Revelation 12 Sign
The Revelation 12 Sign is an apocalyptic belief heralding the time of Jacob's Trouble also know as the Tribulation Period may begin on 9/23/17 promoted by a number of people and news organizations, which states that a literal fulfillment of the prophecy given in Revelation 12:1-2 will occur on September 23, 2017. This passage of Scripture in the Christian Bible describes "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth." (NIV). Many people worldwide believe that an astronomical alignment involving the constellations Virgo and Leo, the sun, moon, and planets Mercury, Mars, Venus, and Jupiter occurring in September 2017 will fulfill this purported prophecy word-for-word.
There is some ambiguity in regards to when this alignment was first discovered, but on April 7, 2011, William Tapley's channel ThirdEagleBooks published a video entitled "Stellarium" giving the 2017 date of the sign and explaining how the planetary alignment that year matched the text of Revelation 12 better than a 2011 alignments which he said three earlier videos from other people had mentioned.
A few months later, on July 30, 2011, Scott Clarke from ERF Ministries posted a video on YouTube describing the alignment, which some people worldwide have now come to believe is the Revelation 12 Sign. In 2012 Unsealed World News suggested that the purported sign might be connected to the rapture of the Church, though they have repeatedly stated that the exact date of the rapture is unknown and might happen sometime before, on, or after September 23rd.
The purported prophecy from the Apocalypse of John describes "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head." The proponents of the Revelation 12 Sign say that the woman represents the constellation Virgo and the crown of twelve stars represents the nine stars of the constellation Leo in conjunction with Mercury, Mars, and Venus. The moon appears to be under the "feet" of the constellation Virgo in September 2017 and the sun will be passing through the constellation, which they say is what is meant by the woman being "clothed with the sun".
The second verse of the twelfth chapter of John's Apocalypse goes on to say that the woman "was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth." Some people suggest this will be fulfilled because the planet Jupiter will be traversing the constellation after having undergone apparent retrograde motion. After entering what they perceive to be Virgo's "womb", Jupiter exits the lower part of the "womb" 42 weeks later, which is the approximate length of a human gestation (normal gestation periods lasting from 37 to 42 weeks).
It was also discovered that the apparent retrograde of Jupiter in the womb of Virgo was preceded by C/2017 E1 (Comet Borisov) which is being called the Conception Comet. This comet traveled from the loins of the constellation Leo to the womb of the constellation Virgo just before the entrance of Jupiter into the womb. Some proponents of the Revelation 12 Sign are suggesting that this comet represented the divine insemination of the woman, which subsequently produced the male child (Jupiter). This will be the comet's only trip through our solar system as it is not a solar orbital.
The Revelation 12 Sign may coincide with the High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah on the Jewish calendar, which is also called the Feast of Trumpets. The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the Fall Feasts and its timing is traditionally based on the visibility of the new moon, which in 2017 is expected to either begin on the evening of September 21st and end on the evening of the 22nd (if the 2% illuminated moon is sighted) or begin on the evening of the 22nd and end on the evening of the 23rd when the sign is fulfilled.  Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year celebration, in this case marking the end of the year 5777 (sometimes abbreviated to the significant number '777) and the beginning of 5778. The Feast of Trumpets in Jewish tradition is believed to be a day when the dead will be resurrected and judgement will begin while Christians believe the period describes the tribulation period found in the book of Revelation.
The constellation Virgo
The constellation Leo
The planet Mercury
The planet Mars
The planet Venus
The planet Jupiter
Interpretations of Revelation 12 vary, but the general consensus of some people suggests that the September 2017 alignment is the Great Sign which is described in this passage of Scripture: that the woman represents the nation of Israel, which they believe is about to enter into a multi-year period of Tribulation, and the male child represents the global Church, which might be raptured to Heaven before the Tribulation period begins according to Revelation 12:5. Many proponents say that in order for people to escape before this impending judgment on the world and be "raptured", they must accept that the Christian Messiah Jesus Christ died for their sins, rose again, and is the only means of being reconciled to God. These views are shared by all of the major proponents of the Revelation 12 Sign.
It has also been pointed out by Revelation 12 Sign proponents that a number of eminent biblical scholars support their particular interpretation of Revelation 12, including John Nelson Darby, Harry Ironside, and more recently Dr. Michael Svigel.
The apocalyptic symbol of a woman in labor is found throughout Jewish and Christian Scriptures, which proponents suggest is evidence of the September 2017 alignment's importance in prophecy. These particular Scriptures include Isaiah 13:6-13, Isaiah 26:17-21, Isaiah 66:7-11, Jeremiah 30:4-11, Jeremiah 49:23-27, Micah 5:3, Matthew 24:8, Mark 13:8, and 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
According to Isaiah 66 above, the birth of the man-child occurs before the woman travails in labor and pain. Proponents argue that the rapture is the marvel spoken of by Isaiah in the above passage—the man-child representing the Church that will be born before Israel enters the Tribulation. Since the woman apparently has other children according to Revelation 12 (such as Gentile Tribulation Saints and the 144,000), the dragon, since he cannot devour the raptured Church, persecutes the woman's other children spoken of later in Revelation 12.
Media attention and critics
The Revelation 12 Sign has received widespread media attention including from The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, LifeSite News, Shoebat, Prophetic.com, and The Catholic Astronomer, among others.
A number of critics have offered rebuttals of the purported sign arguing that the sign is not unique or is only astrology. Critics include Answers in Genesis author Dr. Danny Faulkner, Christian author Joel Richardson, Jan Markell from Olive Tree Ministries, Christian bible prophecy author Craig C. White, Christian blogger and author Tim McHyde, and several others.
Dr. Faulkner mentions several specific points of contention including:
- "...Jupiter appears in the part of Virgo corresponding to her womb, along with the sun in Virgo and the moon at her feet for a day or two every 12 years or so."
- "Since the claim that Leo has nine stars is false, the assertion that the addition of the three planets brings the total number of stars in Leo to 12 is false too."
- "And how do we know that Jupiter must represent the child? There is no evidence for that either."
- "These sorts of claims amount to Rorschach tests—people tend to see in them what they want to see."
- "This year, with the huge popularity of YouTube, it is much easier to propagate these ideas."
Craig C. White is a proponent of a short timeline end of days, but gives several criticisms of the Rev 12 sign theory:
- "...the Apostle John says that 'there appeared a great wonder in heaven'. He doesn’t say 'there will be a great wonder in heaven'. He doesn’t tell us to 'look for a great wonder in heaven'."
- "...some proponents confuse the child in Revelation 12 with the Church. The child is obviously Jesus."
- "Some theorists say that Revelation 12:5 is describing the Rapture of the Church. Is the Church “a man child” as described in Rev 12:5? It is so very obvious that the man child who was caught up unto God, and to his throne is describing Jesus Christ at his ascension."
- "No I don’t think that Revelation 12:5 describes the Rapture of the Church in any way. The events of Revelation 12:1-5 depict the history of Israel and their Messiah up until Jesus Christ’s ascension. The events of Revelation chapter 12:6-17 describe the events that Israel will endure during their great tribulation while the Church watches from heaven."
Tim McHyde mentions several flaws in the Rev 12 theory:
- "...scholars have found that the sky on September 11, 3 BC to show the exact picture of Revelation 12:1, pointing to the birth of Christ on that day"
- "Clarke's theory, like all invented prophecy theories, depends on taking a verse out of its context and re-purposing it to serve some new theory. When you ignore the context of a verse, you are set up to misinterpret it. That's how you turn a solid reliable Bible prophecy into an unreliable quasi-biblical man-made prophecy interpretation."
- "The most natural explanation for all this is that the Woman is the faithful church of God among and from whom Jesus, a male person, was born (through blessed Mary). Jesus ascends to heaven and the faithful continue on the earth through the Great Tribulation."
- "For me the next problem is how Clarke has added elements to the biblical text that are not there, allowed for by problem #1 in ignoring verse 2 and 5. When he says this may be the rapture or second coming you would rightly ask, where does it say this in Revelation 12? Nowhere. It's added."
- "I think Scottie Clarke was so excited to find something "extremely rare" to combine with a Bible prophecy (namely, those three planets appearing in Virgo) that he missed something huge. There are already always twelve stars crowning Virgo, depending who you ask it is either the constellation called 'Berenice’s hair'."
- "...the position of the sun does not match Rev 12:1 which says the sun clothes the woman. ...the sun is over her left shoulder. For the sun to clothe the woman, it would be on her body. Not at her head like the crown; not at her feet like the moon. In the middle where her body is; where clothing goes. If you want to see what it should look like, compare that to the picture of the sky on September 11, 3 BC when (I and many think) Jesus was born"
- "What we have is once again is another example of how Christian prophecy students can't seem to resist taking something from Scripture and combining it with something extra-biblical they subjectively and/or arbitrarily view as significant. A Jewish holiday. A (brief) historical pattern of economic downturns. A rare conjunction. Or three more blood moons."
In response to the many critics of the Rev 12 sign theory, Unsealed World News has reiterated their position that the September 2017 alignment perfectly fits the description given in the biblical text and that their interpretation of the events described will be the only such occurrence in human history.
An upcoming AT&T original documentary, The Sign, explores the intersections of science, religion, and history behind the Revelation 12 debate. It will air on the DirecTV AUDIENCE network on September 14th. 
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