9. Taurus - The Bull
The Pleiades = The congregation of the judge.
(A) Orion - The coming Prince. Hebrew Oarion = light. He holds a club and the head of "the roaring lion" (1 Pet. 5:8). Betelgeuz = The coming of the branch. Rigol = the foot that crushes. Al Nitak = the wounded one.
(B) Eridanus - The River of the Judge. Star names refer to "flowing" etc.
(Dan. 7:10; Nahum 1:8).
(C) Auriga - The Shepherd (Is. 40:10-11). Hebrew root = shepherd. Star
p Capella (Latin) = she goat.
10. Gemini - The Twins
There is some confusion of the pictures for this constellation in the different languages, but they generally refer to two people. Probably referring to the two natures of Christ and his eventual victory.
(A) Lepus - The Hare (the enemy); trodden under Orion's foot. Star names refer to "the deceiver" etc.
(B) Canis Major (The Dog) or Sirius (The Prince). Sirius is the brightest of all stars. (Is. 9:6).
(C) Canis Minor - The Second Dog. Star Procyon Redeemer.
11. Cancer - The Crab
There are a variety of pictures for this constellation. The meaning is uncertain.
(A) Ursa Minor - The Little Bear. No bears found in any ancient Zodiacs. Confusion may be from Hebrew Dohver Sheepfold, Dovh Bear.
(B) Ursa Major - The Great Bear. Possibly "Sheepfold" as Ursa Minor as Al Naish "assembled together"; Dubhe = "Herd of animals or a flock" etc. Many stars similarly named.
(C) Argo - The Ship. Became part of Greek Argonaut story. Meaning is the "Return of the travellers".
12. Leo - The Lion
The Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). Hebrew name means "Lion hunting down its prey". Name in other languages similar. Denebola Judge who cometh.
(A) Hydra - The Serpent. Hydra means "He is abhorred". Star names similar.
(B) Crater - The Cup. The pouring out of wrath on the wicked (Ps. 75:8).
(C) Corvus - The Raven. Birds of prey devouring the Serpent.
Truly, "Their sound went into all the earth, and their
words unto the ends of the world'." Mankind is left with
(from Reference 6 above, with permission of the author)
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