Stars over a forest. Photographer: Ryan Hutton. Licensed (Jztmx9yqjBw)

Is the gospel spelled out in the stars?

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It has long been suggested that the constellations are God-given illustrations of gospel truths. Indeed, constellation names go far back into mankind's history. The Jewish historian Josephus says they were named by Seth, the third son of Adam, but perhaps even Adam had a part, since he named the animal world (Genesis 2:19). The Bible says that God assigns His own names to the stars (Psalms 147:4). If so, He may have revealed them to early people.

Of special interest are the twelve zodiac constellations. This band of stars lies in the plane of the solar system. They appear high in the night sky, roughly along the same path traveled by the sun during the day. During the course of each year the zodiac constellations take turns in appearing: for example, Scorpius in summer, Gemini in winter. Job 38:32 makes reference to the bringing forth of these constellations (or “Mazzaroth” in the King James Version) in their season.

The idea of seeing the gospel message in the stars was popularized by the writings of E.W. Bullinger and J.A. Seiss during the 1800s. Here is a brief outline of the usual zodiac interpretations:

Zodiac Interpretations

Constellation Picture Interpretations
Virgo Virgin Virgin Mary
Libra Weighing scales Sin must be paid for
Scorpius Scorpion Sin brings death
Sagittarius Archer Demonism
Capricorn Goat-fish Earth corruption
Aquarius Water pourer Living water or Noah’s flood
Pisces Fish God’s remnant
Aries Ram Sacrifice
Taurus Bull Resurrection
Gemini Twins Christ’s dual nature
Cancer Crab Gathering of redeemed
Leo Lion The King

Early writings on this subject went into great detail regarding different parts of the constellations, so that practically every star was assigned a special meaning.

The gospel message may well have been purposely written in the skies by the Lord. In that case, perhaps the star signs served as memory aids before Scripture was available.

Today, of course, the Bible provides a clear message about the plan of God. Although stars continue to “declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and are useful in our calendar system (Genesis 1:14), the Bible does not tell us to search the stars for detailed messages. On the contrary, warnings are given against trusting in the stars. Caution is needed when searching for the gospel in the stars, since constellation symbols can have many possible interpretations. Since Babylonian times, Satan has counterfeited the zodiac with astrology.

Many people still claim to see symbols of the gospel in unusual places: crosses on flower petals, Christmas stars on sand dollars, and even religious images on rusty water towers. God certainly designed all things, but we must beware of building our doctrine on the details of nature. We can be thankful that the Bible presents the gospel to us so clearly that we have no need for additional evidence of its truths.

Author: Dr. Donald DeYoung, Ph.D. (Physics) as excerpted from Astronomy and the Bible, pgs. 69-70, published by Baker Book House

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Article Version: June 3, 2021