I often think that there is nothing new that can be said about the Bible and this may be true.
But when we come to a new personal understanding of Scripture it doesn’t matter if others have had that same insight before us. What matters is that we have discovered it for ourselves. And this is what happened to me during the course of today’s New Age to Christian Christmas Special Podcast.
Last week just before my interview with Leah Rachel I decided that I would do a Christmas podcast on the Star of Bethlehem. I announced the upcoming podcast without a second thought and then began to about the size of the topic.
Research was called for. So I dug into the Bible.
There was a lot of info on astrologers, divination and the stars. Most of this is mentioned in the podcast but I wanted to list the verses here. I also wanted to briefly discuss the insight I received because I’m not sure I explained it as well as I could have in the podcast.
Bible Verses on Astrology
Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. – Isaiah 47:13b-14 (NIV)
In this verse Isaiah is speaking for God. He is saying that the astrologers are unable to effectively warn or guide.
Daniel answered in the presence of the king, ‘The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayer cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the latter days.’ – Daniel 2:27-28 (NKJV)
Here Daniel correctly relates and interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream after the other wise men, including the astrologers, have failed.
The Bible on Divination
When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. – Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (NKJV)
Astrology is a form of divination because it attempts to predict future events and provide supernatural insight. It relies on omens in the sky. From my perspective the Bible’s stance on divination has nothing to do with denying the supernatural or God being mean. Instead it is concerned about the damage that information received from the spirit world ultimately (and inevitably) causes.
The Bible on the Stars
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, – Genesis 1:14-16 (NKJV)
The Bible does mention the stars and planets but they are utilized much like clock, calendar or GPS. They mark the seasons, aid in navigation and may have been used to mark large expanses of time (such as the processional cycle which is an astronomical event).
And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them… – Deuteronomy 4:19 (NKJV)
Although God encourages people to make use of the stars and planets, He expressly warns against worshipping them. While astrology doesn’t worship the planets, luminaries or stars it does exalt them by giving them supernatural significance.
Verses about Stars and Angels
They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. – Judges 5:20 (KJV)
This verse is often used to argue that astrology is utilized in the Bible. But were the stars that fought against Sisera actual stars?
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? – Job 38:4-7 (NIV)
In this verse the singing morning stars are probably supernatural beings as stars have been associated with the angels or the watchers since ancient times. Other example of stars being associate with angels can be found in Revelation 12:4 and Hebrews 12:22.
Battles in the heavenlies were not undheard of in the Bible as seen in 2 Kings 6:15-17.
And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:15-17
While, I don’t fully understand the biblical star-angel analogy I do think that it is the best explanation for the passages cited above. I feel quite sure in fact that the verse about Sisera has nothing to do with astrology and instead describes the kind of spiritual war shown to Elisha.
The Star of Bethlehem
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh… – Matthew 2:1-12
I believe that the wise men saw something in the western sky that prompted them to travel west to Judea. But I am not convinced that this something was a star. Because Matthew 2:9 simply does not describe the normal behavior of stars.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. – Matthew 2:9
Dictionary.com defines a miracle as an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. And I believe that the Star of Bethlehem was just that.
Was that miracle an angel?
I don’t know but my guess is yes.
Merry Christmas and All the Blessings of the Season!
To hear my Star of Bethlehem podcast please see the following post which does provide detail not included here: The Star of Bethlehem (Astrology in the Bible)