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A Defense Of The Revelation 12 Sign And Its Connection To The Rapture

I previously addressed four arguments that some have used to dismiss the significance of the Revelation 12 Sign on September 23rd, 2017.  That article is well worth reading, so that you can be informed about the subject.  There are two other arguments that need to be addressed in addition to those four:

1. The woman is not "clothed" with the Sun on September 23rd, 2017.

Several people have pointed out that the disc of the Sun rests on the shoulder of Virgo rather than over her midsection.  This is evidence, they say, that the woman is not clothed with the Sun.  As far as the astronomical alignment is concerned, this is the only point that can withstand any scrutiny, but it doesn't ultimately hold water for several reasons:

First, from the perspective of an earth-based observer, the Sun itself is significantly smaller than the constellation Virgo and so regardless of where the Sun is positioned, the woman could never be fully clothed with the Sun if the disc itself is in view in Revelation 12:1.  Even if the disc rested over Virgo's midsection, it would only cover a small portion of her torso.  On September 23rd, 2017, the Sun clothes the woman's shoulder, which in my opinion is just as significant as any other part of her body.  You can see the vast difference in apparent size between the constellation Virgo and the Sun below, and why its location within the constellation makes no difference:


Second, the Greek word for "Sun" in Revelation 12:1 is ἥλιον, transliterated hēlion, which is Strong's 2246 - hélios.  The word can carry several meanings: the Sun, the rays of the sun, sunlight, and daylight.  Ancient Greek didn't have different words for these four meanings as we do in English, so hélios carries other connotations beyond just the literal meaning of "Sun".  The use of the word in the Septuagint with its definite article in 2 Samuel 12:11 is perhaps a good example of this where the idea is "broad daylight" - τοῦ ἡλίου.  The Revelation 12 Sign not only appears in its fullness over Israel during the day on September 23rd, but because the Sun is in the area of the constellation, the woman appears fully "clothed" in the Sun's rays.

Third, and lastly, arguing that the disc of the Sun doesn't "clothe" the woman is an impossible standard.  Virgo is the only constellation in the biblical Mazzaroth that represents a woman and out of 88 constellations in the sky, one of only three that represent women.  Of those three, it is the only one that the Sun moves through - hence Virgo being part of the Mazzaroth - the twelve constellations that lie along the Sun's ecliptic.  For this reason, if John's vision was of a literal sign in the sky (which is what the text in Revelation 12:1 plainly says), Virgo is the only possible constellation in the entire sky that could symbolize the woman.  The Sun's ecliptic is exactly the same every year and the only time the Sun ever enters the torso of Virgo is when it passes just behind the angle formed by Spica as seen below:


The image above shows the deepest possible point in the constellation that the Sun traverses (the red line is the Sun's unchanging path every year).  The Sun will never hover over Virgo's neck or chest, or be centered anywhere in the quadrangle of the constellation's womb, nor will it ever cover her legs, so "clothed with the Sun" must simply mean that the Sun is passing through the constellation as it does every Fall for a little over one and a half months.  You can test this yourself using any astronomy software - whether you choose 3000 BC or 3000 AD makes no difference.  It is interesting to note that if you bisect Virgo into two equal parts, the Sun's position on September 23rd, 2017 is about as close as the Sun ever gets to being perfectly centered over the constellation.  "Clothed in the Sun" probably also draws on the connotations mentioned in the second point above, which is that the woman is clothed in sunlight or the rays of the Sun.

In September 2017 we see a perfect match with John's prophecy.


2. The male child of Revelation 12:5 is Jesus, not the corporate Church.

Many watchers are making the connection between the Revelation 12 Sign and the rapture based on the male child's possible corporate identity as the Body of Christ - the Church.  A number of detractors dismiss this possibility, but in my opinion the evidence is simply too powerful to ignore and even if the astronomical alignment on September 23rd is not the Revelation 12 Sign, I would still argue that the man-child in Revelation 12:5 is meant to represent the Church in union with Christ.  Here are the reasons:

First, it is repeated ad infinitum by detractors that the Church is the bride of Christ and thus the man-child cannot represent the Church.  This is a very exegetically weak argument for several reasons.

For starters, the Church is called a man in Ephesians 2:15.  There are a number of metaphors for the Church in Scripture besides a bride.  The most common is actually Christ's body (e.g. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 12:12-13, 25-27; Romans 12:4-5; Colossians 1:18, 24, 2:19, 3:15; Ephesians 4:4, 11-13).  And what might come as a shock to some, the Church is never explicitly identified as the bride of Christ.  The closest you can come to that analogy is in 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:22-24.  In the Ephesians passage the Church is likened to a bride in that that the Church is subject to Christ who is the head, but the Church is not said to actually be the bride.  The only explicit reference to Christ's bride is found in Revelation 21:2, 9-10.  The bride is the city of New Jerusalem, which is revealed after the millennial reign of Christ.  New Jerusalem has characteristics from both Israel and the Church, with gates named after the sons of Jacob (men who died long before Christ's first advent), and foundations named after the Twelve Apostles.  Zion, which is a prophetic term for heavenly Jerusalem, is likened to a woman in labor in Isaiah 66:8, so in a certain sense it is really Zion, the mother of all the saints both pre- and post-Christ, that is the wife of the Lamb.  We need to remember that bride is just one analogy of many for the Church, just as body is.  The Church is just as often compared to a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5).

Second, the Apostle John makes a grammatical error in Revelation 12:5 when he modifies the masculine huios (son) with the neuter word arsen.  If you believe that God's Word is infallible, then you're only left with one option: John made this mistake intentionally.  And sure enough, his use of arsen appears to come directly from the Septuagint version of Isaiah 66:7-8 where we see the same imagery of a woman in labor with a male child.  Isaiah 66:8 gives the male child an unmistakable corporate identity - he is a nation born in a single day.  1 Peter 2:9 says the Church is a holy nation.

Third, Revelation 12:5 says that the male child "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter".  This is an important clue.  There is no question that this phrase relates to Christ as can be seen in Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 19:14-15.  However, Revelation 2:26-27 unmistakably gives the promise to "rule with an iron scepter" to the Church, as well.  There is no way to get around verse 27 - Christ, in union with His Church, will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

Fourth, the corporate identity of the male child preserves the symbolic pattern of Revelation 12: the woman is Mary and Israel, the dragon is satan and his kingdom, and the child is Christ and His Church.

Fifth, the use of harpazó in Revelation 12:5 is a huge clue.  Harpazó is the same word used for "rapture" or "caught up" in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and means a sudden removal by force.  Jesus' ascension was never once described using this word and in fact the Apostle John himself (the author of Revelation) calls Jesus' ascension anabainó in John 20:17 - meaning to go up, ascend, or rise.  When Jesus ascended to Heaven He had already conquered death and sin.  He was in absolutely no danger from anyone.  The Bible says He left not to escape satan, but because it was beneficial for the Church (John 16:7).  There is simply no way to reconcile the context of Revelation 12:5, which is a sudden snatching away by force from the imminent danger of the dragon, with Jesus' ascension.

Sixth, Revelation 12 is significantly placed right in the middle of the book and is an interlude presenting a broad overview of Christ's first coming all the way up to the end of the Tribulation: Christ's birth, the gestation and birth of the Church, the war in Heaven, the rise of antichrist's kingdom (seven heads and ten horns), Israel being pursued by the dragon during the first-half of the Tribulation (Revelation 12:13), Israel being miraculously protected by God for the last-half of the Tribulation (Revelation 12:14), and even satan's pursuit of the Tribulation Saints once he realizes he can't touch the divinely protected Jews (Revelation 12:17).

Seventh, I firmly believe that the early Church was dispensational, premillennial, and pretribulational.  However, with the rise of Augustinianism, the Church went through a 1,400-year hiatus where prophecy tended to be mistrusted and allegorized.  The founders of modern dispensationalism who re-popularized the pre-trib rapture such as Darby and Ironside found Revelation 12:5 to actually be the chief proof-text of the pretribulational rapture of the Church.  By the early 1900s, this proof-text was largely forgotten by pre-trib proponents and arguments in favor relied primarily on secondary evidence, which led to the rise of mid-trib, pre-wrath, and post-trib views in the Evangelical churches.  I find it fascinating that around the same time the Revelation 12 Sign was first spotted using astronomy software (sometime in 2011 or 2012), a number of scholars, such as Michael Svigel, re-discovered the use of Revelation 12:5 as the chief pre-trib proof-text.  The timing is impeccable.

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24 comments :

  1. Great Article!! I think it is more likely that New Jerusalem will be here when we return with Jesus.

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    1. I don't know about anyone else, but personally I am still on the fence about whether the New Jerusalem appears before or after the Millennial Kingdom. I've read convincing arguments from Bible teachers I respect for both, and it seems you can at least make a case for either one.

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    2. I have also begun to shift my thinking on Rev. 21. I now see that the New Jerusalem comes down with Christ (Rev. 19:14; 21:9), of which we are a part of this glorious city. The language of "a new heaven [sky]" and "new earth" can be equated with "the restoration of all things" in Acts 3:21, and not as some have thought "an obliteration of the former heaven and earth." I think that chapter 21 is another recapitulation, or overlap, similar to many other places within the book, where being strictly linear in our thinking gets us into trouble...

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    3. That's interesting... I've been thinking about that lately, too. I know that's Jaco Prinsloo's take. In a sense it makes more sense - God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh, so God's re-creation/restoration takes 6,000 years, not 7,000 years. What puzzles me though is that Rev. 20 is unambiguous that after the millennial reign there is a final rebellion when satan is loosed. I wonder how this could be possible after the new heavens / new earth. Sin remains for 1,000 years after Christ comes back. I wonder how the Great White Throne Judgment who factor in... death, hades, and the wicked are cast into the Lake of Fire - since death is cast in it seems that it must take place after the post-millennial Gog and Magog war.

      Interesting to ponder.

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    4. Maybe it is more helpful to think of "the times of refreshing" and "the time of restoration of all things" (Acts 3:19-21) as a progressive event. Paul presents a similar development in 1 Cor. 15:20-28, and see especially vv.25-26, "For Christ must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death."

      I see no conflict with the coming of Christ/New Jerusalem/Bride at the close of this age and the beginning of the next [Millennial Reign]. When John says in Rev. 21:1, "...the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer..." he isn't seeing the obliteration of the planet and the creation of a new one, but rather a renovation and geographical makeover. The old order of things has passed away, and a new age has come. Beginning in Jerusalem [the New], we will be fulfilling the original mandate given in Gen. 1:26-28 to rule with Christ and fill the earth, making it Eden-like across the globe. It will be a progressive thing, not instantaneous, which includes the 1,000 year age and ends with the final and brief rebellion (Rev. 20:7-10) and a final settling of accounts (Rev. 20:11-15). Only God knows what He has in store for us beyond the Millennial Reign, but we will earnestly seek it out as kings (Prov. 25:2)!

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    5. I know the late Jack Kelly of GraceThruFaith.com used to lay out the case for the New Jerusalem coming down at the beginning of the kingdom, but I admit there are decent arguments for both sides.

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  2. I believe John 14:2-3 may be describing the New Jerusalem. If Jesus is preparing a place for us, and will return and take us to be with him via the rapture, we will always be with him from that point on. We will return with him. Then where will we reside while he is reigning on earth during the millennium? Could it be the New Jerusalem which contains our mansion he prepared for us?

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    1. One thing that occurred to me is the fact that in a sense the actual location of the New Jerusalem isn't critical to our role of ruling and reigning with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom, since we will be "transdimensional" beings (my word), just like Jesus was after the Resurrection (John 20). Jesus could move about in and out of dimensions we don't currently have access to, and so will we after the Rapture because we will be like Him.

      Would it not be possible that, although we will live in the New Jerusalem, we would be able to pop in and out, so to speak, to and from earth to attend to our duties, regardless of the spatial location of the New Jerusalem (i.e., still in heaven or down here near earth)? Either way, it'll be an instantaneous commute, you might say.

      I'm sure many wish they had that now. =:)

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  3. Another Great Article! Keep up the good work.

    The more you study the "Great Sign", the more you see how it points to the rapture and beginning of the tribulation period.

    I've being reading and studying the book "Ancient Messianic Festivals" by Ken Johnson. One of the best books on the subject I've found. The new moon of Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets is a special new moon:

    "Day of Concealment - Yom HaKeseh
    Every Jewish calendar month starts on a new moon. Rosh Hashanah will always be on a new moon since it is the first and second of Tishrei.
    But this is a special new moon called Yom HaKeseh. Yom HaKeseh means “the Day of Concealment.”
    The term was taken from Psalm 81: 3 by the ancient rabbis. “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” Psalm 81: 3 The Hebrew word “Keseh” is translated “time appointed” in this passage, but actually means to conceal. A new moon is said to be concealed as opposed to a full moon.
    This is yet another picture of the concealment of the church by the Rapture."

    From the book "Ancient Messianic Festivals" by Ken Johnson.

    When the new moon is sited to begin the "Feast of Trumpets" it also will be in the womb of Virgo. It too, like Jupiter will pass through Virgo as though she is giving birth as it makes its way to being under her feet on September 23. I find it interesting that the moon begins inside Virgo and ends at her feet on the 23rd. To me it's just another confirmation that the sign is about the rapture of the church and the start of the tribulation. That this is the "Day of our Concealment" when our bridegroom cometh!


    Maranatha!

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    1. Wow! Nice catch with concealment. Speaking of "concealment", how about this unmistakable rapture passage in Isaiah 26:

      "Go, my people, enter your rooms
      and shut the doors behind you;
      HIDE YOURSELVES for a little while
      until his wrath has passed by."

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    2. Yes, thank you for bringing that to our attention, George. Great find. I had cited Ps. 81 in my last post on the Feast of Trumpets, but I did not realize that the term translated "appointed time" in verse 3 was the Hebrew 'keseh,' which has a root meaning of "conceal," "cover," "hide," etc. Awesome. This also reminds me of Zephaniah 2:3, which speaks of concealment on the "day of the LORD's anger." The prophet's name, Zephaniah, literally means "hidden by Yahweh."

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    3. Isaiah 26 speaks massively of the rapture and the coming of the Lord to judge the inhabitants of the earth!

      One final thought on the new moon: On September 21, when the new moon is sighted, Jupiter will also be visible. They will both be in the constellation Virgo. A fitting image of the bridegroom coming to get his bride, the church, to take her to his wedding chamber, before the "Great and Terrible Day of the Lord"!

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  4. I am in awe of your scholarship in Christ! The same with Jonathan Cahn.
    But I am also in awe that such scholarship misses or ignores certain points. eg. OT: Ezekiel 37 - The books of Judah and Ephraim are the Bible and the Book of Mormon. NT: Jn. 3:5 and Eph. 4:5 The only true God has only one only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, and there is only one true Church of Jesus Christ. The general body of believers is not His Church. His Church is a specific group of believers established by, ordained by and governed by His priesthood power. The restoration of His Church by His authority and bearing His name has been accomplished in these latter days, in preparation for His return. Not all of the members of His Church will be saved (10 virgins). Also, there will be a separate "New Jerusalem" established for each of Judah and Ephraim, for Judah in old Jerusalem, and for Ephraim in Jackson Co. Missouri (near Adam's beginning point 6000 years ago. Finally, the "salvation" desired by so many believers, is only found in the Celestial Kingdom with God and His Christ, not in any of the other "kingdoms" God had prepared. Paul saw the highest, and entry there REQUIRES PRIESTHOOD ORDINANCES, in addition to righteous living . . . hence the need for Christ's one true church. Our final judgement is based on our personal agency (free-will choice) compared with His purity and grace.
    Thank you for using your God-given talents to reach others.

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    1. I've always had a laundry list of problems in identifying the 10 Virgins as Church Age believers, and here are a few:

      1. The first verse of the parable (Matt. 25:1) is effectively a time stamp that places the main action of the parable after the Second Coming. "Then" or "At that time"...what time? Back up. Back back back. Ah, there it is: Matthew 24:29-31, the Second Coming. Don't even get me started on the biblical malfeasance associated with the post-trib Rapture theory.

      2. The Church is referred to as *the* Bride (singular), and never as a gaggle of virgins or bridesmaids. In fact, the Bride is never explicitly mentioned anywhere in the parable--her existence is only inferred from the context. Now, if you're like me, you believe that every single word of the Bible is there for a reason, and *NOT* there for a reason. I think the Holy Spirit never mentioned the Bride because the parable is obviously not about the Bride.

      3. And speaking of the Bride who is never mentioned...where do you suppose she is while the bridesmaids are yammering about oil? She has been in at the wedding the entire time. Yes, the Rapture occurs at the very beginning of the parable when the Bridegroom comes to snatch His Bride away, but it is presented merely as a bit of back story to set the stage for the main action and the main actors of the parable. When the virgins awaken (all 10 were sleeping, not just the five foolish), the Rapture has already occurred and the Bride is gone.

      4. Unlike the five foolish virgins, no born-again believer can "run out" of the Holy Spirit. He is sealed within us and will never leave us--a sweetheart of a deal for Church Age saints. Sadly, you can search the pages of Scripture and find no such assurance for those who come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation.

      5. The word "virgin" is used to refer to Israel many more times than it is used to refer to the Church.

      6. The virgins are granted or denied entrance to the wedding *FEAST*, not the wedding *CEREMONY*. Those are two completely different things. The actual wedding takes place in heaven; the wedding feast takes place on earth in the Millennial Kingdom.

      These are a few reasons why I believe people err when they automatically assume the Parable of the 10 Virgins applies to the Church. It doesn't.

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    2. A hearty thumbs up to you, Greg. Great points.

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    3. Well said, Greg. I've been on the fence about The Parable Of The 10 Virgins, but I think my opinion is shifting towards you on that.

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    4. Greg L. I like your take on the 10 virgins. Do you think the 10 virgins might represent the sheep and goat nations. If so would that imply 50 percent enter into the millennium kingdom and the other 50 percent into judgement?

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    5. Some Bible teachers I respect are inclined to view the Parable of the 10 Virgins as referring to Israel, and the Sheep and Goat Judgment as referring to Gentile Tribulation survivors. I think part of the reason has to do with the fact that their entrance into the kingdom seems to be based on how they treated "these my brothers" (Matt. 25:40), which some are inclined to believe is a reference to the 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will take the gospel to the post-Rapture world during the Tribulation, and I tend to agree. At least I don't currently see a more scripturally satisfying way to interpret things.

      If I understand your question correctly, you're suggesting that the Sheep and Goats is a re-hash of the 10 Virgins. I suppose it's possible, but I am inclined to think the two parables are not directed at the same groups. Just my opinion. Personally, I don't see any compelling reason to attach any certain percentages to things here.

      I don't wish to be dogmatic about it, however, and am certainly open to the Scripture-based ideas of other believers.

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  5. Ephesians 2:20-22And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.


    The Household of Christ is composed of the elders of Israel, the prophets, the apostles, the gentiles and the church. Our body is God's temple. Our body and spirit are his.

    I Corin.6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

    We are collectively all members of his body.

    Ephesians 5:29-33 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

    Ultimately the great mystery is revealed when we are brought together in one great moment.

    Ephesians 1:9-12 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

    Luke21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

    God bless

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  6. As many of pointed out, 2017-2018 falls in a special time.

    120 years since the First Zionist Congress took place in August, 1897.

    100 years since the Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917.

    70 years since the UN Resolution approving the Partition Plan, November 29, 2947.

    70 years since the British Mandate on May 14, 1948, and the nation of Israel being reborn in a day.

    50 years since Israel recaptured Jerusalem on June 7, 1967.

    Some have tried to tie the 80th anniversary of the Holocaust and 40 years since the Israeli/Egyptian negotiations, but those seem like a reach to me, and tenuous at best.

    120, 100, 70, 50. Important numbers in God's economy, in ways I don't (and perhaps no one, truly) understand. Numbers of years since critical events in the long-prophesied rebirth of Israel.

    The possibility of Revelation 12 being fulfilled at a time that coincides with all these anniversaries is exciting to me. I pray that I - and all of you - are able to live closer to the Lord this year, whether or not we'll see a fulfillment of prophecy or not.

    This fall or next year or 5 years from now, we're clearly living in epic times and blessed to see the years that precede our Lord's return.

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  7. May the Lord bless, guide, and protect you all, brothers and sisters, as we wait for the day of His coming! May it be very, very soon!

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  8. Have you seen the wonder or sign of the woman as seen from Jerusalem at dawn on 9/23/2017 using Stellarium? The crown of 12 stars of Leo and Mercury, Mars and Venus will be visible due east just before dawn. Of course Venus is the dawn star that arises in our hearts. But once the sun comes up, the stars of Virgo cannot be seen due to the sun light. Could one consider that as the woman being clothed with the sun. She is covered or clothed with sun light and not visible. The sun of course is at her shoulder at dawn and obscures and hides her body. In ancient times, even average people were more attuned to the stars and various constellations and their movement in the sky than most people today. After using Stellarium infrequently for a couple months I was at first puzzled that theologians, who in the past were well versed in all areas of knowledge, could miss the obvious connection of Rev 12:1&2 to a actual conjunction of constellations and planets in the sky. It seemed so obvious to me after becoming more familiar with the movement of constellations and planets due to the use of Stellarium. That I began to question in my mind that theologians past and present are ignoring this alignment. And if so, for what reasons?

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  9. Regarding whether the New Jerusalem is here during the Millennium, it's worth looking at Ezekiel 47:1-10, the description of the waters flowing out of "the house" and increasing in depth until they reach "the sea" (verse 8). If you believe the last eight chapters of Ezekiel describe the Millennial Temple, this is different from the description of the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:1) coming down out of heaven to the new earth where there is no more sea (Rev 21:1). It is likely that the "pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb," (Rev 22:1) is coming from the innermost parts of the church-age believers (John 7:37-38) who have been promised to sit with Jesus Christ on His throne as He sits with God on His throne (Rev 3:21), just as they've been promised to rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev 2:27).

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  10. Whoa! Glad I found this article.

    ReplyDelete


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