The Witness of the Stars
The Sign Pisces (The Fishes)
The blessings of the redeemed in abeyance
21. Pisces (the Fishes) and The Band
In this third chapter of the Second Book we come to the results of the Redeemer's work enjoyed, but in connection with conflict, as is seen in the last of the three sections (the constelation of Andromeda, the chained woman), which leads up to the last chapter of the book, and ends it in triumph over every enemy.
The Sign is pictured as two large fishes bound together by a Band, the ends of which are fastened separately to their tails. One fish is represented with its head pointing upwards towards the North Polar Star, the other is shown at right angles, swimming along the line of the ecliptic, or path of the sun.
The ancient Egyptian name, as shown on the Denderah Zodiac, is Pi-cot Orion, or Pisces Hori, which means the fishes of Him that cometh.
The Hebrew name is Dagim, the Fishes, which is closely connected with multitudes, as in Genesis 48:26, where Jacob blesses Joseph's sons, and says, "Let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." The margin says, "Let them grow as fishes do increase." It refers to the fulfilment of Genesis 1:28, "Be fruitful and multiply." The multitude of Abraham's seed is prominent in the pronouncement of the blessings, where God compared his future posterity to the stars of the sky, and the sand upon the sea shore. "A very great multitude of fish," as in Ezekiel 47:9.
The Syriac name is Nuno, the fish, lengthened out (as in posterity).
The sign, then, speaks of the multitudes who should enjoy the blessings of the Redeemer's work.
And here we must maintain that "the Church," which is "the Body of Christ," was a subject that was never revealed to man until it was made known to the Apostle Paul by a special revelation. The Holy Spirit declares (Rom 16:25) that it "was kept secret since the world began." In Ephesians 3:9 he declares that it "from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God"; and in Colossians 1:26, that it "hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints." In each scripture which speaks of it as "now made manifest," or "now made known," it is distinctly stated that it was "a mystery," i.e. a secret, and had, up to that moment, been hidden from mankind, hidden "in God." How, then, we ask, can "the Church," which was a subsequent revelation, be read into the previous prophecies, whether written in the Old Testament Scriptures, or made known in the Heavens? If the Church was revealed in prophecy, then it could not have been said to be hidden or kept secret. If the first revelation of it was made known to Paul, as he distinctly affirms it was, then it could not have been revealed before. Unless we see this very clearly, we cannot "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15). And if we do not rightly divide the word of truth, in its subjects, and times, and dispensations, we must inevitably be landed in confusion and darkness, interpreting of the Church, scriptures which belong only to Israel.
The Church, or Body of Christ, is totally distinct from every class of persons who are made the subject of prophecy. Not that the Church of God was an after-thought. No, it waws a Divine secret, kept as only God Himself could keep it. The Bible therefore would have been complete (so far as the Old Testament prophecies are concerned) if the Epistles (which belong only to the Church) were taken out. The Old Testament would then give us the kingdom prophesied; the Gospels and Acts, the King and the kingdom offered and rejected; then the Apocalypse would follow, showing how that promised kingdom will yet be set up with Divine judgment, power and glory.
If these Signs and these star-pictures be the results of inspired patriarchs, then this Sign of PISCES can refer to "His seed," prophesied of in Isaiah 53 "He shall see His seed." It must refer to
"The nation whose God is the LORD,
"Such as be blessed of Him shall
inherit the earth."
"The LORD shall increase you more
"Their seed shall be known among
"They are the seed of the blessed
of the LORD,
The prophecy of this Sign was afterwards written in the words of Isaiah 26:15--the song which shall yet be sung in the land of Judah:
"Thou hast increased the nation, O
And in Isaiah 9:3 (RV), speaking of the glorious time when the government shall be upon the shoulder of the coming King:
"Thou hast multiplied the nation,
Of that longed-for day Jeremiah sings (30:19):
"I will multiply them
Ezekiel also is inspired to say:
"I will multiply men upon you,
"Moreover I will make a covenant of
peace with them;
Indeed, this sign of PISCES has always been interpreted of Israel. Both Jews and Gentiles have agreed in this. ABARBANEL, a Jewish commentator, writing on Daniel, affirms that the Sign PISCES always refers to the people of Israel. He gives five reasons for this belief, and also affirms that a conjunciton of the planets Jupiter and Saturn always betokens a crisis in the affairs of Israel. Because such a conjunction took place in his day (about 1480 AD) he looked for the coming of Messiah.
Certain it is, that when the sun is in PISCES all the constellations which are considered noxious, are seen above the horizon. What is true in astronomical observation is true also in historical fact. When God's favour is shown to Israel, "the Jew's enemy" puts forth his malignant powers. When they increased and multiplied in Egypt, he endeavoured to compass the destruction of the nation by destroying the male children; but their great Deliverer remembered His covenant, defeated the designs of the enemy, and brought the counsel of the heathen to nought. So it was in Persia; and so it will yet be again when the hour of Israel's final deliverance has come.
There can be no doubt that we have in this Sign the foreshowing of the multiplication and blessing of the children of promise, and a token of their coming deliverance from all the power of the enemy.
But why two fishes? and why is one horizontal and the other perpendicular? The answer is, that not only in Israel, but in the seed of Seth and Shem there were always those who looked for a heavenly portion, and were "partakers of a heavenly calling." In Hebrews 11 we are distinctly told that Abraham "looked for a city which hath foundaitons, whose builder and maker is God" (v 10). They were "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (v 13). Strangers are those without a home, and pilgrims are those who are journeying home: "they seek a country" (v 14). They desired "a better country, that is, an HEAVENLY: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city" (v 16). It is clear, therefore, that what are called the "Old Testament Saints" were "partakers of THE HEAVENLY CALLING" (Heb 3:1), which included a heavenly portion and a heavenly home; and all through the ages there have been "partakers of the heavenly calling." This is quite distinct from the calling of the Church, which is from both Jews and Gentiles to form "one body," a "new man" in Christ (Eph 2:15). It must be distinct, for it is expressly stated at the end of that chapter (Heb 11:40) that God has "PROVIDED (marg. foreseen) SOME BETTER THING FOR US." How can this be a "better thing," if it is the same thing? There must be two separate things if one is "better" than the other! Our calling in Christ is the "beter thing." The Old Testament saints had, and will have, a good thing. They will have a heavenly blessing, and a heavenly portion, for God has "prepared for them a city," and we see that prepared city, even "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of HEAVEN, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:2). This is the "heavenly" portion of the Old Testament saints, the Bride of Christ. The Church will have a still "better" portion, for "they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb 11:40).
The fish, shooting upwards to the Polar Star, exquisitely pictures this "heavenly calling"; while the other fish, keeping on the horizontal line, answers to those who were content with an earthly portion.
But both alike were divinely called, and chosen, and upheld. The names of two of the stars in the sign are Okda (Hebrew), the united, and Al Samaca (Arabic), the upheld. These again speak of the redeemed seed, of whom, and to whom, Jehovah speaks in that coming day of glory in Isaiah 41:8-10 (RV):
"But thou, Israel, My servant,
This is the teaching of the Sign; and the first constellation takes up this thought and emphasises it.
21. Pisces (the Fishes) and The Band
The band that unites these two fishes has always formed a separate constellation. The Arabian poems of ANTARAH frequently mention it as distinct from the Sign with which it is so closely connected. ANTARAH was an Arabian poet of the sixth century.
Its ancient Egyptian name was U-or, which means He cometh. Its Arabic name is Al Risha, the band, or bridle.
It speaks of the Coming One, not in His relation to Himself, or to His enemies, but in His relation to the Redeemed. It speaks of Him who says:
"I drew them with cords of a man,
But it speaks also of His unloosing the bands with which they have been so long bound.
One end of the band is fastened securely round the tail of one fish, and it is the same with the other. Moreover, this band is fastened to the neck of Cetus, the sea monster, while immediately above is seen a woman chained as a captive. These both tell the same story, and, indeed, all are required to set forth the whole truth. The fishes are bound to Cetus; the woman (Andromeda) is chained; but the Deliverer of both is near. Cepheus, the Crowned King, the Redeemer, "the Breaker," the Branch, is seen coming quickly for the deliverance of His redeemed. These are the three constellations of this sign, and all three are required to set forth the story.
Israel now is bound. The great enemy still oppresses, but deliverance is sure. ARIES, the Ram, is seen with his paws on this band, as though about to loosen the bands and set the captives free, and to fast bind their great oppressor.
22. Andromeda (the Chained Woman)
This is a peculiar picture to set in the heavens. A woman with chains fastened to her feet and arms, in misery and trouble; and bound, helpless, to the sky. Yet this is the ancient foreshowing of the truth.
In the Denderah Zodiac her name is Set, which means set, set up as a queen. In Hebrew it is Sirra, the chained, and Persea, the stretched out.
There are 63 stars in this constellation, three of which are of the 2nd magnitude, two of the 3rd, twelve of the 4th, etc.
The brightest star, a (in the head), is called Al Phiratz (Arabic), the broken down. The star b (in the body) is called Mirach (Hebrew), the weak. The star g (in the left foot) is called Al Maach, or Al Amak (Arabic), struck down.
The names of other stars are Adhil, the afflicted; Mizar, the weak; Al Mara (Arabic), the afflicted. ARATUS speaks of Desma, which means the bound, and says--
"Her feet point to her bridegroom
Thus, with one voice, the stars of Andromeda speak to us of the captive daughter of Zion. And her coming Deliverer thus addresses her:
"O thou afflicted, tossed with
tempest, and not comforted,
"Hear now this, thou afflicted...
"The virgin daughter of My people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow" (Jer 14:17).
The picture which sets forth her deliverance is reserved for the next chapter (or Sign), where it comes in its proper place and order. We are fist shown her glorious Deliverer; for we never, in the heavens or in the Word, have a reference to the sufferings without an immediate reference to the glory.
23. Cepheus (the Crowned King)
Here we have the presentation of a glorious king, crowned, and enthroned in the highest heaven, with a sceptre in his hand, and his foot planted on the very Polar Star itself.
His name in the Denderah Zodiac is Pe-ku-hor, which means this one cometh to rule.
The Greek name by which he is now known, Cepheus, is from the Hebrew, and means the branch, and is called by EURIPIDES the king.
An old Ethiopian name was Hyk, a king.
There are 35 stars, viz., three of the 3rd magnitude, seven of the 4th, etc.
The brightest star, a (in the right shoulder), is called Al Deramin, which means coming quickly. The next, b (in the girdle), is named Al Phirk (Arabic), the Redeemer. The next g (in the left knee), is called Al Rai, which means who bruises or breaks.
It is impossible to mistake the truth which these names teach. The Greeks, though they had lost it, yet preserved a trace of it, even in their perversion of it; for they held that Cepheus was the father of Andromeda, and that Perseus was her husband.
Yes; this is the glorious King of Israel, the "King of kings, and Lord of lords." It is He who calls Israel His "son," and will yet manifest it to all the world.
In Jeremiah 21, after speaking of Israel's restoration, Jehovah says:
"At the same time, saith the LORD,
will I be the God of all the families of Israel,
As He said to Moses: "Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn" (Exo 4:22).
Here is the foundation of Israel's blessing. True, it is now in abeyance, but "the LORD reigneth," and will in due time make good His Word, for
"The counsel of the LORD standeth
This leads us up to the last chapter of the Second Book, which shows us the fulfilment of all the prophecies concerning the Redeemed and the sure foundation on which their great hope of glory is based.