I recently received an e-mail describing a Bible study in which it was stated that the gospel could be found in the stars of the Zodiac. I was rather surprised that Christians were teaching such things and thought that it would be good to present what the Bible really says about astrology and stargazing.
Gospel in the stars?
In the late 1800’s two books were written, The Witness of the Stars by E.W. Bullinger's, and The Gospel in the Stars by Joseph A. Seiss's. Current proponents claim that God's whole plan of redemption can be found in the Zodiac and that the history of mankind and Christ can be understood from the constellations. Most of those who promote this idea admit that the gospel can't be seen in the stars themselves, but that it comes from a "Christianized" interpretation of the signs of the Zodiac, which were assigned by the ancient peoples to apparent groups of stars, called constellations. These figures are not seen in the natural formations of the stars, but are the result only of human imagination. In no way could the stars provide a sign that the Son of God would come to earth and die in our place to offer forgiveness of sin as a free gift of God's grace. It would be impossible for an uninformed person to determine the "gospel" from the stars.
What does the Bible teach about astrology?
The Bible does not specifically discuss astrology extensively, but what it does say is always negative. Like many other sins, the problem with astrology is that people are trying to get answers about life's questions from a source other than God. Many people believe that they can know the future through the location of the stars and planets. However, apart from God's revelation, fortune telling is specifically prohibited throughout the Bible.1
Astrology has no power of prediction
In the book of Daniel, the Bible makes fun of astrologers and indicates that they are powerless to really observe the future. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a disturbing dream that none of his astrologers or "wise men" could interpret.2 The King had ordered all the wise men, including Daniel, a young captive from Judah, to be executed. Daniel convinced the king's bodyguard that God would reveal the mystery to him and requested time to seek the answer. Having prayed to God and received the answer in a vision, Daniel reported to the king's chambers. Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar:
Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king; but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these... (Daniel 2:27-28)
Later, when King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar's son, saw a finger appear and write on the wall at his party, he called in the astrologers, who, likewise, failed to interpret a writing that had appeared on the wall.3 These astrologers were again shown to be powerless deceivers.
God commanded His people, the nation of Israel, not to practice astrology by looking at "signs of the heavens." God calls such "signs" delusions:
Thus says the Lord, "Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion... (Jeremiah 10:2-3)
Those who practice astrology fall under the judgment of God
It was common practice at the time the Israelites came into the promised land that the native peoples would practice astrology and worship the heavenly bodies. The Bible specifically warned the Israelites not to practice those things also (see also Jeremiah 8:24):
And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:19)
The Bible says that those who are stargazers and make predictions based upon that are in error and will not be saved from judgment:
"Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror. All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by. That is all they can do for you—these you have labored with and trafficked with since childhood. Each of them goes on in his error; there is not one that can save you. (Isaiah 47:12-15)
The Kings (such as Josiah) were told to get rid of the worship of the heavenly bodies in their nation and did so5—under penalty of the judgment of God. The seriousness of this offense is clear, since the penalty for this kind of idolatry was death by stoning.6 God destroyed the ten northern tribes of Israel because they indulged in astrology and other forms of demon worship:
And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. So the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah. (2 Kings 17:16-18)
As a judgment of God, the northern tribes were conquered by Assyria. However, Manasseh, one of the evil kings of Judah, also established astrological worship of the heavenly bodies during his reign:
For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them... For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD... "Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations, having done wickedly more than all the Amorites did who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols; therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am bringing such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears shall tingle. (2 Kings 21:3-12)
As a result of this idolatry, Judah was also enslaved and dispersed as a nation, because of their involvement in astrology. Israel's involvement in astrology and the worship of heavenly bodies was described by many of the Old Testament prophets, including Jeremiah,7 Zephaniah,8 and Amos.9 All described how this was displeasing to the Lord and that His judgment was the result of such practices.
New Testament condemnation
As in the Old Testament, the New Testament also condemns astrology:
But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: "'Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon. (Acts 7:42-43)
Although the heavens do declare the glory of God, they do not proclaim the gospel. The gospel was revealed to man by God Himself, who spoke through the prophets and came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. The apparent arrangement of the stars in the sky is a function of the human brain, which tries to find patterns in everything it interprets. Depending upon one's background and society, different shapes of objects are seen as constellations. None of the constellations make such a clear picture that they could only be interpreted only one way.
Studying the stars to attempt to get some message from them is called astrology, and is expressly prohibited in the Bible. Christians should not dabble in astrology, even if they don't really believe it is true. Trust God with your future and follow Him in obedience to His word.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me." (Jesus Christ, John 14:1)
- Who Was Nostradamus? Was He the Greatest Prophet of Modern Times?
- The Real 2012 Prophecy: Mayans, Nostradamus Predictions, and Planet X, Oh My!
- There shall not be found among you anyone who makes
his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses
divination, an observer of clouds, or a fortune-teller, or a witch, or
a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or one
who calls to the dead. For all that do these things are an abomination
to Jehovah. And because of these abominations Jehovah your God drives
them out from before you. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
And he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom. He also practiced secret arts, and used fortune-telling, and used witchcraft, and dealt with mediums, and with soothsayers. He did much evil in the sight of Jehovah in order to provoke Him to anger. (2 Chronicles 33:6)
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst of it, and I will destroy its wisdom. And they shall seek to idols, and to the enchanters, and to the mediums, and to the future-tellers. And I will shut up Egypt into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, says the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts. (Isaiah 19:3-4)
As for you, do not listen to your prophets, nor to your fortune tellers, nor to your dreamers, nor to your conjurers, nor to your sorcerers, who speak to you, saying, You shall not serve the king of Babylon. (Jeremiah 27:9)
For so says Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your fortune-tellers in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you dream. (Jeremiah 29:8)
And I will cut off sorceries out of your hand, and there shall not be fortune-tellers among you. (Micah 5:12)
My people seek advice from their wooden idols, and their rod declares to them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to go astray, and they have gone lusting away from under their God. (Hosea 4:12)
- The astrologers answered the king, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. (Daniel 2:10)
- The king called out for the enchanters, astrologers and diviners to be brought and said to these wise men of Babylon, "Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom." Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. (Daniel 5:7-8)
- They [the bones of the people of Jerusalem] will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground. (Jeremiah 8:2)
- He [Josiah] did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. (2 Kings 23:5)
- If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5)
- The houses in Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah will be defiled like this place, Topheth—all the houses where they burned incense on the roofs to all the starry hosts and poured out drink offerings to other gods.'" (Jeremiah 19:13)
- those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the LORD and who also swear by Molech, those who turn back from following the LORD and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him. Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited. On the day of the Lord's sacrifice I will punish the princes and the king's sons and all those clad in foreign clothes. (Zephaniah 1:5-8)
- You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god—which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus," says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty. (Amos 5:26-27)
We are what we think.
- 04/15/2014 02:04 AM
How to Think about Near-Death Experiences
Stories of heavenly visions, like the one at the center of the upcoming film Heaven Is for Real (based on the near-death experience of a four-year-old Nebraska boy), can have a powerful effect on people. They can inspire our imaginations, … Continue reading
- 04/11/2014 02:19 AM
Quote of the Week: Thomas Nagel
Consciousness is the most conspicuous obstacle to a comprehensive naturalism that relies only on the resources of physical science. â€” Thomas Nagel, Mind & Cosmos (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 35.
- 04/08/2014 02:47 AM
Making Decisions: Six Criteria for Biblical Guidance
The big decisions of life (and even some of the smaller ones) can put us in a place where we need wisdom and guidance. When Iâ€™m faced with difficult decisions or simply need direction on how to handle a challenging … Continue reading
- 04/04/2014 02:40 AM
Quote of the Week: Captain America
The price of freedom is high and it’s a price I’m willing to pay. – Captain America, Captain America: The Winter Soldier From childhood, my favorite superhero has always been Captain America. In light of the Winter Soldier sequel released … Continue reading
- 04/01/2014 11:15 AM
Considering â€śBlackfishâ€ť and the Question of Mammals in Captivity
Whatever your opinion about the controversial documentary Blackfish, its impact canâ€™t be ignored. CNN has been airing Blackfish periodically since October 2013. The documentary has won several awards and inspired numerous boycotts. Personally, I have three friends who vowed to … Continue reading
- 03/28/2014 02:39 AM
Quote of the Week: Paul Copan
Perhaps this world has the balance of the greatest amount of good and the least amount of evil. â€” Paul Copan, Loving Wisdom (St. Louis, MO: Chalice, 2007), 128.
- 03/25/2014 02:39 AM
Platoâ€™s Cave: Do You Know the Difference between Reality and Illusion?
Have you ever been in a cave? Caves are dark, cold, and sometimes dangerous placesâ€”people who lose their light source in a cave often cannot find their way out and, without rescue, face the possibility of death from hypothermia or … Continue reading
- 03/21/2014 02:35 AM
Quote of the Week: Anthony Hoekema
The Greek word agape used here implies that self-giving love is meant: a love which does not ask What is there in it for me? But which seeks to give itself unselfishly to others.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€” Anthony Hoekema, Saved By Grace … Continue reading
- 03/18/2014 02:19 AM
Interview: â€śUnderstanding Christian End Times Teachingâ€ť
In January, I had the opportunity to discuss the always popular, frequently controversial topic of the end times on Issues, Etc. with host Todd Wilken, a Lutheran pastor and theologian. Our discussion lasted over an hour and included time for … Continue reading
- 03/14/2014 02:33 AM
Quote of the Week: David Naugle
They [meta-narratives] are an inescapable trait of human beings who live by faith in their big stories. â€” David K. Naugle, Philosophy: A Studentâ€™s Guide (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 67.
Last updated January 20, 2012