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"Astrology: In the Stars HIS Handiwork I See"

Sept.29/13 Psalm 8 / various


[graphic] "Well, look what someone just posted on Facebook! 'An Accurate Horoscope for the Whole Year 2013.' Isn't that just what we needed?! Wait, what's the small print say? 'This is the real deal.Try ignoring it, and the first thing you'll notice is having a horrible day starting tomorrow morning, and it only gets worse from there.' Charming!"

You've got to admit there seems to be a DOWN side to horoscopes. "Do this - or else!" Yet you see them not only in newspapers, but in advertisements on the internet, and friends' posts on Facebook (much to this pastor's consternation). They seem to be getting more popular; but are they OK for Christians to look at? What's to be gained or lost by a little peek at your supposed future - they'll probably be wrong, anyway? Is it just harmless fun, sort of like a Chinese fortune cookie? Or is something more serious at stake?


In the Bible God makes it very clear that He does not want His people involved with horoscopes, or astrology, or any other means of what's called "divination" - predicting the future by signs and omens. Back when Moses was setting forth Yahweh's guidelines for the newborn nation in Deuteronomy, the commands included these: "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..." (De 4:19) "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD...You must be blameless before the LORD your God.The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination.But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so." (De 18:10-14) It was a strict rule: anyone who "contrary to [God's] command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky," was to be put to death (De 17:3).

Nevertheless, even though they were told not to, we find examples of wicked kings later in Israel's history that engaged in such practices - and suffered the consequences. Notorious King Manasseh "bowed down to all the starry hosts" so the Israelites were exiled (2Kings 17:16; cf 21:3). Jeremiah prophesied that those in Jerusalem and the kings of Judah would have their places smashed, "all the houses where they burned incense on the roofs to all the starry hosts" (Jer 19:13). In Zephaniah (1:4ff), those who "bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host" are lumped in with "those who turn back from following the Lord and neither seek the Lord NOR INQUIRE of Him" - both would be "cut off" by God. Attributing powers and divine significance to stars is equated to apostasy, turning away from and rejecting God.

Commenting on Stephen's recollection of the Israelites' idolatry in Acts 7, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia draws a connection between the 'golden calf' idol and astrology: "The worship of the golden calf was star worship; it was the solar bull, the constellation Taurus, in which the sun was at the time of the spring equinox, that was thus represented." So, right back at Mount Sinai, we can see the conflict shaping up between the Tablets of the Ten Commandments and the astrological tables.


Yahweh, "I am who I am", is the God of all being, all happening: He speaks, and it comes into being. Repeatedly idols (including the gods of astrology) are denounced as actually being powerless. Isaiah 47(13ff), "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...Each of them goes on in his error; there is not one that can save you." (Isa 47:13-15) The Lord, by contrast, had power to plan it, predict it through His prophets, and to carry it out OR rescue people if they repented.

The powerlessness of astrologers is very apparent in the book of Daniel, which takes place at the geographical heart of the eastern mystical arts. In chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar threatens to kill all the "magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers" unless they can both tell him what he dreamed AND interpret it. They cannot, and protest that it's a highly unreasonable demand - but Daniel asks for time, urges his Jewish friends to plead for God's mercy about the mystery, and God reveals it to Daniel during the night in a vision (2:2,19). Again in 4:7 Nebuchadnezzar finds the astrologers and diviners can't interpret another dream (about a majestic tree cut down; this time he gives them a head start by telling them the dream at least!), but Daniel can and does interpret it. Then in 5:7 a later king, Belshazzar, calls for the "enchanters, astrologers, and diviners" to try to interpret writing on the wall, but only Daniel is able to do it (5:7,17). He could do this because, as even the pagan queen put it, Daniel had "the spirit of the holy gods in him." (5:11)

The Bible from cover to cover portrays God as creator and master of the stars in the heavens. Psalm 8(3) considers the heavens the work of God's fingers; the moon and stars "you have set in place". Psalm 33(6) "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth." Isaiah 45(12) God declares, "It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it.My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts." 'Marshaled' carries a sense of authority and being in-charge, doesn't it? Nehemiah (9:6) prays, "You alone are the LORD [Yhwh].You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host..." Isaiah 40(26) makes explicit the connection between God's creating work and His power: "Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."

The question about using horoscopes really does boil down to a control issue: who are you trusting to be in charge of your life? According to Romans 10:9, the fundamental confession of faith for a Christian is "Jesus is Lord." No one can say "Jesus is Lord" without the Holy Spirit at work, transforming their life (1Cor 12:3). Lordship implies control, ownership, being submitted to, belonging to. When you become a Christian, you break the ties with other idols, other tyrannies, other 'posers' that tug at your loyalty. In Acts 16(16ff) the apostle Paul casts out of a slave girl a spirit that predicted the future, which her owners exploited to earn money by fortune-telling. Later in Acts 19(19) the new converts at Ephesus have a big bonfire, burning their scrolls of sorcery - probably including astrological tables and horoscopes. ISBE comments, "It was of course impossible then, as now, for the convert to Christianity to consult astrologers or to practice astrological divination."

By giving attention to a horoscope, you're imbuing it with a power over your life to which only Jesus is properly entitled. Well-known Christian author and pastor John MacArthur notes, "...it isn't that the horoscopes will tell you what you're like; they will simply make you into what they want you to be.People who listen to that begin to pattern their life after that thing until, literally, they become transformed into their horoscope, if you will."

We become like what we worship, what we ascribe significance and power to; Psalm 115(8) "Those who make [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them."


We do have some astrologers show up every year around Christmas time - and we even put them front and centre in our churches! Who do I mean? The 'wise men' or Magi from the east. But they point the way to a better alternative than astrology, if you pay close heed to their experience. Matthew records that the Magi came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." This is what looking up at the stars in the sky ought to do - nudge us to seek their Maker and worship Him. You look up in awe and have to admit there is SOMETHING greater than you out there in the universe, because you sure didn't put that there!

But their natural revelation (seeing the star) is incomplete; they need more information. Where do they get it? Herod calls in the chief priests and teachers of the law who point them to Micah 5:2 - God's special revelation written, where it predicts the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. After they follow this more precise instruction from God's word, the find the LIVING word (the baby Jesus) - and then what? 2:12 "And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." God showed He could use other means - far more personal than astrological charts, namely a dream - to communicate His will for them.


Horoscopes boil down to a tool of Satanic suggestion. By using them, you're inviting evil spirits to take control in your life, giving them ground, a base from which to operate. When you invite them in, they're eager to start to dominate however you let them. John MacArthur puts it bluntly: "So, no Christian is to have anything to do with them at any time, at all.Don't even fool with that, don't even play around with it - it just opens up an avenue for Satan to influence you."

The Lord wants better things for His children than to be worried about consulting a horoscope, or feel threatened about timing of an action. Jeremiah 10:2 "This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them." God wants us to be blessed by a sense of His peace guarding our hearts; Php 4(7) "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." But to experience that peace, don't let any infiltrators in, for there is a thief who loves to steal our peace (Jn 10:10). "Do not be CONformed to this world" - 'conned' by the fakery of astrology, and pagan patterns of seeking omens - but be TRANSformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is (isn't that what guidance is all about?) - His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Ro 12:2) Let's pray.