All year my thinking has been directed toward the heavens – more recently, to the Morning Star. This may seem like a strange topic for Advent, but the dictionary defines Advent as two-fold: the first coming of Christ and His second coming.

Bear with me and you will see how the Morning Star ties into Advent.

The Romans more than 2000 years ago named the days of the week after the sun, the moon and the five visible planets which they associated with their pagan gods – Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. In the Hebrew calendar, the individual days of the week have no names, just numbers, except for the Sabbath day.

The early Christians, being mostly Jews, adopted the Jewish seven-day week with its numbered weekdays, but by the close of the third century AD this had changed. Converts from paganism used the planetary week names used by the society around them, and thus

gradually a pagan institution was engrafted onto Christianity. [1]

Our English calendar substitutes Teutonic gods for their Roman counterpart. Tuesday is named for Tiw, the Teutonic counterpart to Mars, the god of war. Wednesday is named for Woden, instead of the messenger god Mercury. Thursday is named for Thor, god of thunder, instead of Jupiter, the mighty king of the gods. Friday is named for Freia, Venus of the North. Finally, Saturday is named for Saturn, the Roman god of time.

In the 16th century godly men such as Martin Luther and John Calvin openly challenged the Roman Catholic Church on many of its doctrines and thus started the Protestant Reformation. The latter half of 16th century saw great strides in the understanding of the solar system. With the invention of the telescope, Galileo and other astronomers discovered that there were more planets than the five visible to the naked eye. They also learned that Jupiter had moons and that the Earth revolved around the sun.

After centuries of pagan influence over Christianity, the pendulum of influence finally swung the other way. Christians in 16th century Europe seized the opportunity provided by the renewed worldwide interest in astronomy to reclaim the heavens for the One who created the sun, moon, stars and planets. Persons unknown added cross-marks to the planet symbols that didn’t already have them in “an attempt to give a savor of Christianity to the symbols of the old pagan gods.”[2]

They did what the Apostle Paul did in Athens.

While Paul was waiting for his co-workers to join him, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. He walked around and looked carefully at their objects of worship. In doing so, he found an altar with the inscription: to an unknown god. Paul used this as a springboard to preach the gospel. Starting with the inscription he had found, he proclaimed to them the God they were ignorant of.[3]

I would like to do what Paul did and use the days of the week and the planets to proclaim the God so many in this world don’t know personally.

The Sun

What does the sun proclaim to the world?

We can think of “sun day” as “Son day.” Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” Just as the sun lights our world literally, so Jesus lights our world spiritually.

Christians see the symbol for sun as portraying God at the centre of the universe. “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” [4]

 

The Moon 

What facts do we know about the moon?

  • The moon observed by the naked eye appears to contain a face. We call him “the man in the moon.” This reminds us that we are made in the image of God.
  • The moon has no light of its own. It gets its light from the sun. Likewise, we humans are not the source of light. We can only reflect the light of God.
  • The moon waxes and wanes. The phases of the moon remind us that no one is perfect. We have successes and failures, times in our lives when we reflect God’s light better or worse. And just as the moon keeps coming back each month, we must never give up. Solomon said, “A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again.”[5]
  • For up to three days each month the moon disappears entirely. Its reappearance is called the new moon.

The New Moon is one of the Lord’s appointed times. “Also at your times of rejoicing – your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts – you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.” [6]  In Bible times Jewish priests searched carefully for the new moon. When two of them witnessed its reappearance, a trumpet was sounded to announce the new month. Why is the New Moon so important?

The search for the new moon is a reminder of our search for God, our longing to see Him shine upon us again. It is a monthly reminder to seek His presence in our lives.

           The New Moon is also a reminder of God’s promise that the Messiah would come through David’s line. The Lord said of David, “His line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.”[7]

 

Mars 

In Roman mythology, Mars is the god of war. His planetary symbol is a stylized shield and spear. This is a reminder to us that since Adam sinned, all mankind is at war with God.

The Bible says, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”[8] And, “The sinful mind is hostile to God.”[9]

But, praise the Lord, for those who know God personally, the war is over. God has provided a way for that hostility to cease. Through faith in Jesus Christ we can have peace with God.[10]

Mercury

In Roman mythology, Mercury is the messenger of the gods, carrying a staff or wand. Mercury’s counterpart in Greek mythology is Hermes, carrying a caduceus, a winged staff with two snakes intertwined around it. Hermes’ wand, it is said, could put people to sleep or wake the sleeping. It could also bring death gently or return the dead to life.

The caduceus is often mistakenly used as a symbol for medicine. Because the two-snake caduceus design has ancient and consistent associations with commerce and trade, eloquence, trickery and negotiation, it is an inappropriate symbol for those engaged in the healing arts.[11]

 

The better symbol in modern times associated with medicine and health care is the Rod of Asclepius, a single snake on a stick.

Asclepius was a deity in Greek mythology associated with healing and medicine, whose followers flocked to healing temples (Asclepieia) in Greece to be cured of their ills. In the healing temples, non-venomous snakes crawled around freely on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept, and supposedly brought healing.

The gospel according to Mercury proclaims Jesus is our Saviour. Mercury’s true staff is neither the caduceus nor the rod of Asclepius, though the single snake on a stick is almost right. To correct it, one would have to crush the head of the serpent.

The story behind the staff is told in Numbers 21. While travelling through the wilderness, the Israelites began to complain against God and Moses. So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. When the  people asked Moses to pray for them, the Lord told Moses, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!”[12]

With people dying all around him, Moses could not wait for an artisan to design a beautiful snake. Every minute counted. So what did he do?

He whacked one of the venomous snakes on the head with his rod, crushed the snake’s head with his heel, and stomped the snake into the sand. Quickly he ordered that some bronze be heated to the melting point. Moses then lifted the snake out of the sand and poured the liquid metal into the groove left behind. As soon as the metal hardened, he lifted the bronze snake onto a pole, and called out to anyone who was bitten by a snake to look and live. All those who looked were healed!

This event is a picture of Jesus, who died so that we may live. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”[13]

The gospel according Mercury portrays Jesus as our Saviour. The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 has been fulfilled. The serpent is dead! The Seed of the woman has crushed the head of the serpent Satan!

Jupiter

Jupiter in mythology is obviously patterned after Almighty God, Yahweh. To those for whom the Almighty is an unknown God, let me clarify:

Jehovah, not Jove, is Father God. Yahweh, not Jupiter, is the God of sky and thunder.

Jupiter is not the King of all gods. Yahweh alone is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is sovereign. His sacred tree is not the oak but the cross of Calvary.

The brothers Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto are a pathetic counterfeit for the Trinity. The triune Almighty God is the one who rules the sky, the waters and the underworld.

Yahweh’s image is stamped not on coins but on the people He created.

Almighty God, our Father God, loved the world so much that he gave his only Son to die for us and give us everlasting life. Jupiter can make no such claim!

Finally, the staff in Jupiter’s symbol reminds me that the Lord is my Shepherd. His rod and his staff comfort me. His care for me is out of this world!

 

Venus, Morning Star

Venus does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Morning Star. Venus is the Latin word for ‘sexual love’ and ‘sexual desire.’ Venus and venom both come from the same Latin root venenum, meaning ‘poison.’ To follow our fleshly carnal desires is poison.

Venus was a beauty. She knew it and was proud of it. The planetary symbol for Venus is variously seen as a looking glass or a necklace. Both interpretations suggest that Venus was self-absorbed and consumed with her own beauty. If Venus lived in today’s society, she would always be taking selfies. That pride, that self-centeredness is poison.

What a contrast to Jesus! “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”[14] Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant . . . And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”[15] Rather than being self-absorbed, He poured Himself out for others.

The planetary symbol is the sun with a cross beneath it – the Son coming down to Earth to die on the cross for mankind.

After the Moon, Venus is the brightest natural object in the night sky, bright enough to cast shadows. How appropriate that of all the “stars” in the heavens, this one was chosen by God to represent Jesus. He calls himself “the bright Morning Star.”[16] What an understatement!

Ancient civilizations assumed that the “morning star” and the “evening star” were two separate objects. It wasn’t until the sixth century BC that they realized that the morning and evening stars were the same “wandering star.”

The gospel according to Venus sees Jesus as both the Morning Star and the Evening Star. As Evening Star, he was born in a stable and raised by peasants. He came as a humble servant, experienced earthly pain and sorrow, and died on a cross.

The One who came two thousand years ago like the Evening Star is the same One who is coming again – as the Morning Star. The Morning Star is, above all, a star of hope. Jesus brought hope to individual hearts with His first coming, but the promise of His second coming brings even brighter hope – hope for the whole world!

The apostle Paul quoted the prophet Isaiah: “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”[17] Then he went on so say, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”[18]

In the last chapter of the Bible that hope builds to a crescendo. Jesus says three times:

“Behold, I am coming soon! . . Behold, I am coming soon! . . Yes, I am coming soon!”[19]

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

Pentagram of Venus

Earth is positioned at the center of the diagram, and the curve represents the direction and distance of Venus as a function of time.     The pentagram of Venus is the path that Venus makes as observed from Earth. Venus, being closer to the Sun and having a smaller orbit than Earth, “overtakes” Earth every 584 days as it orbits the Sun. As it does so, it changes from the “Evening Star”, visible after sunset, to the “Morning Star”, visible before sunrise. Earth orbits the Sun 8 times for every 13 orbits of Venus.

The path draws a five-pointed star! The Star of Bethlehem! The First Advent is traced in the sky by the Morning Star!

Saturn

Saturn, the Roman god of time, carries a sickle or scythe. Death is often depicted carrying a sickle.

The truth declared by Saturn is that “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”[20] Because we don’t know when death will come, we must prepare now to meet God. “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” [21]

The sickle or scythe is an instrument of reaping. At the end of this present era, there will be a time of reaping. Revelation 14 describes two harvests. First, “one ‘like a son of man’ with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand” harvests the earth.[22] This is the harvest that all Christ-followers look forward to. This is the hope that the Morning Star brings. He is coming soon to take his Bride to be with Him for all eternity!

But then comes another harvest, when “the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine” are gathered and thrown into “the great winepress of God’s wrath.”[23] Nobody wants to be part of that harvest. You can avoid being part of that harvest by looking up to the One who was lifted up on the cross for you. Believe in Him. Look to Him and live!

Let’s continue to look carefully around us, as the apostle Paul did, for opportunities to proclaim Almighty God to a society that so desperately needs Him. Not just at Christmas, but all year around.

 

______________________________________________

To see another pentagram formed by Earth and Venus,

click on the link: http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/AstronNotes/Earth-Venus.htm

or google The (Almost) Venus-Earth Pentagram.

 

If you watch the “Pentagram of Venus” from YouTube, you can see a five-pointed star form in Earth’s orbit around the Sun, in Venus’ orbit around the Sun, and in Venus’ path from the perspective of Earth. Click the link:

 

For more patterns in the sky, watch Ptolemy’s Model of the Universe on YouTube.

 

If clicking on the link doesn’t work, copy and paste into your browser.

[1] Hutton Webster, Rest Days, pp. 220-221.

[2] Wikipedia, Symbols of the Planets

[3] Acts 17:16, 22-23

[4] Colossians 1:17, NLT

[5] Proverbs 24:16, GW

[6] Numbers 10:10

[7] Psalm 89:35 – 37

[8] James 4:4

[9] Romans 8:7

[10] Romans 5:1-2, NLT

[11] “As god of the high-road and the market-place Hermes was perhaps above all else the patron of commerce and the fat purse: as a corollary, he was the special protector of the traveling salesman. As spokesman for the gods, he not only brought peace on earth (occasionally even the peace of death), but his silver-tongued eloquence could always make the worse appear the better cause. From this latter point of view, would not his symbol be suitable for certain Congressmen, all medical quacks, book agents and purveyors of vacuum cleaners, rather than for the straight-thinking, straight-speaking therapeutist? As conductor of the dead to their subterranean abode, his emblem would seem more appropriate on a hearse than on a physician’s car.”  — Stuart L. Tyson, “The Caduceus”, in The Scientific Monthly

[12] Numbers 21:5 – 9, NLT

[13] John 3:14-15

[14] Isaiah 53:2

[15] Philippians 2:6 – 8

[16] Revelation 22:16

[17] Romans 15:12

[18] Romans 15:13

[19] Revelation 22:7, 12, 20

[20] Hebrews 9:27

[21] 2 Corinthians 6:2

[22] Revelation 14:14 – 16

[23] Revelation 14:17 – 20

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