The Witness of the Stars
In this Third and Last Book we come to the concluding portion of this Heavenly Revelation. Its subject is Redemption completed, and consummated in triumph. No more sorrow, suffering, or conflict; no more the bruising of the heel of the Redeemer. We have now done with the prophecies of "the sufferings of Christ," and have come to those that relate to "the glory that should follow."
No more reference now to His first coming in humiliation. No more coming "forth" to suffer and die, a sacrifice for sins; the reference now is only to His second coming in glory; His coming "unto" this earth is not to suffer for sin (Heb 9:28), but it will be a coming in power to judge the earth in righteousness, and to subdue all enemies under His feet.
Like the other two books, it consists of four chapters.
The Sign Taurus (The Bull)
Messiah, the coming Judge of all the earth
28. Taurus (the Bull)
The picture is that of a Bull rushing forward with mighty energy and fierce wrath, his horns set so as to push his enemies, and pierce them through and destroy them.
It is a prophecy of Christ, the coming Judge, and Ruler, and "Lord of all the earth."
The Egyptian Zodiac of Denderah already, 4,000 years ago, had forgotten the truth to which the prophecy had referred, and called him Isis, i.e., who saves or delivers, and Apis, i.e., the head or chief. The Bull is clearly represented, and in all the zodiacs which have come down to us is always in the act of pushing, or rushing.
The name of the sign in Chaldee is Tor. Hence, Arabic, Al Thaur; Greek, Tauros; Latin, Taurus, etc. The more common Hebrew name was Shur, which is from a root which means both coming and ruling. There are several Hebrew words for bulls and oxen, etc. But the common poetical term for all is Reem, conveying the idea of loftiness, exaltation, power, and pre-eminence. We find the root in other kindred languages (Etruscan, Sanscrit, etc.), and it can be traced in the name of Abram, which means pre-eminent or high father; Ramah, high place, etc.
The stars in Taurus present a brilliant sight. There are at least 141 stars, besides two important groups of stars, which both form integral parts of the sign.
The brightest star, a (in the bull's eye), has a Chaldee name--Al Debaran, and means the leader or governor. The star b (at the tip of the left horn) has an Arabic name--El Nath, meaning wounded or slain. Another prophetic intimation that this coming Lord should be first slain as a sacrifice.
Then there is the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades. This word, which means the congregation of the judge or ruler, comes to us through the Greek Septuagint as the translation of the Hebrew kimah, which means the heap or accumulation, and occurs in Job 9:9; 38:31, 32, and Amos 5:8.
It consists of a number of stars (in the neck of Taurus) which appear to be near together. The brightest of them, marked h in all the maps, * has come down to us with an Arabic name--Al Cyone, which means the centre, and has given the idea to some astronomers that it is the centre of the whole universe. The Syriac name for the Pleiades is Succoth, which means booths.
Another group of stars (on the face of the Bull) is known as The Hyades, * which has the similar meaning of the congregated.
Other stars are named Palilicium (Hebrew), belonging to the judge; Wasat (Arabic), centre or foundation; Al Thuraiya (Arabic), the abundance; Vergiliae (Latin), the centre (Arabic, vertex) turned on, rolled round.
Every thing points to the important truth, and all turns on the fact that the Lord is COMING TO RULE! This is the central truth of all prophecy. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." All hope for Creation, all hope for the world, all hope for Israel, all hope for the Church, turns on this, that "Jesus is coming again," and that when He comes His saints, "the daughters of the King" (like the Pleiades and Hyades), will be with Him.
There is nothing of "the Church" revealed here. The Church will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, to be for ever with the Lord (1 Thess 4:17) before He thus comes unto the world in judgment. He will come forth to receive the members of His Body unto Himself, before He thus comes with them to destroy all His enemies and "judge (or rule) the world in righteousness." When we read this Sign of Taurus, therefore, we are to understand that His Church will be with Him, safe from all judgment.
There is very much in the Scripture of the Book, (as there is in the prophecies in the heavens) about the coming of the Lord in judgment; and about this time of His indignation. For Enoch, who doubtless was used in arranging these prophetic signs, uttered the prophetic words, "Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment upon all and to convict all that are ungodly" (Jude 14,15).
At a very early period these signs were appropriated to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and borne upon their "standards." This may be traced in the Blessing of Jacob (Gen 49), and in the Blessing of Moses (Deut 33). Taurus was assigned to Joseph, or rather to his two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, like the two powerful horns:
"The firstling of his bulllock
(marg. his firstling bullock)--majesty is his,
It is not, however, merely by men alone that this will be done, for David sings:
"Thou art my King, O GOD...
"I will punish the world for their
Speaking of that day, the Holy Spirit says by Isaiah:
"For the LORD hath indignation
against all the nations,
"Behold, the LORD cometh forth out
of His place
This is the united testimony of the two Revelations. It is pictured in the heavens, and it is written in the Book. It is the prophecy of a coming Judge, and of a coming judgment.
It is, however, no mere Bull that is coming, It is a man, a glorious man, even "the Son of Man." This is the first development, shown in the first of the three constellations belonging to the sign.
29. Orion (the Glorious One)
This picture is to show that the coming one is no mere animal, but a man: a mighty, triumphant, glorious prince.
He is so pictured in the ancient Denderah Zodiac, where we see a man coming forth pointing to the three bright stars (Rigel, Bellatrix, and Betelguez) as his. His name is given as Ha-ga-t, which means this is he who triumphs. The hieroglyphic characters below read Oar. Orion was anciently spelt Oarion, from the Hebrew root, which means light. So that Orion means coming forth as light. The ancient Akkadian was Ur-ana, the light of heaven.
Orion is the most brilliant of all the constellations, and when he comes to the meridian he is accompanied by several adjacent constellations of great splendour. There is then above the horizon the most glorious view of the celestial bodies that the starry firmament affords; and this magnificent view is visible to all the habitable world, because the equinoctial line (or solstitial colure) passes nearly through the middle of Orion.
ARATUS thus sings of him:
"Eastward, beyond the region of the
The constellation is mentioned by name, as being perfectly well known both by name and appearance, in the time of Job; and as being an object of familiar knowledge at that early period of the world's history. See Job 9:9; 38:31, and Amos 5:8 (Heb. Chesil, which means a strong one, a hero, or giant).
It contains 78 stars, two being of the 1st magnitude, four of the 2nd, four of the 3rd, sixteen of the 4th, etc.
A little way below i (in the sword) is a very remarkable nebulous star. A common telescope will show that it is a beautiful nebula. A powerful telescope reveals it as consisting of collections of nebulous stars, these again being surrounded by faint luminous points, which still more powerful telescopes would resolve into separate stars.
Thus beautifully is set forth the brilliancy and glory of that Light which shall break forth when the moment comes for it to be said, "Arise, shine, for thy light is come."
The picture presents us with "the Light of the world." His left foot is significantly placed upon the head of the enemy. He is girded with a glorious girdle, studded with three brilliant stars; and upon this girdle is hung a sharp sword. Its handle proves that this mighty Prince is come forth in a new character. He is again proved to be "the Lamb that was slain," for the hilt of this sword is in the form of the head and body of a lamb. In his right hand he lifts on high his mighty club; while in his left he holds forth the token of his victory--the head and skin of the "roaring lion." We ask in wonder, "Who is this?" and the names of the stars give us the answer.
The brightest, a (in the right shoulder), is named Betelgeuz, which means the coming (Mal 3:2) of the branch.
The next, b (in the left foot), is named Rigel, or Rigol, which means the foot that crusheth. The foot is lifted up, and placed immediately over the head of the enemy, as though in the very act of crushing it. Thus, the name of the star bespeaks the act.
The next star, g (in the left shoulder), is called Bellatrix, which means quickly coming, or swiftly destroying.
The name of the fourth star, d (one of the three in the belt), carries us back to the old, old story, that this glorious One was once humbled; that His heel was once bruised. Its name is Al Nitak, the wounded One. * Similarly the star k (in the right leg) is called Saiph, bruised, which is the very word used in Genesis 3:15, thus connecting Orion with the primeval prophecy. Like Ophiuchus, he has one leg bruised; while, with the other, he is crushing the enemy under foot.
This is betokened by other stars named Al Rai, who bruises, who breaks (as in Cepheus); and Thabit (Hebrew), treading on.
Other (Arabic) names relate to His Person: Al Giauza, the branch; Al Gebor, the mighty; Al Mirzam, the ruler; Al Nagjed, the prince; Niphla (Chaldee), the mighty; Nux (Hebrew), the strong. Some names relate to His coming, as Betelgeuse and Bellatrix, as above; Heka (Chaldee), coming; and Meissa (Hebrew), coming forth.
Such is the cumulative testimony of Orion's stars, which, day after day, and night after night, show forth this knowledge. That testimony was afterwards written in the Book. The Prince of Glory, who was once wounded for the sins of His redeemed, is about to rise up and shine forth for their deliverance. Their redemption draweth nigh; for--
"The LORD shall go forth as a
Then it will be said to His people (and the setting of the prophecy in its beautiful introverted structure shows us the beauty and glory of the truth it reveals): *
This is "the glory of the God" which the heavens constantly declare (Psalm 19:1). They tell of that blessed time when the whole earth shall be filled with His glory (Num 14:21; Isa 11:9); when "the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isa 40:5), as all see now the beauty of Orion's glory.
But side by side with the glory which the coming Light of the world shall bring for His people, there is "that wicked," whom the Lord "shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." Hence, as in the concluding chapter (4) of the First Book (of which this Third Book is the expansion) we had in LYRA (the harp), as 1, Praise prepared for the Conqueror; and in ARA (the burning pyre), as 2, consuming fire prepared for His enemies: so in the first chapter of this book, we have in ORION, as 1, Glory prepared for the Conqueror; and in ERIDANUS, as 2, the River of wrath prepared for His enemies. This brings us to--
30. Eridanus (the River)
It issues forth, in all the pictures, from the down-coming foot of Orion. While others see in it, from the ignorance of fabled story, only "the River Po," or the "River Euphrates," we see in it, from the meaning of its name, and from the significance of its positon, the river of the Judge.
In the Denderah Zodiac it is a river under the feet of Orion. It is named Peh-ta-t, which means the mouth of the river.
It is an immense constellation.
According to the Britannic catalogue, it consists of 84 stars; one of the 1st magnitude, one of the 2nd, eight of the 3rd, etc.
The brightest star, a (at the mouth of the river), bears the ancient name of Achernar, which is in, as its name means, the after part of the river.
The next star, b (at the source of the river), is named Cursa, which means bent down. The next, g (at the second bend in the river), is called Zourac (Arabic) flowing. Other stars are Pheat, mouth (of the river); and Ozha, the going forth.
Here, then, we have a river flowing forth from before the glorious Orion. It runs in a serpentine course towards the lower regions, down, down, out of sight. In vain the sea monster, Cetus, strives to stop its flow. It is "the river of the Judge," and speaks of that final judgment in which the wicked will be cast into the lake of fire. It was evidently originally associated with fire; for the Greek myths, though gross perversions, stil so connect it. According to their fables, something went wrong with the chariot of the sun, and a universal conflagration was threatened. In the trouble, Phaeton (probably a reference to the star Pheat) was killed and hurled into this river, in which he was consumed with its fire. The whole earth suffered from such a burning heat that great disasters ensued. We see from this myth two great facts preserved in the perverted tradition, viz., judgment and fire.
ARATUS also preserves the connection,
"For yonder, trod by heavenly feet,
Is not this the testimony afterwards written in the Book? Daniel sees this very river in his vision of that coming day, when the true Orion shall come forth in His glory. He says, "I beheld till the thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit:...His throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A FIERY STREAM ISSUED AND CAME FORTH FROM BEFORE HIM." This is the River of the Judge; for he goes on to say, "the judgment was set, and the books were opened" (Dan 7:9-11, RV).
We have the same in Psalm 97:3-5 (RV), which describes the scene when the Lord shall reign:
"A FIRE GOETH BEFORE HIM,
So again in Psalm 50:3, we read:
"Our God shall come, and shall not
By Habakkuk the coming of the Lord is described; and it is written:
"His brightness was as the
What is this but Orion and Eridanus!
Again, it is written in Isaiah 30:27-33 (RV):
"Behold, the name of the LORD
cometh from far,
So, again, we read in Nahum 1:5, 6:
"The mountains quake at Him,
In Isaiah 66:15, 16, we read:
"For, behold, the LORD will come
With this agree the New Testament scriptures, which speak of "the Day of the Lord," "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, IN FLAMING FIRE taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess 1:7,8).
This is the true Eridanus. It is no mere "picture." It is a dread reality! It is written in stars of fire, and words of truth, that men may heed the solemn warning and "flee from the wrath to come"!
But we ask, "Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth" (Mal 3:2)? "Who can stand before His indignation," when "His fury is poured out like fire" (Nahum 1:6)?
The answer is given in the next picture!
31. Auriga (the Shepherd)
Here is presented to us the answer to the question, "Who may abide the day of His coming?"
"Behold, the Lord GOD (Adonai
Jehovah) will come as a mighty one,
This is exactly what is presented before us in this last section of the chapter, which tells of the coming judgment. We have had the picture of a mighty Bull rushing forth; then the fiery river of the Judge; and now we see a Great Shepherd. He is seated upon "the milky way," holding up on his left shoulder a she goat. She clings to his neck, and is looking down affrighted at the terrible on-rushing Bull. In his left hand he supports two little kids, apparently just born, and bleating, and trembling with fear.
"She is both large and bright, but
Is not this the Great Shepherd gathering the lambs in His arm? and carrying them in His bosom? Is He not saying:
"I will save My flock,
"And David my servant shal be king
"And they shall fear no more,
AURIGA is from a Hebrew root which means a shepherd. It is a beautiful constellation of 66 stars; one of the 1st magnitude, two of the 2nd, nine of the 4th, etc.
The brightest star, a (in the body of the goat), points her out as the prominent feature of the constellation, for its name Alioth (Hebrew) means a she goat. It is known by the modern Latin name Capella, which has the same meaning.
The next star, b (in the shepherd's right arm), is called Menkilinon, and means the band, or chain of the goats, and points out the truth that they are never more to be lost again, but to be bound, with the bands of love, to the Shepherd for evermore.
The name of another star is Maaz, which means a flock of goats.
Can there be any mistake as to who this Shepherd is? for the bright star in his right foot is called El Nath (like another in ARIES), which means wounded or slain. This is He, then, who was once bruised or wounded in the heel. He is "the GOOD Shepherd," who gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11), but He was "the GREAT Shepherd" brought again from the dead (Heb 13:20); and is now the CHIEF Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4) seen in the day of His coming glory. Another star emphasises this truth, for it is named Aiyuk, which also means wounded in the foot.
The star marking the kids is called Gedi (Hebrew), kids.
In Latin, the word Auriga means a coachman or charioteer, the band in his right hand being taken as his reins. But the incongruity of a charioteer carrying a she-goat, and nursing two little kids, never struck them; nor did the fact that he has no chariot and no horses! When man blunders in the things of God, he does it thoroughly!
In the Zodiac of Denderah the same truth was revealed more than 4,000 years ago; but the Man, instead of carrying the sheep, is carrying a sceptre, and is called Trun, which means sceptre or power. But this is a strange sceptre, for at the top it has the head of a goat, and at the bottom, below the hand that holds it, it ends in a cross! With the Egyptians the cross was a sign of life. they knew nothing of "the death of the cross." Here, then, we see life and salvation for the sheep of His flock when He comes to reign and rule in judgment. The truth is precisely the same, though the presentation of it is somewhat varied.
The connected teaching of the two constellations, Eridanus and Auriga, is solemnly set forth in Malachi 4:1-3 (RV):
"Behold, the day cometh,
In Psalm 37 this day is repeatedly referred to, the day when "the wicked shall be cut off"; and it concludes by summarizing the same great truth (vv 38-40, RV):
"As for transgressors, they shall
be destroyed together;
Oh, that all who read these pages may heed the solemn warning, and flee for refuge to Him who now, in this day of grace, is crying, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, O all ye ends of the earth" (Isa 45:22).