Pretend for just a moment: The year is 2,900 BC, and Pharaoh Menes is on the throne of Egypt. You are a small child who has just stepped out into a dark, moonless night with your beloved father, Jobab, the shepherd. Holding on tightly to his hand, you have followed him up a winding path to the top of a small knoll where he has begun once again to recite your favorite story, just as his father had done many years before. The story seems to grow with each new telling, and you begin to wonder if you will ever hear it all. What is this story?
GOD HAS ALWAYS HAD A WITNESS
Let’s start at the beginning. Until Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (c. 1450 BC) there was no WRITTEN revelation from God. Yet, the Bible itself teaches that the “good news” of God’s love, “…was preached to every creature under heaven…” (Col.1:23), and that “… the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all mankind…” (Titus 2:11) But how?
The Bible teaches that it was God Himself who gave both the PICTURES and the NAMES of the ancient constellations. Psalms 147:4 … “He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names.” It also teaches that He gave them for the purpose of giving to mankind important information about the way we should live. (Gen.1:14-18; Ps.104:19)
GOD drew these ancient pictures and then named and their stars with certain meaningful names in order to teach us that He “…so loved the world that He (would give) His one and only Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 paraphrased)
“But wait a minute,” you may say. “Aren’t these constellations all just a lot of ASTROLOGY and GREEK MYTHOLOGY nonsense?” The answer is both yes and no. Yes, the false-sciences known as astrology and mythology are a lot of nonsense. But, no, this star story has nothing to do with either one of them. In fact, both of them are CORRUPTIONS of the original ‘good news’ presentation of God’s mercy and grace. That is why God hates them! We read in Deuteronomy18:9-15 that He utterly condemns the teachings of astrology. Also, II Peter 1:15 – 2:3 tells us that He feels the same way about mythology, calling it “cunningly devised fables.”
Even the Greeks knew better! Aristotle called the myths of his day a poor attempt to explain what was plainly the “…remains of ancient wisdom”. (Metaphysics X:18) And Ptolemy described the ancient constellations as being of “…unquestioned authority, unknown origin, and unsearchable antiquity”.
THE HEAVENS DECLARE…
So, if astrology and mythology fail to give the truth about this ancient Zodiac, then what is the truth? The answer is simple, and amazing! God used these sparkling jewels of the night sky to preach the GOSPEL to everyone, every night!
What exactly is the `gospel’? In I Corinthians15:1-6 we read that it is the good news that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, loved us so much that He died, was buried, and then rose again the third day. Why? In order to save us from our sins!
Just think, this WHOLE GOSPEL was declared in the skies every night, and had been from the beginning of time. EVERYONE COULD LOOK UP AND SEE THEIR REDEMPTION!
Is it any wonder that ancient civilizations were so keenly interested in this fascinating subject? Even after they had long forgotten the true message of the stars, they still remembered that, somehow, these ancient constellations had something to do with the most important questions of life.
Let’s get back to pretending that you are that small child, holding your father’s hand. As he speaks, your attention is drawn up to countless thousands of stars that sparkle in the black canopy of space.
Slowly, and with the same patience he has shown on many previous nights, your father speaks of the Promised One, the Redeemer, who will one day come to deliver all who truly believe from the dreadful curse of sin. He first points to one star, and then another, encouraging you to imagine lines running between them. And then more stars, and more lines, until finally in your mind’s eye you see a picture. It’s a fish! And just above it is a man holding a water pot! And way up there is a KING!
With each new discovery your father tells you more and more parts of the old gospel story. Each picture seems to fit exactly into its place as the story grows, and you begin to understand God’s plan for your life more clearly.
And not just the pictures are fascinating! The stars have such exciting names, too! “These names are filled with meaning,” your father tells you. “They, too, will help you understand and remember because God named each and every one of them!” And so you spend the many nights of your childhood listening to your father’s teachings about the GOSPEL IN THE STARS. What IS this good news? Read on!
THE PROMISED REDEEMER
Your father would have begun by telling you about the Promised One who would come to save us from our sins. He would have begun with Virgo, the Virgin, and have told you that the Savior of the world will be born of a virgin! Then, pointing to Coma, one of Virgo’s companions, he would have told you that the Promised One will be the “desired of all nations” because that is what the word comah means — the desired one. Then he would have pointed to Centaurus and explained that this unusual picture teaches us that the coming Savior would somehow have two natures. He would be God, but He would also be man – and that would mean He alone would be the true sin offering — the Lamb Of God who takes away the sins of the whole world. Then, locating Bootes, your father would explain that, though the Promised One would die, yet would He also live again to become the Lord of Harvest, gathering in countless millions of souls to Himself. In this way, your father would have introduced you to the promise of the coming Savior.
Then, a few weeks later, he would teach you how to “see” the next part of the story — Libra, and its companions, Crux, Lupus, and Corona. By using these four different pictures and by explaining the meanings of the stars’ names, your father would teach you that the Promised Messiah would come to pay the price of your redemption by suffering on a cruel cross! But His reward would be resurrection to new life with the royal crown given to Him by His Father in heaven.
As you and your father proceeded through the year using this method of teaching the good news, you would eventually learn the WHOLE GOSPEL! The next part of the story (Scorpio, with its companions, Serpens, Ophiuchus and Herecules) would teach you that the coming King would destroy the wicked enemy of your soul, Satan! And Sagittarius, Lyra, Ara, and Drago would show you the blessed assurance of His ultimate victory over sin.
THE REDEEMED ONES
Next your father would introduce you to a very important truth – that in order to grow in the grace of God, you must be saved day by day from the power of sin, not just its penalty. You now need to be saved from sin’s ability to cause you to lose the power and joy of your new life in Christ.
Capricornus, along with Sagitta, Aquilla, and Delphinus would teach you that you can enjoy the life of your Savior by entering into it with Him. Just as He died, was buried, and rose again, you must also die to the old life of sin, have it buried into the grave of powerlessness, and then be raised up to newness of life! Aquarius, with Piscus Australis, Pegasus, and Cygnus would reveal that you have three wonderful privileges in this new life — a VITAL UNION with the Savior, a full measure of HEAVENLY AUTHORITY, and a HEAVENLY CITIZENSHIP!
Pisces, along with The Band, Andromeda, and Cepheus would teach the truth that even though we are weak in our own strength, yet in the new life of our Savior we have the power to do His perfect will. We also have the amazing assurance of His second coming!
Aries, with Cassiopeia, Cetus, and Perseus would give you four perfect pictures of that same event — His Second Coming to gather all His saints unto Himself by breaking the bands that bind us to this earth. You would actually “see” the Rapture (our sudden departure from the earth to be with Him forever)!
THE RETURN OF THE KING
As the year wore on your father would show you the final part of this amazing story in the sky, the part that talks about a time still in our own future when the Savior will return to set up His world-wide kingdom of peace and prosperity on an Earth that He will make into a paradise from North Pole to South Pole!
Taurus (with Orion, Eridanus, and Auriga) would show you that all those who had trusted in the Savior’s promise will be perfectly safe with Him in heaven even as terrible events are taking place here on earth below. This will be the time known as The Tribulation which will occur just before the setting up of the Kingdom. At the end of seven years of unparalleled turmoil, the Lord Himself will come and destroy the powers of darkness and evil upon the earth!
Gemini with Lepus, Canis Major, and Canis Minor would introduce you to the KING of the Millennial Kingdom — JESUS! This millennium will be a time of peace and righteousness because the King Himself will reign upon His throne as Glorious King and Exalted Governor.
Cancer with Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Argo also would present the Kingdom as a time of unimagined peace and happiness. Wars will be no more; nor will famine, pestilence and earthquakes, for the King will cause the whole world to know His love and glory, and all mankind will rejoice!
Finally, as you come to the end of a full year of learning, you would see Leo, with Hydra, Crater, and Corvus which would teach that at the end of the Millennial Kingdom the Savior will take the enemy of your soul and cast him into the Lake of Fire, putting an end to evil forever!
Praise God for the WHOLE GOSPEL ….IN THE STARS!