When my family had lunch at a Chinese restaurant a while back, we were given a placemat that featured the Chinese Zodiac. (This system differs from the western version of astrology that designates the month of a person’s birth as their “sign,” with a corresponding symbol, e.g., July 23 – August 22 – “Leo,” = lion). In the Chinese system, a cycle of twelve years is used, represented by twelve animals: Rat (e.g., 1984), Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig [Boar]. Astrology offers a way of understanding the destiny of a person’s life.
Those who are following this kind of belief system are looking for identity, spiritual influence, and guidance through astrological symbols.
Let’s consider how a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ provides for these needs. (This is not to ridicule those with different beliefs, but rather to reassure believers in the Lord Jesus of the adequacy of Life in Him.) Christ promised, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
1. The need for IDENTITY
In the book of Genesis the creation account identifies us as personal, spiritual, and moral beings.
“Then God said,
‘Let Us make man in Our image,
according to Our likeness;
let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
over the birds of the air, and over the cattle,
over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’
So God created man in His own image;
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26,27).
People have been created by a personal, sovereign God. Being made in His image, mankind was given dominion over this earth.
As Genesis chapter 3 records, in the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve violated their covenant with God. As our first parent and federal representative, Adam incurred spiritual death for himself and all of his descendants (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12). Because of this plight, we are born into a fallen world with the need for redemption (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).
Enter God’s plan of salvation. Back at the time of the Fall, God promised,
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He [Messiah] shall bruise your [Satan’s] head,
And you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15).
This prophecy was fulfilled in the first advent of Jesus. As the author of Hebrews declared, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh
and blood, He Himself [God’s Son] likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release [through His resurrection] those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14,15).
This provides the way of deliverance from judgment for those who receive the Lord Christ as Savior: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation [atonement] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed [in the Old Testament age] (Rom. 3:24-25; John 1:12).
Those who take refuge in Christ are taken out of Adam’s spiritual line and placed into Christ’s spiritual line (Rom. 5:14-20). This gives believers a new spiritual identity. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…” (Eph. 2:10). This identity is not based on the timing of our physical birth, but on the nature of our spiritual birth. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration [new birth] and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5,6). By faith, we are to discover the wonderful meaning of our identity in Him!
2. The need for INFLUENCE
According to astrology, the positions of celestial bodies influence a person’s life on earth: “Natural astrology …[has] assumed that a generalized celestial influence affected weather, crops, and other phenomena related to whole nations of people.”
Such influence is also believed to affect a person’s character. The Japanese version of the Chinese model, …”[has] believed that people took on the character of the animal sign of one’s birth. For example, people born in the year of the rat (i.e., any year in which the rat symbol is part of the two-symbol combination) were restless. Those born in the year of the ox were patient.”
By way of contrast, a personal relationship with God through Christ opens a person’s life to the real influence of the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22,23). This is no impersonal, imagined influence; the Spirit of God reveals the truth of the gospel to the unsaved person and enables him/her to confess “Jesus is Lord!” (1 Cor. 12:3). Since the Holy Spirit indwells the true Christian, Scripture exhorts: “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). We are to continually live under His good influence!
3. The need for GUIDANCE
The daily horoscope offers guidance for daily life. Consider the popularity of this advice: “Contemporary astrology is a widespread and lucrative practice. Newspapers all over the world publish daily astrological forecasts; books and periodicals devoted exclusively to astrology have a large readership; and many astrologers prepare elaborate predictions for thousands of believers. In the Orient, auspicious days for important activities are selected by astrologers; in Korea, China, and Japan, for example, they give advice on the appropriate days for weddings.”
Some may defend astrology if their horoscope’s predictions seem to come to pass. However, an article in Time magazine responded, “There are so many variables and options to play with that the astrologer is always right. Break a leg when your astrologer told you the signs were good, and he can always congratulate you on escaping what might have happened had the signs been bad. Conversely, if you go against the signs and nothing happens, the astrologer can insist that you were subconsciously careful because you were forewarned.”
The Bible’s guidance is objective and authoritative (Psalm 119:105). God does not allow those in covenant relationship with Him to seek spiritual knowledge apart from His revealed Word. As the prophet Isaiah warned, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). And Jeremiah proclaimed,
“Thus says the LORD:
‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;
Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,
For the Gentiles are dismayed at them'” (Jer. 10:2; See Isaiah 47:13-15; Deut. 4:19; Dan. 2:27-28).
To gain wisdom for important decisions we have the privilege of prayer and the principles of Scripture: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5; See 2 Tim. 3:16,17).
4. The role of SYMBOLS
The western version of astrology uses 12 symbols corresponding to the month of one’s birth: Lion, Crab, Twins, Bull, Ram, Fishes, Water Carriers, Goat, Archer, Scorpion, Balance, and Virgin. How were these signs chosen? “About 2,000 years ago, each sign received the name of the constellation that occupied its position.” [This however, presents scientific problems for the modern follower of astrology.] “But, since that time, the signs have slipped westward about one full division, because the position of the earth’s axis has changed. Today, the stars of Aries are in the sign of Taurus. Those of Taurus are in the sign of Gemini, those of Gemini are in the sign of Cancer, and so on.”
Sometimes people who read horoscopes ask, “What’s your sign?” The Christian has many “signs” or symbols that represent various aspects of redemption. These symbols still have validity today. For example, Christ is the Lion (King of Kings – Rev. 5:5) and the Lamb (the perfect sacrifice – Rev. 5:12). The cross represents Christ’s atonement (1 Cor. 1: 17-25), and the dove represents the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16). The early Christians also used the sign of the fish — ixthus. (This word for “fish” in Greek is used as an acrostic: i = Jesus, x = Christ, th = God’s, u = son, s = savior.)
Rather than looking to the stars for identity, influence, and guidance, look to the One who created them. As the father of John the Baptist testified,
“… the Dayspring from on high [Christ] has visited us;
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78,79).
 “Astrology,” Y2000 Grolier MME
 “The Chinese Zodiac,” Japan Now, 1996
 Erika Bourguignon, “Astrology,” Encyclopedia Americana
 Time Magazine, March 21, 1969, p.56; quoted in Handbook of Today’s Religions, by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart (Here’s Life, 1982), p.166.
 I. M. Levitt, “Zodiac,” World Book Encyclopedia, 1967.
Graphic courtesy of www.heartlight.org