Is it the rapture , the beginning of the Tribulation, or something else (or nothing)? What is the sign of Rev 12 and what does it mean to us today?
We are beginning a 3 part series on this controversial sign. I am starting the series now so that you can have all the information and my opinions prior to the sign on Sept. 23.
Several of the readers of this website have done extensive research on this sign and have shared their expertise with me. I am very grateful to everyone that sent me material.
The sign of Rev 12 which is very much in the news these days is given in Rev. 12:1
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1)
Much mystery has accompanied this sign of Rev 12, what it means, and whether its a physical or spiritual sign. This sign was hidden in relative obscurity until 2011 when William Tapley using astronomy software “discovered” that a potential alignment of stars and planets might fulfill the sign on September 23 of this year.
In the midst of the “blood moon” hysteria of 2013-2015, attention was focused elsewhere. But after the blood moons came and went, the world’s social media posts began to consider the sign which may fulfill the scripture with an astronomical alignment involving the constellations Virgo and Leo, the sun, moon, and planets Mercury, Mars, Venus, and Jupiter.
To briefly explain the astronomical sign, Rev. 12:1 speaks of a great sign in the heavens. This could mean the spiritual heavens where God dwells or it could mean the astronomical heavens. If this later meaning is in view, it would mean that the sun and moon were literal, and the “woman” and her “crown” were constellations and planets. The “woman” would be naturally be Virgo which is part of the zodiac or mazzaroth (ancient Hebrew zodiac). Virgo is “clothed” in the sun in September – which means the sun is found in this constellation during this month. The “new moon is at her feet” on Yom Teruah. This part of the “sign” occurs nearly every year at this time.
As far as the crown of 12 stars. Those ascribing to this sign believe they are the stars of the constellation of Leo plus the addition of the three stars listed above (Mercury, Mars, and Venus.) This would require 9 stars in Leo, but the actual number varies from 10 to 13 depending on which star chart your examine. Astronomers don’t consider Leo to have 9 stars. Other Christian astronomers claim the “Virgo Cluster” is what John referred to as the “crown” on the woman’s head.
The third significant feature of this sign is that Jupiter has appeared to traverse through the constellation of Virgo for a nine month period, much as a pregnancy. Proponents of this sign claim this is the pregnancy referred to in Rev. 12:2:
And she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. (Rev. 12:2)
Making this claim more dramatic is the fact that to the Hebrews, Jupiter was known as Zadek, or righteous one or righteousness. Many ascribe this planet to Jesus. One might think Jupiter passing through Virgo is an unusual event, but this happens every couple of years.
So how common is it to have three planets in Leo, while Jupiter in in Virgo on Yom Teruah? Well, it is not that common, but it has happened several times in the last 6000 years. Although this specific alignment hasn’t happened in 7000 years, other alignments that are similar have happened.
So as you can see, the actual alignment is a close fit to the “sign,” but may or may not be exact, and it’s not as rare as we are told.
Historic Astronomical Sign
What is interesting is a very similar sign occurred on Yom Teruah, September 11, 3 BC which many consider the possible birth date of Jesus. (See Ernest Martin’s online book) In that alignment, the three planets in Leo were different; Jupiter was between the feet of the Lion in conjunction with the “King star” Regulus, and Mars was not involved.
Why is this important? Well, if this truly was a past fulfillment of this “great sign,” then a lot of the critiques about the sign in 2017 fall flat. If it was a sign in 3 BC, it is a sign now. If it isn’t a sign now, it wasn’t in 3 BC either. It is one or the other.
What are other opinions?
“Fisher Man” is a regular reader of this blog and a friend, and he has done more research on this sign than anyone I am aware of. He not only has researched this sign, but also has made Educated guesses about the sign of Dragon and the 7 Angels with the 7 Plagues also listed in Revelation. The attached video is quite interesting and implies that the sign will initiate the 70th Week in October of this year.
I am not so sure of that, but the astronomical signs and mathematical coincidences it presents are intriguing. So I wanted to share this with all of you.
Dr. Michael Heiser has commented on the historic sign of Rev 12 which he supports as a true “sign.”
Joel Richardson gives his opinion about the sign of Sept. 23rd, which he believes is not a sign.
September 23rd and the Rapture
A number of pretribulationalist teachers are claiming that Sept. 23rd is a likely date for the rapture. In a recent article, I have explained in depth why I don’t believe this is accurate.
Just like Joel Richardson, I believe the frenzy whipped up about this theory in “chicken little” fashion is damaging to the church and true prophecy interpretation. If and when this theory is proven false there will be great disappointment. This is one reason our ministry has chosen that day to deliver the book, “Rapture: Case Closed?” to the 1000 top leaders of the church. The idea behind choosing that date is to say in essence, “Okay, the rapture didn’t happen has many predicted. Now let’s delve into Scripture to see what the Bible really says about it.”
In this article, I’ve tried to present what others think about this “sign of Rev 12” and what I don’t think it is. In the next blog article I will analyze Rev. 12 and look at what I think the text is saying and how that may or may not be associated with Sept. 23rd.