Sep 25, 2011

Gospel in the Stars X

Capricornus - Death and New Life

John 12 : 24: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone : but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."

"In connection with these words I continue the study of that evangelic record which we find written on the stars in the ancient astronomy.

As far as we have gone in these investigations, four signs of the Zodiac, with their accompanying Decans, have been discussed— Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius. Eight more of these signs accordingly remain to be considered; and to these, in their order, I propose that we now direct our attention."

Order Of The Signs

"...these twelve signs of the Solar Zodiac divide themselves into three distinct groups, each group having its own distinct subject. The first group, consisting of the four signs which have already been before us, relates to the Person, Work, and Triumph of the illustrious Redeemer, with special reference to himself. The next succeeding group, consisting of Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, and Aries, with their several Decans, relates to the Fruits of His Work and Mediatorship—the formation, condition, and destiny of the Church, or that body of people spiritually born to Him through faith, and made partakers of the benefits of His redemptive administrations; whilst the third and last group relates to the final Consummation of the whole in the united glory of the Redeemer and the redeemed, and the exalted condition of things which the Consummation is to realize. All this will be more clearly brought out as we proceed. At present we make our entrance upon the second or middle group."

The Sign Of Cappicornus

"Here we have the picture of a fallen goat with the vigorous tail of a fishhalf goat and half fish.

It may seem singular and far-fetched to connect the text I have read with such a figure. A little consideration, however, will show that the subject-matter in both is in fact identical, though the particular imagery is entirely different. That of the text is the image which we had in Virgo, where the illustrious Son of the virgin is likened to a grain of corn or seed, denoted by Spica, the ear of wheat. It was necessary for this seed or grain of wheat to fall into the ground and die in order to reach its intended fruitfulness, which fruitfulness arises directly out of such falling and dying. The meaning of the passage is, that Christ was to die as a sacrifice, and that by virtue of His sacrificial death salvation was to come to man and the congregation of saved ones formed...As the phoenix was said to arise out of the ashes of its consumed predecessor, so the Church, or congregation of saints, rises out of the death of Christ, sacrificed for the sins of the world. This is everywhere the teaching of the Scriptures, and nowhere more pointedly and graphically than in this text. And when we translate this idea into the imagery of the fifth sign of the Zodiac, we find another very graphic and much older picture of precisely the same thing."

Type And Antitype

"First of all, we have here the figure of a goat. This is a sacrificial animal. God commanded the children of Israel, saying, "Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin-offering" (Lev. 9:31). So Aaron "took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin" (Lev. 9: 15). And of the goat of the sin-offering Moses said, "It is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord" (Lev. 10: 16, 17).

In the next place, this goat is fallen down in the attitude of dying. His one leg is doubled under his body, and the other is powerless to lift him up. His head is drooping and sinking in death. This is the identical falling and dying of Christ as the sin-offering to which He refers in the text. It is the same Seed of the woman, in the attitude and condition of a sacrifice for sin. Christ surely was "wounded for our transgressions" and "bruised for our iniquities." "He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken." As the Head of the flock He suffered in their stead, and laid down His life in sacrifice that they might live. And here, it is written on the stars from the earliest ages, and with a vividness of pictorial representation which no one can contemplate without realizing that the picture is intensely striking."

The names in this sign also point to the same thought and significance. Gedi and Dabih are the most prominent stars in this constellation; and in Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac these names mean, the cut-off, the hewndown, the sacrifice slain. Other stars in the same constellation have names of similar import, signifying the slaying, the record of the cutting off. Even the elements of the name of the sign as we still have it from the Latins, Capricornus, mean not only the goat, but atonement, sinking or bowed in death. And if there is any significance whatever in these celestial pictures, we have in this sign the symbol of sacrificial death, which is the exact idea of the text."

The Church

"But it is at the same time a picture of another kind of life, developed out of this sacrificial death, and vitally conjoined with it. The body of the fallen and dying goat terminates in the body and tail of a vigorous fish. The living fish thus takes its being out of the dying goat, and has all its life and vigor from thence. Accordingly, the Coptic name of this sign signifies the station or mansion of bearing. In addition to the falling and dying, it is the sign of a mystic procreation and bringing forth. That which is brought forth is a fish, which is again a familiar and well-understood sacred symbol.

When Jesus called and appointed His first ministers He said, "I will make you fishers of men" (Matt. 4:19). So when God said He will bring the children of Israel again into their own land, His word was, " I will send for many fishers, and they shall fish them" (Jer. 16: 15, 16). So in Ezekiel's vision of the holy waters the word was, "And there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither" (Ez. 47 : 1—9), Christ speaks of His saved ones as "born of water" (John 3:5). In the parable of the drag-net and in the miraculous draughts of fishes God's people are contemplated as fishes. Hence, in both Testaments fishes stand as the symbol of believers. "Fishes signify regenerate persons," says Dr. Gill. "Fish are those that are wrought upon and brought in by the Gospel, and are so called for six reasons," says Greenhill. "Fish are the men who have attained to life by the Messianic salvation," says Dr. Hengstenberg. The early Christians were accustomed to call believers Ichthues and Pisces—that is, fishes. In the name and titles of our Lord—"Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Saviour"—the initials in Greek form a word or name which signifies a fish, and hence the Fathers technically designated Christ as the mystic divine Fish, who in the waters of baptism begets the multitude of fishes—the congregation of His people. Christ is therefore at once the sacrificial goat of the sin-offering and the begetter of a body of reborn men, the Church, the congregation of the quickened and saved. The diction of the Scriptures thus answers exactly to the figure in this sign, which is the dying goat developed into a fish body."

The Mystical Union

"Even the great New-Testament doctrine of the Mystical Union of believers with their Saviour is here most strikingly signified. As men naturally are but reproductions and perpetuations of Adam, and live his life, so Christ's people are the reproduction and perpetuation of Christ, living His life. They are in Him as the branch is in the vine. They are repeatedly called His body, one with Him, "members of His body and of His flesh and of His bones." And so close and real is their life-connection and incorporation with Him that they are in a sense sometimes called "Christ." What, then, could better symbolize this than the sign before us? This goat and fish are one—one being, the life of the dying reproduced and continued in a spiritual product which is part of one and the same body. The goat of sacrifice sinks into a new creation, which is yet an organic part of itself. The image is grotesque, and has no prototype in Nature, but it is true, exact and graphic. The forgiveness and regeneration of men, and their incorporation with Christ, is something wholly above Nature—something altogether miraculous—which could not be adequately signified by any natural symbols; and so, as the double nature of the Redeemer himself was denoted by an arbitrary figure, half horse and half man, so the relation between Him as the Sin-bearer and His saved people, who live by virtue of His death, is denoted by another arbitrary figure, made up of a dying goat and a living fish. Nor is it in the power of human genius or imagination to devise another figure capable of setting forth mere simply and truly the great and glorious mystery."

The Myths

"The pagan myths concerning this sign correspond with these interpretations. This goat is everywhere regarded as Pan, Bacchus, or some divine personage. How he came to have the form of a goat is explained after this fashion: The gods were feasting near a great river, when suddenly the terrible Typhon came upon them, compelling them to assume other shapes in order to escape his fury. Bacchus took the form of a goat and plunged into the river, and that part of his body which was under the water took the form of a fish. To commemorate the occurrence Jupiter placed him in the heavens in his metamorphosed shape. The story is absurd, but through it shines something of the great original idea. It was to secure deliverance from the fury of God's wrath upon sin, and from the ruinous power of the Devil, that the Son of God took upon Him the form of a Sinbearer and Sacrifice, and in this character was plunged into the deep waters of death. It was by His taking of this form, and His sinking in death as our substitute and propitiation, that life came to those who were under the power of death, whereby they became a living part of Him, never more to be separated from Him. The myth is only a paganized and corrupted paraphrase of the original reference which the Spirit of sacred prophecy had written in the primeval astronomy, whence the whole conception originated.

Dagon, the half-fish god of the Philistines, and Oannes, the half-fish god of the Babylonians, also connect with this Zodiacal Capricornus, and have embodied in them the same original thought as well as figure. Philo tells us that Dagon means fruitfulness, the seed-producing; and so Christ is the Seed, the Corn of wheat, fallen and dying in the goat, but producing the living fish, the Church, which is the travail of His soul, the true fruit of His atonement. Eusebius says that Dagon was the god of husbandry, the god of seeds and harvests. Pluche says that Dagon among the Philistines was the same as Horus among the Egyptians; and Horus takes the character of the meek and silent Sufferer from whom comes the horn of blessing and plenty. Dagon had the human form in place of the goat, but that was only a further interpretation of the meaning; for the goat part of Capricornus stands for the Seed of the woman, and so is in reality the man Christ Jesus.

Berosus speaks of Oannes as likewise half man and half fish. Some of the ancient pictures of him still remain, in which he is figured as a great fish outside, but under and within the fish, and joined with it as its more vital interior, was a tall and vigorous man, standing upright in great dignity, with one hand lifted up as if calling for attention, and in the other carrying a basket or satchel as if filled with treasure. He is fabled as having risen out of the sea to teach the primitive Babylonians the secrets of wisdom, particularly the elements of culture, civilization, and law, organizing them into a prosperous commonwealth. An ancient fragment says of him: "He grew not old in wisdom, and the wise people with his wisdom he filled." The representation is throughout in full accord with what I have been saying of Capricornus. There is a coming up out of the deep in glorious life, and a blessed fruitfulness brought forth thereby, and that fruitfulness in the form of instructed, wise, and disciplined people. It is the fallen Seed of the woman risen up from death after having gone down into the invisible and unknown world, begetting and creating a new order among men—the dying Seed issuing in the believing body, the Church, in which He still lives and walks and teaches and blesses. The myth embodies the exact story of the sign."

Spiritual Conceptions

"Moreover, the very complexity of the figure of Capricornus, at first so confusing and hard to construe, conducts us into still further particularities of evangelic truth. As far as we have been looking at it, we see the literal death of one being issuing in the spiritual life of other beings, of whose new life He is the life. It is Christ in the one case corporeally sacrificed, and His people mystically resurrected to newness of life in the other. But along with this goes a reflex which it is important for us to observe, as it brings out some of the deep practical spiritualities of true religion. Of course, the rising of the fishes out of the dying goat implies the literal and potent resurrection of Christ himself as the Begetter and Giver of this spiritual resurrection to His people; for if He did not rise, then no preaching or believing would avail to bring us to life or salvation. But as we rise to spiritual life through the power of His resurrection, so there is also implied a dying with Him in order to rise with Him; for there is no resurrection where there has been no dying. We look for a resurrection of the body, because there is first a death of the body. And as God's people are partakers of a mystic or spiritual resurrection, there goes before it a corresponding death. That death out of which their new life comes through and in Christ is twofold. It is first a deadness in sin—existence indeed, but morally and spiritually a mere carcass, with no life-standing to the law or any practical spiritual life toward God and heaven—a life that is nothing but spiritual death and corruption under sentence of eternal death. In the next place, it is death to sin, both as to its penalty and power, a cessation of the mere carnal life and of further existence under condemnation. Now, the great office of religion, through the Seed of the woman and His sacrificial offering of himself to expiate our sins, is to bring death to this old life in sin and death, and by this wounding, slaying and putting off of the old man of corruption, to generate, evolve, sustain, teach and train the new man, which is renewed after the image of Christ's own resurrection, and which beams with better knowledge and true holiness. Christ corporeally dies for us, and we mystically die to the old death-life with, in, and by virtue of Him. We die to the death-penalty which holds us whilst in the mere carnal life, and put it clean off from us for ever, in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, by accepting Him and believing in Him as our Surety and Propitiation..."

Christ's Body

Refers to 1) The physical corporeal body of Christ, and 2) The mystical or spiritual body of Christ, composed of each believer (members)

"he is the head of the body, the church" (Col. 1: 18 and verse 24)

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." (Eph. 5: 23)

"So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." (Romans 12: 5)

The Arrow

"The first is Sagitta, the shot and killing arrow. It appears naked and alone. It has left the bow, and is speeding to its aim. It is a heavenly arrow, and He who shoots it is invisible. There is a majesty and a mystery it which startles and awes. It is the death-arrow of almighty justice, which goes forth from the throne against all unrighteousness and sin. It is that death-inflicting instrument which comes with resistless force and sharpness against a world that lieth in sin, and which pierces the spotless Son of God as found in the place of guilty and condemned man. The execution it does is shown in the fallen and dying goat. It is the arrow of divine justice and condemnation upon sin piercing through the body and soul of the meek Lamb of God, who agreed to bear our sins and answer for them.

In the thirty-eighth Psalm we have this very arrow of God sticking fast in the body of the mysterious Sufferer, wounding His flesh and His bones, and completely overwhelming Him. He is troubled and bowed down, as under a crushing burden. His heart panteth, his strength faileth, the light of his eyes fades out. Not only is he the persecuted object of man's hatred, but shut up within the strong bars of divine judgment. It was divine grace that prepared and shot that arrow against the person of the blameless One; but, being found in the room and stead of sinners, God's holy vengeance could not hold back for the sparing even of the only-begotten of the Father, so full of grace and truth. Christ came into the world to die for it; and toward this lowest deep His steps daily led Him as He looked onward to the harvest that was being sown amid these tears. It would seem almost as if the song of the Psalmist had been copied direct from what is thus pictured in these signs.

But this Arrow doubtless covers a further idea. There is a spiritual piercing and slaying in the case of those who come to new life in Christ, akin to the piercing and slaying of Christ himself. Sharp and hurtful words are compared to arrows. And of this character are the words of God as pronounced upon the wicked, judging and condemning them for their sins, bringing them down from their lofty self-security, and killing out of them the vain imaginings in which they live. Isaiah speaks of this sort of shaft or arrow in the Lord's quiver—the arrow of the Word—the arrow of conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment—a wounding and killing arrow which enters into men's souls, and makes humble penitents of them, that they may come to life in Christ. The death of Christ for our sins also takes the form of a word, preaching, testimony, and argument, even the preaching of the Cross, to kill the life of sin and to cause men to die unto it; so that the very arrow of sovereign justice which drank up the life of Christ as our Substitute and Propitiation passes through Him to pierce also those whose life in sin cost Him all this humiliation and pain; also killing them to that ill and condemned life that they may live the Christ-life as His renewed, justified, and redeemed children.

Thus the Arrow fills out precisely the same ideas which we find symbolized in the sign of Capricornus."

Union with Christ

1. Its nature
a) Legally and representativly
b) Vitally and actually connected

2. Its origin
a) By appointment (election/predestination)
b) By rebirth (joined to him by faith)

Eternal Vital Union Doctrine or "Two Seed" doctrine of Daniel Parker and the birth of the "two seeders" sect.

Ordo Salutis Connection

Union with Christ must come first, before there can be pardon, justification, cleansing, sanctification, etc.

Union with Christ is typified in various kinds of union among men. Union with Christ is like the union of husband and wife.

The relationship of conviction of sin to regeneration. Does conviction of sin, logically and chronologically, precede regeneration or new birth, or does it follow it?

If we say it follows it, as do the Hardshells, then we would be forced to say that anyone who feels convicted of his sin is a born again character. The problem with this view is that it makes unbelievers to be regenerated souls. For it is a plain truth that 1) many who come under conviction of sin never come to faith in Christ and 2) that there is often a large period of time between the experience of conviction and coming to trust Christ for salvation. In the bible, there is no such character as a regenerated unbeliever!

Conviction of sin is a preparation work for regeneration. The cleansing of the conscience from the guilt that is felt in conviction is what occurs in the new birth experience.

Men are killed in conviction of sin by the divine arrow of the word of God. In the case of the elect, he guarentees that this conviction will produce repentance, or complete change of heart (thinking). This conviction produces regeneration when he causes his gospel to be heard in a saving, transforming, and powerful manner, when it is believed. Christ is received as the Lord, Savior, and King, by the one coming to place his trust in Jesus. The ego is dethroned in conviction of sin. Christ sits enthroned in the heart, soul, and mind in regeneration and new birth.

Union with Christ must come first and this, according to scripture, occurs when one believes in Christ, when he gives his all to Jesus, and ascribes all his hopes to him, when he places his trust in him. Faith is joined with repentance in scripture, and a man who has savingly believed is one who has repented. Part of his repentance preceded his new birth, for contrition or conviction of sin, is the first step in the process of repentance.

Union with Christ does not occur in water baptism. Union with Christ must precede all good works.

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