The Sky Don't Lie
Last year, I wrote an article about what has become known as the Revelation 12 sign, or the first of two signs described by the apostle John in Revelation 12:1–5. (For the remainder of this article, I will refer to this as the REV12 sign.) In that article, I explore in some degree of detail why I am utterly convinced this passage of Scripture not only gives us a clear picture of the pre-tribulation Rapture, but also how the REV12 sign will be fulfilled with stunning precision on September 23 of this year.
For the last several years, a dedicated, enthusiastic, and growing core group of believers have taken to the streets, in a manner of speaking, to spread the word of this upcoming prophetic fulfillment through various means and media (and I consider myself a humble, fledgling member of their ranks). Although this passage of Scripture is absolutely a picture of the pre-tribulation Rapture, the great majority of these people are not attempting to set dates and as a general rule are not running around shouting:
"The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The Rapture's gonna happen on September 23! It's a Bible lock!"
And those who recklessly do so are likely to be gently admonished by others to knock it off.
Most of these people are simply sharing information concerning what they see as a major prophetic fulfillment, and are compelled to let others know that even though September 23, 2017 may well not be the exact date of the Rapture, it is clearly a sign to those who are obeying Christ's command to watch and wait expectantly that time is indeed getting short for the body of Christ. Their goal is simply to share what they have been shown in order to encourage those in the Church who have ears to hear.
Unfortunately, however, it seems that not everyone in the Church has that kind of ears. To the surprise of no one, the detractors have come out in droves, decrying the REV12 sign of 9/23/2017 as rank speculation that is leading the Church off on yet another wild, apocalyptic goose chase, and as such is something that sorely needs to be exposed and debunked like all the other hysterical last-days lunacy that has preceded it.
I have a news flash for these people:
The sky don't lie.
One of the better-known individuals among these detractors is a best-selling author who regularly appears on Christian television talk shows and who has published several popular books in the field of Bible prophecy and end-time speculation. Most of his ideas are framed in the context of a post-trib or pre-wrath Rapture, which explains his adamant rejection of the REV12 sign because a proper interpretation of it veritably screams "pre-trib." However, it was two YouTube videos he posted claiming to "debunk" the REV12 sign that really motivated me to write this article. Well, maybe "motivated me" is too weak—let's go with "got me fired up."
I actually struggled with the decision to identify him by name or not. I finally decided not to, although a handful of knowledgeable people reading this article may know to whom I am referring. So if you know, that's fine—if you don't, that's fine, too. I don't want to launch what might be construed as a personal attack against another believer—and besides, it doesn't actually matter that much because he is not the only one. This individual is by no means the only person out there saying some the things I am going to deal with in this article, so there's nothing to be gained by naming names.
First, a brief recap of the scenario we are dealing with so everyone is up to speed and on the same page:
In Revelation 12, the apostle John describes two signs that appear. The first is described in verses 1–2:
1A great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2She was with child. She cried out in pain, laboring to give birth.
3Another sign was seen in heaven. Behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns. 4His tail drew one third of the stars of the sky, and threw them to the earth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
5She gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. Her child was caught up to God, and to his throne.
(Revelation 12:1–5 / emphasis added)
It is quite possible that there are multiple levels of interpretation of the sign. For example, from a historical/individual perspective, the woman could be seen as Mary, the baby as Jesus, and the dragon as King Herod, who desperately tried to kill all male babies under the age of two in a vain effort to eliminate Israel's prophesied Messiah.
It is quite clear to most Bible scholars, however, that there is also an eschatological level of interpretation, that being that the woman represents Israel, the child represents the body of Christ (not just Christ Himself, a distinction I will have more to say about later), and the dragon is Satan's system, which will include the kingdom of the Antichrist during the Tribulation. As such, verse 5 in which the child is "caught up" to heaven clearly represents the Rapture. And since the Tribulation clearly follows this sign, it paints a picture of a pre-tribulation Rapture.
The constellation Virgo has always been associated with the woman in this sign, and the sun and moon pass through Virgo on a regular basis. However, on September 23, 2017 (which falls immediately following the Feast of Trumpets this year), something will occur that is extraordinarily unusual. As a matter of fact, nothing quite like it has happened in the last several millennia, and won't happen again for several more.
On that date, the moon will be at Virgo's feet, the sun will be over her shoulder "clothing" her (nothing unusual there), but also the nine stars of Leo, which are always directly above Virgo's head, will be joined by the planets Mercury, Venus and Mars to complete Virgo's crown of 12 stars (the Bible doesn't make the distinction between stars and planets).
Not only that, but another aspect of the REV12 sign is the fact that the woman is with child (v. 2). The planet Jupiter, the king planet and the planet commonly associated with Christ (or in this case the body of Christ), will be in the "womb" of Virgo for the normal length of a human pregnancy during the time period preceding September 23, 2017. This is the male child—the body of Christ—and the male child will be in the process of exiting the "womb" of Virgo at about the same time as the alignment of the woman's crown on September 23.
In other words, the REV12 sign will be perfectly fulfilled on September 23, 2017, and in a manner that is stunningly clear and undeniable.
This upcoming fulfillment of the REV12 sign has been popularized via YouTube primarily by Scottie Clarke since about 2011, although numerous people have gotten involved with it in the past couple of years, such as those at websites like www.unsealed.org and others who have written articles about it on their own little websites (like this one character I know).
But as I said, the naysayers have come out in full force, as is typically the case for anything pertaining to what has become one of the most mocked and reviled doctrines in the Church today: the pre-tribulation Rapture.
So, just what are these ideas that this celebrity author and others are promulgating? I narrowed it down to a list of seven of the most popular "rebuttals" being thrown out by not only this celebrity author, but many other like-minded individuals on the Internet who scoff at the idea that the upcoming alignment on September 23, 2017 is of any biblical significance.
In this article, I want to examine why these rebuttals of the REV12 sign are some of the flimsiest attacks I've ever seen leveled at the efforts of students of the Bible who are just doing their job, and why not a single one stands up to biblical scrutiny. They are as follows:
1. The 12 stars in the woman's crown have always been there.
2. The child being born in verse 5 is Christ, not the Church.
3. The rest of Revelation 12 applies to the end times, but verses 1–5 don't.
4. Virgo's crown cannot "borrow" stars from another constellation.
5. In verse 17, the dragon makes war with the Church—so it can't be raptured in verse 5.
6. Rosh Hashanah isn't biblical...so neither is the REV12 sign.
7. The REV12 sign is just more apocalyptic sensationalism.
Some of these attacks are so weak and silly I almost hate to waste my time with them, but there are so many people out there—even celebrity authors who should know better—coming against the fulfillment of God's Word with this junk that I feel it simply has to be done.
1. This so-called "rare" stellar/planetary alignment that will occur on September 23, 2017 is not the fulfillment of Revelation 12:1 in any way whatsoever, because the 12 stars of the woman's crown have always been there! According to serious scholars like Anatoly Fomenko, Virgo always has a crown of 12 stars, so this 9/23/2017 "fulfillment" thing is just a bunch of apocalyptic hooey.
Take two: When I first posted this article, I took issue with the idea that the crown has always been there by pointing out that the form of the Greek word horao (appeared, was seen) used in Revelation 12:1 means that either the sign wasn't there and then was, or John couldn't see it and then could, and concluded that neither of these apply if the crown has always been there. While this is true, it only applies to the crown itself, not the entire sign. The entire sign could still "appear" even if the crown by itself is always present. I was so focused on the crown alone that I overlooked that fact, and so I goofed. That's why I had to go back and revamp this one point.
This is one of the key ideas being put out there by critics of the REV12 sign, and so it's the first one I want to dismantle. The critics will say things like...
"You know, these YooToob prophets are saying how unbelievably rare this sign is, like it's never happened before and will never happen again and so it must be super prophetic and yada yada yada. Like the strength of the sign is its rarity. Ooh, it's s-o-o rare...it just has to mean something!"
(Well, yeah. I mean, you'd kind of expect a "great sign" to be pretty rare, wouldn't you?)
Then they will launch into something about the minor constellation Coma Berenices (which is not above Virgo's head in the first place) and the Virgo Cluster, and how there have been scholars in the past who have identified a ring of 12 stars above Virgo, and so the REV12 sign is a bunch of well-intentioned but overhyped hysteria over nothing.
"Calm down, folks...move along...nothing to see here."
An astronomical snow job: One of the things (out of many) that annoyed me about this celebrity author's videos is that he goes on and on about both Coma Berenices and the Virgo Cluster, but at no point makes it clear which of them is supposedly the woman's crown. He brandishes a couple of authoritative-looking books on astronomy, but he never seems to clearly differentiate between these two astronomical groupings. Well, which is it, Mr. Celebrity Author? Is the crown to be found in Coma Berenices or in the Virgo Cluster? These are two different things. He deliberately snows his viewers and succeeds in leaving them with the vague impression that all of these really smart guys say there have always been 12 stars above Virgo...somewhere, so shut up.
What the critics don't tell you is that there are dozens of visible stars in the general area above Virgo, and there always have been. And yes, there have been various men in the past who were aware of the sign mentioned in Revelation 12:1, and as a result looked above Virgo and whaddya know—they picked out 12 possible candidates for the woman's crown.
"Ah ha! There we go—a crown of 12 stars, just like the Bible says!"
And there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Many of these men were no doubt good men who loved God, and only meant to honor His Word. They were merely doing what we all do: they were operating in the light they had. We frequently don't know exactly what God has in mind, or how any prophecy will ultimately play out.
The point is that there is no conceivable way they could have guessed that the actual fulfillment of the REV12 sign would instead turn out to be something so spectacularly clear and compelling that it would make their attempts to arbitrarily pick out 12 stars to be the crown look like an exceedingly desperate stretch.
What they also don't tell you is the fact that even if the 12 stars in Virgo's crown really have always been there, that doesn't imply that the entire sign has always been there. Apparently the critics would very much like for people to casually assume that the presence of the crown implies the presence of the whole sign, and so you can safely ignore all this apocalyptic craziness.
But that's not true.
The crown is only one part of the sign. Simply choosing 12 stars above Virgo and calling that the "crown" is a snap, so let's assume for the sake of argument that the critics are right, and assume that the 12 stars of the woman's crown actually are just 12 stars somebody arbitrarily chose out of dozens of stars in the Virgo Cluster, Coma Berenices, or whatever. Where does that leave us in regard to the fulfillment of the REV12 sign?
OK, let's think this through. The "great sign" of Revelation 12:1–2 contains four essential elements:
1. The moon is at Virgo's feet.
2. The sun is around Virgo's upper body "clothing" her.
3. A crown of 12 stars/planets is above Virgo's head.
4. Virgo is "with child," with Jupiter in her womb for about 41–42 weeks.
No. 4 warrants a bit of explanation. The planet Jupiter takes 12 years to orbit the sun, and from our vantage point we see it pass through the vicinity of Virgo each time around, or every 12 years. Ordinarily, we see Jupiter make a beeline through Virgo, which only takes a couple of months. Each year, however, due to the relationship between the orbits of Earth and Jupiter, Jupiter appears to backtrack in its orbit for a period of time. It literally seems to stop, go backwards, and then return to its original direction. This is called retrograde motion, and it occurs over a period of several months.
Although Jupiter goes into retrograde each year, it does so in different parts of the sky on its way around the sun. Occasionally, Jupiter happens to go into its yearly retrograde while it is transiting the constellation Virgo and when it does, rather than zipping on through in a couple of months, it spends 41–42 weeks in Virgo's "womb," or about the length of a normal human pregnancy (37–42 weeks). And people who go gaga over the fact that this is the case with the REV12 sign should realize that this 41–42 week period is standard for Jupiter every time it goes into retrograde in Virgo.
After Jupiter's retrograde motion is complete and as it begins to exit and leave the vicinity of the womb, the sun invariably enters into the picture around Virgo's upper body, and while this is coming together the moon will invariably show up and pass by Virgo as well. As the moon passes by Virgo's feet, three of the four REV12 sign criteria are fulfilled (minus the crown), although on some occasions these elements come together a little more neatly and precisely than on other occasions.
So, assuming the crown is always there, how often do the other three elements come together? I did some research with Stellarium, and this is what I found:
My criteria: First, note that every single time Jupiter goes into retrograde in the constellation Virgo, the sun will be somewhere around Virgo's upper body and the moon will pass by her feet in the general time frame Jupiter is exiting the womb, so that's not an issue. All I had to do was check whether or not Jupiter went into retrograde while transiting Virgo every 12 years.
Note that in the fulfillment of the REV12 sign in 2017, Jupiter actually wanders ever so slightly outside the precise boundary of Virgo's midsection during its retrograde. Some have nitpicked on this in their attempts to attack the validity of the REV12 sign, but I have a different take on it.
Take a closer look: Many people studying and promoting the REV12 sign assume Jupiter is within Virgo's womb the entire 41–42 weeks in 2017, but this isn't quite true. It's barely noticeable, but if you look at it in Stellarium and zoom in for a closer look, it is obvious Jupiter crosses the boundary and is in fact j-u-s-t outside the womb from May 17–July 12, or exactly eight weeks. Eight—the number of Jesus, and of new beginnings.
I'm not going to be dogmatic about it, but I believe this might actually be significant, because it might be part of the fulfillment of the rest of verse 2:
2She was with child. She cried out in pain, laboring to give birth.
Q. What would make a woman cry out in pain during a pregnancy?
A. The baby kicking!
Verse 2 would primarily refer to labor pains, but maybe when Jupiter drifts just outside the boundary of Virgo's midsection, it represents the baby kicking her inside the womb, causing part of her pain!
At any rate, I applied the same standards to all of Jupiter's retrogrades over the last thousand years: Following its initial entry into the womb, I allowed for movement of Jupiter outside the lines the womb during its retrograde motion.
The results: Taking the crown as a given, the other three elements of the REV12 sign have come together with a reasonable degree of accuracy 20 times in the last one thousand years (including 2017). This is not meant to be definitive, but it is sufficient to establish the point I want to make.
The following dates indicate the approximate day Jupiter entered Virgo, and after completing its retrograde motion, exited the womb. Note that in each case the period is 41–42 weeks. Again, since the sun and moon always show up to play their respective roles around the general time of Jupiter's exit of the womb, these all represent reasonable fulfillments of the other three REV12 sign criteria over the last one thousand years:
• Nov. 20, 2016—Sep. 9, 2017
• Nov. 14, 1933—Sep. 3, 1934
• Dec. 3, 1921—Sep. 20, 1922
• Nov. 11, 1850—Aug. 30, 1851
• Nov. 28, 1838—Sep. 16, 1839
• Nov. 22, 1755—Sep. 10, 1756
• Nov. 17, 1672—Sep. 5, 1673
• Dec. 6, 1660—Sep. 21, 1661
• Nov. 12, 1589—Sep. 1, 1590
• Oct. 29, 1506—Aug. 18, 1507
• Nov. 18, 1494—Sep. 5, 1495
• Oct. 27, 1423—Aug. 14, 1424
• Nov. 14, 1411—Aug. 31, 1412
• Oct. 23, 1340—Aug. 9, 1341
• Nov. 8, 1328—Aug. 27, 1329
• Nov. 4, 1245—Aug. 23, 1246
• Oct. 14, 1174—July 28, 1175
• Oct. 30, 1162—Aug. 18, 1163
• Oct. 25, 1079—Aug. 11, 1080
• Nov. 12, 1067—Aug. 28, 1068
In Revelation 12:1, the Greek words translated "great sign" are semeion mega (lit. "mega sign") and are variously translated as follows:
• Then a great sign appeared in heaven...
• Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance...
• And a great (marvel, wonder, portent, symbol) was seen in heaven...
• A spectacular sign appeared in the sky...
• And a mega sign appears in the heavens...
So, by insisting the crown of 12 stars has always been there, the naysayers have effectively turned a "mega sign" into something that occurs roughly every 50 years on the average. So here's the $64,000 question:
Q. Do the above translations of semeion mega sound as if they are describing an event that occurs about every 50 years?
A. No, they don't.
The point is that if you assume the crown is always there, you reduce the REV12 sign to something that happens about once every 50 years, and that simply doesn't jive with the plain sense of Scripture.
That's an epic fail in terms of being a semeion mega.
So, I don't see any easy way around it. We have no choice but to reject the notion that you can just cherry-pick 12 stars out of a whole cluster of them above Virgo and call that the "crown" because it reduces the sign to something that is a far cry from the semeion mega that God showed John. Understand that God was showing John something that would appear with stunning, undeniable clarity—something that warranted being referred to as not merely a sign, but a mega sign, and something that has been fulfilled forty-odd times since John saw his vision simply doesn't cut it.
On the other hand, when Mars, Mercury, and Venus converge in Leo directly above Virgo's head on September 23, 2017, thus completing her crown in conjunction with the moon at her feet and the sun clothing her and Jupiter exiting her womb after its 41–42 week retrograde "pregnancy," you have the precise fulfillment of this sign—a fulfillment that is unlike anything we have seen in thousands of years and won't see again for thousands more.
Now that's a semeion mega.
Oh, and by the way, all you skeptics out there, even if you claim the crown has always been there, the REV12 sign will still be fulfilled on September 23, 2017. You can't stop it. All this rebuttal of yours does is denigrate God's Word by turning what God calls a mega sign into something far less.
All this rebuttal does is turn a semeion mega into a semeion mediocre.
Bottom line: God's Word is clear—the fulfillment of the REV12 sign stands vindicated, and the skeptics are left with a handful of stardust.
I can't close this section without sharing this because it's just so comical, and reveals the heart of this celebrity author attacking the REV12 sign like few things I can think of.
In one of this celebrity author's YouTube videos, he is generally disparaging those who make YouTube videos (!) about the REV12 sign as if they were amateurish buffoons who cannot be taken seriously, and going on about how the woman's crown of 12 stars has always been there. In support of this claim, he makes much of the work of one Anatoly Fomenko, who is "clearly either Ukrainian or Russian" according the celebrity author (who clearly has no clue who Fomenko is).
He quotes Fomenko at length and even shows viewers a page from one of Fomenko's books which states: "Directly above the head of Virgo...we see the constellation of Coma Berenices or the Twelve Stars." He treats this as a slam dunk that the REV12 sign is a load of malarkey, because here lies serious scholarly proof from a scholarly Ukrainian or Russian scholar who has written this scholarly tome brimming with serious scholarship that clearly states that Virgo has always had a crown of 12 stars. So there.
As anyone can see, Coma Berenices is not "directly above the head of Virgo." It's well off to the side, so if that's Virgo's "crown," apparently she has taken it off and is using it to play Frisbee with Ursa Major. Revelation 12:1 says the crown is above her head, and uh, this isn't. Saying it is may be stretching things to the breaking point, but that's not the comical part.
I did something this celebrity author apparently did not do: my homework. I did some digging on Anatoly Fomenko, and as it turns out he's quite an interesting character (and FYI, Mr. Celebrity Author, he's Russian). Anatoly Fomenko (b. 1945) is a Russian mathematician and his primary work (the one the celebrity author quoted) is a seven-volume series entitled History: Science or Fiction?, and the celebrity author showed p. 157 from volume 1, from a chapter entitled "The New Dating of the Astronomical Horoscope as Described in the Apocalypse." Ooh, sounds pretty scholarly, huh?
Well, if our celebrity author had done just a wee bit of checking, he never would have quoted Anatoly Fomenko in a thousand years. Fomenko is a leading proponent of the New Chronology, a pseudohistorical theory that claims all of written history only goes back to about AD 800. In other words, the events of the New Testament occurred during the Middle Ages. For example, Fomenko believes Jesus Christ was born in AD 1153 and was crucified in AD 1186.
In other words, he's a nutjob "scholar" who thinks Jesus was born in the twelfth century. No one in the academic community takes his work seriously, and arguably the only reason anyone has ever even heard of Fomenko is because Russian chess champion Gary Kasparov actually believes and has promoted this foolishness.
So, a word to the wise: If you're going to attempt to refute the work of those who take the REV12 sign seriously, you might think twice before using the work of Anatoly Fomenko to do it.
This never fails to bring a smile to my face every time I think of it.
2. The child being born and caught up to heaven in verse 5 is obviously Christ, and not the Church. Thus, this passage has nothing to do with the Rapture.
I have already thoroughly covered this point in another article, so I'll just recap the highlights.
• Corporate symbolism. In the eschatological interpretation of the REV12 sign, the woman is Israel. The nation of Israel, a corporate body, not an individual. In verses 3–4, the dragon is more than just Satan—it is Satan's system, and during the Tribulation it will be the kingdom of the Antichrist. It's a corporate body, not an individual. Thus, it breaks the typology of the sign to assume the child is Christ alone. It is the body of Christ, or the Church—a corporate body, not an individual.
• Reference to Isaiah 66:7. In verse 5, John says the woman gave birth to a male child. However, he deliberately uses the neuter form of the adjective instead of the grammatically correct male form, and it's not a mistake because elsewhere he writes it correctly. John is making a conscious, deliberate reference to Isaiah 66:7, a prophecy about the birth of the nation of Israel. When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, the translators used the same neuter form in Isaiah 66:7 (in reference to Israel, a corporate body) that John used in Revelation 12:5 in reference the male child. Thus John is going out of his way to let us know that the son in verse 5 is a corporate body as well—the body of Christ, or the Church.
• Ruling with a rod of iron. In Psalm 2:7–9, God says the Messiah will rule with a rod of iron, a reference to the Millennial Kingdom on earth. However, in Revelation 2:26–27, Jesus extends this promise to the Church. Then in Revelation 19:14–15 we see Christ returning at the Second Coming with His Church in tow to fulfill this promise as a corporate body. It is this promise in Psalm 2:7–9 that is being quoted in verse 5, so it makes perfect sense to interpret the son as a corporate body, not just Christ alone. In other words, the Church will rule and reign with Christ with a rod of iron, and so we will share in the fulfillment of that prophecy.
• Where's the Resurrection? If the male child being born in verse 5 is Christ alone, it seems odd that there is no mention of the Resurrection, symbolic or otherwise. Not a word. Really? The quintessential point of the gospel; the heart and soul of everything Christ accomplished for us...not even alluded to? Skipped over? This glaring omission makes perfect sense, however, if the male child is the Church, who gets "caught up" to heaven in verse 5 (and the word is harpazo, same word used in 1 Thess. 4:17 to describe the Rapture). Christ wasn't "harpazo-ed"—He ascended, which is always described using different Greek words.
3. Although the rest of Revelation 12, such as the dragon (Satan) being cast down to earth and persecuting the woman (Israel) during the Great Tribulation, clearly have future eschatological interpretations, verses 1–5 have been fulfilled! This stuff about the woman having the moon at her feet, being clothed with the sun, being crowned with 12 stars, and giving birth to the male child who is caught up to heaven to escape the dragon's clutches have all been historically fulfilled by the birth of Christ and the Ascension (see no. 2). That represents the final, complete fulfillment of that part of the passage, thus verses 1–5 have no eschatological interpretation whatsoever. So we can forget about this REV12 thing and move on.
So, all of Revelation 12 has end-time applications (which it certainly does)—all except the REV12 sign in verses 1–5, that is. I see. Well, gosh, how convenient is that?
Are you kidding me?! Virtually the entire book of Revelation has end-time applications! It is extremely typical throughout the Bible for any prophecy to have a near-term partial fulfillment to confirm the long-term final fulfillment, or for it to have multiple levels of interpretation. The REV12 sign is no different. It's just that many people refuse to acknowledge its obvious eschatological significance because it blows their own end-time positions out of the water and exposes them as being in error.
There is absolutely no biblical reason to assume that verses 1–5 have been totally fulfilled and don't apply to the end-times for some reason, but the rest of the chapter does. That's nothing more than desperate, disingenuous manipulation of Scripture.
Hindsight is always 20/20: This is one of the main arguments from REV12 sign critics—the idea that the two signs of Revelation 12:1–5 have already been fulfilled in history, since they depict the birth of Christ (3–2 BC) and the Ascension (AD 32–33). But think for a second. If that were true, then we are supposed to believe that in about AD 95, God showed the apostle John in a vision the only two signs in the entire Bible that are referred to as "great signs" (a vision that primarily concerns the future), and these two phenomenal mega signs depict nothing more than a widely known event that occurred decades earlier. Oooh, some mega signs those are. That makes about as much sense as God showing someone a great sign in the heavens in 2017, and having people interpret it to mean Israel would become a nation again (1948). Wow, thanks for the tip, Father.
4. Virgo's crown of 12 stars CANNOT be part of another constellation! Nine of those stars are in Leo, not Virgo, so they can't be considered part of Virgo's crown. Every astrotheologian knows you can't just "borrow" stars from another constellation like that, so this REV12 sign you guys are promoting is completely invalid.
The 12 stars can't be part of another constellation? Oh really? Sez who? Wow, every astrotheologian...I mean, who can argue with those guys, right?
It's basically impossible to refute such a silly, specious argument, and I have a sneaky feeling that's the entire point. You can refute an actual argument—but it can be surprisingly tough to refute manufactured nonsense, especially when it's couched as follows:
Every (expert of some type) knows (something that
tends to undermine your position), so (you're wrong)!
Every biologist knows that evolution is scientific fact, so the idea that God created man is an absurd myth!
Every astrophysicist knows the universe is 13.8 billion years old, so the biblical creation story is clearly a fairy tale for children!
Every competent Bible scholar knows the Church has to be "purified," so the Church will certainly go through the Tribulation!
This is a variation on a logical fallacy known as "appeal to authority" and it sounds all authoritative and everything, but doesn't hold a thimbleful of water from a logical standpoint.
And logic (or the lack thereof) notwithstanding—what about what the Bible actually says?
Not to belabor the obvious or anything, but verse 1 just says "on her head a crown of twelve stars." It doesn't say 12 stars that are not part of another constellation. It doesn't say 12 stars that are part of the Virgo Cluster or of a minor constellation like Coma Berenices.
It just says 12 stars. Period.
I'm sorry, but how is this unclear? Any additional requirements about what those stars can or cannot be must be added to Scripture, and add it they do. And again—nowhere does the Bible distinguish between stars and planets.
I've got a radical idea—why don't we just go by what God says in His Word?
5. Later in the chapter, the dragon is unsuccessful in destroying the woman, and in verse 17 we are told the dragon goes after "the rest of her seed" to make war with them. Well, obviously that's believers, right? The dragon is clearly going after the Church, who must still be on earth. So, it's impossible for anything in verses 1–5 to be a picture of the Rapture.
First of all, let's review what the verse actually says:
17The dragon grew angry with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep God's commandments and hold Jesus' testimony.
(Revelation 12:17 / emphasis added)
After Satan (through his man the Antichrist) is unsuccessful in his attempts to destroy Israel because she is protected by God (many believe in Petra, Jordan), his forces will go after "the rest of her seed." So the question is:
Who are "the rest of her seed"?
All those who trust Christ for their salvation, i.e., all those who are "in Christ" are the spiritual seed of Abraham:
29If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to promise.
Thus they are the spiritual seed of Israel, and thus the seed of the woman in this passage (and it's clear from context we're not talking about Abraham's physical seed). This obviously includes the Church, but is not limited to it. There are also Gentile Tribulation saints. These are people who will come to a saving faith in Christ after the Rapture and will have to go through the Tribulation because they are not part of the Church.
In this picture, however, the woman is Israel, or in this case the Jewish remnant. Although they have turned to God with all their hearts and have returned to their covenant relationship with the Father, they have not yet come to faith in Christ. So these people are not the spiritual seed of Abraham...YET! They will become that when they finally believe in their Messiah and call upon Him to save them at the climax of the Tribulation.
In other words, in the picture being painted here in Revelation 12...
Those being protected from Satan's attacks in the wilderness are not the seed of the woman—they are the woman.
Don't believe me? Well, what does the Word say?
13When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 14Two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, so that she might be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15The serpent spewed water out of his mouth after the woman like a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream. 16The earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon spewed out of his mouth. 17The dragon grew angry with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep God's commandments and hold Jesus' testimony.
(Revelation 12:13–17 / emphasis added)
• The dragon persecutes the woman—not her seed (v. 13).
• Two "wings" are given to the woman—not her seed (v. 14).
• The serpent spews water after the woman—not her seed (v. 15).
• The earth helps the woman—not her seed (v. 16).
• The dragon grows angry with the woman—not her seed (v. 17).
The woman. The woman. The woman. The woman. The woman.
I think I see a pattern developing. I'm beginning to get the idea that Satan, through his proxy the Antichrist, is going after the woman, which is Israel, but God protects her in the wilderness. So, he turns his attention away from the woman and goes off to make war against a group of what are evidently living believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ who dwell on earth, and so a group that qualifies as being referred to as "the seed of the woman."
But they aren't called the "seed of the woman."
They're called "the rest of her seed."
Now, follow along carefully.
The Greek word translated "rest" in verse 17 is a form of the word loipos (left, left behind, the remainder, the rest, the remnant, the others). The same word is used in many verses, and it means pretty much the same thing "the rest," "the others," etc. mean in English. For example:
11Afterward the other virgins [i.e., the five foolish ones] also came, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us."
(Matthew 25:11 / emphasis & comments added)
13They went away and told it to the rest. [i.e., the rest of the disciples] They didn't believe them, either.
(Mark 16:13 / emphasis & comments added)
11The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: "God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, [i.e., people besides righteous dudes like me] extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector."
(Luke 18:11 / emphasis & comments added)
13I saw, and I heard an eagle, flying in mid heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe! Woe! Woe for those who dwell on the earth, because of the other voices of the trumpets of the three angels, [i.e., the remaining three trumpet-sounding angels] who are yet to sound!"
(Revelation 8:13 / emphasis & comments added)
So, the dragon goes to make war with the woman's seed, a distinct portion of whom have already been removed or dispatched in some way.
In light of the preceding, here's the $64,000 question:
Q. Can "the rest of her seed" refer to the Church?
A. No! If it did, the Holy Spirit would have just said "her seed."
If the Church were still on earth and suffering through the Tribulation, there would be no logical reason whatsoever to refer to "the rest of her seed." What distinct portion of living believers in the gospel would be missing? They would all be present and accounted for—the group would be intact, and would include the Tribulation saints to boot.
There is only one reason why the Holy Spirit would use the word loipos in verse 17, and that's because a distinct part the woman's seed has already been removed. Gosh, who could they possibly be?
16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God's trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, 17then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 / emphasis added)
There's part of the woman's seed.
I hear they've got a wedding to attend. That leaves the millions of people who will come to faith in Christ after the Rapture, many no doubt as a result of the preaching of the 144,000 Jewish apostle Pauls who will be unleashed on the post-Rapture world.
And there's the rest of her seed.
And excuse me while a savor the exquisite irony of the fact that one of the definitions of the word loipos is "left behind."
6. You guys promoting this REV12 sign keep yammering about how it (nearly) coincides with Rosh Hashanah. So what? Rosh Hashanah is not a biblical feast day—it's just a secular holiday that marks the civil New Year in Israel. It's not biblical, so your big REV12 thingy isn't biblical either.
This one really gets me, partly because it's just so blatantly dishonest and, well...stupid. This is even worse than the old "The word 'Rapture' isn't in the Bible" gem I still here from Rapture-deniers from time to time.
Look, here's the deal. On the Jewish calendar, the secular Jewish New Year, known as Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew, is celebrated on Tishri 1 and coincides with the Feast of Trumpets. Both are based on the same new moon on the lunar calendar.
Believe it or not, we actually know that. Since it coincides with the Feast of Trumpets, the two names are routinely used interchangeably by Christians. It's also referred to as Yom Teruah. When biblically knowledgeable people speak of things of a prophetic nature and say "Rosh Hashanah," they are, of course, thinking of the Feast of Trumpets, the biblical feast ordained by God in Leviticus 23:23–25. Got it?
Seriously...how desperate does one have to be in their effort to "discredit" a teaching to say something so obtuse?
7. OK, so according to you guys, the Rapture will happen on September 23, 2017, right? Oh wait, or is it May 21, 2011 (as per Harold Camping)? Or September 11, 1988 (as per Edgar Whisenant)? I hate to point out the obvious, but all previous Rapture predictions and other such apocalyptic hysteria failed miserably, and this REV12 sign is just more of the same overhyped hoopla.
As you can easily imagine, critics of the REV12 sign are gleefully lumping it in with all kinds of spurious junk:
• obscure, complex date calculations
• esoteric secret signs
• hidden Bible codes that can be made to mean anything
• the Mayan calendar/2012 bust
• the Y2K panic
• every failed goofball Rapture prediction in history
...and the beat goes on. This is just one more snide, jellyfish rebuttal that cannot logically be refuted, because it has no logical basis to refute.
The only "basis" for this attack, if you can call it that, is the simple fact that there are some people out there spreading the word about the REV12 sign of September 23, 2017 who, perhaps in their excitement over the fulfillment of prophecy and genuine zeal for the Lord's soon return for His Church, might be getting just a wee bit carried away and maybe «OVEREMPHASIZING» the idea that the Rapture might really occur on September 23!!! Oh, but we're not setting dates or anything.
OK, here's the thing: I know the great majority of these people are mature, knowledgeable believers and I know it is not their intention to engage in date-setting. I get that. But I realize that it often comes across that way in the minds of some people. That's the way it is. But, it's like I said...
The sky don't lie
Know this: The REV12 sign stands on its own two legs, and in reality there is no need to emphasize that it could be the actual date of the Rapture. Yeah, so saying that gives the naysayers ammunition...big deal. You know what? The naysayers are going to naysay regardless of what anyone says or does, so what's the point in worrying about what the naysayers naysay?
Their minds are made up. And so is mine.
I am convinced that the REV12 sign itself cannot be attacked or refuted in any substantive biblical way. It cannot logically be lumped in with all the harebrained apocalyptic hoopla that has come and gone before because it doesn't belong in the same category, and the reason is simple:
IT. IS. GOING. TO. HAPPEN.
The first of two great signs described by John in Revelation 12:1–5 is going to be fulfilled on September 23, 2017. Period. Virgo will have the moon at her feet, she will be clothed with the sun, she will have a stunning crown of 12 stars, and Jupiter will be exiting the womb after a normal 41-week "pregnancy" caused by its retrograde motion within the womb. And all at the same time for the first time in thousands of years and for the last time for thousands more. The body of Christ will be "born" and caught up to heaven—and it all comes together on September 23, 2017. I can't change that. A celebrity author can't change that. All the naysayers on earth can't change that. So...
• Unless the moon suddenly starts moving in a different direction before September, it's going to happen.
• Unless one of the nine stars of Leo ups and moves to a completely different location in the night sky, it's going to happen.
• Unless the orbits of Mercury, Mars, Venus, or Jupiter are mysteriously altered in some way over the next several months, it's going to happen.
The literal fulfillment of the REV12 sign is not even the issue—that's a done deal. The only issue is what we do with it—how we respond to it. In spite of all that's been said, however, I myself see nothing definitive in Scripture that compels me to conclude that the Rapture must literally occur on September 23, 2017. In other words:
Does the REV12 sign depict the Rapture? Yes, absolutely.
Does that mean it must coincide with it? Not necessarily.
That is something for which I personally don't see any clear-cut scriptural support. Now, is there any extra-biblical support? Patterns and other intriguing clues? Yes...a lot, actually. (If you want to see what I mean, just visit www.unsealed.org.) In spite of that, however, I have no scriptural problem whatsoever seeing the REV12 sign as something that precedes the actual event by an unspecified (but not terribly long) period of time.
I understand that no one really wants to hear this, and I certainly derive no satisfaction from saying it—believe me, nobody wants the Rapture to happen on September 23, 2017 more than I do. But I have to throw this out there:
It wouldn't shock me if the REV12 sign preceded the Rapture by as much as several years.
Not saying it will, but it's a possibility. There is support from both the Bible and the Talmud for the idea of signs preceding the events they portend, so it's not exactly unheard of. Now, I know that would ruin a lot of people's cool charts. For example, the Blood Moons of 2014–2015 came and went and nothing happened—a whole lotta cool charts went up in flames over that one.
Does that force me to conclude they don't mean anything?
No. I am 100 percent convinced they do mean something—I believe they portend the advent of the worst period of time in Israel's history: the coming Tribulation that will bring the final stage of God's purging of His people and their ultimate redemption.
I absolutely believe the Blood Moons were a sign to Israel that the sequence of events that will usher in this period is about to begin, and even now the house lights are being dimmed, the players are taking their positions on stage, and the curtain is about to come up. The upshot? The sign preceded the actual events, apparently by at least a couple of years.
Q. Why should the REV12 sign be any different?
A. I see no reason why it should.
People who whine about the fact that God didn't do something according to someone's timeline or in a way that doesn't fit neatly into someone's prophetic box or nifty PowerPoint chart need to be reminded of one thing:
His signs—His rules.
Ours is but to watch and wait—and share what the Holy Spirit reveals to us.
Breaking it down
I have a confession to make. While I was writing this article, I was all set to launch into a finger-wagging sermon about how we shouldn't go around telling others the Rapture might happen on September 23, 2017. Because I don't see any clear biblical support for that, I was going to do a little preaching to the choir about how we shouldn't give the appearance of date-setting—so whatever you do, don't tell people the Rapture might happen on September 23! I'm honestly not sure how I would have put it...
"Pretend as if the thought had never occurred to you that the REV12 sign could mean the Rapture might happen on September 23, 2017. After all, if you do, those nasty old naysayers will have more reason to accuse us of (gulp) date-setting!"
And I say this before God: I could not finish the article.
The Rapture really could
happen this September.
Deal with it.
And there's an excellent
chance that it won't.
Deal with it.
Whatever it was I was trying to say was in Lake Mead, and Hoover Dam was sealed tight. This virtually never happens to me. I usually pretty well know what I want to say because the Holy Spirit has laid something on my heart, and I just go about the business of saying it. It's not rocket science. But I suddenly found myself hemming and hawing and spinning my wheels and re-writing and re-re-writing and shuffling sentences and paragraphs around and night after night swearing I'd finish it tomorrow and...rinse and repeat. I just couldn't do it.
Now, if I were a celebrity author like the guy who is attacking the REV12 sign, I'd just say it was writer's block. But I'm not a celebrity author—I'm just a regular schmoe who loves Jesus and who is doing his best to obey His Word and watch and wait for Him. So, I can't use that excuse.
But as far as people sharing with others about the REV12 sign and telling them the Rapture might happen on September 23, 2017, it finally hit me...
Why not? It's the truth!
The Rapture really could happen this September. Deal with it. And there's an excellent chance that it won't. Deal with it. So some interesting patterns and a few cool charts would go for naught—and it wouldn't be the first time. But it's still gonna happen, and it's gonna happen soon. Keep obeying the Lord's command to watch and wait. And the moment this came to me, I finally felt the flood gates opening.
I break it down this way:
• If you tell mature, prophetically knowledgeable believers who have ears to hear (and some do) that the REV12 sign indicates the Rapture might really occur on September 23, 2017 and it doesn't happen, they will get that you weren't trying to set dates, but were just doing your job as a watchman.
• If you tell believers who don't have ears to hear (and some don't) the same thing and it doesn't happen, they will howl and mock you to high heavens, much like the naysayers discussed in this article.
But they're already doing that now and will never stop, so who cares?
They will scoff no matter what you say, so ignore them. It's their crown to lose, and yours to win—if you do our job and love His appearing.
• If you tell relatively immature believers, or those who aren't savvy about things prophetic, or perhaps spiritual fence-sitters the same thing and it doesn't happen, then yeah, some are liable to be turned off toward Bible prophecy. But that's on them, not you. Again, you're just doing your job.
• If you tell anyone that the REV12 sign indicates the Rapture might really occur on September 23, 2017 and it DOES happen, it won't matter anyway because we'll be in heaven, being rewarded for a job well done.
Speaking of being rewarded, many of you watchmen telling others about the REV12 sign will receive the crown of righteousness—you love His appearing, and are faithfully watching and waiting for Him (2 Tim. 4:8). And although you will be mocked in the days leading up to it, after the Rapture—whenever it occurs—your efforts will stand as a witness to those left behind. A handful of people just might join us in the kingdom later that otherwise might have been lost for eternity, had the Father not arranged to use your humble efforts to pierce their hearts. Why?
Because you did your job.
And to those of you who scoff at the fulfillment of the REV12 sign and the pre-tribulation Rapture; who mock and insult other believers who are merely being obedient to the Holy Spirit; who twist the Word to defend your indefensible attacks on the efforts of faithful watchmen who seek only to honor God and the truth of His Word and inform and edify the body of Christ, I'll say it again:
The sky don't lie.
Oh, I'm sure most of you will be at the Bema Seat, but while you're there you'll no doubt see some of those faithful watchmen who did their jobs wearing their crowns of righteousness—a crown you won't have. Why?
Because you didn't.
Greg Lauer / March 2017
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1. Deriv. of "Sunset Over Grass Field" © AOosthuizen at Can Stock Photo
2. Deriv. of "A Winter's Dusk" © McCarthys_PhotoWorks at Fotolia.com
3. "No REV12" by Greg Lauer (own work)
4. "Jupiter Transiting Virgo" by Greg Lauer (own work)
5. "Virgo, Leo, and Coma Berenices"—derivative work based on screenshot from Stellarium
6. "The Rapture" © Hasenonkel at Can Stock Photo
7. "Blood Moon Over Jerusalem"—derivative work based on 7a–7b:
7a. "Western Wall at Night" © lucky_photo at Fotolia.com
7b. "Mondfinsternis" © FCS Photography at Fotolia.com
All Scripture is taken from the World English Bible, unless annotated as KJV (King James Version) or AKJV (American King James Version).