Venus: What Science & the Bible Tell Us About this Fascinating Planet

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Venus

What Science & the Bible Tell Us About this Fascinating Planet

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Venus has been called the “jewel of the sky” and “Earth’s sister planet.” The more I learn about Venus, the more amazed and inspired I am! The special cyclical relationships between Venus and Earth are like an intricate but graceful dance! God gave our solar system a complex and beautiful design!

I don’t know much about astronomy but I’ve been learning a tiny bit lately about the four “terrestrial” (solid, rocky) planets. Going away from the Sun, their orbits are in this order: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars. The few facts I’ll mention are like a grain of sand on the beach of modern knowledge—knowledge greatly expanded since 1962 by discoveries using exploratory space missions, primarily by Russia and the United States. There are several large books on the market just about Venus and there is a wealth of information on the Internet.

Venus is about the same size as Earth and is our closest planetary neighbor. But our twin is very different! Whereas the mean surface temperature of Earth is about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the mean surface temperature of Venus is 870 degrees! Venus’s atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide with thick yellow-white clouds of sulfuric acid. These clouds, partly the result of active volcanoes, are largely responsible for the high heat because of their “greenhouse effect” on the incoming energy from the Sun. Venus is hotter than Mercury even though it is twice as far from the Sun as Mercury.

The atmospheric pressure on Venus’s surface is 92 times that of Earth! That is about the same pressure as being one kilometer (3,281 feet) deep under water. If we were to suddenly be on Venus, we would be instantly squashed and burned!

Venus experiences a constant, high-speed wind that carries its clouds on a complete trip around the planet every four Earth days!

Venus orbits the Sun relatively quickly—in about 225 earth-days as compared to Earth’s orbit of about 365 days. But Venus rotates on its axis so slowly that it takes 243 earth-days to make one rotation. Therefore one “Venus day” is longer than a “Venus year”! And Venus revolves in the opposite direction from all the other planets in our solar system except Uranus—on Venus and Uranus, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east!

The periods of Venus as “Evening Star” and “Morning Star” each average about 263 days. In between, Venus disappears from our view on the near side of the sun for about 8 days, and it disappears from our view on the far side of the sun for about 50 days, for a total of 584 days for the entire cycle.

Why is Venus so bright?

Venus is the third brightest luminary in our sky—only the Sun and the Moon are brighter. For long periods of time, Venus is bright enough to cast shadows on Earth. Venus’s cloud covering is highly reflective—reflecting about 70 percent of incoming sunlight back into space. That’s part of the reason for Venus’s brightness. The other primary reason is its closeness to Earth.

Venus has phases like the Moon has phases. It waxes (grows larger in appearance) and wanes (diminishes in appearance). Hence there are the phases of full Venus, half Venus, quarter Venus, crescent Venus, etc. What is surprising is that Venus appears to us earthlings to be its brightest when its phase is a quarter or less! How can that be?

Here is the answer: Venus appears brighter as it gets closer to Earth . When Venus is “full,” it is on the opposite side of the Sun, the farthest possible distance from Earth. As the orbits of Earth and Venus bring them closer together (more and more on the same side of the Sun), Venus appears brighter—even when we are seeing only a “quarter Venus” or less!

My interest in Venus has been kindled because this “Evening Star” has been especially bright in this April and May of 2012.

Earth will soon see a “Venus Transit”!

A Venus Transit occurs when we can see Venus passing directly in front of the Sun. This is similar to when the Moon passes in front of the Sun on a solar eclipse. Unlike the Moon, which covers most of the Sun, Venus appears as a small dot crossing the face of the Sun. A transit (sometime called a passage ) can only occur with the inner planets—Mercury and Venus—because they are the only two that can lie between the Earth and Sun during their orbits.

We are in the midst of the first Venus Transit of this millennium. Venus Transits usually come in pairs, with each transit in the pair spaced eight years apart. There was a transit on June 8, 2004 and the next one will be on June 5-6, 2012. In North America, it will take place on the late afternoon and evening of June 5 th . (Don’t look at the Sun trying to see the Transit unless you are using the right type of protective goggles.)

This pair of Venus Transits is a rare once-in-a-lifetime event. The last Venus Transit pairs occurred in 1874 and 1882. The next pair will occur in 2117 and 2125.

Venus and paganism

Venus has the shameful “honor” of being named after a pagan goddess (Venus was the Roman goddess of beauty and love). Several ancient civilizations practiced Venus worship, and veneration of the planet has persisted even into modern times.

The English word “Friday” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Frigedaeg , meaning “Venus day” ( Friga = Venus + dae = day), and many other languages also trace their names for Friday from root words meaning “Venus day.” The Spanish name for Friday is viernes .

God, Jesus Christ and metaphors

The Bible has many metaphors (symbolic word-pictures) for God and Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said I am the bread of life, the light of the world, the door, the good shepherd and the true vine . All these metaphors give us meaningful insight into the many different aspects of the character, roles and relationships of Christ.

A significant related point is that when we read in the Old Testament about God appearing and speaking to people, that was the Word, the One who later was known as Jesus Christ after He came to Earth for His earthly ministry. Many, many scriptures corroborate this truth. For example, see John 1:1-18 John 1:1-18 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
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; John 5:37 John 5:37And the Father himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
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; 1 Corinthians 10:4 1 Corinthians 10:4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
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; 1 John 4:12 1 John 4:12No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.
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. For thorough proof of this truth, see our booklet Who Is God?

We see that using metaphors for God is fine, but the Second Commandment forbids making any physical images to represent God (Exodus 20:4-6 Exodus 20:4-6 4 You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
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). This also means that we must not incorporate visual images of God into our worship of God.

One metaphor for God is the Sun (Psalms 84:11 Psalms 84:11For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
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; Malachi 4:2 Malachi 4:2But to you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
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). It’s quite meaningful because the sun is the physical light of the world while Christ (and His true disciples) are the spiritual lights of the world (John 8:12 John 8:12Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
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; 9:5; Matthew 5:14 Matthew 5:14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
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). But both sun-worship and representing God with images of the Sun are inexcusable and abominable in God’s sight because they violate both the First and Second Commandments.

We can also say that a metaphor for God is a star because our Sun is a star. A star is a hot sphere that generates light whereas a planet merely reflects light from stars. Incidentally, the saints who are resurrected to be in God’s kingdom are also compared with stars in their glory (Daniel 12:3 Daniel 12:3And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
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; 1 Corinthians 15:40-42 1 Corinthians 15:40-42 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
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).

Venus and Jesus Christ

In Numbers 22-24 is the account of King Balak summoning Balaam, a pagan prophet, to curse Israel. However, Balaam could only pronounce what God allowed him to say or what God forced him to say.

In Balaam’s fourth “oracle” (prophecy), he said, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult” (Numbers 24:17 Numbers 24:17I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
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).

Regarding this verse, the Nelson Study Bible says, “This poetic language clearly refers to the Messiah. The pagan Balaam had a vision of the coming of the Hebrew Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ! He was visible from afar. He was like a Star, radiant and beautiful. He was like a Scepter, majestic and powerful.”

Now notice Revelation 22:16 Revelation 22:16I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
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, which says, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

So we see that the planet Venus is a metaphor for Jesus Christ! Balaam’s prophecy will be wholly fulfilled with the second coming of Christ!

The Bible uses the word “star” to refer to any bright object in the sky other than the Sun and Moon. The word “planet” is not in the Bible, so the Bible does not distinguish between planets and true stars.

All of God’s creation should remind us of the Creator (Romans 1:20-21 Romans 1:20-21 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
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). Now we have seen specifically that Venus should remind us of Christ.

We are in the pre-dawn light before the sunrise of Christ’s coming!

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ introduced the pre-dawn light of the world (Luke 1:78-79 Luke 1:78-79 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high has visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
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; John 8:12 John 8:12Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
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; Matthew 4:13-16 Matthew 4:13-16 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelled in Capernaum, which is on the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
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; 2 Corinthians 4:6 2 Corinthians 4:6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
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).

Now that Jesus has returned to heaven, His followers are commissioned to bring light to the world (Matthew 5:14-16 Matthew 5:14-16 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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; Ephesians 5:8 Ephesians 5:8For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
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). Only God and Christ are the source of light, like stars are sources of physical light. God’s people are to be like planets and moons that reflect the light of God. While they live “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,” they are to “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15 Philippians 2:15That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the middle of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world;
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).

In Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
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, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Jesus made it clear that the light of God’s truth would be powerfully preached and published in the years preceding Christ’s return. “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8 1 John 2:8Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shines.
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).

In the New Living Translation, the latter half of 2 Peter 1:19 2 Peter 1:19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
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says, “You must pay close attention to what they [the prophets] wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day [Day of the Lord] dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.” So we see that the Bible uses both the appearance of the Morning Star and the sunrise to picture the return of Christ.

As the pre-dawn light becomes brighter and brighter, excitement is building in anticipation of the spectacular “sunrise” of Christ’s second coming!

God, speaking through Malachi, said, “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves” (Malachi 4:2 Malachi 4:2But to you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
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). That’s a prophecy of Christ’s return and the joyous resurrection of the saints!

One last lesson: As the dawn approaches, it’s urgent for those who are spiritually asleep to awaken and be prepared for the new day of Christ’s glorious reign on earth (Romans 13:11-14 Romans 13:11-14 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
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; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 1 But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail on a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
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).