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What The Bible Says About Astrology
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3/15/2016 4:47:31 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
Skeptic Complaint: The Bible contradicts itself on the issue of astrology. This is a Bible Believer's response to The Skeptic's Annotated Bible: What Does The Bible Say About Astrology http://skepticsannotatedbible.com...
On What the Bible Says about Astrology the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB), using the King James Version has come to the erroneous conclusion that there is some contradiction. They have come to this conclusion due, not to any discrepancy in the Bible but rather a confusion of what the Bible is actually saying regarding the sun and moon being a sign of the seasons, of the stars being used in a figurative sense, etc.
An attempt to understand more carefully what the Bible teaches about such things would easily clear up any confusion the earnest Bible student may have regarding astrology. Part of this educational process would logically include a brief examination of the history of astrology.
As far back as 1800 B.C.E. star catalogs were kept in Mesopotamia, they were instrumental to the Babylonians for predicting astronomical events such as lunar eclipses, marking the movement of planets and the rising and setting of constellations. Ancient people such as the Assyrians, Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Native Americans, Romans and others watched the sky and kept records of astronomical events. They were thus able to make calendars and plan yearly events such as planting and harvesting of crops.
To a superstitious people astronomy became astrology when they began to think that since the signs of the sun, moon and stars allowed them to predict the seasons, the ebb and flow of the tide, the flood of the Nile followed by the appearance of Sirius, then perhaps they could predict ones future or fortune.
The Babylonians thought of the stars as the heavenly abode of the gods. Bright stars, eclipses, and comets were thought to bring wrath upon the earth from the gods. Wars were fought and kings looked to their astrologers to ascertain the future.
The form of astrology that we know today comes from the Greeks. In the second century C.E. Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy from Alexandria, Egypt compiled a four book astrological record entitled Tetrabiblos. This has served as a basic text for what is today called natal astrology, a means of predicting ones future by charting the position of the stars, sun, moon and planets on the date of ones birth.
In the 13th century the Zohar or Sefar ho-zohar (Hebrew Book of Splendor) wrote: "On the firmament which envelops the universe, we see many figures formed by the stars and planets. They reveal hidden things and profound mysteries. Similarly, upon our skin which encircles the human being there exist forms and traits that are the stars of our bodies." This work inspired the reading of the face and palm for predicting the future.
By the 14th and 15th century astrology had gained a great deal of respect in the West. Universities were teaching it as a discipline which required skills in language and mathematics. Astrologers were thought of as scholars. It had a tremendous influence on human affairs, from building, wars, travel, business, in the lives of noblemen and the royal court. The writings of William Shakespeare are full of references to the astrological influences on human affairs.
In Strasbourg in 1531 John of Indagine wrote a book on the subject which quoted Jesus at Matthew 6:22; "If, then, your eye is simple, your whole body will be bright." He concluded that large, bright, and round eyes indicated integrity and good health but sunken and small eyes were signs of envy, suspicion and malice. Just two years later Bartolommeo Cocle, in his book Compendium of Physiognomy, claimed that large and round eyes were an indication that a person was fickle and lazy.
Chiromancers (palm readers) believed that the hands reflected the forces from above and they searched the Bible for references to that effect. Misapplication of verses such as Job 37:7 which reads; "He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work" and Proverbs 3:16; "Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour."
Though the work of astronomers like Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler, who have clearly demonstrated the unscientific reasoning behind astrologers from the past - that the planet Earth is not the center of the universe, that some stars that appear in a constellation are not bound to a specific group, that planets are lifeless rock masses or gases, as well as the discovery with the telescope of planets not known to exist in ancient times such as Uranus, and Neptune which would have influenced the charts we still use today, many people remain enchanted by astrology.
Genetics tells us that our traits are formed upon conception, not nine months later at birth, and we see that the sun is about one month behind what it was 2,000 years ago when the charts we use today were drawn up. That would mean that a Cancer (highly sensitive, moody and reserved) would actually be a Gemini (communicative, witty and chatty.)
But what does the Bible really say about astrology? Does it contradict itself? The SAB uses Genesis 1:14. This doesn't really require any scholarly approach to the Bible through linguistics or any other means; it only requires a little common sense. The verse is obviously referring to the practical use of the sun and moon as signs of night and day and of seasons, not of the mystical use for the purpose of ascertaining ones fortune and future. Astrology was often closely connected to the pagan gods, and the fact that God forbade such use makes this quite clear.
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3/15/2016 4:51:04 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
Skeptic Complaint: The Bible contradicts itself on the issue of astrology. This is a Bible Believer's response to The Skeptic's Annotated Bible: Does The Bible Condemn Astrology http://skepticsannotatedbible.com...
The SAB has a link on their page What the Bible Says about Astrology called Does the Bible Condemn Astrology? There they have a listing of scriptures, some listed to condemn and others to approve of astrology. Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; and Isaiah 47:13-14; Jeremiah 10:2; Zephaniah 1:4-5 are rightfully given as scriptural condemnation of astrology.
This article will deal with the scriptures given in an incorrect attempt to show Biblical approval of astrology. Genesis 1:14 has already been discussed above. Judges 5:20; Matthew 2:1-2 and Luke 21:25 will also be discussed.
Judges 5:20 has inspired a considerable amount of speculation; some view it as simply a poetic means of expressing some divine intervention, others see it as being a literal meteor shower while still others think it could have been astrological predictions from Sisera that proved false. The Bible doesn't specify but the first of these views is the most likely. However, since astrology is the foretelling of the future by means of the stars, and not a literal warfare involving the stars, Judges 5:20 can't logically be prescribed as a Biblical approval of astrology.
At Matthew 2:1-2 where the KJV uses "wise men" the Greek word majoi is used and is sometimes translated as Magi, Magians, astrologers, star gazers etc. The Imperial Bible-Dictionary (Vol. II, page 139 says: "According to Herodotus the magi were a tribe of the Medes, who professed to interpret dreams, and had the official charge of sacred rites . . . They were, in short, the learned and priestly class, and having, as was supposed, the skill of deriving from books and the observation of the stars a supernatural insight into coming events . . . Later investigations tend rather to make Babylon than Media and Persia the centre of full-blown magianism. 'Originally, the median priests were not called magi . . . From the Chaldeans, however, they received the name of magi for their priestly caste, and it is thus we are to explain what Herodotus says of the magi being a Median tribe' . . . (J.C. M"ller in Herzog's Encl.)." - Edited by P. Fairbairn, London, 1874.
Justin Martyr, Origen, and Tertullian all thought of the magoi as astrologers. Now, to me, this has always been an intriguing demonstration of how modern day Christianity has so distorted the Bible's meaning in order to mix pagan teachings such as Christmas into their beliefs. Without straying too far from the subject let me just point out a few items of interest here and then explain why these verses do not support a Biblical approval of astrology, if you haven't already guessed.
First of all, Matthew uses the Greek word magoi, which is accurately translated as astrologers. Not Kings or anything that doesn't indicate astrologers. He doesn't specify the number of them so it can't be assumed that there were three. Jesus wasn't a baby in a manger at their arrival; he was now two years old and living in a house. (Matthew 2:11) The 'star' was only visible to the astrologers, and it didn't lead them directly to Jesus, but rather to Herod, who wanted Jesus dead. It was Satan's plan to lead these astrologers to Jesus so that Herod could kill him. The star that hangs upon the pagan Christmas trees of countless Christians.
Getting back to the subject of astrology, there is no indication that these verses support a Biblical approval of astrology because astrology wasn't used. It really is that simple. These astrologers came, as did others, and gave gifts, not astrological advice. Did Mary and Joseph know who they were at the time of their arrival? It was only later that they were informed to leave before Herod came and killed all of the infants up to two years old. The gifts given had nothing to do with astrology.
The Language used at Luke 21:25 would have been familiar to the people whom Jesus spoke. Similar metaphoric usage was not at all uncommon in the Hebrew Scriptures. Similar phrases can be found to describe divine announcements against Babylon, Edom, Egypt and northern Israel. (Isaiah 13:9-10; 34:4-5; Jeremiah 4:28 and Ezekiel 32:6-8)
It is a pronouncement upon the nations, not a literal approval of astrology. The reason the Bible condemns astrology to the point of punishment of death to ancient Israelites is that it looks to false gods, demons, and other means of control and deception. The spreading of these teachings confuses and detracts from the creator who wants to see everlasting life for all of those who would have it. The Christian sees the spread of this misinformation much the same as the sin of Adam who caused the death of all mankind that followed him.