The Ancient Biblical Teaching of the Ages Part 4
Part 4 – The Heavens Declare: The Bibles’ Hidden Cosmology
I mentioned that studying the Ages led to two Biblical mysteries – what the terms “Age”, “End of the Age”, and “Age-enduring” actually mean in the original languages, and what the symbolic meaning of the zodiac (which features prominently in scripture) actually is. By living in a very different world-view, our eyes tend to be closed to these picture-symbols in scripture.
Genesis 1:14 – Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them serve as signs, and mark the seasons, days, and years”.
The purpose of the sun and moon and stars is given as being a calendar – to mark days and years, (that’s what the sun and moon do) and to be for “signs” and to mark “seasons” – the seasons, (presuming they are the four seasons), are marked by the sun in the solstices and equinoxes, but also by the constellations in the sky and which “house” the sun is currently in, for they not only mark seasons but they also serve as “signs”. “For there shall be signs in the heavens above, and wonders on the earth below” (Acts 2:19-20).
As “signs”, as picture-symbols, the constellations contain a message – a message not in regular language or speech, but in the language of symbols:
They contain a message-
Psalm 19:1-4 – The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.
Their message is the gospel –
Paul quotes the above verse about the message of the stars, and says they have proclaimed the “gospel” in their message:-
Romans 10:17-18 – So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Gospel about Christ. But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have: “their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”
Their message marks time periods –
Genesis 1:14 – Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them serve as signs, and mark the seasons, days, and years”.
Here is, very basically, how it works: the moon revolves around the earth, the earth itself rotates, and it also revolves around the sun; but further out in deep space, are the stars which make up the constellations, and in particular, the 12 “houses” of the zodiac. They (appear) to also rotate around the earth, but at a much slower speed, due to their immense distance from us, (actually, they don’t really rotate, its the earth that rotates, but from our vantage point on earth, the constellations appear to rotate and they appear to be clustered in particular groups). As they (appear to) rotate, the sun (appears to) pass through each of the twelve “houses” or “gates”. The sun is in one house or constellation for approximately 2160 years (give or take a few decades) and the entire 12 houses are passed through in one period of about 25,920 years. This was known as the Great Year in the ancient world – the regular year having 12 months, the Great Year having 12 Ages. This is known as the “precession of the equinoxes” in astronomy. Each of these 12 constellations mark a particular period of time – an “Age”. Most ancient cultures had Ages as part of their calendar – Plato used it, the Hindu Yugas are their Ages, even the Mayan calendar showed the “end of an Age” in 2012 (which was popularly, but incorrectly, proclaimed to be “the end of the world” – there we go, misunderstanding Ages again). Perhaps this is a good place to point out that I am not talking about horoscopes or fortune telling, (that is what the Babylonians did with the constellations), but rather, the constellations serve two main purposes – to mark seasons and to be signs – to mark out time periods (Ages) and to tell a message (the gospel or good news). Click here for a brief 1 minute video of how that works
Here is the message they tell, which Paul said was the “gospel”: (I will take some space to describe Virgo, and how it relates to scripture, but then only give a brief description of the rest – you will get the basic idea from the Virgo description)
Virgo – a virgin shall give birth to a son. Even though the zodiac is a repeating cycle, we know that Virgo is the place to start because in the Egyptian temple at Dendera we see a painting of the circle of the zodiac, but it is broken by the sphinx (a “living being” like we see in Scripture) whose female face is pointing towards Virgo, and whose lion body is pointing towards Leo – so the circle starts with Virgo and ends with Leo, (its worth remembering that Moses was “schooled in all the wisdom of Egypt” – Acts 7:22 ). In Revelation 12 we see an interesting “sign in the heavens” –
- Then a great and mysterious sight appeared in the sky. There was a woman, whose dress was the sun and who had the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was soon to give birth, and the pains and suffering of childbirth made her cry out. Another mysterious sight appeared in the sky. There was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and a crown on each of his heads. With his tail he dragged a third of the stars out of the sky and threw them down to the earth. He stood in front of the woman, in order to eat her child as soon as it was born. Then she gave birth to a son, who will rule over all nations with an iron rod. But the child was snatched away and taken to God and his throne.
It is very interesting to note that this account in Revelation, as well as being an allegory, actually, literally, happened in the constellation of Virgo! The “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of 12 stars on her head” is quite clearly Virgo, but who does Virgo identify and signify? When we go back into the Old Testament, we see Joseph’s dream of “the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down” to him (he himself, obviously being the 12th star). The meaning of the dream is clear, as his father says to him, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” (Gen 37:10). These people are the “patriarchs” of the future nation of Israel, each of the 12 sons being the founder of one of the 12 tribes of Israel – and they are symbolized as 12 stars (with the father & mother being the sun and moon). Using Old Testament symbolism, this woman is Israel! Or rather, she is a virgin mother from Israel – “the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)”. (Isaiah 7:14).
We don’t know exact dates for Jesus conception and birth, but we know the general time period, and at that time, in the constellation of Virgo, the sun entered her “house” – Virgo literally became “pregnant” with the sun, and the moon was below her feet. Her young male child (Jesus) was threatened by “the dragon” working through one of its “heads” (head of state – Herod in this case) and had to flee. The son eventually “ascends” back to God in the image. Just before Jesus ascension was his death and resurrection – and at the cross, there was an eclipse when “the sun was eclipsed” (Like 23:45). We know from astronomy that an eclipse of the sun took place then, producing a “blood moon” (“signs in the heavens above and wonders on the earth below, blood (of Jesus on the cross) fire (of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) and billows of smoke (at the destruction of Jerusalem), the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood red ..” (Acts 2:17-19). That blood moon eclipse took place once again in the constellation of Virgo, or to put that another way, when the bloody, dead body of Jesus was being taken down from the cross and laid at the feet of his mother Mary on earth, in the sky there was a blood moon lying at the feet of Virgo. (see this video here for more fascinating information on that)
Then the constellations go on – here is a very brief description of their message. Im sure you can think of scripture passages that go along with each point:
1. Virgo The virgin holding a branch and an ear of corn; the promised seed of the woman.
2. Libra The scales; the price deficient balanced by the price that covers.
3. Scorpio The scorpion; the attack of the enemy; the redeemers conflict.
4. Sagittarius The archer; the gracious one; the redeemers triumph.
5. Capricornus The sea goat; the goat of atonement slain for the redeemed.
6. Aquarius The water bearer; the living waters of blessing poured forth for the redeemed.
7. Pisces The fishes; the multitudes who will follow; the blessings of the redeemed.
8. Aries The ram or lamb; wounded and slain, the blessings of the redeemed consummated.
9. Taurus The bull; the congregation of the judge; the coming judge of all the earth.
10. Gemini The twins; two natures; the reign of the prince of peace.
11. Cancer The crab; assembled together; the redeemers possessions held fast.
12. Leo The Lion of the tribe of Judah; the consummated triumph of the redeemer in the end.
These images are shown in the book of Revelation – Leo – “the lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed” (5:5); Virgo – “woman in child birth, crown of twelve stars (symbolizing the constellations and the main 12 stars in Virgo 12), and a dragon – the constellation Draconis; the rider with a bow – Sagittarius (6:2) ; the “angel with scales” – Libra (6:5)
That’s the story they tell, through all the Ages, yet each sign also marks the time period of one particular Age, and each Age is an evolutionary step upwards for humanity, as we gradually lay aside childish things, and go on to maturity, becoming more and more spiritually enlightened, wise, civilized, progressive. Here are some more examples:
Job 38:31-33 – God speaks to Job – “Can you direct the movement of the stars— binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth? The word for “constellations” used here is “Mazzaroth” – it is the Hebrew term for the twelve constellations of the zodiac. Notice that the other constellations (not just the 12) are mentioned – Pleiades, Orion, (who is the ‘messianic figure’ in ancient Egyptian mythology), the Great Bear and its cubs – and notice that their influence “regulates the earth”. For example, the moon “regulates” the sea tides – so it’s not a stretch to see how the heavenly bodies do excerpt some influence on the earth.
In Ezekiel, we see an apocalyptic vision of the “likeness of the glory of God” (chapter 1) and it is shown as Four Living Beings, with four faces – that of a man (Aquarius), a bull (Taurus), a lion (Leo), and an eagle (Scorpio – of rather, Ophiucus the serpent holder, the major star above Scorpio). These are the four cardinal points of the zodiac, as well as the four elements of the ancient world (Air, Water, Fire, and Earth).
In Numbers, we see that the “twelve tribes of Israel” are encamped around the tabernacle in the form that the 12 “houses” of the zodiac were envisioned to be camped around the sun. The sun would symbolically “pass through” each of the “twelve houses” of the constellations, and “the Angel of the Lord” was said to pass through the camp where the twelve houses or tribes of Israel were placed. Each tribe had a banner with an heraldic symbol on it, and those symbols correspond with the twelve constellations, some of the pictures are similar and some are different to the pictures that we use today in our constellations, but those where the picture-symbols which THEY used at that time. (See Numbers 2)
In Exodus 28 we see that the High Priest’s garments included a breastplate which contained twelve different gem stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel. Interestingly, those twelve stones are the twelve “birth stones” which each correspond to the twelve constellations of the zodiac. (See here).
In Revelation, as well as the constellations previously mentioned, we see this picture of the “heavenly Jerusalem” and it has “twelve gates” (the twelve gates or houses of the zodiac) and each gate is a pearl (symbolizing the moon, who passes through each gate), there is a river of life (Aquarius), and there are twelve foundation stones – the same twelve stones that were in the High Priests breastplate – the 12 birth stones of the zodiac, and they are listed in reverse order from the usual order – that’s because they are symbolizing the Ages, which happen in reverse order to the monthly/annual order of the zodiac (that’s why its called the “PREcession of the Equinoxes and not the PROcession, because the zodiac go in a cycle one way each year, with each constellation providing one month, but they go through the Ages of the Great Year in exactly the opposite order) – that’s why we know for sure it is speaking of the Ages.
An interesting aside on this point from Revelation comes to us from the Book of Enoch. This book is once again gaining a wider readership, and it was certainly known to the early Christians (and is even quoted in the New Testament – in Jude 14). We must remember that the Book of Enoch is also an apocalypse (one of the better known apocalypses that is not in most versions of the Bible, though it is contained in some Eastern Orthodox Bibles). As an apocalypse, it contains a message concerning history which is expressed in symbolic picture-language. It is not meant to be read as a literal narrative (and it certainly wasn’t written by Enoch, but is ascribed to him as it comes from the Enochian prophetic school of thought) so when it speaks of “fallen angles” interbreeding with human women and producing a race of giants, that is not suppose to be taken literally! (Sad that we have to say that). Likewise, Noah and his three sons are compared to different colored calves, rather than as humans (it’s a symbol, not literal). Likewise, when we get to Enoch’s description of the heavenly bodies, (which are all personified as angelic or living beings) we see the sun on its chariot, passing through “twelve gates” – the 12 houses of the constellations. (Interestingly, Enoch is taken to “the north” by an angel, to a temple with window-like spaces between its pillars, where he views the constellations – the temple sounds similar to Stonehendge in Britain, to the “north”, and the view of the constellations that he sees are what would be seen from that global position – another mystery to solve!).
The fact that there are mosaic zodiacs on the floors of 1st century synagogues, in the catacombs of Rome from the early church period, on medieval cathedrals in carvings, architecture, and stained glass windows, surely points to the fact that they knew something about the Bible and the zodiac and its connection to the Biblical Ages, which we have forgotten.
As well as these constellations being represented in apocalyptic visions/writings (like Ezekiel’s four living creatures, Revelations symbol-pictures, and Job’s dialogue with God), once our eyes are open to them, we start to see how “Ages-thinking” saturated everything in that ancient culture, and influences many of the (to us) more obscure passages in scripture in a more allegorical way, for example:
Genesis speaks of Joseph having a dream of a ladder to heaven in which “the angels were ascending and descending”. To the ancients, each of the stars were represented by an angel (or vice versa). In one if CS Lewis’s Narnia books, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustice meets an angelic-like being who is a “star”; “In our world,” says Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.” Even in your world, my son,’ (says the Star), that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.” – that is an idea from the ancient world. Stars are personified. The angels ascending and descending symbolize (at least in part) the constellations of the Ages ascending and descending. That sheds a bit more light on what Jesus meant when he said “you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51) meaning – “it is with me – in my ministry, life, death, and resurrection – that one Age will descend, and a new Age will ascend – this is the cusp of the Ages, and a new Age is being born”.
Allegories are shown, like Jonah being swallowed by a “great fish” (Pisces) and kept in its belly for three days and nights, before being spat onto the land to bring God’s message to the people of Nineveh (non-Israelites) who then repent and receive his message – this is a foretaste of the Piscean Age, which was birthed in the death and resurrection of Jesus: “No sign will be given to this generation, except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights”, (Matthew 12:40), and which leads to God’s word being preached to all nations, (not just Israel) who will gladly accept the message. (Notice that it is the “sign” of Jonah – the story contains a “sign” a “symbol” an “allegory” in picture form).
Another allegory is seen in Jesus telling his disciples to “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters”. (Luke 22:10). It was very unusual to see a man carrying a bucket of water – it was a chore or job that was normally, in that culture, given to women and children. All through the Bible we see stories of women going to a well to fetch water. But they would see a man carrying water (symbolizing Aquarius) and they were to “follow him” and he would take them to a “house” and when they went, they entered an “upper room” where “everything will be prepared”. This allegorically and symbolically speaks of Jesus sending us into the Aquarian Age to be taken to a higher place to enjoy God’s feast which is prepared.
Just as an interesting side note: That is what the whole Golden Calf incident was about. Just as Moses is up the mountain getting the 10 Commandments which would be the foundation of the Old Covenant Law, the people are at the foot of the mountain making a Golden calf – the symbol of the previous Age – the Age of Taurus. People have a strange attachment to previous Ages and have a fear of letting them go and venturing out into the unfamiliar new Age. Today we see many Christians trying to hold on the the Old Covenant Laws and promises and developing theologies and forms of worship that attempt to resurrect the Age of Aries (some even going so far as to wish for a new Temple to be built in Jerusalem and a sacrificial system restored – something which the whole book of Hebrews warns against as apostasy from Christ), in the story of the Exodus we see Israelites trying to revive a theology and worship form that harked back to the Age of Taurus. During the Age of Taurus there were lots of “bull” religions – many of which died out as the Age of Aires progressed, but some which hung around, and so there were other religions and beliefs which killed bulls as a sign of killing off the old, previous Age (for example, in the mystery religion of Mithras, a bull is killed as a symbol of that very act).
Lastly, Paul uses some interesting astronomical terms in Romans 8:38-39 – he says “nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God”, and he mentions dualistic opposites (dualism is what makes us feel “separate” from God, so dualistic experiences can create that feeling of separateness, but he says that even these apparent dualisms cannot separate us from God’s love – God remains the same. He says, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Those words “height nor depth” are actually (in the original Greek) astronomical terms which mean “neither what is ascending nor what is descending” – in other words, regardless of which Age we are in, or in Paul’s case, even in the transition period between two Ages, when one is ascending and one is descending – God’s constant love remains unchanged.
The Ages may change, but God doesn’t. Now think of that when you sing worship songs which speak of the Ages:
“You stay the same through the Ages, your love never changes…”
“Age to Age he stands, and time is in his hands, the beginning and the end ..”
1 Timothy 1:17 All honor and glory to God until the fulness of the Ages! For He is the King of the Ages, invisible, immortal, and who alone is God.