Oct 3, 2011

Gospel in the Stars XII


"But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." (Amos 5: 24)

God's People are Good Fishes

"Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them..." (Jer. 6: 16)

"And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh." (Eze. 47: 9)

"And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matt. 4: 19)

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind (of fish): Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 13: 47-50)

The Southern Fish

"That this sign was really framed to be a picture of the risen and glorified Redeemer pouring out from heaven the saving influence and gifts of the Holy Ghost, is further evidenced by the first Decan of Aquarius. Those who truly profit by the gifts and powers procured and poured out by our glorious Intercessor are the people who believe in Christ, the regenerate, the saved Church. These, as we saw in our last, are the mystic fishes. And here, as the first Decan of Aquarius, we have the picture of a fish—Pisces Australis— drinking in the stream which pours from the urn of the beautiful One in heaven. It is the picture of the believing acceptance of the invitation of the text. Jesus stood and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink;" and here is a coming from below—a glad coming to the stream which issues from on high, a drinking in of the heavenly waters, and a vigorous life sustained and expanded by means of that drinking.

The mythic legends do not help us much with regard to the interpretation of this constellation, but they still furnish a few significant hints. Some say this fish represents Astarte, called Aphrodite by the Greeks and Venus by the Romans, and that she here appears in the form into which she metamorphosed herself to escape the advances and power of the horrible Typhon. Astarte was the moon-goddess, the great mother, the embodiment of the dependent but ever-productive feminine principle. In the symbology of the Scriptures the moon sometimes denotes the mother of the family, as in Joseph's dream (Gen. 37), and both the woman and the moon are representatives of the Church. As the woman was made out of the side of Adam while He slept, so the Church was made out of Christ by means of that deep sleep of death which came upon Him, and to which He submitted for the purpose. The whole mystery of marriage is the symbol of the union between Christ and His Church (Eph. 5 : 23-32). Everywhere the congregation of believers is pictured as the spouse of Christ, the spiritual woman, the mother of us all. And if this fish represents the Astarte of the pagan religion, we have only to strip off the heathen impurities, and understand the reference in the sense and application of the Scripture symbols, in order to find here a picture of the regenerate people of God, the Church, the bride of Christ, the mother of saints.

So understood, the metamorphosis into a fish is also applicable and significant, as in no other interpretation. All true members of the Church are transformed persons, made over again by the power of a new spiritual creation, and living a new life superadded to Nature. It is by this spiritual metamorphosis that we make our escape from the power and dominion of the Devil. And it is by means of this transformation that we have our status and relations in the heavenly economy and kingdom. The light comes feebly through the dark and murky atmosphere of the pagan world; but wherever we get sight of a distinct ray, it easily resolves back into the figures of the primeval constellations, and thence into the sacred story of redemption through the promised Seed of the woman."

The people of God are they who drink from this water pouring forth from Aquarius.

"Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4: 13, 14)

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." (John 7: 37)

"And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." (Rev. 21: 6)

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Rev. 22: 17)

"And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." (Rev. 22: 1)


"And in perfect consistence with, and as fur ther illustration of, what I have given as the meaning of this sign, is the second Decan. Here is the figure of a great horse pushing forward with full speed, with great wings springing from his shoulders. The elements of his name, as in Isaiah 64: 5, signify the swift divine messenger bringing joy to those whom he meets, otherwise the horse of the opening; or as the Greeks put it, without obliteration of the old Noetic nomenclature, the horse of the gushing fountain—a celestial horse, ever associated with glad song, the favorite of the Muses, under whose hoofs the Pierian springs started upon Mount Helicon, and on whose back rode Bellerophon as he went forth to slay the monster Chimaera.

The fables say that this wonderful horse sprang into being from the slaying of Medusa by Perseus; that he was called Pegasus, Horse of the Fountain, because he first appeared near the springs of the ocean; that he lived in the palace of the King and Father of gods, and thundered and lightened for Jupiter; and that Bellerophon obtained possession of him through sacrifice to the goddess of justice, followed by a deep sleep, during which he was divinely given the golden bridle which the wild horse obeyed, and thus he was borne forth to victory, though not without receiving a painful sting in his foot.

In the first chapter of Zechariah the appearance of such horses are the symbols of those whom "God hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth," not simply to see and report the condition of affairs, but to shake and disturb nations, so as to restore liberty, peace, and blessing to God's people. Pegasus is not precisely one of those horses, or all of them combined in one, but still a somewhat corresponding ambassador of God. Pegasus is winged; he moves with heavenly speed. The first part of his or his rider's name, Pega, Peka, or Pacha, in the Noetic dialects means the chief; and the latter part, sus, means, not only a horse, but swiftly coming or returning, with the idea of joy-bringing; hence the chief, coming forth again in great victory, and with good tidings and blessing to those to whom he comes. The ancient names of the stars which make up his constellation are—Markab, the returning; Scheat, he who goeth and returneth; Enif, the Branch; Al Genib, who carries; Hainan, the waters; Matar, who causeth the plenteous overflow. The names show to what the picture applies."

The idea of coming and returning, as in a circuit, in connection with the incarnation of Christ, is something we have already mentioned. The Hebrew letter Koph denoted a "circuit" or to "move in a circle." The Hebrew letter Mem denoted "water, waves, flood." In Eccl. 1 Solomon mentions two things that go and return, or go in circuits, and that is water and wind and both are types of the Holy Ghost.

Pegasus is a picture of the sending forth of the good news of Christ's victory through the cross.

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." (Prov. 25: 25)

"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Rev. 14: 6, 7)

"Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter." (Eccl. 10: 20)

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isa. 40: 31)

They shall mount up with wings, not only as eagles, but as Pegasus, as Cygnus the Swan.

"...the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork..." (Zech. 5: 9)

"But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall." (Mal. 4: 2)

"Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting." (Job 39: 19-25)

"But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift." (Isa. 30: 16)

"Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit." (Isa. 31: 3)

"Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled." (Jer. 4: 13)

"...as the horse rusheth into the battle." (Jer. 8: 6)

"If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?" (Jer. 12: 5)

"Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?" (Hab. 3: 8)

"He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly." (Psa. 147: 15)

Gospel messengers are like Paul Revere, giving warning, and bearing good news.

"And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it." (Hab. 2: 2)

"And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead...And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word." (Matt. 28: 7, 8)

"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." (Phill. 2: 16)

"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Rev. 3: 11)

"Gathering up these remarkable items, and combining them, as they all readily combine, in one consistent narrative, we have in astonishing fulness one of the sublimest evangelic presentations; nay, the very going forth of Christ in His living Gospel, as from the scenes of that supper-hall which witnessed the coming of the Paraclete the joyous waters of cleansing and redemption, through His successful mediation, poured their glad flood into our weary world. Then the word was, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel [Good Tidings] to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Thenceforward, Parthians and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, in Lybia, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, and people to the farthest ends of the earth, were made to hear, in their tongues, the wonderful works and achievements of God for the renewal and saving of men. Thenceforward the Glad Tidings went, winged with the Spirit of God, waking poetic springs of joy upon the mountains and in the valleys, slaying the powers of darkness and superstition, overwhelming the dominion of the Devil, and bringing song and salvation to every thirsty and perishing soul which hears and obeys the call of the Lord of life to come unto Him and drink. The true Pegasus is the herald and bringer of Christ's mediatorial success and salvation to a famishing world, which the saintly patriarchs looked for from the beginning, and which they thus figured in the constellations in advance as an imperishable witness of what was to come through and by that Coming One in whom all their hopes were centred."

The Swan

"The final side-piece which accompanies the Zodiacal Aquarius accords precisely with this presentation. It is one of the most interesting and beautiful of the constellations, both in its natural peculiarities and in its evangelic references. It consists of eighty-one stars— one of the first or second magnitude, six of the third, and twelve of the fourth; and some of these never set. It embraces at least five double stars and one quadruple. The binary star (61 Cygni) is the most remarkable known in the heavens. It is one of the nearest to our system of the fixed stars. It consists of two connected stars, which, besides their revolution about each other, have a common progressive and uniform motion toward some determinate region, and moving thousands of times faster than the swiftest body known to our system. This constellation has a number of distinct systems in itself, and shows planetary nebulae which have led astronomers to regard it as the intermediate link between the planetary worlds and the nebulous stars. It has in it specimens of both, and lies in the midst of the great Galactic Stream of nebulous stars. It is therefore remarkably suited to represent that peculiar and complex economy—partly celestial and partly terrestrial, partly acting by itself and partly dependent on the heavenly powers—by which grace and salvation are carried and ministered to the children of men.

The figure in this constellation is the figure of a swan, the lordly bird-king of the waters, in all ages and in all refined countries considered the emblem of poetic dignity, purity, and grace. By the Greeks and Romans it was held sacred to the god of beauty and the Muses, and special sweetness was connected with its death. Eschylus sung,

"The swan, Expiring, dies in melody."

As the white dove is the emblem of the Holy Ghost, so the elegant, pure, and graceful swan is a fitting emblem of Him who, dying, sends forth the glad river of living waters, and presides in His majesty over the administration of them to the thirsty children of men. And this is here the underlying idea.

But this swan is on the wing, in the act of rapid flight, "circling and returning," as its name in Greek and Latin signifies. It seems to be flying down the Milky Way, in the same general direction with the river which pours from the heavenly urn. The principal stars which mark its wings and length of body form a large and beautiful cross, the most regular of all the crosses formed by the constellations. It is thus the bird of matchless beauty, purity, dignity, and grace, bearing aloft the cross, and circling with it over the blessed waters of life; whilst in the naming of its stars, the brightest is Deneb, the Lord or Judge to come; Azel, who goes and returns; Fafage, glorious, shining forth; Sadr, who returns as in a circle; Adige, flying swiftly; Arided, He shall come down; and other words of like import, we find strong identifications of this lordly bird-king of the waters with Him who, through the preaching of His cross hither and thither over all this nether world, cries and says, "If any man thirst, let hint come urto Me, and drink "

Greek and Roman mythology is greatly at a loss to account for the presence of this bird in the sky; but the stories on the subject are not destitute of thought and suggestion corresponding with the evangelic truth. The. Greeks enumerated a collection of characters of different parentages and histories, each reputed to have been the original of this swan in the heavens. One was the son of Apollo, a handsome hunter, who in some strange fit leaped into Lake Canope, and was metamorphosed into this swan. Another was the son of Poseidon, an ally of the Trojans, who could not be hurt with arms of iron, but was strangled by Achilles—whose body, when the victor meant to rifle it, suddenly took its departure to heaven in the form of a swan. A third was the son of Ares, killed by Herakles in a duel, who at his death was changed by his father into a swan. A fourth was the son of Sthenelus and a dear friend and relative of Phaeton, who so lamented the fate of, him whom Jupiter destroyed for his bad driving of the chariot of the sun that Apollo metamorphosed him into a swan and placed him among the stars. Some dim embodiments of the true prophetic delineations of this swan, and of that history of the Redeemer through which He came to the position and relations in which this picture received fulfilment, appear in the several myths. Christ was of divine birth and nature. He was in himself invincible. He did submit to death in heroic conflict with the powers of darkness and the just penalties due the sins of the world. It was His great love for those to whom He became a Brother that brought him down to the dark river. His body did take life again after death, and disappear into a new form of brightness and glory to assume position in the heavens. In these several particulars the myths touching this constellation are in remarkable accord with the Gospel history, and help to reflect how minute and clear and vivid were the believing anticipations of the makers of these signs already in the very first ages of our race."

The swan is an "emblem of dignity, purity, and grace." It is a symbol too of beauty. Think of the story of the "ugly duckling" who transforms into a beautiful swan. The story connects then with transformation. Christ was transformed, after his resurrection. So too are they who are saved.

Those who are saved are "new creatures," people who have been transformed or metamorphed, changed. They were once ugly because of sin, but now beautiful because of the righteousness of Christ.

"Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." (Psa. 48: 2)

"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." (Psa. 50: 2)

"Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners." (Song 6: 4)

"In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel." (Isa. 4: 2)

"Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean." (Isa. 52: 1)

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" (Isa. 52: 7)

"One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple." (Psa. 27: 4)

"...let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us..." (Psa. 90: 17)

"And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock." (Zech. 11: 6)

"Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever." (Psa. 45: 2)

"For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." (Prov. 1: 9 & 4: 9)

"So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck." (Prov. 3: 22)

Not only is the Swan connected with beauty and grace, but with lordship and kingship. The lion is the king of land animals, the eagle is the king of the sky, but the swan is king of water and air.

"And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (Rev. 1: 6)

A Beautiful Picture

"Thus, then, in the Zodiacal Aquarius we have the picture in the stars of the heavenly waters of life and salvation; of their source in the beautiful Seed of the woman, slain indeed, but risen again and lifted up in everlasting glory; of the voluminous plenteous ness in which they flow down into all oui dry and thirsty world; of the new creation and joyous life they bring to those who drink them; of the swift heralding and bearing of the glad provision to all people; and of the graceful holding forth of the cross to the nations over which, on outspread wings, the Lord of these waters circles, in His meek loveliness ever calling, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink."

Beautiful picture of most precious Gospel truths!—a picture which I can interpret no otherwise than as intended by men fully informed beforehand of these glorious facts. And if, perchance, these constellations were not meant in token, testimony, and prophecy of what was foreknown, believed, and expected by the primeval patriarchs who arranged them, the picture is still true to what has since come to pass, and which it is part of our holy religion to accept and rejoice in as the great mercy of God to a fallen world. Christ Jesus is the beautiful Saviour of mankind, Son of God and Son of man. He did come in the flesh and live a human life in which humanity came to its loveliest and highest bloom. He did suffer and die a violent death from offended justice on account of sin which He assumed, but in no degree chargeable to Him. He did rise again from death by the power of the eternal Spirit, changed, transfigured, and glorified, and soar away beyond all reach of enemies, even to the calm heavens, where no revolutions of time can any more obscure His brightness or eclipse the outshining of His glory. He is there as the Lord of life and grace, obtaining by His meritorious intercession an exhaustless fulness of spiritual treasures, like very rivers of renewing and sanctifying mercies, which He has poured, and is ever pouring, down into our world for the comfort, cheer, and salvation of those who believe in Him. He has arranged, and himself conducts and energizes, a great system of means for carrying and proclaiming the same all over the world amid songs of halleluia and rejoicing which can never die. Deep in it all He has embedded the great doctrine of His Cross and Passion as the central thought and brightest substance of the sublime and wonderful economy. And in and amid it all faith beholds Him in His lordly beauty stationed by the true Pierian spring, ever crying and ever calling, "If Any Man Thirst, Let Him Come Unto Me, And Drink."

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price;" "And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Blessed tidings! blessed provision! blessed opportunity! O man! awake to the glory and drink; drink deep, drink earnestly, drink with all the capacity of thy soul; for thy Lord and Redeemer saith, "WhosoeVer drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

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