Is the Zodiac in Bible Prophecy?
By Jackie Alnor
In 1988-89 I assisted my late husband, William Alnor, in writing a book called Soothsayers of the Second Advent – subtitled, “A compelling expose of doomsday-dating, pin-the-tail-on-the-Antichrist, and other non-biblical games that Christians play.” We were grieved in our spirits at the plethora of prophecy teachers who were discrediting the study of Bible prophecy by extreme extra-biblical sensationalism and date-setting.
Well, as Solomon once penned, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” History is repeating itself even as we are even closer to the LORD’s return. Careless speculations about future events are on the increase in prophecy teaching circles which contribute to the rise of scoffers – even Christian ones – whose faith has been damaged by those who build up excitement for coming dates, only to end up in let-downs when time passes and all things remain as they were. I put the blame right on the soothsayers of the Second Advent whose work produces the mockers the Bible said would rise in the last days.
In 2015 the Jubilees, Blood Moons, the Shemitahs and all the Harbingers came to naught. The latest big non-event coming up on September 23, 2017 has built up hopes for the date of the rapture. Soothsayer Scottie Clark sees the “great sign” of Revelation 12 as the constellation Virgo that is said to converge with Leo the lion on that date. Much speculation has gotten people excited – those who probably never heard of Southwest Radio Church and their guests looking at the astrological sign of the “Water-Bearer” heralding the possible end-time events.
We’re told in the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy that there must not be anyone among us interpreting omens. Reading something into eclipses and movement of the constellations come under that category. This is not pleasing to the LORD.
So below is a chapter from our book that I pray will make people stop and think about promoting the coming date that just may be another discouragement to those setting their hearts on a supposed woman Virgo that doesn’t seem to give birth after all.
Good News According to the Zodiac
At the end of the turbulent 1960s, a new theme was emerging from the hippie movement. We all heard the message through a snappy popular song, “The Age of Aquarius,” by the popular band the Fifth Dimension.
The song signaled what astrologers and occultists had been talking about for a long time. The Age of Aquarius was coming – in 1982 the sun moved into the sixth constellation of the zodiac, called Aquarius. For a long time many considered this a key sign and perhaps a symbol of the stars guiding mankind to a new unity – maybe even a new world order.
Psychologist Carl Jung – himself an avid occult practitioner – looked forward to the Age of Aquarius. The Age of Pisces, the Christian era, would yield to Aquarius, the era of the Holy Spirit, he said. It would bring in a utopian age – a time of peace, understanding and love ruled over by the planet Uranus, which represents sudden changes, he added. Perhaps sparked by this widespread acceptance of the occult, the fastest growing modern religious movement in America – the New Age movement – kicked into high gear in 1982.
Make no mistake about it. Astrology and occultism are intertwined, as they always have been from ancient days. According to The Facts on Astrology, by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, “The very practice of astrology is a foundational occult art and . . . the practitioners [astrologers] open themselves up to becoming involved in other occult practices.” They point out that astrology is related to the occult in “four major ways”:
“First, astrology itself is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as an occult art. As such it employs occult practices such as divination. Divination may be defined as “the art of obtaining secret or illegitimate knowledge of the future by methods unsanctioned by and at variance with the holiness of God” and which involve contact with evil spirits. Secondly, astrology appears to work best when the astrologer himself is psychically sensitive, what most astrologers would term “intuitive.” Thirdly, prolonged use of astrology often leads to the development of psychic abilities. Fourthly, due to its history and very nature, astrology often becomes the introductory course to a wider spectrum of occult practices.”
Yet despite its direct connection with occultism, prominent soothsayers of the Second Advent teach astrology to the church, even declaring that by entering the Age of Aquarius, the stars may be signaling the great tribulation, followed by the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Combining the “message” of the stars and the testimony of the Bible, David Webber and Noah Hutchings of the Southwest Radio Church saw the coming of the Aquarian age as the end of the Dispensation of Grace and the beginning of the millennium.
Colin Deal also claimed astrology had something to do with Christ’s birth and now His return, which he said would happen “by 1988.” He relied upon 1976 and 1977 newspaper and magazine articles suggesting that the 1982 conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn and the 1986 reappearance of Halley’s comet were similar to astrological signs around 7 B.C., the approximate time of Christ’s birth. (Halley’s comet was thought to have appeared two years earlier, at 9 B.C.) One article stated: “As 1982 approaches, the planets will be moving into the sign of Aquarius. This sign is pictured as ‘The Water Bringer.’” It goes on to say that by combining the meanings of the names of three stars found in Aquarius, and with the water bringer meaning Jesus Christ, it means that Christ “left, but returned to pour out waters of blessings upon a people redeemed for the earth.”
To that Deal adds: “Yes . . . the signs of the heavens are declaring for the first time in 2,000 years that God’s Son is about to be revealed!” However, even if you use the meanings assigned to the stars by the proponents of “Christian astrology” or “glory in the stars” theory, the article Deal quoted is in error. The names of the three brightest stars in that constellation do not have any relevant meaning at all.
Webber and Hutchings, at the Southwest Radio Church, have laid out their “Christian astrology” theory in greater detail. In Apocalyptic Signs in the Heavens, they speculated on a conjunction of planets before Moses’ birth. Citing ancient historians, they supposed that Egyptian astrologers foresaw the prophet’s birth and that this led to the killing of the Israelite infants.
However, their speculations about the conjunction being a reason behind pharaoh’s killing the male children shoots wide of the biblical record. Exodus 1:6-22 states that because of a population explosion by the Israelites” . . . the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7), and the king of Egypt feared the Jews might become more numerous than the Egyptians and eventually “join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country” (Exodus 1:10). That is the only biblical record of his reasons for ordering the deaths of the children.
Later Webber and Hutchings suggested that Cyrus, the king of Persia, commissioned the Jews to rebuild their temple on the basis of astrological revelation. They favorably compared Zoroastrianism, the religion of Persia, to Judaism, because it taught that a messiah would come. They even saw the Persian religion as something that developed from the worship of God.
But to imply that Cyrus, king of Persia, was motivated by the heathen art of astrology to rebuild God’s temple comes close to blasphemy, especially when the Bible says that the Lord God Himself motivated the king, whom God called His anointed in Isaiah 45:1. Ezra chronicled it:
“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing . . . “The Lord, the God of heaven . . . has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem . . . “ — Ezra 1:1, 2
The same can be said for Webber and Hutching’s comparing Judaism to Zoroastrianism. Although some have compared a few of the sayings of Jesus to Zoroaster, the foundations of the two religions are diametrically different. “Most Christians believe in three Persons in the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” writes Marcus Bach in his book, Major Religions of the World. “Zoroastrians, however, believe there are seven persons in the Godhead.”
The Southwest Radio Church duo also took Deal’s thoughts on Christ’s birth occurring during the conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter a step further. Quoting The Gospel in the Stars, by Joseph A. Seiss – which is one of the leading Christian astrology books – they claim that Jupiter and Saturn conjuncted three times during the year of Christ’s birth. Webber and Hutchings then suggested the three conjunctions mean the three Persons of the Godhead.
The astrological signs have continued to this century, they wrote. They stated that in 1917, along with the signing of the Balfour Declaration, which recognized the land of Palestine as the national homeland of the Jews, “there were four total eclipses of the sun, and three eclipses of the moon.” In 1918, when the World Zionist Organization endorsed the document, “a new star appeared in the heavens . . . it shone brightly for 40 days. Forty is the Jewish number of testing.”
Seeing Redemption in the Stars
What is the theory behind “glory in the stars” theology? According to Albert Dager, a Christian who runs the Washington-state-based Media Spotlight, it’s the belief that “the Zodiac was originally designed by God as a witness of His plan of redemption, and was later corrupted to occult science into an instrument of divination (the predicting of the future and/or the determining of personality traits based on the positions of the heavenly bodies).”
Colin Deal, J. R. Church, David Webber, Noah Hutchings and other like-minded prophecy teachers all cite the work of E. W. Bullinger (1837-1913). Bullinger, an Anglican clergyman and descendant of Swiss Reformer J. Heinrich Bullinger, partly edited The Companion Bible. He was also one of the most controversial theologians in recent centuries, because he taught a type of Christian astrology, numerology, and pyramidology.
Dager and others knowledgeable about this starry theology say the earliest traceable work in the field was done by Florence Rolleston of Keswick, England. She devoted over fifty years of her life to “the compilation of a massive series of notes which was published under the title Mazzaroth – The Constellations in 1863, when she was in her 80s,” writes William D. Banks, a proponent of “Christian astrology.” In 1884 her concepts, which included the listings of ancient astronomical facts, significance, and the names of a hundred or more stars, gained more acceptance with the release of The Gospel in the Stars, by Joseph A. Seiss. But Bullinger’s book, The Witness of the Stars, which came out in 1893, took Miss Rolleston’s theories even further, because he stated that for the stars’ “interpretation I am alone responsible.”
From there Bullinger incorporated astrology into other areas of his theology. In The Companion Bible, partly edited by Bullinger, he stated that the words of Scripture parallel the words written in the heavens and preserved by the zodiac. Bullinger also added that all the verbs in the second half of Psalm 19 are of an astronomical nature. In a work often cited by today’s prophecy teachers, Numbers in Scripture, Bullinger fused Bible numerology with the zodiac.
But Dager said all theories such as Bullinger’s are based on “conjecture. In so doing they have – with all good intention, I’m sure, melded God’s truth with pagan myth, traceable no further back than Babylon.” There is simply no record existing that God originally created the zodiac signs as Christian symbols, which were later perverted by the occult and modern astrologers, to reveal His eternal plan. Writes Dager:
“Though Bullinger’s theory is brilliantly stated, pointing out the Scripture’s references to certain of the stars and constellations by their astrological names, the basis for his argument is found wanting. Wrote Bullinger, “After the Revelation came to be written down in the Scriptures, there was not the same need for the preservation of the Heavenly Volume. And after the nations had lost the original meaning of the pictures, they invented a meaning out of the vain imagination of the thoughts of their hearts.” . . . [But] the fact is that the pagan interpretations of the Zodiac are the only ones of which any legitimate records exist, and they predate the Gospels by at least two thousand years.”
Bullinger also claimed to have found scriptural justification for his “glory in the stars” theory. He claimed Paul was referring to the zodiac in Romans 1:19-20: “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” He also used Romans 10:18, which “is similar to Psalm 19:1-6 which refers to the heavens declaring the glory of God.” Wrote Dager.
Bullinger also misapplied Scriptures dealing with the tower of Babel, in an apparent attempt to refute traditional charges that God scattered humanity so they couldn’t complete the tower. Some commentaries have taught that the tower was an astrological attempt to reach into the heavens for more occult meanings. Bullinger, ignoring the biblical record, said that the sin was not in building the tower; it was in failing to disperse over the earth.
As their theological father Bullinger did, today’s soothsayers of the Second Advent distort the Scriptures to make them appear to affirm a type of astrology.
Colin Deal inserted “inscribe as a writer” in the middle of Psalm 19:1,2 to imply it was talking about astrology: “What, then, was the true meaning of (the verse) . . . ‘the heavens declare (inscribe as a writer) the glory of God . . .’?” He also quotes Job 38:32, “Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons . . . ?” and Genesis 1:14, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,’” as proof of the astrological principle.
Deal also says that Jesus claimed there would be astrological signs that would precede His Second Coming. His proof text? Luke 21:25: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars . . . “ But Deal – and Webber and Hutchings, who used the same verse — conveniently failed to mention that in parallel texts in both Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24, 25, Jesus explained what he meant. He said that after incredible distress on the earth, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Even more telling, Deal does not mention the same description of the signs of the end of time mentioned in Isaiah 13:10; 34:4; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10, 31; Zephaniah 1:15; and Revelation 6:12, 13; 8:12.
Using Psalm 19 to justify astrology is out of line; the meaning is clear. Every time we go out on a quiet, clear, and dark night in the countryside and look up, it is obvious that the “heavens declare the glory of God.” What a breathtaking sight, particularly when one is reminded that God made all the stars! Genesis 1:14 as proof for astrology is no better; it simply states that God made the stars and sun. Through them we could know the seasons, days and years.
Webber and Hutchings also use Psalm 19:1, 2 and Job 38 to justify their brand of astrology. But they go further, much, much further. They claim – without documenting it – that “Job and the Psalms spoke of them [the stars] as authentic outlines of God’s revelation.” They also suggest that Jesus was referring to astrology affirming His arrival in Matthew 16:3. “ . . . You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” It is interesting, again, to note that Webber and Hutchings ignored the first part of the verse and the preceding one in which Jesus tells us that the appearance of the sky has to do with the “weather,” not with the stars.
Confusion in the Stars?
Of course all the while Webber, Hutchings, and Deal practice their brand of heavenly astrology, they denounce other forms of the practice. Deal said: “Demonic astrology, found abundantly in newspapers and magazines, is strictly forbidden in God’s word (Isaiah 47:12-14).” Southwest has consistently condemned known psychics such as Jeane Dixon, because they rely on astrology.
It’s interesting that in 1978 Webber and Hutchings quoted Nostradamus, a sixteenth-century “prophet,” positively to imply that our present pope, John Paul II, would be history’s last one. (Nostradamus allegedly saw the end of the world around the year 2000). But two years later Southwest’s the Gospel Truth ran an anonymous article condemning Nostradamus’s prophecies, because they learned “he used astrology to prophesy, which God condemns.” The article didn’t mention that Nostradamus practiced other forms of the occult (including out-of-body trances) and was persecuted by French and church officials for doing so.
Quoting Dixon favorably was Edgar Whisenant. In reason 65 in his 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, he wrote that Dixon – “today’s famous psychic” – foresaw the birth of a future world leader on February 5, 1962. In reason 66 Whisenant said that this leader born on that date is “our Antichrist of the end-time.” And Whisenant isn’t the only prophecy teacher proclaiming that. R. Henry Hall of Las Vegas believes it, along with a ministry in Cleburne, Texas, called “The Eschatology Hour,” which produced an audiotape on the subject.
What Do These Revelations Mean?
As Ankerberg and Weldon point out, “Just as oil and water do not mix, the Bible and astrology are utterly irreconcilable. . . . As both a philosophy and practice, astrology rejects the truth concerning the living God and instead leads people to dead objects, the stars and planets.”
Therefore, today’s prophecy teachers ought to stop all speculation about the meaning of stars and stop looking for conjunctions and objects in space to tell us about future events such as the great tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ. Astrology is a weapon in the arsenal of Satan, one he tries to use against the church in these last days. There is simply no evidence to suggest that in ancient times God revealed Himself and His plan in the zodiac. Moreover I see little difference between astrology columns in the daily newspaper and astrological speculations that predict end-time events.
Besides, through His Son, Jesus, we have all we need to know about the Second Advent. Hebrews 1:2 states: “ . . . in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (including the stars).
Second, prophecy teachers – or any Christian – who justifies the use of any form of astrology, should stop ignoring the heavy weight of Scripture that condemns the practice in any form and stop taking God’s Word out of context in an attempt to affirm it. I would admonish the prophecy teachers mentioned in this chapter to reread the Scripture verses (“the whole counsel of God”) concerning astrology. God says the counsel of astrologers is worthless, and it won’t even save the astrologers (see Deuteronomy 4:19, 17:1-5; 18:9-11; 2 Kings 17:16, 17; 23:5; Jeremiah 8:2; 19:13; Ezekiel 8:16; Amos 5:26, 27; see also Isaiah 47:13, 14, already referred to by Deal).
As Ankerberg and Weldon point out: “The Bible teaches that astrology is not only a futile (worthless) activity, but an activity so bad that its very presence indicates God’s judgment has already occurred (Acts 7:42-43).” It is also occult, and as we’ll soon see, it has led to some prophecy teachers’ embracing other occult practices such as pyramidology and numerology.