Why Applied Scriptural Astronomy?
When most of us hear about someone trying to "figure out something about what is up in the sky" we think of two possibilites. One is Astrology, the Babylonian kind: the other is "conventional astronomy." "Applied Scriptural Astronomy" is neither of these things. Perhaps we should briefly describe Astrology and "Conventional Astronomy" and then contrast them to "Applied Scriptural Astronomy." Then we can talk a bit more about what Scriptural Astronomy implies.
Astrology brings to mind a person looking at charts handed down from the era of Babylon, making predictions about "spiritual influences" which are lurking about. Scripture does not speak well of such an approach.
"Conventional Astronomy" relies heavily on telescopes, artificial satelites, high powered mathematical formulae, super computers, space probes, and so forth. Nobody expects this information to be of practical value to the everyday person, nor is the everyday person expected to have the ability to really "do" Conventional Astronomy. It is "science for the specialist."
In contrast, let us look at the section of Luke chapter 12 which shows us a glimpse of "Scriptural Astronomy:"
"When you see a cloud rising from the west,
immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it happens.
When a south wind blows, you say,
'There will be a scorching heat,' and it happens.
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky,
but how is it that you don't interpret this time?
Luke 12:54 - 56 (KJV)
There are several important points here.
First, Yashua assumes that the everyday person can reach conclusions by observing what is going on. No special charts. No special training. No special equipment, skills, etc.
Second, in fact this is one of the "little things" that people should expect to do! In numerous juxtapositions, he contrasts a "little thing" that should be part of life, without missing the big picture: doing the "little" without the "big" is hypocrisy and shows a lack of perspective. But in all cases he affirms the good of the "little." (Other examples: Matthew 23:23-26, Luke 21:29-31, Matthew 16:2-3.)
(How ironic that now our culture not only scoffs at the big picture, but additionally ignores the little as well, in a way unimaginable to the early disciples. We have traveled far from our agrarian cultural roots.)
Third, these insights are Local, not Universal. For example, where I live in the Southwestern U.S., the weather patterns are the opposite of Palestine as described in the Gospels! The weather in the west of Palestine at the time of the Gospel of Luke involved rain coming from the Mediteranean Sea. Where I am located, weather from the west comes from the Great American Desert: scorching heat. In Palestine, the south wind brought the hot dry winds: here, the South wind brings our scarce and hoped for rain from the Gulf of Mexico.
So this encourages us to understand our local conditions, not simply what worked for people elsewhere, even in the Scriptures.
Fourth and finally, these insights are expected to yield some level of confidence in the predictions. It is not "supernatural" or "prophetic" (or even super-intellectual) but rather based on observing how the creation "really operates." With Doppler radar on site, one might get a bit more advanced warning of the changes in conditions, or even an understanding of "why" the wind driection is changing, etc. But again, it is not required for the "predictions." It may in some sense be "probablistic." But that is ok, too, as we are told in Ecclesiates 9:11
that the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong,
neither yet bread to the wise,
nor yet riches to men of understanding,
nor yet favor to men of skill;
but time and chance happen to them all.
So there you have it!
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