“For signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years . . .” This is the purpose of the stars according to Genesis 1:14.
Most of us have some exposure to astrology, the art of making predictions and gaining insight based on the patterns of the stars. For most of us, it’s barely more than a joke, a place mat to entertain us while waiting in an oriental restaurant, something to read in the daily paper (horoscope) when the news itself is too depressing, a diversion to fill idol moments.
Of course, there are those who take it much more seriously, even today. And in the ancient world, just about everyone took astrology seriously.
Astrology and Christian Faith
Some Christian circles condemn astrology as an occult practice. Indulging in it, in any form, even in the daily horoscope, will allow demons a window into your soul.
There is truth in this fear. Anything that would replace God in our lives, anything that becomes a dependence, or that we allow to guide our actions or decisions, is dangerous.
We’re all looking for a clear path, for a guiding set of sure answers. Because of this, even if we’re just reading the horoscope “for fun,” the idea that it might provide some insight, and somehow improve our lives, is alluring, and potentially addictive. Fortune tellers, now and always, prey on the hurting and the weak. Trusting in fortune tellers is a good way to lose your money, your livelihood, and even your home.
On the other hand, however, it was their study of the stars which lead a group of pagan astrologers, commonly known as the Wisemen, to baby Jesus in Bethlehem (Matthew 2).
God’s Guide Posts
The bible makes very clear that God does in fact speak to us through nature, whether through a direct sign, like for the Wisemen, or simply through the awe and wonder that nature inspires in the Psalmist (Ps 19, 50, 97).
Moreover, in a simple way, the stars really do predict the future: They tell us when it is time to plant, and when it is time to harvest, when it is time to seek shelter for the winter, and when it is okay to come out again.
Our calendar is essentially a work of astrology. Okay, so we would probably call it astronomy today . . . But still.
The stars, the sun, and the moon “move” across the night sky in set patterns. This predictability allowed the first farmers to develop the calendars that made farming itself possible. Farming made civilization possible.
It is no wonder that ancient people’s worshiped the calendar, and came to believe the stars could predict other parts of life too. This unchanging pattern, the cycle of “seasons, days, and years” as it moved across the night sky was just about the only dependable thing in the chaotic world of primitive humanity. The sun always rose, the moon always moved from full to gone to full again, stars always came and went according to their time of year.
The meaning of the Stars: To Guide and Order
Remember that in Genesis 1, God is the God of order in face of chaos.
God brings stability and predictability into human lives. God inspires us to make calendars, to plan our days, so that we can use each moment to its full potential (by the way, this includes planning in times to rest). Here, in Genesis 1:14, God works this order, this need for structure, into the fabric of the universe itself, and uses the patterns of nature to communicate with human beings.
Take a look at your calendar today. Is God at the center of it? Is God even on the list? Have you ever thought of time management as an act of worship? Take a few moments today to think about how your calendar reflects your faith, and feel free to share any insights in the comments below.
Missed the last verse? Catch up with Understanding Genesis 1:13.