The Gospel in the Stars: Part 3
By J.R. Church
The twelve major constellations along with their sidereal sidepieces present the original drama of the ages in the form of what I call a Three-Act play. Act One is presented through the first four constellations - Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius. It begins in Bethlehem with the birth of the "Seed" of the woman, and establishes His conflict with and victory over Scorpio - the "seed" of the serpent. Act Two is presented through four constellations - Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces and Aries. They represent the Church Age and New Testament Christianity, whose astronomical symbol is a fish. The last four constellations, along with their sidereal sidepieces, represent the concluding act in the great drama of the ages - The Tribulation Period followed by the Second Coming of Christ. It is presented through the constellations Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, and Leo.
The sign of Taurus opens Act Three, showing us the coming of the Judge of all the earth. Taurus is pictured as a raging bull, coming furiously. Only the front half of the bull is depicted in the constellation. Where the back end of the bull would normally be drawn stands the constellation Aries, the Lamb - as if the bull is coming out of Aires. It is a magnificent picture of Christ who came the first time as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world, but will return one day bringing judgment upon the wicked.
Taurus is unlike domestic bulls. It was probably an animal that is now extinct - a ferocious relative of domestic cattle, called "Rimu" in the Hebrew Scriptures. Rimu is translated "unicorn" in the King James Version of the Bible and was thought to be a mythological, one-horned creature. However, it was more likely a large wild ox. Famous for its size and ferocity, it may have survived until the times of the Roman Ceasars, but is now extinct. The wild bull, or Rimu, was a symbol of power and rule.
Balaam, described the power of Jehovah on behalf of Israel in Numbers 23:22 when he said, "God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn" (Rimu).
Taurus is the sign of coming judgment. It is the "day of vengeance of our God" (Isaiah 61:20). It is a "day of wrath" (Rom. 2:5) from which we shall be delivered for "God hath not appointed us to wrath" (I Thes. 5:9). Taurus means "governer, captain, or leader." In the shoulder of Taurus is a group of stars known as the Pleiades, meaning "congregation of the judge."
One of three sidereal sidepieces, which help to tell the story of Taurus, is the constellation Auriga. It is the picture of the Great Shepherd. He sits calmly above the rushing bull, holding a mother goat that has just given birth to a pair of kids in his lap. In the heart of the goat is a brilliant star called Capella, meaning "she goat." A small triangle of stars near Capella is called Haedi, meaning "the kids," and marks the two offspring of the mother goat in the lap of Auriga. It is an ancient picture of the great shepherd protecting his people from the day of wrath.
There is a bright star in the foot of the shepherd called Elnath, meaning "the wounded." It reminds us that the coming Judge is the one who was "wounded for our transgressions" (Isaiah 53:5). Elnath reminds us that our Savior was to be wounded in the heel, as predicted in Genesis 3:15.
The second sidereal sidepiece is Orion, which is said to be the most spectacular and wonderful sight in the night sky. Orion is pictured as a mighty hunter with a club in his right hand. In his left hand, he holds the skin of a lion that he has killed. Orion is mentioned twice in the book of Job and once in the prophecy of Amos. Orion means "coming forth as light."
The brightest star in the constellation is Betelgeuse, meaning "the coming of the branch." Another star in his foot is Rigel, meaning "the foot that crushes." In the shoulder of the constellation is a star called Bellatrix, meaning "quickly coming." In his leg is a star called Saiph meaning, "bruised." Again, as in every other case, we are reminded of Christ crushing the head of the seed of the serpent. Orion is obviously a picture of Christ coming in power and great glory.
The third sidereal sidepiece is Eridanus, the "river of fire," flowing from the raised foot of Orion. It represents the method by which Christ will crush the head of the seed of the serpent. Josephus tells us that Adam received a prophecy that God would destroy the world twice - once with water and once with fire. Eridanus represents the judgment of fire. It runs across the heavens toward the south. In the river are several named stars: Archernar means "the afterpart of the river;" Cursa means "bent down;" and Zourac means "flowing." This is a magnificent prophetic message found in the constellation Taurus. It opens the final act in this great drama of the ages flowing out upon a starlit stage - the panarama of the night sky.
The next major constellation is Gemini. In the star chart, it is pictured as a pair of twin boys. However, in the ancient Denderah Zodiac of Egypt, it was depicted as a man and a woman. In the coptic language, Gemini was called Pi-mahi, meaning "the united." I believe it represents the Savior and His bride.
There are two stars, which mark the heads of the two people in Gemini - Castor and Pollux. These are Latin names. You may recall in Acts 28:11, the Apostle Paul traveled on a ship, "whose sign was Castor and Pollux." Castor means "ruler or judge" and Pollux means "who comes to suffer." Again, we are reminded of the suffering Savior who will come one day to be united with His bride. He is destined to rule over the Earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Like the other major constellations there are three sidereal sidepieces, which help to tell the story of Gemini. The first is Canis Major. It is depicted as a large dog and should be considered along with the second sidereal sidepiece, Canis Minor - a small dog. Over the centuries, these two constellations lost their original significance. The Greeks supposed them to be the hunting dogs of Orion when, in fact, the names of the stars in Canis Major and Canis Minor reveal that they were not originally dogs at all, but pictures of the Prince of Peace and Redeemer of the world.
The most significant star Canis Major is Sirius - the brightest star in the entire heavens. It is only nine light years away, making it one of Earth's nearest neighbors among the millions of stars. Sirius is the most glorious star in the sky, meaning "the Prince." It is the root word from which we derive the title, "Sir."
Canis Minor is represented as a lesser dog. It is a small group of stars just south of Gemini. Though the original meaning of Canis Minor has long since been obscured, we can easily determine its original meaning through the bright star Procyon, meaning "Redeemer or Savior." That is the true meaning of the constellation. Long ago, the Egyptians called it Sebak, meaning "the conquering or victorious." Both Canis Major and Canis Minor help to tell the story of the coming conquering Redeemer.
The third sidereal sidepiece is Lepus. In the star chart it is depicted as a rabbit, but in the most ancient zodiacs, it was a snake. It is located just below Orion, the glorious prince who crushes the head of Lepus, the serpent. There is a star in Orion's raised foot called Rigel, meaning "the foot that crushes."
The brightest star in Lepus is Arneb, meaning "the enemy of him who comes." There is another star called Nihal, meaning "the mad" and another star Sulya, meaning "the deceiver." Yes, the major constellation Gemini, along with its sidereal sidepieces represents the coming Bridegroom as Prince of Peace, Savior, and Redeemer who will conquer the enemy trodden underfoot. He is coming to rapture the saints, thus keeping us from going through the Tribulation Period.
In Luke 21:25, Jesus said that the last days would be characterized by signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars. One day, our Savior will come to carry out those great prophecies found in the stars. When God created the heavens, He gave the stars certain names, the meanings of which tell the story of God's great plan of the ages. God gave this story to Adam and his offspring. According to Flavius Josephus, Seth, the son of Adam, invented that "peculiar science which deals with the heavenly bodies and their order."
The eleventh constellation is Cancer. It is depicted as a crab and denotes that which is born of water. This reminds us of New Testament Christianity whose symbol is that of a fish, for we have been born of water - a type of the Holy Spirit. The crab has an unusual feature. Periodically, it sheds its outer skin and comes forth with what appears to be new life. The symbol represents Resurrection of those New Testament saints, who are a part of the Rapture and accompany the translated living saints to heaven.
According to E. W. Bullinger, in his book, The Witness of the Stars, the sign of Cancer was represented in an ancient Egyptian Zodiac as a scarab beetle, but the implication was the same. In ancient Egypt, the scarab would crawl under a rock. Later, the beetle would break open the shell of its body and emerge as a beautiful winged creature to fly away. Again, the implication is that of Resurrection.
According to Kenneth C. Fleming, in his book God's Voice in the Stars the word Cancer comes from a root word meaning "to hold or encircle." For that reason, Fleming believes the constellation refers to an ancient eastern inn where the animals were kept for safety. In another ancient Zodiac the constellation was called Klaria, meaning "cattle-folds." If this is the meaning of Cancer, then it is a picture of heaven - where the Shepherd keeps His sheep! That is still in keeping with the overall concept of the Resurrection and Rapture.
There are several stars in Cancer. The brightest star is Tegmine, meaning "holding;" another star, Acubene, means "sheltering or hiding place;" Ma'Alaph means "assembled thousands;" Al Himarean means the "kids or lambs;" and a cluster of stars in the middle of the constellation, Praesepe, means "multitude." It is a beautiful view of that day when we shall be transported into heaven to stand before our Savior.
"In my Father's house are many mansions," said Jesus. "If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3). What a magnificent promise!
There are three sidereal sidepieces, which help to tell the story of Cancer. The first attending constellation is Ursa Minor, known today as the Little Dipper. Before the constellation became a dipper, it was referred to as a bear. However, the bear does not appear at all in the old Zodiacs of Chaldea, Persia, Egypt, or India. Long before the constellation became a bear, it was pictured as a sheepfold. It represents heaven, the place where the Great Shepherd keeps His sheep.
There are seven bright stars in Ursa Minor, but a total of 24, which make up the complete constellation. The seven stars remind us of the seven lamps of fire which burn before the throne of God, and the 24 stars remind us of the 24 elders in Revelation 4, which are seated around the throne of God.
The most significant star in Ursa Minor is Polaris. It is called the North Star, and we are reminded of Isaiah 14:13, which indicated that heaven was pictured in the "sides of the north." This does not mean that heaven revolves above the North Pole. It simply means that in the ancient constellations the north represented heaven, while the south represented hell.
The Greeks called Ursa Minor by the name Arcas, from which we get words like "arctic" in English. Arcas means bear, but the root meaning is "the stronghold of the saved."
There is a star in the constellation called Kochab, meaning "waiting for the coming;" another star, Alkaid, means "the assembled;" and yet another, Alpherkdain, means "the redeemed assembly."
Another sidereal sidepiece is Ursa Major, which, along with Ursa Minor, seems to tell the same story. Though it is depicted as the Big Dipper, it orginally referred to "the assembled flock." As in the case of Ursa Minor, there are also seven bright stars, which make up the constellation of Ursa Major. The brightest star is Dubeh, meaning "herd or flock;" Merach means "the flock purchased;" Phaeda means "visited, guarded, or numbered;" and Benet Naish means "the daughters of the assembly."
It is a magnificent view of the vast assembly of believers who are reserved in heaven today awaiting the resurrection. Both Ursa Major and Ursa Minor compliment the constellation Cancer by representing the great sheepfold in heaven where the Shepherd keeps redeemed believers.
The third sidereal sidepiece to Cancer is a ship called Argo. It was the celebrated ship of the Argonauts. According to Greek mythology, its captain, Jason, recovered the Golden Fleece from the serpent. To do so, of course, he had to fight both a dragon and a giant. From the ancient mythological story we can glean the true meaning of the "old ship Zion thus sailing along." I think it represents Heaven's "clouds" - possibly the celestial transportation vehicles for resurrected and translated saints. Jason could have been an ancient story of the Redeemer; the Golden Fleece is a symbol of eternal life; the dragon is symbolic of Satan; and the giant could represent the largest of all earthly wars - Armageddon.
Of the stars in the constellation, the brightest is Canopus, meaning "the possession of him who comes." Another star, Sephina, means "the multitude." They appear to represent the ship of our salvation. Such is the story to be found in the great constellation of Cancer.
Now we come to the end of the circle. We began with Virgo, the virgin, and we shall end with Leo, the lion. No one who has followed our study can doubt that we have here the solving of the riddle in the Sphinx, for its head is Virgo, and its body is Leo. In Leo we reach the end of the revelation as inspired in the Word of God.
The constellation is depicted as a great lion pouncing upon its prey. It is a magnificent view of the "Lion of the tribe of Judah," so beautifully described in Revelation 5:5. When our Savior came the first time, He came as the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). But when He comes the second time, He shall come as the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" to establish His kingdom upon the Earth.
Like the other major constellations, there are three sidereal sidepieces, which help to tell the story of Leo. The first is Hydra - the many-headed serpent. It is a huge constellation extending approximately one-third the distance around the circle of the heavens, reminding us that Satan's "tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven" (Rev. 12:4). Hydra means, "he is abhorred!" It is composed of 60 stars - a multiple of the number six. The idea with Hydra is that when one cuts off its head, two grow back in its place. He is the great red dragon known as Satan.
The second sidereal sidepiece is called Crater and is represented as a cup, bowl, or vial of God's wrath being poured out upon Hydra. I think it is significant that the constellation is made up of 13 stars, the number of "ill omen." It reminds us of the story in Revelation 15 and 16 where seven angels take up vials of wrath and pour them out upon the kingdom of the Antichrist.
Finally, the third sidereal sidepiece is Corvus. It is the view of a bird eating the flesh of Hydra. We are reminded of that day when the birds will come to eat the flesh of the slain on the battlefields of Armageddon.
Leo, the lion, is seen jumping on Hydra - ripping, tearing, and destroying him. Here is the conclusion of the whole matter. Here is the final triumph of the Son of God and the consummated victory of the "Seed" of the woman over the "seed" of the serpent.
So, there you have it. The constellations were named by our great Creator, and prepared to tell the story of redemption for fallen humanity. The message was given to Seth, the son of Adam. For 2,500 years, before the writing of Genesis, those early civilizations were able to study the message of God's love and redemption. That is the message of those mysterious signs in the heavens.