This post is going to explain the seven stars that appear in Jesus’s hand in the following passage in Revelation:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:12-16, ESV)
It’s actually far more simple and astonishing than you probably thought. But to understand it, you need to get out of the modern world.
The Astrology in Your Bible
The Bible has a rather ambiguous relationship to “astrology,” which becomes quite clear as the story progresses. We need to explore this before explaining the passage in Revelation.
The Progression of Treatment of “Astrology” in the Bible
At the beginning, we get a rather confusing description of the purpose of the stars, where Moses writes:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14-15, ESV)
That word “signs” means “omens.” In other words, the Bible oddly seems to begin by saying the stars have a purpose of giving omens.
But then things change by the time we get to the book of Deuteronomy. At this time, Moses commands the people of Israel note to look at the stars for omens, saying the following:
Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day. (Deuteronomy 4:15-20, ESV)
In this passage, God tells Israel not to look to the heavens and worship them, but the reason for this instruction is quite strange. Essentially, God says that these things have been “allotted” to the other nations, while “the Lord has taken you . . . to be a people of his own inheritance.” In other words, it is not that the stars are not “for signs/omens” as a categorical matter. Instead, the reason that Israel should not look to the stars is that God will speak to them directly. That is why he says the following:
For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14, ESV)
In other words, God has determined to speak to Israel in a direct and easily accessible way. The other nations will struggle to piece together direction from their gods, and they can get this instruction from “the sun, and moon, and stars.” But the Lord will speak directly to Israel to guide them, so that they have no excuse about knowing what to do.
As such, I will now point you to one of the most underappreciated examples of astrology being referenced in the New Testament. It comes from the mouth of Jesus:
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. (Matthew 16:1-4, ESV)
The reason people overlook this is that most people do not realize that in the time of Jesus “weather prediction” was accomplished THROUGH ASTROLOGY. In fact, in Claudius Ptolemy’s astrological treatise, Tetrabiblos, there is an entire chapter devoted to the “atmospheric signs.” Here is that it says:
13. Of the Significance of Atmospheric Signs
Observations of the signs that are to be seen around the sun, moon, and planets would also be useful for a foreknowledge of the particular events signified.
We must, then, observe the sun at rising to determine the weather by day and at setting for the weather at night, and its aspects to the moon for weather conditions of longer extent, on the assumption that each aspect, in general, foretells the condition up to the next. For when the sun rises or sets clear, unobscured, steady, and unclouded, it signifies fair weather; but if its disk is variegated or reddish or sends out ruddy rays, either directly outward or turned back upon itself, or turned back upon itself, or if it has the so-called paraheliac clouds on one side, or yellowish formations of clouds, and as it were emits long rays, it indicates heavy winds and such as come from the angles to which the aforesaid signs point. If at rising or setting it is dark or livid, being accompanied by clouds, or if it has halos about it on one side, or the paraheliac clouds on both sides, and gives forth either livid or dusky rays, it signifies storms and rain.Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, Book II, Chapter 13
And that’s the rule on the sky being “red” in the morning and the evening.
While the grammar is extremely strange, I think I can try to explain it. What this menas is that the color red in the sky indicates that heavy winds will go TOWARDS the place in the sky that is red and FROM the signs that point towards that redness. As such, we can illustrate what this looks like at the rising and setting of the Sun below:
And in the case of Israel, this means that seeing the sky red “in the morning” means that heavy winds will be coming from the wet sea to the west (just like in 1 Kings 18:41-46) and it will be “stormy.” And if the sky is red “at evening,” this means that heavy winds will be coming from the dry east, which means it will be “clear.”
And immediately after Jesus references this rule, he adds a strange word: “adulterous.”
An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. (Matthew 16:4, ESV)
Really? Adulterous? Why does Jesus say this? The answer becomes clear when you remember that weather-prediction and these “signs of the sky” are aspects of ASTROLOGY. That’s because adultery is a consistent metaphor that the Old Testament prophets used for idolatry and the worship of other gods.
In other words, Jesus is contrasting the “pious” Pharisees’ knowledge of the meaning of astrological weather-predictions with their complete and utter ignorance about the meaning of Jesus giving sight to the blind, healing to the sick, and preaching of the good news. They THINK that they are honoring the prophets in their religious worship, but they are much more like their idol-worshipping ancestors who “whored” after other gods. And Jesus makes this point later in the gospel of Matthew:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. (Matthew 23:29-32, ESV)
That’s what’s going on in that interaction.
The Widespread Reference to Astrology in the Bible
So, yeah. “Astrology” is all over your Bible, even though it is not viewed favorably. However, it is not revealed favorably for a different reason than modern Christians assume. The study of astrology was not against the law of Moses because it was “fake.” Instead, it was against the law of Moses because it is a form of serving other Gods. An Israelite listening to a prophesy of astrology was an Israelite listening to the messages of heavenly beings who were not the Lord God. Those heavenly beings were “allotted to the nations,” while the Lord God – who is the creator of all those other heavenly beings – personally entered into the fray and adopted Israel as his own. That’s why the message was “Do not listen to astrology. Listen to me.”
In this vein, you can see other places where I draw attention to the “astrological” details in the Bible. For example, I wrote about how the prophesy against the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14 is loaded with astrological meaning. I wrote about how the story of the two bears and Elisha was a prophetic event that spoke to the wayward Israelites THROUGH the stars that they wrongly worshipped, which you can read here.
You should also note that after Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he was no longer the God of Israel alone. This is why there is a switch in his authority. While before, in examples like the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28, Jesus claims “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This is a reflection of the fact that the Lord God entered the fray of different nations being led by different heavenly beings with the “Most High God” sitting above them all. That “Most High God” is the Lord God, who took Israel to be a people for himself.
Then, after Jesus rose from the dead, he is no longer limited by this claim of ONLY being the God of Israel. Instead, he is the ruler of all people in every nation over all the earth. That is why, in contrast to his words with the Canaanite woman, Jesus says this at the end of the gospel of Matthew:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV)
And that means that nations which FORMERLY looked to astrology to get “messages” from the divine sphere are being guided by the early church about how to worship the one Lord, Jesus Christ. And to do that, the disciples often invoke terms and tropes and metaphors that are astrological in nature. For that reason, you should know that the following verses in the New Testament have “astrological” meanings attached to them, where the apostles are communicating with a formerly pagan audience:
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 5:15-17, ESV)
The sun has a specific “influence,” which you can read about here in Vettus Valens treatise on the subject. The sun is “nature’s fire and intellectual light, the organ of mental perception.” And when the sun goes down, its influence decreases on the earth. And Paul is instructing his audience, telling them that when they get angry, they should not let “the organ of mental perception” go dim in their anger. In other words, you shouldn’t lose your head when you get angry, thereby giving an opportunity to the devil. See it?
I bet you thought this meant that if you get angry in the morning, you have 8-14 hours to make up, depending on the time of year, and if you get angry in the afternoon, you better take care of things pronto! Sometimes this leads people to “not go to bed angry.” The only problem with this is that often, when you are angry, going to bed is EXACTLY what you need to do. In other words, this verse doesn’t make sense without understanding the astrological background to it, which was thoroughly ingrained in the Ephesian culture of the day.
Another example comes from the St. Paul. It is quite explicit, being the only time that the planet “Venus” is actually named in the Bible. Peter says the following:
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. (2 Peter 1:19-20, ESV)
This is a curious passage, because Peter seems to get the order wrong. Morning stars rise BEFORE the day dawns, because the Sun is not the “morning star.” Instead, Peter doesn’t actually refer to a generic “morning star.” He specifically says φωσφόρος (phosophoros) which is the formal name for Venus in the morning (“Hesperus” is the formal name for Venus in the evening). And we should also note that morning stars rise in the sky, not “in your heart.”
But once again, Venus has a particular influence in astrology, which Vettius Valens explains:
Venus is desire and love. It indicates the mother and nurture. It makes priesthoods, schoolVettius Valens, Anthologies, Book 1, “The Nature of the Stars.”
superintendencies, high offices with the right to wear a gold ring or a crown, cheerfulness, friendship,
companionship . . . laughter, good cheer, ornamentation . . . It is a recipient of support from others and of pleasure.”
And so Peter’s message is quite clear. You are not supposed to read the scriptures to KNOW things (which would be the influence of the Sun, the “organ of mental perception.” Instead, the point is to have a desire and love explode in the heart, leading to priesthoods, learning, high offices, cheerfulness, friendship, companionship, and support from the Lord God above.
Do you get it?
The Basic Idea of Astrology
So, yes, “astrology” is a part of your Bible, even though it is never endorsed. But you need to understand the basic idea of it before we explain the seven stars in Jesus’s hands. The idea of astrology is actually quite plainly described by C.S. Lewis in his excellent book “The Discarded Image.” This is where he describes how medieval people understood the heavenly “influences” of the spheres of the planets, which equally applies in the time of the early church:
Besides movement, the spheres transmit (to the Earth) what are called Influences – the subject-matter of Astrology. Astrology is not specifically medieval. The Middle Ages inherited it from antiquity and bequeathed it to the Renaissance. The statement that the medieval Church frowned upon this discipline is often taken in a sense that makes it untrue. Orthodox theologians could accept the theory that the planets had an effect on events and on psychology, and, much more, on plants and minerals. It was not against this that the Church fought. She fought against three of its offshoots.
(1) Against the lucrative, and politically undesireable, practice of astrologically grounded predictions.
(2) Against astrological determinism. The doctrine of influences could be carried so far as to exclude free will. Against this determinism, as in later ages against other forms of determinism, theology had to make a defence. Aquinas treats the question very clearly. On the physical side the influence of the spheres is unquestioned. Celestial bodies affect terrestrial bodies, including those of men. And by affecting our bodies they can, but need not, affect our reason and our will. They can, because our higher faculties certainly receive something (accipiunt) from our lower. They need not, because any alteration of our imaginative power produced in this way generates, not a necessity, but only a propensity, to act thus or thus. The propensity can be resisted; hence the wise man will over-rule the stars. But more often it will not be resisted, for most men are not wise; hence, like actuarial predictions, astrological predictions about the behaviour of large masses of men will often be verified.
(3) Against practices that might seem to imply or encourage the worship of planets – they had, after all, been the hardiest of all the Pagan gods.C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image, pp. 79-80.
As such, astrology involves the influence of the planets raining down on Earth to actually CAUSE THINGS TO HAPPEN. That is what is going on, and that’s what you need to know before we explain what is going on in Revelation.
Explaining the Seven Stars in Jesus’s Hand
Now, at first glance, it seems like I shouldn’t have to explain the Seven Stars in the hand of Jesus, because Jesus explains the mystery that John couldn’t understand, including the “mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand.” He says the following:
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:17-20, ESV)
But there’s a problem here. Jesus actually doesn’t explain the seven stars in his hand. Instead, he USES the seven stars to explain the lampstands and the “angels of the seven churches.” Jesus just ASSUMES you know what the seven stars are. So…. do you? I didn’t think so. But maybe you are picking up on it if you’ve read this far.
If you were an ancient person, anytime anyone ever mentioned “seven stars,” you would know EXACTLY which seven stars they were talking about:
THE SEVEN STARS ARE THE SUN, THE MOON, MERCURY, VENUS, MARS, JUPITER, AND SATURN.
These are the seven visible “wandering stars” and the objects in heaven that do the “work” of astrological influence. If you want to know how the ancients viewed these stars, you should read a great translation of a Roman talking about them, which is Pliny the Elder, writing an encyclopedia of Roman knowledge in Natural History, which includes a long chapter on the planets, which you can read by clicking here. But for a shorthand version of how the heavens above are ordered, I’ll just show you with this picture:
And so what you need to understand -and this is SO COOL – I just can’t get over it. These lights in the sky constitute the most powerful and influential heavenly forces which exercise their dominion over the ENTIRE WORLD. And — this is where it’s so cool — Jesus is holding them in his right hand.
That might not sound cool to you, probably because you are a modern person. However, if you were an ancient person, you would know how significant it is that Jesus is holding these planets in his hand. This is not a “model of the solar system” that he’s holding. Instead, the closest thing that we have in our modern mind about the nature of the seven stars in Jesus’s hand is from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
THE SEVEN STARS IN JESUS’S HAND IS AN INFINITY GAUNTLET
Jesus is holding the seven most powerful influences on all of the world IN HIS HAND. And while Tony Stark snapped his fingers, killing all of his enemies, and died as a result, Jesus Christ on the other hand, is holding “the keys to death and hades” in his left hand, which he gained “by the power of an indestructible life” (see Hebrews 7:16).
Is that not the coolest thing ever? In light of the truth of scripture, that QUITE LITERALLY IS the coolest thing ever.
So knowing that the stars that Jesus is holding in his hand, this brings a new message to his explanation. The stars in his hands are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven churches are the seven lampstands. What does this mean? It’s pretty clear when you put all the pieces together:
- The seven planets were “heavenly beings” that exercised influenced the earth
- Israel was to refrain from inquiring of these “heavenly beings,” listening only to the Lord God
- The Lord God came to Earth, died, and rose from the grave and took all authority from all other heavenly beings
- Now, holding the heavenly beings that exercise influence on the earth in his hand, the Lord God declares that there is a new way to exercise influence over all the earth.
- The new way to influence all the earth is… …THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST.
And this is where things get REALLY wild. Because the “seven stars” in Jesus’s hand actually don’t go away. He uses them in Revelation Chapter 2-3.
The Seven Lamps and the Seven Stars
If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you may remember the post “The Hidden Heavenly Theme of Narnia,” where I shared the book Planet Narnia by Michael Ward. It is a book that shows that each of the seven Chronicles of Narnia is intimately associated with the seven heavens of the medieval cosmos. The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe is associated with “Jupiter,” and this is the reason why “Father Christmas” makes a strange appearance, because he is the most “jovial” person one could ever imagine. Similar details and associations exist for Prince Caspian (Mars), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (the Sun), the Silver Chair (the Moon), A Horse and His Boy (Mercury), The Magician’s Nephew (Venus) and the Last Battle (Saturn).
The plot of the books and the very words that C.S. Lewis uses to develop those plots are drenched in the mythological, astronomical, and astrological details associated with the planets. My favorite example of this pattern is the plot of A Horse and His Boy, which involves the protagonist, Shasta, who is a “messenger” that is to deliver a message to the king of Archenland. As such, he is quite explicitly a “mercurial” character. In the story, Shasta starts out in a sad and terrible situation with an adoptive fisherman father who dislikes him. When he goes on his journey, he meets Aravis, who is fleeing an arranged marriage, and his situation improves. The story ends when Shasta discovers that he is actually an identical twin and a prince of Archenland. All of this is explicitly astrological, because the planet Mercury is quite literally “depressed” in Pisces (the Fish) and “exalted” in Virgo (the Virgin), and Mercury is the “ruler” of Gemini (the Twins). In mythology, the two Gemini twins are actually named Castor and Pollux, one of whom is a “boxer” and the other is a “breaker of horses,” which closely matches the characteristics of the story. And that level of detail (and much, much more) is in every single book that C.S. Lewis wrote in the Chronicles of Narnia. You can read about it here, and here.
And I tell you this for a reason. Thanks to the appearance of a man named Doug Van Dorn, who made an appearance on the Blurry Creatures Podcast (a podcast that concentrates on bigfoot and supernatural creatures from a Christian perspective, and no I am not joking), I can happily report that a similar discovery about the Chronicles of Narnia and C.S. Lewis, which Michael Ward uncovered, is also happening in the Book of Revelation and the letters to the Seven Churches.
As I explained above, after Jesus tells John in the book of Revelation that the “influence” of the planets is now in his hand, he then tells John that the influence of those planets is now with the seven churches. In other words, no longer will “the stars” exercise dominion and influence over the world. Instead, it will be the Church of Jesus Christ that will do that.
But then, something amazing happens:
JESUS ADDRESSES EACH OF THE CHURCHES AS IF THEY WERE ONE OF THE SEVEN PLANETS.
And the warnings and blessings he gives mirror the astrological and mythological associations, and even astronomical facts, that are inherent to each of these planets.
So let me explain each message and how they correspond to the seven stars in Jesus’s hand, which are now the spirits of the seven churches.
The Church in Ephesus – The Sun
The first message is to the church in Ephesus. Ephesus is the Sun. In both astrology and in ordinary life, the Sun is “the organ of mental perception,” because the Sun is what allows you to see and know things. And similarly, Jesus compliments the Ephesian church on their “doctrine.” Also in astrology and in ordinary life, the Sun is both good and bad. Yes, it gives warmth and makes crops grow, but it is also hot and dry and it can even kill you. As such, Jesus has a similar critique of the church in Ephesus. They have lost their “love,” and he tells them to get it back, and that if they don’t, then Jesus will “remove your lampstand.” And wouldn’t you know it, Jesus actually described the same thing happening to the Sun on the last day in the gospel of Matthew:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29-30, ESV)
So yes, Ephesus is the Sun, and Jesus Christ speaks to them as if they were the Sun.
The Church of Smyrna – The Moon
The second message is to the church in Smyrna. Smyrna is the Moon. In both astrology and from any observation, the moon is the most varied heavenly body we have, changing shape and size, and not even having a consistent color across its face. As Pliny the Elder puts it:
“But the Moon, which is the last of the stars, and the one the most connected with the earth, the remedy provided by nature for darkness, excels all the others in its admirable qualities” (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book II, Chapter 6).
This quality of being close to the Earth and therefore away from the “higher” parts of heaven is reflected in the words of Jesus: “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich).” And then Jesus also warns the church in Smyrna of what is coming next:
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelations 2:10, ESV)
This follows the introduction that Jesus gives the Moon in which he reminds the church, “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.” This is actually quite amazing when you understand some astronomical facts.
After the Full Moon, it takes ten days for the Moon to wane from 95% illuminated to 5% illuminated, on the eleventh day, the Moon will be completely invisible during the time of the New Moon. In other words, the light of the Moon will “die.” And reflecting this fact, Jesus commands the church to be faithful unto death, because he died and rose again. He will give the church in Smyrna the crown of life, and they will rise again, just like the Moon.
The Church of Pergamum – Mars
The third message is to the church of Pergamum. Pergamum is Mars. Jesus introduces his message to this church with the most war-like greeting of all the churches. He says: “The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.” Then Jesus says the following:
“I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” (Revelation 2:13, ESV)
The message compliments this church even when they suffer casualties. It indicates that they dwell where Satan dwells. They are in battle, and they are complimented in that they κρατεῖς (krateis) or hold fast. This word κρατέω (krateo), which means to be strong or mighty, to rule, to master, or to prevail. In the context of being where Satan dwells, this is a message of combat.
But the warning to this church is that they listened to “the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel,” which is a reference to Numbers 31:13-20, where Balaam, after giving his three oracles in favor of Israel rather than against Israel, instructs the women of Midian, captured by the commanders of the Israelite army, to lead the men of Israel astray by luring them into worshipping other gods. In other words, the strength of men was undermined by the seduction of women, a danger of Mars. This is reflected in the story of the Roman Mars and Venus, or the Greek Ares and Aphrodite, where Mars is commits adultery with Venus/Aphrodite, the wife of Vulcan/Hephaestus, which you can read in Ovid’s Metamorphosis.
Jesus tells the church to repent of this, and that if they do not, then Jesus himself will come and fight on their behalf, with the sword of his mouth – the same tool and weapon that separated the land from the seas, brought the stars into the sky, and fashioned man from the earth.
The Church of Thyatira – Venus
The fourth message is to the church of Thyatira. Thyatira is Venus. Jesus introduces his message to by describing himself in light of how he looks: “The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.”
Importantly, that word “burnished bronze” is the Greek word χαλκολίβανον (chalkolibanon), which is typically translated as “fine copper, bronze or brass,” but actually is a compound word from two other Greek words: χαλκός (chalkos), meaning “copper” and λίβανος (libanos), meaning “frankincense.” As such, it’s a reference to a fragrant smell and the metal copper. This relates to the planet Venus, as C.S. Lewis explains in The Discarded Image:
Her metal is copper. The connection is not clear till we observe that Cyprus was once famed for its copper mines; that copper is cyprium, the Cyprian metal; and that Venus, or Aphrodite, especially worshipped in that island was Κύπρις, the Lady of Cyprus. In mortals she produces beauty and amorousness; in history, fortunate events.
The church is complimented in its “love and faith and service and patient endurance.” The faithful of that church are only instructed in one way: “Only hold fast what you have until I come.” Once again, that word “hold fast” κρατέω (krateo) is used, but in this context, it only refers to being faithful, as a wife would be to a husband.
The warning is also tied up to the mythological Venus, the goddess of love and beauty who shared in the same adulterous acts of Mars:
But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. (Revelation 2:20, ESV)
And to the one who conquers, Jesus says “I will give him the morning star.” And Venus is quite literally the “morning star.”
The Church of Sardis – Mercury
The fifth message is to the church in Sardis. Sardis is Mercury. This is one of the more difficult ones, because Mercury is a rather difficult god to understand in mythology, and because this is a rather difficult message to understand.
However, a few points. First, as most know, Mercury or “Hermes” is the messenger of the gods. He is a herald of heaven. And the instruction to the church of Sardis is as follows:
Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. (Revelation 3:3, ESV)
As such, we have an instruction to keep the message that they have received from God, just as a messenger should. Then, we have the phrase “Keep it, and repent.” However, that word “repent” is μετανοέω (metanoeó). It comes from μετά(meta) and νοέω (noeó). Yes, it can mean “repent” because it can mean “think again,” but it can also mean “think above” or “think beyond.” In other words, the instruction is to keep the message that they have received from Jesus Christ and think in a way that will allow them to understand it.
We should also note another thing, which is the warning that Jesus gives. He says, “I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” This is significant, because one of the many roles of Mercury in mythology is that he is the “Patron of Thieves.”
To the faithful, Jesus says that he will “confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” In other words, just as Mercury proclaims the messages of Heaven to the Earth, Jesus Christ will proclaim the name of the faithful to the Heavens.
The Church of Philadelphia – Jupiter.
The sixth message is to the church in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is Jupiter. The Roman Jupiter, or the Greek Zeus, is the king of the gods, and the message to the church is packed with “royal” imagery.
First, we can recognize that Jesus introduces himself to Philadelphia by saying that he is “the son of David.” His instruction is to hold fast to what they have received so that “no one may take your crown.”
It is also important to recognize that there is nothing negative said about this church, and this also corresponds to the astrological influence of the planet Jupiter. As C.S. Lewis explains:
We may say it is ‘Kingly’; but we must think of a King at peace, enthroned, taking his leisure, serene. The Jovial character is cheerful, festive yet temperate, tranquil, magnanimous. When this planet dominates we may expect halcyon days and prosperity. In Dante wise and just princes go to his sphere when they die. He is the best planet, and is called The Greater Fortune, Fortuna Major.
In describing the ones who remain faithful in the church of Philadelphia, Jesus says that they will receive his “name,” including his “new name,” which includes the fact that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)
The Church of Laodicea
The seventh message is the church in Laodicea. Laodicea is Saturn. The Roman Saturn, or the Greek Cronus, was overthrown by Jupiter/Zeus.
Strangely enough, the message to the church in Laodicea involves “thrones”:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:19-20, ESV)
And so, in other words, the message of Jesus to this saturnine church is that can regain the throne that was lost, just as Saturn lost his throne. But if they repent and believe, Jesus says he will allow them to sit with him on his throne.
We should also note that the overthrow of Saturn by Jupiter, according to Ovid, happened after the Golden Age of Man. It was during the Golden Age when Saturn ruled in Heaven. This age is described as follows by Ovid:
The golden age was first; when Man yet new,
No rule but uncorrupted reason knew:
And, with a native bent, did good pursue.
Unforced by punishment, unawed by fear,
His words were simple, and his soul sincere;
Needless was written law, where none opprest:
The law of Man was written in his breast:
. . .
The teeming Earth, yet guiltless of the plough,
And unprovoked, did fruitful stores allow:
Content with food, which Nature freely bred,
On wildlings and on strawberries they fed;
Cornels and bramble-berries gave the rest
And falling acorns furnished out a feast.
Sounds a lot like the garden of Eden, doesn’t it? That’s when Saturn ruled in heaven, before he was cast out by Jupiter, the king.
In the Bible, Saturn seems to be thrown out of heaven in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve are examined by God. And in the message to Laodicea, Jesus describes himself as “the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.” In other words, Jesus both notes that he is the source of truth in a legal sense, and he also pulls rank on Saturn. The ESV says that he is the “first of God’s creation,” but the Greek word is ἀρχή (arché), which means to rule, a ruler, and the beginning. It is the “arch” in “archangel,” which describes an angel of a higher rank.
In other words, Jesus Christ, the ruler in the heavens, just like Jupiter, is pulling rank on the church that is just like Saturn. Then, the message goes on to give the strongest of all the warnings. Jesus warns that he is about to “spit you out of my mouth.”
Likewise, Saturn was the worst of all astrological influences, being described by C.S. Lewis as follows:
Saturn. In the earth his influence produces lead; in men, the melancholy complexion; in history, disastrous events. . . . He is connected with sickness and old age. Our traditional picture of Father Time with the scythe is derived from earlier pictures of Saturn. . . . He is the most terrible of the seven and is sometimes called The Greater Infortune, Infortuna Major.
The Final Message of Jesus
And so that is the end of the explanation of the seven stars that are in the right hand of Jesus. It is all astrological, and it is telling the churches that Jesus Christ has declared that the Earth will now be influenced in a supernatural way by the churches on the earth, rather than the planets in heaven. But there is one exception to this general trend.
You see, in astrology, the location of a star indicates how its influence is exerted on the earth. We’ve already explained that when a star (like the Sun in the Ephesians passage) is falling, that means that its influence is dwindling. The reverse is also true. If a star is rising, that means that its influence is growing.
I actually explained this in a previous post, which I can use again here:
As such, stars that are rising in the east are growing in their influence over the earth. With that in mind, look at what Jesus says at the end of the book of Revelation:
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” . . . He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:16, 20, ESV)
As anyone who is familiar with astronomy knows, “morning stars” rise in the east. As anyone who is familiar with astrology knows, the “bright” star is a reflection of powerful influence.
As such, Jesus is saying something quite specific:
I AM THE KING OF THIS WORLD. I AM THE POWERFUL AND GROWING INFLUENCE OVER ALL THE EARTH. AND I’M COMING BACK, SOON.
And that’s how the entire Bible ends. Is that not awesome?