Christians have believed that Astrology is wrong and that they should have nothing to do with it. It is beyond the scope of this blog to prove this from the Bible, but suffice it to say that the Bible claims only God knows the future, and we should not seek out any person who claims to know the future by their own means, or by means of their access to some “power” other than the Lord. Likewise, we should not believe that “the stars” or any other created thing have any “control” or “say” or “knowledge” of human affairs and destiny. Only God is sovereign.
So, if this is the case, then why does the Gospel of Matthew seem to portray astrology in such a positive light? How is it that the “art” and “skill” of Persian occultists/astrologers led them to the infant Jesus in Matthew 2:1-12? Weren’t the Magi “enchanters” and “astrologers”, the very type of people the Old Testament tells us to avoid? A couple of points.
First, the Magi did not come to Jesus because of astrology, or divination.
From first to last the work was God’s. The Magi were pagans who would have practiced such things as divination, necromancy, and astrology. But these practices played no role in their coming to Jesus. God made them see a “star” where no star or comet should be. This was a “star” that only they could see. Seeing the “star” was connected to receiving the knowledge of One they should come and worship. They also received knowledge that He was King of the Jews. The “star” moved – it did not move like a comet – it moved like no natural object in the heavens should move. It moved slowly in one direction. The “star” would vanish. The “star” would reappear, but once again, only that one group of Persians could see it when it reappeared.
The “star” moved and led them to a very particular spot. In fact the “star,” “…came to rest over the place where the child was.” (MT. 2:9) This was all God’s doing from first to last – the “art” and “skills” of these Persian astrologers had nothing to do with the process. So, just like me, and every other Christian, their coming to Jesus was a miracle of God from first to last. Like me, they had no grounds to boast. The Gospel of Matthew does not legitimize astrology.
Second, we Christians say that we believe we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
But we share a human problem. We have a deep-seated sense that people like us are better and somehow are more likely to become a Christian. We think that the good, the respectable, the hard-working, the faithfully married are closer to Christ than the person chasing astrology or “weird new age stuff” while living very non-Christian lives. This is one reason why we are tempted to “whitewash” the Magi, making them less Persian or into the occult.
Hopefully, as I talk about how we tend to believe that non-Christians who are “like us” are more likely to become Christians convicts us of sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” (Ephesians 2:1-2a). The suburban soccer mom, the urban hipster, the alcoholic street person, the devotee to séances and astrology, the faithfully married couple with kids – and you and me before that miracle of God known as conversion – each of us were equally “dead” and far from God. So rather than trying to make the Magi “look good” (less pagan), we should marvel at the miracle of grace to the unworthy.
Third, we should not seek out astrologers so they can tell us about our situation or our future.
But this does not mean we are to avoid astrologers as people. We are to befriend them; pray that they will come to saving faith in Jesus; pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with them. When it comes to people coming to a saving faith in Christ, never say God’s “no” for Him. It might very well be that the Lord has connected you to an astrologer precisely so you can pray for them – and maybe even be the human means by which they hear the Gospel and then the Lord does His mighty work to save. He does the work so that the glory will be His.