Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#36 - Does the bible condemn astrology?

Response by Dave Marr

The skeptic's discomfiture:

Yes, the Bible condemns astrology.
“Neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.” Deuteronomy 18:10-12
“There shall not be found among you any ... that useth divination, or an observer of times.... For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD.” Leviticus 19:26
“Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” Isaiah 47:13-14
“Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.” Jeremiah 10:2

No, the Bible approves of astrology.
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” Gen.1:14
“The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” Jg.5:20
“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.” Mt.2:1-2
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.” Lk.21:25

To begin in answering this question, I will give a definition of astrology, courtesy of World Book Encyclopedia:
“Astrology is the study of how the sun, moon, planets, and stars are supposedly related to life and events on the earth. It is based on the belief that the heavenly bodies form patterns that can reveal a person's character or future. ... The basic principle of astrology is that the heavenly bodies influence what happens on the earth. Astrologers learn about this influence by casting (drawing) a circular chart called a horoscope or birth chart. A horoscope shows the position of the planets in relation to both the earth and the stars at a certain time. In most cases, it shows the position of these bodies at the time of a person's birth. ... The system used by astrologers to cast a horoscope is based on a special view of the universe. This view involves four elements: (1) the earth, (2) the planets, (3) the zodiac, and (4) the houses.”
The Bible expressly condemns and prohibits astrology. The pseudo-science is a form of divination, and opens people up to the demonic realm directly.

The skeptic has a problem with the Genesis Creation account because it mentions “signs” in the same sentence as “lights in the firmament of heaven”. It is imperative to understand that “astrology” is not the same as “astronomy”. The latter is a bona fide, rational science. Here is another definition from World Book Encyclopedia, on Astronomy:
“Astronomy is the study of the stars, planets, and other objects that make up the universe. Astronomers observe the locations and motions of heavenly bodies. However, almost all astronomers are interested in more than just observing these objects. They also seek answers to such questions as "What are stars made of?" and "How do they create their light?" For this reason, most astronomers are also astrophysicists--that is, they study physical and chemical processes that occur in the universe.”
The Creation account is referring to astronomical principles.

The "observer of times" in the Deuteronomy and Leviticus is not just someone who notices the seasons, but someone who makes a practice of reading patterns in the constellation to gain insight into spiritual secrets. This type of fascination for the night sky can be observed in the term used by ancients: "heavens", for what we would call now "the sky" and "the universe".
Turning to the verse in Judges, it mentions “stars” which fought against Sisera. Undoubtedly, this designation is referring to angels. Angels are commonly known as the stars of heaven, and Jesus Christ is the “Morning Star”. An excerpt from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
“The phrase ‘the host of heaven’ is applied to stars, which were sometimes worshipped by idolatrous Jews (Jeremiah 33:22, 2 Kings 21:3, Zephaniah 1:5); the name is applied to the company of angels because of their countless numbers (compare Daniel 7:10) and their glory.”
In order to know what the angels did in the case of Sisera, let us back up a few verses to Judges 4:15:
"And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet."
Something put Sisera into an awful fright. It was almost certainly the angels with their swords, wreaking havoc on his army.

The star that the wise men witnessed in Matthew 2:1-2 is obviously one of God’s angels calling attention to the magnificent, supernatural event of Jesus’ birth. Perhaps it was the same Angel that guarded Israel in the wilderness after the Exodus. The curiosity of these men was ignited by the star’s unbelievable glow. The commentator Matthew Henry offers more suggestions:
“Some think this star put them in mind of Balaam’s prophecy that a star should come out of Jacob, pointing at a scepter that shall ‘rise out of Israel’, Numbers 24:17. Others impute their inquiry to the general expectation at that time, in those eastern parts, of some great prince to appear.”
The statement by Jesus in Luke 21:25 is taken out of context. Jesus is elucidating the events which will unfold in the End Times, which is the season of His second coming. The “signs” are referring to the “signs of the times”, as in: visible clues. Here is a quote from Revelation which illustrates what these signs pertaining to the heavenly bodies will be:
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Revelation 6:12-13
On a side note, the “stars” in this verse are very likely meteors.

To say that the passages in Genesis, Judges, Matthew, and Luke are referring to Astrology is the same as making an erroneous assumption such as: because I read my book, it implies that I worship my book. Despite the mention of celestial bodies at times in the Bible, God forbids all divination, which includes Astrology.