This is probably going to be a very controversial article to a lot of people since it is dealing with a New Testament prophetic theme. Because most of my readers are Jewish, I don’t really relish the idea of writing it because some people will reject the piece based on the source material alone. But, hey! That’s what the JPost blogs are all about – dealing with the tough, controversial current events and/or personal issues!
Believe it or not, in the Christian scriptures, there are prophecies for the Nation of Israel. This “sign from the Book of Revelations” maybe something which many Jews may have already heard about from Christian friends and acquaintances (or the Internet – the “Big Cyber Blabbermouth of Bogus Science,” as we say at home). It is for these last two reasons that I am emboldened and dare to write this article, if nothing else than for interested people to finally understand the unusual event to which these friends and acquaintances are referring.
But because astronomy and the Bible are interests of mine, people keep asking me a lot about what this means. Considering astronomers are saying this event will happen September 23, 2017, a whole lot more people than usual are making more urgent and nerve-wracked inquiries on the subject! After Rosh Hashana and by the end of this week, I’m sure the questions are going to become fearful and frantic!
The passage in the Book of Revelations that talks about this sign are found in Rev. chapter 12, verses 1 thorough 5.” This is how the text actually reads:
“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. 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 then 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...”
Nearly all protestant ministers and pastors interpret this figuratively, where the woman represents the Nation of Israel, and the Child represents the Messiah (HaMoshiach). The garland she wears are adorned with 12 stars, which represent the Twelve Tribes of Israel. So far so good? This is a prophecy of the coming of the Jewish Moshiach, someone Who I know many Jews and Christians people are longing to see!
The dragon represents the devil (HaSatan) who rebelled and made war against G-d in heaven along with one-third of G-d’s angels. After G-d prevailed and defeated the rebels, this entire bunch was thrown out of heaven. The key thing about this dragon is that he seeks or sought to devour/destroy the Child (HaMoshiach) as soon as He comes. Beyond this, we are venturing into dangerous deep, murky waters of theological uncertainty.
Now comes the controversial part – what do the “sun and moon” represent in this text? Is it a literal sun or figurative celestial bodies illustrating some deep concept? The best commentary I know of (from Rev. John MacArthur Study Bible (NKJV), 1997, pp 2007-2008), where a true scholar of both Koinae Greek and Hebrew, says:
“’Being clothed with sun’ speaks of the glory, dignity, and exalted status of Israel, the people of promise who will be saved and given a kingdom. The picture of the moon under her feet describes G-d’s Covenant Relationship with Israel, since new moons were associated with [Jewish] worship.”
Well, that’s pretty uplifting, don’t you think? More books should speak so highly of Jews and Israel!!
A non-denominational pastor with a different perspective, Mark Biltz, recently theorized that maybe these symbols of stars, sun, and moon were not figurative. He proposed that they may represent the actual stars, sun, and moon, as well as a couple of constellations of Leo (the Lion) and Virgo (the Virgin). Based on this text and the “Stellarium” PC application, he derived a “once in 7,000 year astronomical event”.
The moon and sun in and around Virgo are nothing unusual – this happens frequently. But this passage refers to “HaMoshiach” who will come and rule the nations with a rod of iron just like the Prophets of Judea predict. Biltz thought maybe the unusual astronomical event pertains to the position of the planet traditionally associated with a great King, which most likely is our Solar System’s Jupiter. By old astronomic reckonings, the constellation of Leo has nine principal stars making the “sort of lion picture in the sky”. This conflicts with modern astronomical charts which show dozens of stars within this constellation; just most of these are not big and not prominent. Biltz theorized that the time which made this sign unique for 12 bright “stars” in the constellation were when three planets moved into Leo that aren’t there on a regular basis. The 12 bright stars are supposed to represent “the virgin’s garland on her head” of 12 stars (which he agrees still stand for the Twelve Tribes of Israel).
So, running the astronomical “planet position” application program cited above, he spent a lot of time looking for a date when Leo would contain 3 planets, and Virgo would contain the planet Jupiter. He could only find one date, which is this coming Shabbat in the Ten Days of Awe this year. Mercury, Mars, and Venus have already moved into Leo, and Jupiter has been hanging out in Virgo for roughly nine months now. Jupiter’s position now corresponds to what would be the “virgin’s womb” or lower abdomen in the big illustration in the sky. But wait! Jupiter is going to come out of this position soon just like a baby passes through a birth canal. The only other thing left to find with this planetarium program was when the sun would be in Virgo during the day while the moon sat at the position of virgin’s feet, and that corresponds to September 23, 2017.
The sun will not be in Virgo all day on Sept. 23, but will likely be present in Virgo for a couple of hours during daylight hours (I’m thinking in the morning, before noon). It is a heavenly event that no human eye positioned on earth will see. It can only be virtually viewed through one of these astronomy applications running on a PC. Astronomers really don’t know to make of this interpretation, but a some evangelical Christians believe this is a sign that HaMoshiach is coming. The actual time when HaMoshiach will come is a date nobody really knows.
Please, I ask the readers to keep in mind that these astronomical interpretations are coming from the same Christian pastor who brought to the world’s attention the four “Blood Moons” (i.e., full lunar eclipses) which occurred during Passover and the High Holy Days in prior years (i.e., 2014 and 2015). If you got through those 4 lunar eclipses on Jewish holidays without any great, serious, calamitous events happening to you, then it is likely this cosmic sign means nothing disastrous.
One Blood Moon occurred on my birthday, and I remember sitting on my front porch between 2 and 3 a.m. looking at this lunar eclipse (while wearing my winter coat because it was cold outside at that hour!). And I remember humbly giving thanks to the Lord for marking my birthday with such a neat astronomical event! That was a better thing to happen than the year I turned 13, and my birthday was on the day the US press announced that the Yom Kippur War was happening! In our isolated town on the Southwest Florida coast, we didn’t know for a couple of days what was really happening in Israel. My Reform Jewish girlfriends at school said it was probably better I was Christian and not applicable for a Bat Mitzvah, because that would have been the saddest one on record! (Nobody would be in the mood to come.)
Blood Moons mean absolutely nothing in Oklahoma. Because we have so much red dust in the air from the red soil in the central part of the state, we frequently have non-eclipse related Blood Moons. These happen when a full moon rises, up to the point where the moon is about 15 to 20 degrees above the horizon. Did these “Okie Blood Moons” mean anything? Other than, “my moderate to severe respiratory patients ought to be wearing a mask when going outside because of the dust,” I really don’t think they mean anything!
So does this “Revelations’ Great Sign in the Heavens” event prophetically mean that something of immense significance is going to happen? Not anything that any good, credible Protestant spiritual leader will admit out loud! There’s crazy speculations floating around, though. So don’t worry, enjoy the weekend, enjoy the Shabbat, and enjoy the High Holidays! L’Shana Tova!
P.S. But get nervous if a couple of guys (of whom nobody has any idea who they are or where these men came from) wearing robes of sackcloth show up soon at the Kotel in Jerusalem (or your personal rooftop/backyard sukkah) and start prophesying. Be especially cautious if they exhale fire which consumes their “enemies” (the best idea is to listen to them and not become their “enemy”). That’s a big sign from Revelations for the arrival of the Time of Jacob’s Troubles.