Does September 23, 2017 Fulfill Rev 12:1,2?

(Originally written: Aug 20, 2017)

Proof is offered in some religious circles that a future September 23 planetary alignment in the constellations Leo and Virgo is supposed to demonstrate the fulfillment of the “sign” in Rev 12:1,2.   The scenario:

First, NASA shows the alignment in the constellations Leo and Virgo on September 23.

Leo (with 9 stars) will appear over Virgo. The sun is above Virgo and the moon under Virgo’s feet. It is claimed the planet Jupiter will enter Virgo in her “midsection” then travels down between her “feet.”

Three (3) planets will appear aligned under Leo with its 9 stars.  The effect will show a total of 12 luminaries.

Interpreted, the celestial phenomenon means the Virgo (“Virgin”) will bear a son (“Jupiter,” the king of the planets), that is, the Messiah. (One prognosticator sees the birth of the Church here.)

Second, this celestial phenomenon is claimed to fulfill Rev 12:1,2 which says,

A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown on twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.

NASA shows the (planetary-Virgo-Leo) configuration will be seen on September 23. So, let us ask the question: Does the celestial configuration mean a prophetic fulfillment of Rev 12:1,2?

Probably no.

Here is why. In the first place,such configurations are not unique.

First, NASA records would show that Jupiter had been “doing” this with Virgo in the past.Leo had been “above” Virgo in the past.

The constellation Leo has more than 9 stars. The 9 are the brightest (“magnitude”), but Leo has more stars that are not as bright as the 9.

Second, the sun and the moon had been “with” Virgo in the past.

Third, and probably more importantly: the supposed connection of Sept 23 with Rev 12:1,2 is precisely the theory’s weakest point.

John’s sign in the heavens shows the woman and how the heavenly images stand in relation to her. But that is not all that John says in Rev 12. There is more.

In terms of the Rev 12 context, the woman is in the picture because of how she figures in the activities of the Dragon.  The point is, the woman is part of the Dragon prophetic narrative, not apart from it.

The scripture identifies the Dragon with Satan. So where is the Dragon (constellation Draco) in the celestial configuration of September 23?

Further, the Dragon narrative within Rev 12 and 13 falls in the wider context in prophetic study of the 7-year Tribulation. Rev 12 says the Dragon will attack the Woman and her “offspring.” And in Rev 13 the Dragon will give his authority to a Beast that comes out of the sea (i.e., peoples). This Beast will exercise the Dragon’s authority for three and a half years (3 ½, 13:5).  As the prophetic narrative continues, this Beast will be aided by another Beast that comes from the earth (13:11).  He will make the inhabitants of the earth worship the first Beast (13:12).

In the structure of the Seven-Year Tribulation, the First Beast (Anti-Christ) will begin to manifest himself for worship around the middle of the Tribulation (see Daniel 9:27 with 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Thus, the activities of the 2 Beasts will appear in the second half of the 7-yr Tribulation.

What happens in the first half?

What happens in the first half concerns the activities of the Two Witnesses, Rev 11:3-14.

These Two Witnesses (or Prophets) will conduct prophetic and powerful ministries for three-and-a-half years (3 ½, 11:3). However, they and their prophetic witness will be “terminated with extreme prejudice” by “the beast that comes up from the Abyss.”

The Dragon then will give his authority to the “beast that comes out of the sea” (Anti-Christ) in the chapter that follows.  (Note: “sea” or “waters” are prophetic symbols for humanity: “The waters you saw… are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages,” Rev 17:15. “Sea of humanity.”)  Thus, with the 2 Prophets finally out of the way the satanic Anti-Christ can then proceed to exercise their demonic dominion over the earth in the second half of the 7-yr Tribulation.

Now understand this.  John says the end that will mark the prophetic witness of the Two Prophets is the “second woe”; John warns that “the third woe is coming soon” (13:14).  Earlier John announces there will be a total of 3 woes (Rev 9:12).

The word “woe” appears again for the final time in Rev 12:12 – after the Dragon is cast down to earth:

But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury because he knows that his time is short.

Then read this:

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus (12:17).

And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea (13:1).

Consequently, there is a countdown with respect to the 3 Woes – first, second, third.  In other words, chronology and sequence are involved at least in the Woe chapters, chapters 9,11,12 that include the Dragon and the Woman.

And the period of 42 months occurs in Rev 11:2,3 (which involves the 2 Prophets), in Rev 12:6 (the woman) and in Rev 13:5 (the 2 Beasts).

Here is the point: Revelation chapters 11, 12 and 13 all round up a single context.  Therefore, the three chapters must be seen together.

The Dragon and his deputies are two of the main characters in Rev 12 and 13. So, I ask again: where is the Dragon in the celestial configuration of September 23?  And where are the 2 Beasts for that matter?

Seriously, there is just no way we can escape this issue!

Lastly, we must ask a final question: how did John’s readers understand the “signs” in Rev 12? For after all John wrote to them. Did they have a knowledge of the prophetic significance of the sun and the moon and the stars?

Would the dream of the young Joseph have anything to say about this?

We read in the Genesis narrative that Jacob had 12 sons. In his dream Joseph said, “the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me” (Gen 37:9).

When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had?  Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?  (Gen 37:10).

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