As we near mid September 2017, much is being discussed regarding the ‘Great Sign in the Heavens’ as it is called in Revelation 12. There is much conjecture, much supposition, and even conflicting information being bandied about across the internet. However, two things are certain: the description of the Great Sign in Revelation 12 is of course significant and extremely important; and the second, there will appear an alignment of heavenly bodies culminating on September 23 of this year that seems to fit the prophecy in an uncanny manner.
Let’s start at the beginning, and examine the verses in question.
“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.”
At the risk of cherry-picking scripture, I am intentionally omitting the following verses for now. They don’t pose a problem; but they should however be dealt with separately. Let’s delve into the first two verses and try to gain an understanding there first.
God, as the author of creation and everything in it, purposefully hung the stars, planets, and every other celestial body intentionally in their places and orbits. He tells us on the very first page of the Bible what their purpose is.
“Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;” (emphasis added)
Clearly, God intended to give us signs in the heavens. The great counterfeiter, satan, is the one responsible for perverting God’s intended design into things like the zodiac, horoscopes, tarot cards, and other things that glorify man as the great prophet who can determine his fate in the stars. For this reason, many Christians are afraid to come to terms with the fact that God Himself designed the stars to be for His signs and seasons. Satan always replaces God with man in every one of his perversions.
God further describes the constellations and heavenly bodies in the book of Job.
“He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades,
And the chambers of the south”
“Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?”
The book of Joel is an amazing book full of clues of the end times. Once again, signs in the heavens as dictated by the Lord are revealed and used for His purposes of heralding His return and His righteous judgment.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”
God is telling us in His Word, clear as can be, that He will show us wonders in the heavens. We should take a moment and reflect on recent celestial events in this context, such as the blood moon tetrad over Jerusalem, and the incredible solar eclipse that turned the sun completely dark over America a couple of weeks ago. Not only is it wise to view these events as prophetically significant; it would be foolish not to given what we see written in the Word.
Now that we’ve determined that God intended for the stars and celestial bodies to serve as His signs for us, let’s get back to digging deeper into Revelation 12.
The planet Jupiter is of course the largest planet within our solar system. It is called “The King planet”. It is interesting that Jupiter has stripes on its back and a hole in its side, just as the body of our Lord Jesus did upon the cross. Could Jupiter therefore represent the body of Christ? It is possible.
“The woman” in scripture has always represented the nation of Israel. Many of the Old Testament prophets refer to Israel as a harlot, an unfaithful wife, and so forth. While Virgo clearly represents a virgin, it could also be used to refer to Israel – the “mother” of the Messiah, and His Body – the Church.
Every 12 or so years, Jupiter passes through the constellation Virgo, the virgin. This year however, is quite unique. Jupiter made its path into Virgo around January of this year, and is in the process currently of completing a retrograde loop around the “womb” of Virgo, which will complete on September 23 of this year, when Jupiter exits Virgo. It just so happens, that when Jupiter exits the “womb”, the moon will be at the feet of Virgo; the sun will be upon her back, and 12 celestial bodies will crown her head. Nine of these bodies constitute the stars that make up the constellation Leo. However, this year brings an extremely rare occurrence. The planets Mercury, Mars, and Venus fall into alignment at the head of Virgo, for a total of 12 stars upon her head. This complete alignment doesn’t last for more than one day – and that day is September 23, 2017. The last time this exact alignment of all of these elements took place was over 7,000 years ago.
This picture taking place in the sky seems to fulfill the prophecy of Revelation 12 perfectly. What did John see exactly when he penned the chapter? Many think he saw exactly what we are about to see in a couple of weeks from this writing.
But what does it mean? This is where the debate ensues. For those that believe the Bible points to a pre-tribulation rapture, it is a sign that heralds this event as the next yet to take place on God’s prophetic calendar. Further support of this view is in the fact that September 23 will be the last day of the Feast of Trumpets, which is the next yet to be fulfilled feast on the prophetic timeline. The Feast of Trumpets has always been seen as a signal of Christ’s return to gather his flock, which the Bible says will occur at “the last trump” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
Let’s continue our examination of Revelation 12.
“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”
Obviously, this corresponds to the birth of Christ, and prophesies His position as the King of kings who will rule the earth. But that cannot be the end of its meaning, since Christ had already been born, crucified, resurrected, and ascended at the time of John’s writing. As we’ve noted time and time again, the Hebraic prophecy model is one of types, shadows, and patterns. There has to be a yet future meaning yet to be revealed for it so important as to be revealed to John and he pen it for the ages to come.
Let’s explore a radical idea for a moment. It is often stated, and probably even accepted as canon that the Church was ‘born’ at Pentecost. After all, the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire and indwelled the apostles in Acts 2. This is widely considered the ‘birth’ of the Church, or Body of Christ. What if instead, we view the events at Pentecost as the conception of the Church instead of its birth? After all, in similar fashion, the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary when she conceived of the Messiah supernaturally.
What if instead, we view the events at Pentecost as the conception of the Church instead of its birth?
The current Church Age could be viewed as the gestation period of the Body, waiting yet to be delivered. This makes sense, given that the Body of Christ is divided across countless denominations, theological beliefs, and doctrines currently; and has been since the Church was instituted. The Bible prophesies of a yet future time when the Body of Christ will function in one accord, as one whole body – together and indivisible. This has not happened yet. A body being formed in the womb is in a state of flux, being formed, cannot take care of itself, must be provided sustenance, and must be absolutely sheltered and cared for by the womb. This is an age of grace for the body, as it completely taken care of provided for by the womb. This seems much more reflective of the Church in its current state – rather than a body that is born and functions as one, completely self sustaining. We know that we are in the age of grace now, and do not function as one whole and complete body.
If this view is correct, then the birth of the Church, or Body of Christ hasn’t happened yet. What if the Great Sign of Revelation 12 is painting a dual picture – the second being of the birth of the Body of Christ? Jesus wasn’t immediately caught up to heaven upon His birth. He had an earthly ministry for 33 years, and then suffered a horrible death for our sake. He wasn’t ascended into heaven until after His resurrection and appearing to the saints. If this sign represents the birth of the Church after its 2,000 year gestation during the age of grace, then its birth occurs and it is immediately caught up to heaven! This seems to paint a pretty clear picture of the rapture.
The dragon, which is of course satan, waits in vain to try and destroy the Child as it is born. If the church has been in gestation in the age of grace, waiting to be born, it would make sense that satan couldn’t even attempt to destroy it, until it is born, and free of the protection of the womb. However, we know that the Child is immediately caught up to heaven and saved from the reach of the dragon.
The rest of the sign shows that the woman (Israel) flees to the wilderness where she is supernaturally protected for a period of 3.5 years. This aligns well with the first half of the seven year tribulation, in which Israel enters into a false covenant with the antichrist for that period of time, in which she is kept safe. However, the latter 3.5 years will be one of absolute judgment against Israel.
The fifth chapter of Micah seems to coincide well with this, and offers us additional clues.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
And this One shall be peace.”
How incredible is this prophecy, that both foretold of the birth and birthplace of the Messiah; as well as His yet future mission to reclaim the children of Israel, when “she who is in labor has given birth“. There are many students of eschatology who now see this passage as directly correlating with the events of Revelation 12. It is clear that this picture of the woman giving birth is not talking about the birth of Jesus, since that was just discussed in the preceding passage. This is a yet future event. If the Church – the Body of Christ – was conceived at Pentecost, then it becomes quite clear that this is its birth, where it finally joins the head – Christ Himself. What other entity is yet awaiting to be born of the woman as described in Micah 5?
What Does it All Mean?
This writer is not going to make the proclamation, as some have, that the rapture of the Church will occur on September 23 of this year. We know that God’s timing is perfect, and His will is good. We know that He is coming back, and we should always watch for and eagerly anticipate His glorious return – not just pinpoint a certain date on the calendar to watch.
Instead, we are much better served making sure that our lamps are kept with oil, as the Lord made clear in His parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
Verse 5 seems to indicate where we are currently.
“But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.”
Christ’s return to reclaim His bride has been delayed for a couple of thousand years. We are to however expect and be prepared for His sudden return at any moment! Let us not be as the five unprepared virgins with no oil in their lamps.
“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”
We know that the oil in our lamps is the Holy Spirit. We should “pray without ceasing”, and ask the Lord to reveal Himself to us in His Word, and convict us when our lamps run low on oil. Feeding on the meat of the Word in both study and in worship, seeking His face and eagerly awaiting the joy of His return; and asking for the leading of the Holy Spirit are certain ways that we can keep our lamps full of oil, and be ready to be welcomed into the wedding feast when the doors are opened!
What do you think about the sign described in Revelation 12? Let us know in the comments below!