"...he who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land - the Lord is his name".
- Amos 5:8
'Matariki' is the Māori name for the cluster of stars known from Greek Mythology as 'the Pleiades'.
In the Māori Bible, Amos 5:8, Job 9:9 and Job 38:31 name the star cluster as 'Matariki'. In our English Bibles, 'the Pleiades' is found in the same places.
In Amos 5, Israel’s people are worshipping wealth and power. Both are the result of exploiting the poor and impoverished. Both are a result of stacking the system against the poor.
On farms, in business, and in the courts the poor, the weak, and the innocent are being taken advantage of on an industrial scale.
Into this moment the God of Israel says, 'seek the Lord and live' (Amos 5:6).
Through the prophet Amos, God presents the people with a choice: seek the Lord of Justice and find his mercy, or continue seeking wealth and power at the expense of the poor, and face his judgement.
Who is this God?
- He is the one who has made Pleiades/Matariki
- He is the one who has made Orion/Tautoru
- He is the one who turns midnight into dawn and day into night
- He is the one who holds oceans in his hands
- He is one who is interested in the taxation of the poor, in the justice of the courts for the innocent
Every mention of Matariki in Scripture is designed to point us to God’s power as their creator, and God’s sustaining power in creation.
Each mention of Matariki in Amos 5, Job 9, and Job 38 comes in chapters where God reveals more of who he is and in doing so reveals more of who we are.
There is a chasm that separates us from the character of God.
As Job concludes in chapter 9: "If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more".
I am grateful beyond words that the Creator of the Matariki cluster of stars, the God who created the cosmos and sustains the creation, the God of justice and judgement, has provided a mediator for me, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Creator of the cosmos sent his Son to earth to die willingly on the cross in our place as a perfect substitute for our sin.
Matariki reminds us of God's greatness at work in creation. Matariki reminds us of our need for a mediator, and Matariki reminds us of God's goodness and mercy at the cross; in the provision of Jesus.