As Joseph Augustus Seiss explains in his seminal work, The Gospel in the Stars, the twelve signs of the Solar Zodiac are divided into three groups with each group having a specific focus. The first group (Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius) focuses on the victory of Jesus Christ (his person, debt paid, battle fought and won).
The second group (Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, and Aries) focuses on the fruit of Jesus’s redemption, namely the Church, which Seiss clarifies is, “the body of people spiritually born to Him through faith, and made partakers of the benefits of His redemptive administrations.”
Capricorn, the fifth sign of the Zodiac (December 19- January 20), is depicted by a half goat/half fish, a piercing arrow, a soaring eagle, and a dolphin splashing out of water. Capricorn’s meaning from translations of the earliest languages, denotes fruitfulness and life that stem from death.
In Latin, Capricorn means, “atonement.” Its most prominent stars, Gedi and Dabih, in Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac all mean, “the cut-off, the hewndown, the sacrifice slain.”
The constellation formation depicting a goat with a drooping head and leg bent under its body, represents the falling and dying of Jesus Christ– bowing to his sacrificial atoning death.
The images of a half goat and half fish are not coincidences. The Israelites used goats as sacrificial animals for sin offerings (Lev. 9:15, 16, 17, 31) and in particular on the Day of Atonement. The goat was “to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord” (Lev. 10:16, 17).
God’s saved people in prophecy are spoken of as fishes– fish are the symbol of believers (Jer. 16:15, 16; Ez. 47:1-9).
In the First Century, the ichthus (ˈɪkθəs) became the symbol for Christianity (Coptic meaning is “mansion of bearing”) and early Christians were publicly referred to as Ichthus and Pisces.
From Jesus’s promise to his disciples, “I will make you fishers of men,” through salvation, and the testifying waters of baptism– the multitude of fishes– the church– sprang forth. In the Gospel of Matthew, the fish is used as a symbol for the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 4:19, 13:47-50). In this way, Seiss clarifies,”… the Church, or congregation of saints, rises out of the death of Christ, sacrificed for the sins of the world.”
Like the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the constellation’s story does not end in the goat’s death. Instead, the dying goat becomes a living–and–vigorous fish. Capricorn’s symbol is one all astronomers have acknowledged since the studying of the stars began.
The fact that there is “no-prototype in nature” for this grotesque image proves its miraculousness, Seiss argues:
“The forgiveness and regeneration of men, and their incorporation with Christ, is something wholly above Nature– something altogether miraculous– which could not be adequately signified by an natural symbols; and so, as the double nature of the Redeemer himself was denoted by an arbitrary figure, half horse and half man, so the relation between Him as the Sin-bearer and His saved people, who live by virtue of Hiss death is denoted by another arbitrary figure, made up of a dying goat and a living fish.”
The Arrow (Sagitta), which appears alone, represents almighty justice. It pierces the spotless Son of God who bore our sins (Psalm 38). Like the goat-fish whose old life dies in order to be renewed (Romans 6:2-7), new believers’ hearts are pierced by the Word of God. The arrow in the Lord’s quiver, the conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, enters believers’ souls, humbling them, leading them to repentance, and turning them to a new life in Christ. The person’s old self dies to a new self only in Christ.
The Eagle (Aquila) again proves there are no coincidences with God. In the Bible, the eagle is repeatedly used as a symbol of Jesus (Ex. 19:4; Deut. 32:11,12; Ez. 1:10). Aquila is a bright star accompanied on either side by two stars.
In Arabic, the meaning of the stars include:
- Altair (on its neck): “the wounded.”
- Alcair (on its left wing): “the piercing.”
- Al Shain (in the throat closer to its beak): “the scarlet-colored-covered with blood.”
- Tarred (on the top of its back): “the torn.”
- Al Okal (on its tail): “the wounded in the heel.”
All translations denote a noun, not a verb, pointing to a person.
The stars draw the gospel in the sky: the sin offering of the goat, the arrow of God’s judgment, the pierced and falling eagle, testifying, even in Arabic, to Jesus Christ.
The four brightest stars in the last Decan, Delphinus, form a cluster in what appears to be the head of a dolphin or a fish jumping out of water. Symbolizing new life springing out of redemptive waters, Delphinus completes the prophecy. It also points to a promise: no believer can sink beneath the waves. They will always rise up because they have already been delivered from the depths (Psalm 42:7; Rom. 4:25).
Seiss once again, says it best not only of the constellations but the time of year they appear brightest:
“This strange goat-fish, dying in its head, but living in its after-part– falling as an eagle pierced and wounded by the arrow of death, but springing up from the dark waves with the matchless vigor and beauty of the dolphin, sining under sin’s condemnation, but rising again as sin’s conqueror– developing new life out of death, and heralding a new spring-time out of December’s long dreary nights, was framed by no blind chance of man. The s tory which it tells is the old, old story on which hangs the only availing hope that ever came, or ever can come to Adam’s race. To what it signifies we are forever shut up as the only saving faith. In that dying Seed of the woman we must see our Sin-bearer and the atonement for our guilt, or die ourselves un-pardoned and un-sanctified. Through His death and blood-shedding we must find our life, or the true life, which alone is life, we never can have.”
This is the third of a 13-part series “The Original Christian Zodiac.”