Astrology — Are There Any Godly Uses?

Question from a Site Viewer
Tim, what is your testimony? And how are you living out your faith today, with the exception of your awesome web-based ministry at truthsaves.org?

Another question. Do you think there are any godly uses of astrology? I have this Christian friend that is quite into it to the point that he feels that he can have someone figured out on the basis of whether or not they are a Capricorn or a Scorpio, etc. For example, if he knows someone that is a Capricorn, and they do something that is very “Capricornish”, he’ll say that it is so because that person is a Capricorn. To go more deeply, he believes that astronomy has a lot to do with how a person is going to turn out in terms of character and personality. What do you think about this? What is the biblical support for this? Is this something I should confront him about?

Tim’s Answer
You can read the short version of my testimony here.

As for living out my faith, I try to follow the admonition of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12. I often have people staying with me in my house and have long tried to help the less fortunate, including those bound up in the bondage of drugs of damaging lifestyles. I host a Bible study on Wednesdays every week and rotate hosting a second Bible study on Friday nights. I teach in both studies. I am part of the teaching core for adult education at the church I attend. And I work full-time in a secular job so that I might have the ability to help others as well.

As to your question on astrology, there is no passage in the New Testament that directly mentions astrology. As for the Old Testament, in many translations, Hebrew and Aramaic words in the book of Daniel are translated as “astrologers” (Daniel 1:20; 2:10, 27; 4:7; 5:7, 11, 15); however, the words being translated may have a more general meaning of conjurer or enchanter. It is not evident to me that astrologers are in mind in these passages, although perhaps they are. I note that over time the Aramaic word used in Daniel 2, 4, and 5 began to represent astrology. It is possible that at Daniel’s time, it also had this meaning. I simply have not seen any strong evidence of this.

Again, in the Deuteronomy passage that generally forbids Israel from taking on the abominations of fortune tellers, the list of words does not expressly include a word known to refer to astrologers (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). There is a clear warning not to listen to soothsayers and diviners.

The one Biblical passage that seems most directly to address astrology is Isaiah 47:13. There, those who are astrologers (literally those who divine the heavens to give counsel), those who are stargazers (literally those who are seers of the stars or those who gain wisdom from the stars), and those who are monthly prognosticators (literally those who gain knowledge from the lunar cycle) are said to be as stubble to be burned. These are all linked to enchanters and sorcerers (see Isaiah 47:12). We know from Scripture that when something is linked to enchanters and sorcerers, it is not positive from God’s point of view. Earlier, in Isaiah, the LORD makes the statement that a people should seek their God, and not mediums and wizards (Isaiah 8:19).

Scripture speaks often about the stars and mentions some of the constellations by name. Scripture does not support a position that the constellations influence the lives of people on earth. The stars and constellations were given for signs for the times and seasons; that is, they mark the seasons of the year and the passage of time. Scripture does not support the use of astrology.

Thus, I think it is safe to conclude that Jesus does not call us to astrology. The only clear statement about astrology in Scripture is quite negative.

My advice would be to encourage your friend to turn the focus from astrology to Christ. Help him to see that he should be viewing people from Christ’s perspective, not from astrology’s perspective. And the love of his life should be Jesus, not astrology. Astrology ultimately cannot save; its predictive power is empty (there have been no scientific studies showing that astrology is able to predict matters with any statistical significance); and it takes time and focus away from Jesus.

I hope this helps.

a pilgrim,

tim

2 thoughts on “Astrology — Are There Any Godly Uses?

  1. Elizabeth

    Hi! I appreciate the depth with which you guys engage ideas on this site. I just stumbled on this article though and wanted to ask – weren’t the wise men of the nativity story probably astrologers? Does that have any impact on how we read that story? Curious as to your thoughts as you guys seem very well-read! Maybe God can use and work through people who believe differently than we do even if that kind of belief isn’t promoted in scripture.

    Reply
    1. truthsaves Post author

      Thanks for your question. Scriptures never refer to the magi as astrologers. Notwithstanding what one may find on Wikipedia or other sites, the Oxford standard for Classical Greek in New Testament times (Liddell and Scott) gives three meanings for the word: 1) of the Median tribe, 2) of a priestly class, or 3) associated with magic. There is a linkage to astrology in ancient sources, but the astrology of ancient Persia included astronomy, the scientific study of the stars, rather than the pure astrology we often think of today. Further, we must always be careful not to take a subset of a term and make it the entire term. While with certainty we can say that some magi were astrologers, we cannot with certainty say that every magi was an astrologer. Some sites link magi to Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion. There were magi in Zoroastrianism, but again this does not mean that all magi by the time of Christ were Persians or Zoroastrianism followers. It is a little like saying that because one is an American, one must be a Christian, which would not be a true statement. Philo, a Jew from Alexandria Egypt, who lived from 20 B.C. to 50 A.D., about the time of Christ, references the magi as those who studied “the books of nature with a more acute and distinct perception than usual,” which he termed a “science of discernment” (Philo, The Special Laws, III, Paragraph 18). My basic rule in interpreting Scripture is not to go beyond what the text tells us. Our curious minds would always like more information, but God has given to us what is necessary for life and godliness. Because the point of Matthew’s account is that the magi came and worshipped Christ, and Scripture does not otherwise tell us who the magi were or what their occupation was, such points were not critical to convey what Matthew intended to convey. If the point of communication is to transfer ideas between people, then I would conclude that such information is not critical for our understanding of Matthew 2, and we should be careful not to read something into the text that would convey something Matthew did not intend.

      Nevertheless, your point is well taken that God can use and work through people of other belief systems. He goes so far as calling Cyrus, a Persian king, “His anointed” (Isaiah 45:1). He demonstrates loving one’s neighbor by highlighting a Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). God can and does use and work through people with other beliefs. However, we should not equate God’s use of a person with God’s salvation of that person. Balaam was used but is not presented in a positive light in Scripture. Pharaoh was used by God but not likely saved. Scripture is clear that salvation comes only through trust in Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18 14:6; Acts 4:12). This is part of the imperative Christ gave to us to share the good news of His salvation to people.

      Reply

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