The Gospel In The Stars
This fascinating theory is that before there were written Scriptures God may have used the clustering of stars that we call constellations as object lessons about His future plans for salvation and other prophetic subjects. This material is taken primarily from TheGospel In The Stars by Joseph A. Seiss – originally published in 1882. It also draws from E.W. Bullinger’s The Witness of the Stars and a tape by Chuck Missler called “The Mazzaroth”.
Please notice at the outset that this is only proposed as a theory. Like all of prophecy it is unwise to be dogmatic, but it is also unwise to ignore valid possibilities.
Notice also that it is not to be construed as an endorsement of any form of astrology. Astrology is an occult perversion of the true science of Astronomy. Astrology is strictly forbidden by the Scriptures. Read 2 Kings 17:16-17; 23:5; Psalm 81:12; Isaiah 47:13; Jeremiah 10:1-2; Daniel 1:20, 2:27; 4:7; 5:7.
However, the Bible does say that the lights in the heavens were to be used for signs and seasons (Genesis 1:14), and it indicates that God, who created them, calls the stars by name (Isaiah 40:26; Psalm 147:4). Psalm 19:1-6 says that the heavens are telling of the glory of God. According to John 1:14 Jesus revealed the glory of God. Therefore, this could mean that the heavens foretell the coming of Christ («Messiah). Verse 6 of this passage in Psalm 19 also speaks of the apparent circuit of the Sun, which is known to us as the ecliptic. Constellations are mentioned in the Bible (Job 9:9; 38:31-33). Perhaps most important of all, God did use heavenly signs to lead the wise men to Christ after He was born (Matthew 2:1-2,9-10). Therefore, Astronomy, the study of the stars, including naming stars and constellations is not bad. It is only the perversion of this knowledge that is wrong.
The zodiac is a band of the heavens within 8 degrees on either side of the ecliptic. The word actually means “The Way,” which is very interesting since that was the first name given to Christianity (Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 24:14,22). The Hebrew word Mazzaroth has the same meaning and is translated “constellations” in Job 38:32. “Mazzaroth therefore… clearly signifies the twelve constellations of the zodiac through which the sun appears to pass in the course of the year, poetically likened to the “‘inns,”… in which the sun successively rests during the several monthly stages of his annual journey.” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 312)
Luke 1:69-70 and Acts 3:21 imply the possibility of ancient or pre-historic prophets. The Bible was not written until long after the Creation and the flood, but the oral traditions were carefully passed down until Moses could record them under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Hebrew traditions say that Adam, Seth and Enoch could have been among these early prophets. Since people lived for nearly a thousand years before the flood, and, of course, their evenings were not spent watching television, but often, sleeping under the stars, it is certainly possible that the average person was thoroughly familiar with the star patterns and that God might have revealed a system of identifying the constellations which foretold the story of salvation.
Genesis 3:15 is a clear prophecy of the future conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent which would ultimately be fulfilled in Christ’s death for us. Read the following scenario and decide for yourself whether these constellations make more sense in a Biblical framework or in a mythological one. We follow Seiss’ three-fold division of the zodiac. Each Sign has a main constellation and three others which are called Decans, from the Semitic word “dek” which means “part.” Together these 12 Signs and their Decans appear to tell the amazing story of the Gospel!
The first four signs would prefigure the person, work and triumph of the illustrious Redeemer.
Virgo, the Virgin, is the first sign. She has an ear of wheat in one hand and a branch in the other. The wheat is actually seed, and symbolizes the “seed of the woman.” The branch is a familiar Old Testament name for the Messiah. The same woman is seen in the first Decan of this sign, Coma, holding a baby, the Branch, or the Desire of Nations. The next Decan in this group is Centaurus, a half-horse, half-man. This could represent the child who is born, having two natures: being both God and man. The last Constellation in this Sign is Bootes, or Arcturus, who is the Great Shepherd and Harvester. Together these images seem to portray, as in the Bible, the virgin birth of a child who has two natures, and the role of that child when he is grown as The Great Shepherd, leading His flock.
Libra, the Scales, is a pair of balances, the universal symbol of trade or commerce. It depicts a purchase, or in this case, a redemption. It stands for the price to be paid. The three Decans of this sign are the Cross (or the Southern Cross), the Victim, and the Crown. The Cross would be the most obvious symbol possible for the death of Christ, by which the price for our sin was paid. He Himself was the victim, and, since the victim is killed by the Centaur, which also presumably stands for Christ (from the previous Sign), we see again the idea that Christ willingly offered His own life. He said it was not taken from Him, but that He laid it down Himself. Thus, He was responsible for His own death. The Crown would picture the victory gained through the sacrificial death.
Scorpio, the Scorpion, is a giant deadly insect with its tail and sting ready to strike. It obviously portrays the enemy of the Deliverer. The three Decans of this sign all seem to depict the dreadful struggle between the Savior and the one who would keep Him from accomplishing His work. The Decans are The Serpent, Ophiuchus, and Hercules. The first two of these are engaged in a fight. The serpent is coiled around Ophiuchus. At the same time the scorpion stings the man in one heel, but the man crushes the head of the scorpion with his other foot. Hercules, the strong man is wounded in his heel, but places his other foot over the head of the dragon. Hercules also has a club in his right hand poised to crush the three-headed Dog of Hell held in his other hand. Together, these images appear to point to the triumph of the Redeemer over the Devil who is portrayed in all of the negative symbols of the scorpion, serpent, dragon, and three-headed Dog of Hell (See Unholy Trinity.)
Sagittarius, the Bowman, is the figure of a horse with the body, arms, and head of a man. This is the centaur, a creature that never existed as a mere animal, but would be an interesting depiction of the God-man with two natures. His bow is drawn, and the arrow is pointed at the scorpion. These images continue the thought of the struggle between good and evil from the former sign, and seem to assure us of the sure triumph of the Savior. The three Decans of this sign are Lyra, Ara, and Draco. Lyra, the heaven-bound eagle holds a lyre, symbolic of the song of victory. Ara, the Altar faces downward, presumably burning with the fires of punishment. Draco, the Dragon symbolizes Satan in the throes of defeat, winding himself about the North Pole.
The next four signs would depict the Redeemer’s future work and mediatorship. This section would then foretell the formation and work of the Church.
Capricornus, the Goat, is another figure of an unlikely animal, partly a goat, sinking down, as if dying, and partly a fish with a strong tail. This could symbolize the death and new life of the Savior. The Decans which accompany this sign are Sagitta, the arrow of God, bringing death, Aquila, the pierced and falling eagle, and Delphinius, the Dolphin, springing up out of the sea, apparently with new life.
Aquarius, the Waterman, is a man with a large vase of water which he is pouring out from the sky. This would be an apt portrayal the giving of the Holy Spirit whose influence Jesus likened to streams of living water (John 7:37-39). One of the Decans of this sign is The Southern Fish, drinking in the heavenly waters. As we all know, the early Church chose the sign of the fish to symbolize their faith since the Greek word for fish, ichthus, forms an acrostic meaning, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Savior.” The other two Decans are Pegasus, the winged white horse, presumably carrying the Good News with all speed, and Cygnus, the Swan, flying with the Cross over all the earth.
Pices, the Fishes, portray two large fishes. This, again, would be a valid representation of the Church, as seen in the former sign. The vernal (spring) equinox, the point where the Sun passes from the south to north of the celestial equator moves very slowly from one of the 12 sections of the Zodiac to another. During the church age that point has been in the area of Pices. That point is now between Pices and Aquarius, giving rise to the New Age teaching that we are entering the Age of Aquarius. Some believe this happened in 1982 (William M. Alnor, Soothsayers of the Second Advent, p. 153.), while others believe it will happen about the year 2200 (“Aquarius”, New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia). Carl Jung, the well known Psychologist said that he looked forward to the change from the Christian era to a new occultic age. (William M. Alnor, ibid.) This New Age teaching is just a resurgence of the ancient Babylonian mysteries which will come to an end when Christ returns (See Babylon in the Future.). If there is any real meaning to the gradually changing position of the vernal equinox, it would be that the Age of the Church will give way to the even more glorious age of The Holy Spirit, The Millennium and New Beginnings. The Decans of the sign of Pices are The Band, Cepheus, and Andromeda. The Band attached to the fishes is held by the Lamb (Ares, the Ram). This could symbolize Christ’s hold on His church. Cepheus is a crowned king holding a band and scepter, with his foot planted on the pole-star as the great victor. Andromeda is a woman in chains, threatened by the serpents of Medusa’s head. She could be a picture of the church as Christ’s bride, bound and exposed on earth.
Ares, The Ram, is a strong lamb with powerful curved horns, lying down in peace and conscious strength over the field around it. This would be a fitting picture of Christ in Heaven, ascended and victorious. The Decans for this sign are Cassiopeia, Cetus, and Perseus. These all symbolize victory and dominion. Cassiopeia is a woman enthroned. This might be the bride, now released from bondage. Cetus, the Sea-Monster, a symbol of the evil one, is firmly held down by Ares, still alive, but subdued. Perseus, the armed warrior who has winged feet, would be another reference to the victorious Savior. He is carrying away the cut-off head of a monster full of writhing serpents.
The last four signs make the most sense if they stand for the final consummation of all things. This section would then foretell the coming judgments on the earth and the glorious outcome of Christ’s reign.
Taurus, the Bull, is an angry, rushing animal, which would be a meaningful symbol of God delivering His wrath during the Tribulation. The Decans are Orion, Eridanus, and Auriga. Orion is the warrior-prince with a sword on his side and his foot on the hare or serpent. Eridanus, the torturous River, is the River of Judgment belonging to Orion. Auriga, the Shepherd, is a picture of a powerful shepherd-king who tenderly holds a she-goat and two little goats in his left arm. This could be a picture of The Lord’s comfort of the persecuted believers of this coming period of judgment.
Gemini, The Twins, are two human figures seated together in loving closeness. This could portray the Marriage of the Lamb. (See Marriage Supper of the Lamb.) The Decans are Lepus, Canis Major, and Canis Minor. Lepus is the mad hare, the enemy under Orion’s feet. Canis Major, Sirius, the Great Dog could prefigure the Prince coming in His glory. Then Canis Minor, Procyon, The Second Dog, would be his princely following.
Cancer the Crab is the figure of a crab, in the act of taking and holding on with its pincers. This could be a picture of the victorious King of Kings when He returns, and the Decans, Ursa Minor, the Lesser Bear, Ursa Major the Greater Bear, and Argo, could picture His privileged followers. Ursa Minor could also mean the lesser sheepfold, and stand for the first-born who will be rulers, and Ursa Major could be the greater sheepfold, the ones born later. Argo, the Ship, brings the weary travelers home from their toils and travels.
Leo, the Lion might easily picture Christ in His final victory over the Devil. All three of the Decans point to the destruction of the enemy, pictured as a serpent. Hydra, the fleeing Serpent, is about to be pounced upon by the lion. Crater, the Bowl of Wrath, is placed on the serpent. And Corvus, the Raven, the bird of doom, is also on the serpent, devouring his carcass.
This theory is endorsed today by such well known Bible teachers as Chuck Missler (Audio tape: “The Mazzaroth”) and Dr. James Kennedy of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Message televised Jan. 7, 1996). It is also accepted by Dr. Henry M Morris in his book, The Long War Against God (pp. 265-269). Dr. Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research.
Note: This theory of a “Gospel In The Stars,” is accepted by many prophecy scholars, but rejected by others.