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Is Astrology for Christians?
“WE ARE having an astrological renaissance,” recently said a leading American astrologer, “and the center of the renaissance is in the United States, where some of the world’s best astrologers live and work. America has become the Babylon of the 20th Century.”
But America is just one of many lands that teem with people who run their lives by the stars, using astrology as a means to predict their future and to guide their lives even in the most minute matters. In some countries, such as Thailand, before a person does almost anything he consults his horoscope—the map of the heavens at one’s given hour of birth, showing the planetary positions with regard to the twelve signs of the zodiac. Indeed, in Thailand there is no religion or science considered to be more important than astrology. And in India the best-sellers are the astrological almanacs. Hindu weddings are even set by the stars and planets, and it is not unusual in a town with a population of 10,000 people to have a hundred weddings in a day.
What is remarkable, however, is not that lands such as Burma, Thailand and India are hotbeds of astrology; for they have long been such. What is significant is that Christendom, which professes to be guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ, is itself a hotbed of astrology. Britain, France and Germany are among the professedly Christian lands having thriving schools of astrology. Great numbers of newspapers in Christendom have “Horoscope” columns. In the United States alone the number of syndicated astrological columns has increased from 158 to about 1,000, with the newspaper circulation being about 40,000,000. It is surprising how many Christians take a look at these “Horoscope” columns and how many religiously govern their lives by the stars.
Explaining why a leading astrologer called America a modern-day Babylon, Life magazine, in its issue of February 22, 1960, said: “For several years now the U.S., to the horror of many rational people, has been caught up in the biggest astrological callithump since Belshazzar saw the handwriting on the wall. Since World War II the number of working U.S. astrologers has swelled to more than 5,000 and the number of star-struck customers has multiplied from about three million to more than 10 million—perhaps a full million of them hard-core cultists who religiously run their daily lives on celestial schedule.”
From Wall Street to Hollywood, multitudes of people are consulting their favorite astrologer, paying fees even as high as $100 for a horoscope so that they can arrange ventures, voyages, marriage, business projects, etc., when the planetary chart is set fair. Many of the biggest brokers are said to pay big sums for astrological advice. And in Hollywood the astrologers have found a gold mine—a wealth of wealthy clients. “The religion of the stars is the stars’ religion,” said Time magazine of February 22, 1960, “and astrology in Hollywood is competing with the psychoanalyst’s couch.”
Telling of Carroll Righter, one of Hollywood’s busiest astrologers, Time said: “Righter has just about as much influence in Hollywood as a leading astrologer has in Thailand, where no top politician makes a move until the heavens are right. Dozens of stars will make no move (or movie) without calling Righter. . . . Righter does not have all the big-name clients; Marilyn Monroe, Clifford Odets, and Susan Strasberg, for instance, seek their zodiacal advice elsewhere.” Explaining how Righter got into the astrology business, Time adds: “Reading about the zodiac, he soon saw that although Broadway plays were being scheduled by astrological advice, and Wall Street might be half paralyzed without readings from the stars, Hollywood could be El Dorado as a place to cast horoscopes.” Seeing astrology flourish within Christendom, what is the Christian to think? Is astrology something for Christians? What does the Holy Bible say about astrology?
ASTROLOGY’S PAGAN ORIGIN
Not among the worshipers of the true God, Jehovah, did astrology originate but rather among the pagan worshipers of ancient Babylon. God’s prophet Isaiah wrote of Babylon’s “worshipers of the heavens, the lookers at the stars, those giving out knowledge at the new moons concerning the things that will come.” From Babylon’s earliest days, from its youth, the prophet showed, it had toiled with sorceries and astrological predictions. (Isa. 47:12, 13) The government of Babylon, as well as people’s personal affairs, was largely directed by the “lookers at the stars,” the astrologers. They divided the heavens into certain mansions, with a view to tracing the course of planets through each of them, in the hope of being able to tell fortunes and predict future events; thus in Babylon originated the idea of the zodiac with its signs.
Archaeological discoveries confirm the Bible as to how thoroughly Babylon was steeped in astrology. We read in The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon in the British Museum: “The astrologer or the prophet who could foretell fair things for the nation, or disaster and calamities for their enemies, was a man whose words were regarded with reverence and awe. . . . The soothsayer was as much a politician as the statesman, and he was not slow in using the indications of political changes to point the moral of his astrological observations. . . . Nothing was too great or too small to become the subject of an astrological forecast.”
From Babylon astrology spread throughout the earth. Ancient Egypt went in for it in a big way, and by the sixth century B.C. astrology was deeply rooted among the Greeks. Ancient Rome was a thriving metropolis for astrology. Tacitus, the historian, wrote: “Certainly the majority of mankind cannot be weaned from the opinion that at the birth of each man his future destiny is fixed.” Under the emperors Tiberius and Nero two astrologers named Thrasyllus held high political positions. “The lower the Romans sank in religion and morals,” says The Catholic Encyclopedia, “the more astrology became entwined with all action and belief.”
DISASTER FOR ITS MOST ARDENT DEVOTEES
Besides astrology’s pagan origin, the Bible reveals this illuminating fact: Astrology has proved disastrous for those who relied on it the most. A noteworthy example is Babylon itself. Could its astrologers save Babylon from destruction? Nearly two hundred years before Babylon’s fall, Jehovah God caused his prophet Isaiah to foretell Babylon’s doom and that its teeming astrologers would not even be able to save themselves, much less the empire. Declared Jehovah’s prophet:
“Stand still, now, with your spells and with the abundance of your sorceries, in which you have toiled from your youth, that perhaps you might be able to benefit, that perhaps you might strike people with awe. You have grown weary with the multitude of your counselors. Let them stand up, now, and save you, the worshipers of the heavens, the lookers at the stars, those giving out knowledge at the new moons concerning the things that will come upon you. Look! They have become like stubble. A fire itself will certainly burn them up. They will not deliver their soul from the power of the flame. There will be no glow of charcoals for people to warm themselves, no firelight in front of which to sit down. Thus they will certainly become to you.”—Isa. 47:12-15.
What a weariness to Babylon were its multitude of astrologers, the prophet showed. How utterly useless they were, being unable to save Babylon from the disaster ahead! No glowing charcoals for warming would those astrologers be, “no firelight in front of which to sit down”!
The uselessness of Babylon’s astrologers stood out in bold relief in the days of Daniel the prophet. The king of Babylon dreamed a dream and none of Babylon’s magicians or astrologers could make it known or interpret it. But Daniel made known to the king the dream along with its interpretation: “Daniel answered the king, saying, ‘No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers are able to tell the king the secret which the king has asked; but there is a God in the heavens who reveals secrets, and he makes known to King Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the end of the days.’”—Dan. 2:27, 28, AT.
Even when Babylon was face to face with disaster, its astrologers proved worthless. Could the astrologers read the handwriting on the wall of King Belshazzar’s palace? Says the Bible: “The king called aloud for the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers to be brought in . . . But when all the king’s wise men came in, they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation of it.” Daniel made known the writing to the king and its interpretation: “God has numbered your kingdom, and brought it to an end.” “That night Belshazzar, the king of Chaldea, was slain.” (Dan. 5:7, 8, 26, 30, AT) The astrologers failed to save the king, the kingdom or even themselves! Here, then, we see astrology convicted of ignorance and impotence in the very place where it originated and where it was most in practice—and on an occasion when it was certainly in the astrologers’ interest to display their whole power!
It is no different in modern times; those who rely on astrology as their guide will come to disaster. Could astrology save Nazi Germany? H. R. Trevor-Roper, the officer appointed by the British Intelligence Bureau to investigate the last days of Hitler, wrote in The Last Days of Hitler: “According to Schellenberg, ‘Himmler seldom took any steps without first consulting his horoscope’. . . . Hitler liked magic as he liked astrology. . . . To us it seems incredible that in these last days of the Third Reich its leaders should have thought that the stars, or a stroke of subtlety, could save them. . . . Nor was it only the Nazis who relied on the stars to preserve the Third Reich: the opposition [within Germany] also relied on them to overthrow the Nazis. . . . It is a pity that the science of astrology should have failed all its devotees.”
CONDEMNED BY GOD
God’s Word and the principles found therein condemn astrology. Did God allow his people to consult professional foretellers of events? We read: “There should not be found in you anyone . . . who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead. For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.”—Deut. 18:10-12.
Why is God opposed to the foretelling of events by methods such as astrology? Because the one relying on it is not trusting in God or being guided by his inspired Word, of which the psalmist said: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” (Ps. 119:105) Hence the astrology-guided person walks in darkness and plays into the hands of the Devil and his demons, who are responsible for “lying divination” and “lying signs and wonders.” (Ezek. 13:6, AS; 2 Thess. 2:9) God’s Word foretold that in these “last days” men would turn to demonic teachings for guidance rather than the Bible: “The inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.”—1 Tim. 4:1.
When the Devil plotted to destroy the babe Jesus in the days of Herod the Great, whom did he use? Astrologers! Yes, the so-called wise men from the East were astrologers. Says the Bible: “Astrologers from eastern parts came to Jerusalem, saying: ‘Where is the one born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when we were in the east and we have come to do him obeisance.’ Then Herod secretly summoned the astrologers and carefully ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearing, and, when sending them to Bethlehem, he said: ‘Go make a careful search for the young child, and when you have found it report back to me.’” “The star they had seen when they were in the east went ahead of them, until it came to a stop above where the young child was.”—Matt. 2:1, 2, 7-9.
This star phenomenon that guided the astrologers was not from God. The astrologers were tools of Herod, who was determined to murder the newborn babe; so he asked the astrologers to report back to him. How was Jesus saved from the murder plot? God intervened and gave the astrologers divine warning not to return to Herod. (Matt. 2:12) The star was of demon origin, it being a light used by the Devil to guide astrologers in his scheme to locate Jesus for destruction by Herod.
Astrology is not of God. It is of pagan origin; it has failed those who relied on it the most; it is condemned by God, and those who are guided by it are playing into the hands of demons. Christians shun all demon influence, not even dabbling with horoscopes out of curiosity. “Can a man rake together fire into his bosom and yet his very garments not be burned?” (Prov. 6:27) Astrology is not for Christians; the Bible is their guide.