Meaning of the Signs of Rev 12

Any article on the meaning of the signs of Rev 12 is speculation.  As long as we realize that, it is worth looking at the options.

Signs of Rev 12

This is the third article in our series about the sign of the woman of Rev. 12 that might have occurred Sept. 11, 3 BC at the birth of Jesus and might re-occur on Sept 23rd of this year. This sign has generated all sorts of end time hysteria.

In our first article we examined a number of different opinions on whether it is a sign or not, including the opinions of bible scholars Joel Richardson (no), Michael Heiser (3 BC, yes), and Fisher Man (probably yes).

In our second article, we looked at an interpretation of Rev. 12 that shows it is really two parallel prophecies, one from the first century and one from the end times.

I recommend you read BOTH articles prior to reading this one as they provide a lot of background information.

Are the Signs in Rev. 12 Astronomical End Time Signs?

As we have discussed in all previous articles, we don’t know if the signs were ever astronomical in nature, let alone if the signs of the first century will repeat in the end times. This is entirely speculation on everyone’s part – both ways. We just can’t be sure.

Second, based on our interpretation of Rev. 12 from the previous article, we notice the sign of the woman from Rev. 12:1-2 is not repeated in the end time portion of the prophecy. So even if the signs of the Woman and the Dragon were astronomical signs in the first century, this casts doubt on whether the sign of the woman will be repeated. So, I believe all of us need to hold the upcoming astronomical sign of Sept. 23rd with a healthy does of skepticism.

It is better to test what events happen on the earth around the sign and judge in retrospect if it means anything or not.  

Possible Meaning of the Sign of Rev 12

There have been several suggested meanings of the sign of the woman occurring on Sept. 23

  • Nothing
  • The rapture of the church
  • The beginning of the Tribulation (70th Week of Daniel)
  • The beginning of the birth pangs
  • The beginning of the 7 years of plenty/7 years of famine
  • The beginning of an Iranian  invasion of the Middle East

Although “nothing” is the most likely meaning, I’d like to remind you all of the Star of Bethlehem sign from June, 2015 (See this article).   A conjunction of Jupiter and Venus occurred in June 2BC that was spectacular and many have associated it with the Star of Bethlehem. Another nearly equally spectacular conjunction of these planets occurred only days after the US Supreme Court made its historic decision legalizing Gay Marriage. Was this coincidence or providence? We don’t know, obviously, but there has been a steady downward spiral of increasing anti Christian/pro Gay bias since that time. Was the Star of Bethlehem conjunction a “sign” back in June, 2015? Maybe.

The same can be said for the repeat of the Sept. 3 BC sign that will occur this year. If events surround it that take us down a path, it can have meaning even without it being  something of earthshaking importance like the beginning of the Tribulation. It can be a “sign of the times.” A sign of the times encourages us to live diligently for our Lord in repentance and humility. A sign of the times is a reminder that Jesus is coming, and coming soon.

The Rapture

Although God can do anything he wants, the rapture of the church is VERY unlikely to happen on or about Sept. 23rd. We discussed  the reasons that Rev. 12 does not portend the rapture in THIS ARTICLE.

As many of you know, we have chosen to mail copies of Rapture: Case Closed? to the 1000 top leaders of the church around Sept 23 to coincide with any possible disappointment over the rapture not occurring. Hopefully when the rapture does not occur, the leaders will be motivated to study proper rapture timing.

Birth Pangs and the Tribulation

There has been much speculation about whether this sign will begin the birth pangs of the Tribulation. This makes some sense because Rev. 12:1-2 speaks of the woman crying out due to birth pangs.

What sort of events might we look for that would indicate the beginning of the 70th Week?

  • An agreement to divide the land of Israel (a two state solution) in exchange for peace.
  • An agreement that permits Israel to rebuild a Temple
  • The rise of false prophets in Israel or Islam
  • The rise of an enigmatic world figure

I realize that the president’s son-in-law is in the middle east right now trying to negotiate a deal of some sort.  If we see a deal of this magnitude negotiated by the end of October, I would seriously consider whether we are in the 70th Week. However, my personal opinion is that it is “too soon” for the 70th Week to begin. We will discuss this at more length in future articles and I will present biblical reasons why I think this way, but suffice it to say that it is my opinion that we are at least 6 to 7 years away from the earliest start of the Tribulation. HOWEVER, I could easily be wrong. This is just opinion.

Beginning of the 7 years of Plenty/7 years of Famine

Some have theorized that Joseph’s seven years of plenty and seven years of famine will be repeated in the end times. If this sign is marking the beginning of a 14 year period there would be no earthly signs coinciding with it so this would not be provable one way or the other.

Sign of the Woman Summary

In summary,  all of us should take the sign of the woman seriously in terms of preparing ourselves for what is to eventually come on the earth. At a minimum, we should take it as a “sign of the times.”

However, if events occur within the next month that are of scriptural importance, perhaps we should rethink the sign as having specific prophetic importance.


Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.  And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. (Rev. 12:3-4)

This sign does have a corresponding event in the end times. This makes it more likely to me that an astronomical sign might appear in the end times, and the sign fits really well with those events.

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,  and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  (Rev. 12: 7-8)

So it appears that if this sign does appear in the skies, it might coincide with the casting down of Satan and his angels. As we saw in the previous chapter, this is most likely at the midpoint of the 70th Week.

What Would the Sign of the Dragon Look Like?

An internet search of possible astronomical signs associated with the sign of the Dragon reveals nothing that really makes sense with the Biblical account. However, Fisher Man, who gave us the video on the sign of the woman in the first article, gives the most logical opinion of a possible sign that I’ve seen in the following video.

I have a number of comments on this video. First, is a point that Fisher Man does not bring up. Look at the picture above. Doesn’t the Serpent handler remind you of the restrainer of 2 Thess. 2? This leads me to believe that if there is an astronomical Sign of the Dragon, this might be the location in the sky to look.

However, I have a number of questions about whether or not this sign takes place in October:

  • It lacks the 1/3 of stars falling from heaven. The explanation that the tail extends over a 1/3 of the sky, doesn’t quite fit the biblical account of the sign. Now if a significant meteor shower occurs on Oct. 13-16 (none is expected), I will sit up and take notice.
  • The explanation of 10 horns also seems somewhat forced. It seems unusual that the moving planets that first appeared as a crown of stars in the sign of the woman then  become “horns” in the second sign less than a month later. Additionally the horns seem to be disconnected from the rest of the body.
  • This interpretation depends on the number of stars in each constellation, with variable numbers of stars possible depending on star maps.

All of this is mute, of course, if something of biblical significance occurs during this period. If an agreement to divide the land and provide for a new temple is drawn up; I will pay more attention to the sign. As it stands, we are a month away from this period of time and no discussion of such an agreement is in the media.

Future Sign of the Dragon

Although it is doubtful that a Sign of the Dragon will appear in the sky within the next 30 days, one might appear at the midpoint of the Tribulation period when Satan is thrown down by Michael. It is highly doubtful that we would be able to identify this sign in advance, but it is possible.


Although astronomical signs of Rev 12, the Woman and Dragon, in the fall of this year are interesting and have caught the public’s attention, it is doubtful they mean anything at this point. However, if biblical prophecies begin to be fulfilled in the next 30 days, all of us should straighten up and take notice.

25 thoughts on “Meaning of the Signs of Rev 12”

  1. Although there was a sign in the sky over where Christ is born. You can’t say that was the Revelation 12. John received the vision of Revelation 40 years after the death of Christ. Christ told John in the beginning of Revalation these are the things that must happen hereafter.

    1. Thanks Heather. First, you are correct that one can’t say with assurance that the sign in 3BC was the Revelation sign. We don’t know the astronomical sign is a sign at all. It’s debatable.

      Now as for John saying everything in Revelation is future, that simply is not accurate, but it is a common misconception. As I’ve explained to other readers in Rev. 17:10 John clearly tells us of events that are past. This is necessary for him to explain the heads of the Beast. In the same way, the sign in Revelation is used to identify the Woman. In both cases the purpose of writing about past events is to explain the future events with more clarity. So although John mentions “the things that must take place,” he doesn’t say that everything from that point on are the things that must take place, only that he will explain the ones that are to come.

  2. Nelson, in my books I detail why late 2019 has by far the most impressive correlations between end times prophecies and astronomical alignments (such as all major steps of an ancient Jewish wedding ceremony played out in order by the sun, moon, and planets during Hanukkah 2019) – I wonder if much of the hype for September 2017 is intentionally misleading so that people will feel disappointed when nothing happens in 2017 and will be done paying attention before the more important signs coming soon.

    1. David, There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. (luke 21:25). Some of these are explicitly given in the multitude of passages about the Celestial Earthly Disturbance. (for example, Rev. 6:12-17 and Matt. 29). All other heavenly signs are suspect. The sign of the Woman and the sign of the Dragon are also listed in scripture (but only in this one location), but it is unclear whether they are astronomical signs or signs in the heavenly abode of God. Frankly we don’t know. That is why this second group of signs are of interest.

      Signs that correlate with prophesied events that are not specifically noted as signs in scripture fall into a third category. I put no stock in these signs at all. Could they be true? Yes, but without biblical references to such signs, we are chasing the wind. Signs of this sort have been proposed throughout history to no avail.

      Other than the Celestial Earthly Disturbance Event, I suggest we look for EARTHLY signs which are numerous and easily identified.

  3. I find the sign of the Dragon the most interesting, because it appears to correlate with Satan and the demons being cast from heaven to earth. But I do not understand this. I would have thought that when an omnipotent God was ready to cast Satan out of heaven, He would simply say something like “be gone”. And yet, God gives the apparently difficult task to Michael and the angels, who must “war” with Satan. Then, Michael and the angels send Satan and the demons to earth, and not, say, to the pit.

    God is sovereign and is working out His will. But I do not understand, and this suggests to me that I could be making larger errors of interpretation of this section of Revelation 12. I wonder, for example, if this could be a reference to Michael rising described in Daniel 12:1.

    I would appreciate any clarity that you might provide.

    1. Hi Bob, Let’s look at Dan. 12:1 “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise and there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time…” Michael is clearly shown to guard the people of Israel. The crown of the Woman includes the 12 tribes as we saw in the previous article so there is a connection there. Notice Michael stands up and there is a time of distress. Are these connected?

      The Hebrew word translated “arise” is amad or to stand up, take your stand, stand up to opposition. So this seems to correlate with the war in heaven and possibly to the Dragon’s intent to harm the child.

      1. Nelson, I once read an interpretation of “arise” and the writer (sorry I can’t remember his name) suggested that it means “to stop what one is doing and stand still” so that the time of distress is going to happen precisely because Michael will stop guarding Israel.

        What do you think? Is this interpretation possible?

        1. This is a good question Adri, I think all the readers should consider Isa. 5 and the parable of the vineyard. In that parable God says, “So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste.”

          So it is obvious that God will remove its protection. It also seems obvious that Michael standing leads to the time of tribulation. Putting two and two together, we can say that God permits Israel to come under tribulation precisely because Michael stands up. If that standing releases the Beast onto the earth, that would explain everything.

  4. If I could add one more comment…. I am God. There is no other like me, who knows the ending from the beginning. Jesus while on earth is the same God. He knew before each day what would occur on that day. He didn’t just stumble into Peter, Andrew and John. He knew where they would be because they were already chosen to be of the 12. He also knew then that people in our lifetime would be using computers etc. to search the biblical Jesus and the historic Jesus. Everything revealed in the bible, especially during His life on earth, was done purposefully. Just as everything that is hidden in the bible and His life, is hidden purposely. Using the means created by man to uncover that which is purposely hidden by God can lead one astray. IMO

    1. I agreed with everything you said Ken, unitl the last sentence. Unless God specifically says something is sealed, its not sealed. AND, even those things sealed will someday be unsealed. Maybe today. Prv. 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”

      1. But an abundance of things won’t be unsealed, or realized by man, until after all of prophecy and scripture is fulfilled. Including after the 1,000 year reign. The glory of kings is to search out a matter because of the power and control they have over people. But it doesn’t mean they will find it. It will be revealed when God intends it to be. The pursuit of God, with a contrite heart, is the glory of kings searching out a matter.

        1. Revelation is quite clear that certain things, the 7 Thunders, are sealed until the angels speak them. Then and only then will the complete mystery of God be revealed.

          “When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.” … but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished.” (Rev. 10:5,7)

  5. Nelson, I am not saying Mr. Martin is wrong. Only that the data he uses to validate Tishri 1, 9/11 3 bc has no concrete evidence to support it. No accurate calendar, no accurate dates of solar eclipses, no accurate date of Herod’s death and the amount of days it took to transport him to burial for example. He even uses the Sign of Rev given to John in a vision as factually occurring on the date of the birth of Jesus. Why wasn’t that sign written in the Gospels years earlier before Revelation. There are other Theses with same reliability and validity as E. L. Martin. Ed Rickard of the Moorings website places the birth of Jesus onThe Feast of Lights. God purposely hid the exact date and time of Jesus’ birth and death for a reason only he knows.

    1. Ken, I’m NOT an expert on Mr. Martin or his findings, eclipses, the death of Herod, etc. Nor do I plan to research this in the near future. With only so many things to look at and research, this isn’t my priority. It’s interesting, but my priority is on things that will help others prepare.

  6. Hi Nelson, seems you were unable to get my comment of last night sent upon receipt of eml and just before going offline for evening. For brevity it included a link but will now expand:

    Re your Summary, “…However, if biblical prophecies begin to be fulfilled in the next 30 days…”

    Such a fulfillment may happen during Rosh Hashanah in view of 21st Sept being declared as ‘International Day of PEACE, Respect, SAFETY and Dignity’, and this theme continues for the year 2017-18. (These annual days/years were instituted on Sept 11, 2001 but then postponed to Sept 21st

    I wonder, could this be as prophesied by Paul regarding the Day of the Lord? That is,

    ‘For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.’ (1Thess 5:2-4 NKJV)

    Thank you so much for this informative mini-series.

    1. That certainly is interesting Richard!

      I don’t take it as fulfillment yet, but if sudden destruction comes upon us, I will change my mind. Now the Day of the Lord is what Paul was describing. Zech 1:14-18 for instance. IMO the Day of Lord occurs towards the end of the 70th Week not at the beginning. Joel 2:30-31 clearly shows us the Celestial Earthly Disturbance occurs prior to this Great and Terrible day.

  7. Wow Protestants are really that stupid?!!
    What a bunch of nonsense…

    Read what Catholic teaching are about all these signs
    I doubt it you people will do that…


    1. Surprisingly Constantine, I have read Catholic positions on this like THIS LINK. Does the woman represent Mary? Yes, in some ways, she does.

      However Mary is not going to be nourished in the wilderness during Time, Times, and Half a Time during the Great Tribulation. The only symbol that is universally relevant to the woman is Spiritual Israel and the New Jerusalem that Paul tells us is the mother of us all.

  8. Excellent and well balanced analysis Nelson….whether the signs mean anything or not, is a prospective test….if events don’t line up, then the so-called signs will not validate…it’s easy enough to watch and see what happens!


  9. The accuracy of an assessment is whether it is valid and reliable. Valid in that it measures what it is intended to measure. Reliable because the outcome meets the expectation of the measured data. Many scholars today use the measurements of Ernest L. Martin. Granted he used NASA and computer technology to support his findings regarding the date of the birth of Christ and the Great sign of Rev. The problem is, his data input has a reliable outcome, but his measurements are not based on valid data. Too much speculation and guesswork.

    1. I’m not sure I understand your point Ken, especially “his measurements are not based on valid data.” What does this mean? What specific measurements and why aren’t they valid? Thanks for clarifying.

  10. Among other things, I see Revelation 12 as being a great encouragement in the latter part of tribulation period for christians. I see it as an encouragement that God has always had a remnant and they are invincible and that He will accomplish His purpose although the enemy give it his best shot.

    1. Middle East Missionary, Tom Doyle, says we are bullet proof until the day that Jesus calls us home. Folks may wonder, however, why Jesus chooses to physically protect the Jewish remnant and not physically protect Christians. The unsaved Jews aren’t saved. They have to be protected physically until they are saved. If they die they go to hell, they must be kept alive. The Christians, in contrast, already have eternal life. “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28) In fact, testifying while not fearing death is part of the way Satan is overcome! (Rev. 12:11) So martyrdom of some Christians is part of the great plan.

      1. “The unsaved Jews aren’t saved. They have to be protected physically until they are saved. If they die they go to hell, they must be kept alive.”

        That’s good, Nelson. A few years ago I listened to a sermon preached by Bryan Purtle, in which he recounted giving a message to the family of a young couple who was going to a restricted country, in the Middle East, I believe, as missionaries. Unsaved members of the family did not understand why they would put their lives in such danger, and Bryan said that if you are not in Christ, you are already in a place of even greater danger.

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