Have you noticed the wild headlong plunge that the world is taking toward occultism and witchcraft? One of the marks of modern society has been rapid change and a revolutionary grasping after anything new and exciting. The drug craze is almost losing its sensational appeal now; sex and bizarre music and art have become old hat almost. So the search for mind-numbing action is pushing into new areas, areas that promise psychic thrills and mystic enlightenment. Americans are vying with the Frenchman and Britisher in their turn towards astrology, spiritualism and even devil worship. It almost seems that millions are trying to drown their true conscience in a wild rush into the occult. Apparently, there are 10 million plus Americans who are zealous followers of astrology, besides 40 million who dabble in the subject occasionally.
Twenty years ago only ten daily papers across the country carried astrological forecasts. Today approximately 1,200, or two-thirds, of all daily newspapers, carry the horoscope column. An estimated 10,000 astrologers spend their full time in the business besides 180,000 part-time stargazers. Millions and millions of dollars are spent every year by a gullible public for the dubious pleasure of hearing what they want to hear. Pretending to know how the planets cast their good or evil influence over an individual life, the astrologer sets some sort of a record for vague generalizations. The ambiguous phrasing of the predictions makes it appear accurate no matter what the outcome. For example, if a person is injured when the stars were supposed to be favorable for him, the astrologer points out how fortunate he was to escape what might have happened if the signs had been bad. If, on the other hand, the signs were bad and a person ignored them, safely, the astrologer claims that he was subconsciously careful because of being forewarned.
In India an astrologer gets a substantial part of his income, believe it or not, by prescribing ways to overcome the bad consequences that he predicted. So how could he lose in a business like that? He's the hero in any case. Perhaps this explains the incredible fascination that the practice exercises in so many millions of lives. Maybe people are looking for heros. But I wonder if the better explanation is not that people are bored and fed up with an empty religion that offers no real answers to their problems. There is no question that the majority of Christians believe that Christianity is failing them. Survey after survey reveals that they do not respect religion as much now as formerly. The prophecy of Paul about "a form of godliness" is literally fulfilled before our eyes today. Church attendance has dropped and continues to drop drastically. The influence of the clergy has nosed down to an unprecedented low.
But now let's take another look and see the other side of the coin. It's true that the large institutions of religion are gradually losing support and confidence, but the opposite is taking place in the smaller Bible-oriented churches. As politics and the social gospel begin to secularize a denomination, that church begins to dry up and die. But in direct ratio to its emphasis on the Bible and its willingness to stick by unpopular truth, to that extent it will attract enthusiastic and dedicated followers. There is a large nucleus of Bible believing Christians today, even in the most liberal church bodies, and they will settle for nothing less than a return to scriptural orthodoxy.
But let's come back now to those millions who are so disillusioned with popular religion that they are turning to astrology and black magic. What is the basis for this stargazing, horoscope business anyway? Friends, it's one of the most ancient delusions in the world today. It dates all the way back to ancient Babylon and Egypt. The pagan gods were believed to reside in various planets, and the attributes of the gods were assigned to those planets. Of course, astrologers today do not claim that the planets are gods, but they still attribute the same mystical influences to them. Each person is supposed to be born under the influence of a particular heavenly body, and his life can be predicted if the exact birth date is known.
You know it is strange, but so often astrology advises on love or money. A woman supplies certain details and certain facts to an astrologer. The astrologer notices the tone of the letter, it gives the idea that the lady is a little suspicious of her husband that perhaps he is not being true to her. For $10.00 this astrologer will give her advice. So with the $10.00 in his hand, he writes back "watch your husband. He is not being true to you." And that lady says, "Just as I thought!" She is positive now that her suspicions were grounded, and that home is headed for the rocks. That would send any woman frantic and naturally the result would be that she would rush to the divorce courts and secure a divorce. That is happening over and over in America.
It even goes so far as to affect people's lives and their health. Doctors report that they have found that a certain individual is taken desperately sick and they find that when they are coming up to the dark hour, individuals will rush to an astrologer to find out whether they are going to get well or die or whether they should have an operation at this time or not. If the planets are not right at this particular time they are advised to wait, and doctors can't do a thing because the devil is having that doctrine handed out to a deceived people and they will put off that operation until the stars are right and the poppies are growing over their graves.
Now, I want you to see how God looks upon this stargazing nonsense. It doesn't matter what percent of the people are following the practice, or how many millions are spent each year on wizards and fortune tellers, the great question is, what does God think about it? Is it approved or disapproved in the Bible? Let's read a few texts. First of all, from Deuteronomy 4:19, "And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldn't be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven." God says I have driven out the Canaanites and now when you come into the Promised land don't you start looking up to the stars and worshipping them or inquiring of them. That is prohibited.
Deuteronomy 17:2,3, "If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing the covenant, and hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, and it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel, then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which hath committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they die." My friends, back there in Bible times, an astrologer didn't have a chance in the world. That person was to pay the death penalty for leading people astray. I say, if God saw that it was so serious back there, that it is serious for us to bring it back and dabble into it now.
In the time of Josiah, when he started out to make a great reform and bring God's people back to the true worship of God, this thing was crushed one of the first things. "And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained, to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven." 2 Kings 23:5. When that godly man, Josiah, started his reform there was one thing that he certainly struck at and that was worshipping the stars. He put them all out of business. Why? Because he was trying to lead them back to the Bible and to God.
In Acts 19:19 it says, "Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver." All of those old books that they had been using to work works of divination, they brought them altogether and Paul struck a match to them and there burned them, that fifty thousand pieces of silver worth, and man stopped looking to man-made tricks to lead them, and looked to God.
You read every once in awhile about a prediction that this earth is going to rush off in space and head right into one of the other planets or stars and when it crashes it will burn up. But notice, Genesis 8:22, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." This earth of ours is going to continue rotating on its axis, summer and winter will come and day and night will continue, and we won't keep rotating nearer and nearer another planet, until our seasons are all changed around and finally we'll bump and it will all be over. Oh, Satan would like to have us believe that God is not guiding things, but His hand is still over this universe and always will be.
But we ask, weren't the stars given for a purpose? Yes, they are. Notice Genesis 1:14, 15, "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them, be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so." I want you to notice this part in particular that God made them for signs and for seasons. God wants us to use them and He uses them for signs. And the devil always comes along with his counterfeit and says, "see God said they should be for signs and for seasons. Now here are the signs that they are for", and he hands out to innocent victims any deception that he wishes to invent.
The Bible and true science never clash. You can take any part of the Bible and take it into the laboratory, and the laboratory will not disprove any part. I think of what the prophet said, in Isaiah 47:13, 14, "Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame; there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it." There is a warning of the last days. He says there are people who have ignored His Word until it was too late, they have said there is no God, or we don't need to listen to all that God says. Now, He says, "Go to the astrologers, let them see if they can save you." Oh, that will be a terrible day, when a man realizes that he has been deceived and has been following cunningly devised fables, when he could have known truth from the Word of God. For God says, "They shall be as stubble and they shall be entirely burned up."
Friends, here is good news: Our lives are not crushed in the vice of some imaginary horoscope. To the Christian there is no "fell grip of circumstance," but the tender heart of a loving heavenly Father. Whosoever will may come, Revelation 22:17. According to 2 Corinthians 6:2, today "is the day of salvation." and "now is the accepted time", not some other day when the planets are propitious. Job 25:5 reads that "even ... the stars are not pure in his sight." Then why trust them as guides to life? In olden times the planets were supposed to be the abodes of the spirits of dead heroes, and it was really the worship of those departed Babylonian heroes that was the basis of astrology. The so-called "prophecies" of modern astrologers often fail as did the predictions of their ancient predecessors. In Hebrews 12:26 we read the starry orbs themselves will be shaken: "I shake not the earth only, but also heaven."
Friends, let us not put our trust in things that shake, but in something that cannot be shaken, even the Word of God. Let us not put our trust in the conjunction of planets nor in the precession of the equinoxes, but in the promises of God. Let us hear the words of the Lord: "Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." Isaiah 45:22.