The Sacred Calendar
Part 8
Are Stars Significant to the Sacred Calendar?

John Plunkett
New Moon Bible Study
April 20, 2015

What are the missing links in our understanding of the Sacred Calendar? 

I think that a lot of us have been asking that same question over the past year or so – or even more.

This question comes up when we realize that there are so many brethren who have rejected the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar (CRC) and its postponements but so many of them have differences from one another as to what the correct replacement methods should be.

There is something missing here; but I very much believe that that "something" must be revealed in the scriptures somewhere.

Let’s go back to the fourth day of the re-creation week and briefly review it:

Genesis 1:14-15:
And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven…

Why?  For what reason or purpose?  

Reason/purpose number one is:  

... to divide the day from the night...

Reason/purpose number two is: 

... and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years...

Reason/purpose number three is: 

... and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth"…

Please notice the order that this information is given: First, to divide the day from the night; secondly, for signs, seasons, days and years; thirdly, to give light to the earth. 

Does this order imply the relative importance of these three-fold functions?  In other words,  are the three functions listed in order of their importance?  Maybe.  maybe not!  The answer is not specified in the scriptures.  

Continuing in verse 16:

16a: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: 

Obviously this is referring to the sun and the moon.

They appear to us earth-dwellers to be the two great lights, only because they are relatively the closest sun and moon to us.  It's all a matter of perspective.  From our earthly viewpoint, and probably by God's wonderful design, as seen during an eclipse, our moon appears to us to be about the same size as our sun – even though we know for sure that our sun is so very much larger than our moon. 

All of the other heavenly bodies, including the other planets, moons and suns/stars all look smaller to us – from our point of view; but that doesn't mean that they are, in reality, smaller.

In reality, our sun and moon are both actually relatively tiny and insignificant compared with some of the other millions of vast suns and moons in the universe.

Last evening, Trish and I watched an episode of the BBC’s very interesting series “Wonders of the Universe” hosted by a young English astronomer, Dr. Brian Cox.  
(See  Despite his occasional mentions of the theory of evolution, much of the information is good, valid and very enlightening.

Does God mention some of these other massive suns, moons and planets in his Biblical re-creation account?  Yes, He does.  First of all, ever so briefly, still in chapter 1 of Genesis, right here at the end of verse 16:

16b:  … He made the stars also.
17:  And God set them
{all three – sun, moon and stars} in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18:  And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

In our calendar studies last year (2014), we spent lots of time and effort examining the scriptures that describe the movements of our own "local" sun and moon.

This is all very well; but we have to admit that we’re still left with some questions that those scriptures have not been able to answer totally satisfactorily.  We still have some "missing links" – especially with regards to the timing of God's New Year.  

This difference of opinion with regards to the timing of the New Year seems to be one of the main differences between those who otherwise agree regarding their rejection of the CRC.

Maybe – and yes, this is a big "maybe" – maybe the movements and the effects of the stars will help with our understanding of these missing links.  At least partially.

I say “maybe” because I’m still not sure of the detailed answers.  But I am sure that God created those stars for good reasons.  Why?  Because He says so in those verses that we just read in Genesis 1 – not just to give some secondary nighttime light to us humans.  At the time of the New Moon, even on the clearest of nights, not much light gets to us earth-dwellers from the stars.  But still, the stars are very, very important.  And I am certainly not talking about in an astrological way. 

In that BBC documentary, Brian Cox agrees with our recent studies, in that the astronomical equilibrium of our earth, moon, solar system, in fact the whole universe, is dependent upon the locations and movements of this truly astonishing third scriptural grouping of "lights in the firmament of heaven" – the stars.

So then, would it not be illogical for us to exclude the stars from the second function that God gave them: "for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years"?

There are sixty-five (65) appearances of the English words "star" or "stars" in the scriptures.

We have tended in the church in the past, whenever we read the word "star," to automatically think "angel."  Yes, correct Bible symbolism often does attribute the mentions of stars to angels.  But not always.  That would not be logical.  Sometimes in the scriptures, a star means just that – a physical star!

We don’t have time in this short Bible study to go through all sixty-five "star" scriptures; but what I would like to do is to bring our attention to a few scriptures that mention groups of stars – groups that we call "constellations."

If we don’t learn anything else from this, I hope that it will at least increase our glorification of God and His power, because that is what really comes out of this.

Job 38:
1:  Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
2:  "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3:   Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer you me… 

Them’s fightin’ words from the LORD.  But I don’t think He was just saying this to Job alone.  But possibly also to Job's fair-weather friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu, all of whom had been waxing eloquent regarding their solutions to Job's problems.  We see this all the way through the book of Job with these men spouting their own opinions.  Some of their conclusions were correct.  But some of them were misguided.  Whenever we have a mixture of truth and error, look out!  We could also apply these words to the BBC's Dr. Brian Cox, and his evolutionary opinions.  Continuing:

4:  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Declare, if you have understanding.
5:  Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know?  Or who has stretched the line upon it?
6:  Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?  Or who laid the cornerstone thereof;
7:  When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

I believe that there might be some possibility that the LORD gives His own answers to these questions further on in this chapter when He mentions four constellations of stars:

31:  Can you bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
32:  Can you bring forth Mazzaroth in his season
{Interesting phrase!}  Or can you guide Arcturus with his sons?

Earlier, the LORD asked a question about the foundations of the earth.  Just what are the foundations of the earth?  And what are the foundations of the earth actually based upon?  Or hanging on?  We could ask the same questions about our moon, our sun and our solar system.

But the answer is "Gravity"!  That is what they hang on.   That is what they depend on. That is what they are based upon.  

I don’t pretend to understand it all.  I'm no astronomer or scientist; but looking at the bigger picture, the greater "foundations" that support our whole solar system are the stars, the planets and the moons of our Milky Way galaxy and their individual gravities.

But it doesn't stop even there.  Going out further, the even greater "foundations" that support our Milky Way galaxy are the stars, planets, super-novae, etc. of our local universe and their gravities.  It is all dependent on the wonderful law of gravity that God created.

This is astonishing!  Our solar system itself takes about 250 million years to make one revolution around our Milky way galaxy.  It is all going around in a huge circle. 

So we have the moon going around the earth, the earth and other planets going around the sun, and the sun and its solar system going all the way around the Milky Way.  Even the Milky Way itself is going around something in the greater universe.  That BBC documentary showed that the very centre of the Milky Way is a black hole.  It is just astonishing!

It is so big; and yet it is all based on the same law as when we drop a spoon and gravity pulls it to the floor.  It is exactly the same; but on either a vast or tiny scale.

If you’d like to learn more about the amazing power and effects of gravity, check out that BBC “Wonders of the Universe” episode about gravity.  It is subtitled “Falling” and can be viewed on the Internet.

Now, in context with the previous verses, we come to another amazing verse, still in Job 38.   The LORD is asking this of those five people:

33:  Do you know the ordinances of heaven?  Can you set the dominion thereof in the earth? 

"The ordinances of heaven"?  Yes, the LORD is talking here about His "ordinances" and His "dominion" – as given from His throne in what we call "the third heaven."

But because of the context of this verse, following His listing of those four constellations, we can be quite sure that He is also relating His words to the physical heaven – the visible heavenly bodies located in what we sometimes call "the second heaven."  In other words those stars and star clusters such as the four examples given by the LORD: the Pleiades, Orion, Mazzaroth and Arcturus.  These four are, of course, just four examples of many.

It is almost like the LORD is asking Job here – and Job's four friends too – and Dr. Brian Cox – and the Jews – and today’s Church of God ministers – and anyone else who would try to take to themselves the authority to change His times, seasons and calendar: "Do you puny human beings think that you have the power or ability to even begin to understand the ordinances that I have created and set in motion by means of the lights in the firmament of heaven?  Also, do you think that you have the authority to set – or to change – the earthly dominion of the ordinances that I have set, revealed, timed and controlled by the movements of your local sun, moon and stars?"

Human beings do not have that authority!  Even God’s human beings – the people of His true church – do not have that authority!  

The authority and responsibility that we do have is two-fold.  Many of us know exactly what these two responsibilities are because we have been through them a lot lately.  We have the God-given responsibility and authority: 

  1. To reject the obviously incorrect changes which were made by the Jews and which were adopted by many or most of the mainstream Church of God groups.
  2. To restore God’s true calendar timing – to the very best of our ability.

Part 1 is the relatively easy part.  It is not totally easy, though, as we have found out.  It has caused many brethren to suffer some heartbreaks, offences and separations in recent weeks, months and years.  Nevertheless, through even a cursory study of the subject, most of the basic truths on it can be easily determined quite easily.

But Part 2 is not so easy.  In Part 1, we research it, we come to believe the truth on it and we come to reject what is false.  But Part 2 – the restoring God’s true calendar timing – is the more difficult part.  

Just possibly, the answers may lie in a deeper Biblical study of the stars.

In the meantime, as we study these things, praying for God's revelation according to His will, we need to be doing our best.  We can’t just sit there and say, "We reject the CRC timing, so we are not going to keep the Holy Days until we find out what the correct replacement timing should be."  No.  It is right that we make our best estimate of what the replacement timing should be and that we continue with that until God shows us otherwise.  And in the meantime we must keep on "digging"!

With this mention of the stars, am I advocating astrology?  Of course not!  Still, in the past, I had sometimes wondered why the LORD would even mention such things about these star-clusters that are named in His Word.  In my ignorance, I always thought that constellation names per se were astrological – not astronomical – and were, therefore, inherently sinful. 

It is easy to understand why the ancient mariners out there on the ocean would ascribe imaginary names and pictures to the constellations in order to identify and remember them easily for navigational purposes – so that they would be able to know what is north, south, east and west and to assist them in knowing how to get from Point A to Point B with the help of the stars.  It is clever stuff.  I don’t totally understand those things either; but they didn’t have GPS is those days!  Those mariners knew how to do it.  The Vikings and Columbus "discovered" the Americas using those astronomical methods.

It is also interesting that different cultures have different ideas of what the constellations picture.  Some will say this one looks like a ram and this one looks like a lion, etc.  One culture might agree with some others on certain constellation symbols; but not on all.  

I mention this because the actual constellation names – whether Greek, English, Hebrew or whatever – are not really very significant.  The exceptions to this rule are those the LORD specifically mentions in His Word; but even then, when He lists these four in Job 38, He seems to mention them in kind of a tongue-in-cheek way.  He brings them up for the purpose of saying: "Do you guys have the power to do these things that I have done?"  

But again, if and when individual stars and planets, or (supposed) groups of stars and planets are deified or are thought to have prophetic significance, that is where I believe we need to draw the line:

Jeremiah 10:2: 
Thus says the LORD, "Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them."

We have just been through a time where people are talking about so-called "blood moons," asking if they biblically significant or not.   As far as I know, nothing major happened during or after the appearance of these "blood moons."  The world didn’t end. 

I am not unfairly intending to ridicule such misconceptions; but we must be careful not to take the supposed significance of these things too far – especially if they have no truly scriptural support.  Similar mistakes have been made many times over the years and have come to nothing.

Let's go back to Job 38 and read verses 31 and 32 again:

Job 38:
31:  Can you bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
32:  Can you bring forth Mazzaroth in his season
{Interesting phrase} Or can you guide Arcturus with his sons?

Let's look at the word "Mazzaroth."  Before I was familiar with these verses, I recognized the name of Pleiades, and I had heard of Orion.  Less so of Arcturus.  But I had never heard of Mazzaroth before.  In my Bible readings, I read right over it without giving it so much as a second thought.  When Jewel mentioned it to me recently, I had to go and look it up, because it was not one of those scriptures that stuck in my mind.  I think that it is likely foreign to most of us. 

Most Bible versions leave the word untranslated.  Some versions translate it by giving it the group name "constellations."  Some translate it as the word "stars."

There are a couple of reasons why I, personally, don’t agree with either of those two: "constellations" or "stars."  Let’s go to Job 9 where three of these same constellations from Job 38:31-32 are mentioned:

Job 9:
1:  Then Job answered and said, 
2:  "I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?...
6:  Which shakes the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble...

Here we see these ideas again of the earth being supported somehow by astronomical "pillars."  Again, what are these pillars?  They are the forces of gravity as created and drafted into service by our great God!  Continuing:

7:  Which commands the sun, and it rises not; and seals up the stars.
8:  Which alone spreads out the heavens and treads upon the waves of the sea...

When He is talking about "the heavens" here, I believe that He is talking about the physical second heaven with all of its stars, planets and moons.  

As I'm sure you know, the movements of our moon have a huge effect on the waves and tides of our seas and oceans, as is alluded to here in verse 8.

Just as an aside, one of the interesting points that came out of that BBC documentary was that, as you are all familiar, the gravitational pull of the moon on the earth, as it orbits around us, literally pulls the water of the oceans out towards the moon.  So we have high tides and low tides, depending on the elliptical orbit of the moon and how close it is to the earth at any given time.  The sun's gravity has an additional effect.

But one of the astonishing facts that that documentary pointed out was that, conversely, the gravitational pull of the earth on the moon is so huge that the moon has "tides" too.  But the moon's "tides" are not tides of water – because there is no water there.  What there is is rock and stone, so the moon is actually distended by the earth's gravity.  The moon is actually pulled into a kind of "rugby ball" shape.  That is overstating it, of course, because the distention is only by a matter of metres.  Still, the earth's gravity actually stretches the moon as it comes closer in its elliptical orbit!

Back to Job 9:

9:  Which makes Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south
10:  Which does great things past finding out; yes, and wonders without number.

When Job says "chambers of the south" here, I am not totally sure what he is talking about.  There are different ideas and opinions on it.  It could be referring to the stars in the southern portion of the sky – perhaps as viewed from Job's homeland in the land of Uz, or from what we call "the Holy Land," or from the Jerusalem area.  Or it could even possibly be the stars as viewed in the southern hemisphere (but which, I believe, was probably unknown to most people in the northern hemisphere at that time).

The other interesting point about these verses is that "Mazzaroth" is not included with the other three as it is in the chapter 38 listing.  

What I find notable is that the way the word "Mazzaroth" is placed and phrased in the Job 38 listing has led some Bible scholars, Bible commentators and translators to the very plausible belief that "Mazzaroth" is not to be translated into the English word "constellations" or "stars"; but rather, that it is the Hebrew name of another constellation – a fourth constellation along with Pleiades, Orion and Arcturus.

The King James Version and most other versions that I have access to assign Greek/English names to the other three – Pleiades, Orion and Arcturus.  We can find their Hebrew names in Strong’s or in Hebrew Lexicons.  Young's Literal Translation of the Bible leaves all four untranslated:

Job 38:
31:  Do you bind sweet influences of Kimah?  Or the attractions of Kesil do you open?
32:  Do you bring out Mazzaroth in its season?  And Aysh for her sons do you comfort?

Perhaps the translator, Robert Young, didn’t really know and wasn't really sure what star cluster to assign each of them to; so he wisely left them the way that they are in the original Hebrew.

A similar – and perhaps related – Hebrew word to "Mazzaroth" is "Mazzalah" (Strong's 4208) which is only found once in the Bible – in II Kings 23:5 – and is translated in the King James Version as "planets": 

II Kings 23:5: 
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
{Mazzalah}, and to all the host of heaven.

We can see, just by this scripture alone – but also in many others as well – that astrology and the deification of heavenly bodies is condemned by the LORD.

I am going to dig into this stars topic in the next couple of months and I'll see if anything scripturally significant jumps out at me.  I ask you to do the same and to let me know. 

We should be very careful, however, to stay away from the belief that the sun, moon, planets, stars or anything else being "in" the area of a certain constellation is prophetically significant.  I don’t believe that it is.  It would be like saying that the car that just went down the street is prophetically significant or that its passing has some prophetic meaning to it.  I don’t believe that God is using such means to transmit information to His people.

What I am saying, though, is that I strongly believe that there is astronomical significance in the stars as far as the setting of God's true calendar is concerned – especially for the determination and setting of His true New Year.

I am interested in Job 38, where it talks about the "sweet influences" of Pleiades (Kimah).  Is it possible, for instance, that the Pleiades constellation becomes visible at the beginning of springtime?  What do the “sweet influences” mean?  I don’t believe that it has any astrological influence on human beings or on human behaviour other than the astronomical fact that, once the winter is gone and the spring comes, we all feel better.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that a certain star (possibly Sirius?) only becomes visible at the Vernal Equinox and the possibility that this is mentioned in the scriptures somewhere.  

But this part of our studies on this topic is only the beginning of a larger work-in-progress.  I pray that, if it is God's will, He will reveal the answers to us; but as always, only according to His perfect timing.

In the meantime, let us adhere to His written Word to the very best of our ability, let us reject falsehood and spurious human additions to the holy scriptures, and let us love our brethren without judging them – even if they disagree with our own conclusions.