Considerable speculation exists that Revelation 12:1-2 prophesies a unique and significant sign that will appear on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah (aka The Feast of Trumpets), this Fall.
To be precise, the event transpires on September 23, 2017. Many speculate that because this arrangement of constellations and “wandering stars” (i.e., the constellation Virgo, the sun, the moon, along with a “crown of 12 stars” in Leo) must constitute a magnificent milestone fulfilling Bible prophecy since it has not appeared for thousands of years in this specific alignment. (The arrangement includes nine principal stars in Leo plus three planets, Mars, Venus, and Mercury all in nearby conjunction.) Could this collection of heavenly skylights be the fulfillment of Revelation 12:1-2? And is it even more meaningful that the sign will be “invisible” – not witnessed by human eyes – since it happens during the daylight when the sunlight obscures the conjunction? There is much to consider. But first, let’s review the passage in question:
Rev 12:1-6 1Now 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. 2Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 3And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4His 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. 5She 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. 6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
There are three characters in this passage. There is a woman, there is a male child, and there is a fiery red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. No one disputes that the dragon represents the devil or Satan. And almost no scholar doubts that the woman represents Israel. After giving birth to the male child, the woman flees into the wilderness to a special sanctuary prepared by God for her safe keeping (tradition contends this is Petra, or Mount Seir in Edom). The passage also indicates that the dragon stands ready to devour the male child as soon as he is born. While fleeing into the wilderness saves the woman, the male child is protected from the dragon – he escapes his clutches – through a very special “airlift” rescue. That is, the child is “snatched away” (in the Greek, harpazo – pronounced har-pod-zho), the same word (Strong’s G276) used by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (snatched up) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Revelation 12:5 states that the child will rule the nations with a rod of iron. Surely then, the child is Jesus. However, if we take note that Revelation 2:27 has Jesus promising the church at Thyatira they will rule the nations with a rod of iron, then we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion the male child is Jesus. The Church will reign and rule with Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:12) – which includes the “rod of iron” descriptor.
Thus, we are left with a most definite impression that the male child who is “raptured” to heaven is not Jesus Christ (who ascended visibly into the clouds as witnessed by the Apostles), but rather the Church of Jesus Christ who becomes fully one with Him. If so (and as we will see, many commentators insist this the male child comprises the Church and its “snatching up” is the “rapture”), then it begs the question whether the astronomical event (the arrangements of stars, planets, sun, and moon) which transpires on September 23, 2017, signifies the very moment when the rapture of the Church will occur.
Prophecy students recall that the rapture has often been taught to be a “secret rapture” (not visible to unbelievers). And they expect it to take place on a very special date just as all other major prophecies have. In other words, we know that the great prophecies of the Bible are fulfilled on precise days, days upon which a major event took place that prefigured (and disclosed the meaning of) its future fulfillment. Moreover, these events and the days commemorating them would become a Jewish feast day or holy day celebrated by God’s chosen people. The death of Jesus Christ on Passover (the day that commemorated the first-born of Israel being spared death in Egypt just prior to the Exodus), would be the prototypical example.
Indeed, the pivotal point that energizes today’s avid speculation is the Feast of Trumpets on September 23, 2017 and the rapture being the event that it prefigured. Again, many commentators assert the male child is the Church, while also inferring the “snatching up” of Revelation 12:5 constitutes the rapture. Therefore, it seems easy to conclude that the “sign” in the sky on September 23, 2017, that is, on Rosh Hashanah, would be such a logical moment for the rapture to occur. However, students of eschatology know that the fulfillment of Bible prophecy remains a mystery until AFTER it has been accomplished when we can discern its fulfillment in light of all the evidence.
Indeed, while many think that the rapture will occur on either (1) the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) given the connection of the rapture with the “trump of God” (1 Corinthians 15:51), there are others that argue (2) Pentecost is a better date. It too is a date often cited by eschatology buffs since two prior dispensations began on this date. That is, the Dispensation of Law began with the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai at Pentecost (Exodus 20) and the Dispensation of Grace commenced on Pentecost with the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), the great spring harvest festival (with the harvest of 5,000 souls after Peter’s sermon and the manifestation of the Spirit through the miraculous speaking of the acts of God through “tongues.”) It was then the Holy Spirit “conceived” the Church when He came upon Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ (which was also ten days after Christ’s ascension). Will the Spirit “birth” the Church – consummate its glorification and unity with Christ and the Father (Ephesians 4:4-6) – at the resurrection/rapture on a future Pentecost? I believe something wonderful may happen on September 23, 2017. But we can only continue to watch and wait upon the Lord to see what it might be. If it is the pre-ordained time, we will know instantly when we are translated from mortal to immortal. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2)
However, my co-author Gary Huffman (from our new book, The Revealing) and I believe that Revelation 12:1-5, is best interpreted as a double fulfillment. As you will see below, there are many classic commentaries that agree with the idea of a double fulfillment and that the second pertains to the birth of a child that is yet future, i.e., the Church. In this sense, Acts Chapter 2 (the coming of the Holy Spirit) can be viewed as the “conception” and the 2,000 years “in between” as incubation, the final portion of that era as labor pains (an analogy that even Jesus used), with the birth of the Church occurring at the second fulfillment of Revelation 12:1-5, the event we call rapture (and resurrection) of the Church.
- From the Faith Life Study Bible:
“In Revelation, the number 12 is associated with the 12 tribes of Israel and also the 12 apostles as the Church’s foundation (Rev 21:14). Thus, the woman could symbolize the faithful people of God. The Messiah is born from God’s people, Israel, and His work continues with God’s people, the Church.”
- Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, on Revelation 12:5, voices the same opinion:
And she brought forth a man child – Representing, according to the view above taken, the church in its increase and prosperity – as if a child were born that was to rule over all nations… Who was to rule all nations – That is, according to this view, the church thus represented was destined to reign in all the earth, or all the earth was to become subject to its laws.
- Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, regarding Revelation 12:5 agrees. The male child is the “mystical Christ”, i.e., “his members, who are called by his name.” Reading this statement in context:
And she brought forth a man child…. Not Christ, literally and personally considered, or Christ in his human nature, as made of a woman, and born of a virgin, which was a fact that had been years ago; but Christ mystically, or Christ in his members, who are called by his name, because he is formed in them, and they are the seed of the woman, the church.
Thus, we conclude that the man-child the woman (Israel) brings forth is one who overcomes, the many mature sons to be one Body for the Messiah, Jesus. And when He comes in glory with them, they will rule and reign with Him:
Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
This article was drawn from The Revealing: Unlocking Hidden Truths on the Glorification of God’s Children, by Gary L. Huffman and S. Douglas Woodward, Faith Happens Books, 340 pages, 2017. Available in paperback and eBook form from Amazon.com at the following link: THE REVEALING.
 Note the King James Version capitalizes Child, presuming the child is divine. The seventeenth-century translators therefore presumed (mistakenly I believe) that Jesus is the “exclusive” male child in Revelation 12.
 Retrieved from http://biblehub.com/commentaries/revelation/12-5.htm.
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