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Friday, May 22, 2020

Mystery: September 23, 2017 and The Great Sign of Revelation 12


Religion is one of those topics I try my best to steer clear of—in spite of how there are numerous stories that I want to cover because of how many fascinating mysteries surround it. For me, it’s provided an insurmountable level of comfort and peace in the face of topics like death and what comes after it. It’s helped me to have a much more positive outlook on life as a whole too.

Though as is the case with any religion: there’s always the concept of “The End”. Now what is The End? Well, it’s Armageddon; the Apocalypse. The End of the World. When Heaven and Hell fight. Throughout the ages, many have suspected that The End was just around the corner and nowadays, it seems that The End is going to happen next week. Alas, it never does and as it stands, every prophecy, every prediction, and every claim has failed to yield anything substantial. So why do we keep falling for it? Well, some people simply fear death. Some want to see their children grow up, to have families of their own, or simply love their life. It’s those people that many charlatans feed off of in the way of selling tickets into Heaven or to have them purchase salvation from the Lord (this goes for any and all religions mind you).

This concept of fear and the dread of The End is where today’s story will take us. It's one I had planned for September this year, but I decided to cover it today as I felt oddly motivated to cover it. Known as the Great Sign of Revelation 12, this is going to be a very religious mystery, but I encourage non-believers to read this story too. It’s a very fascinating one and if I’m to be quite honest: I think this is one of my best works yet. Let’s not waste anymore time though. Let’s dive into this fantastical tale.


The Story

First up: let’s take a look at the 12th chapter of Revelation. It reads as follows:

1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, robed with the sun, standing on the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

2 She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth.

3 Then a second sign appeared in the sky: there was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet.

4 Its tail swept a third of the stars from the sky and hurled them to the ground, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was at the point of giving birth, so that it could eat the child as soon as it was born.

5 The woman was delivered of a boy, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne,

6 while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had prepared a place for her to be looked after for twelve hundred and sixty days.

7 And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels,

8 but they were defeated and driven out of heaven.

9 The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had led all the world astray, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him.

10 Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, 'Salvation and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ, now that the accuser, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down.

11 They have triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word to which they bore witness, because even in the face of death they did not cling to life.

12 So let the heavens rejoice and all who live there; but for you, earth and sea, disaster is coming -- because the devil has gone down to you in a rage, knowing that he has little time left.'

13 As soon as the dragon found himself hurled down to the earth, he sprang in pursuit of the woman, the mother of the male child,

14 but she was given a pair of the great eagle's wings to fly away from the serpent into the desert, to the place where she was to be looked after for a time, two times and half a time.

15 So the serpent vomited water from his mouth, like a river, after the woman, to sweep her away in the current,

16 but the earth came to her rescue; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river spewed from the dragon's mouth.

17 Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, who obey God's commandments and have in themselves the witness of Jesus.

18 And I took my stand on the seashore.

My source for this is Catholic.org, so all credit for the content of the chapter goes to them.

The central focus of today’s story is Verses 1–6. The sign itself takes place within the first and second verse while the sign of the great dragon I’ve never been able to find anything about. Some have claimed that the sign of the dragon was fulfilled when the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft crashed into Saturn on September 15, 2017. Though if any dragon truly did emerge in that time, it’s yet to make any sort of presence known.

Let’s move on though. The history of this sign is decently documented on Wikipedia and as such, I’ll be using it to cover the basics of this story for you guys. It all started on April 7, 2011 when a man named William Tapley—who operates the channel ThirdEagleBooks—posted a video about this alignment. He called it “Stellarium”, which is the program where this sign originates from, and gave the titular date of September 23, 2017 as the date of the “great sign”. He went on to explain how the alignment you can see in Stellarium perfectly matches Revelation 12.

Now, in essence, this alignment goes as follows: the constellations of Virgo and Leo are often seen together; Leo being over Virgo’s head. Okay, nothing really special there, but here’s where the sign really comes into play. In the case of this sign, the Sun is “clothing” Virgo; it’s on the arm and torso of her. The Moon, meanwhile, is under her feet. Meanwhile, Mercury, Venus, and Mars are on her head. This, plus the number of stars that make up Leo, add up to 12 stars that form a sort of crown. This part is extremely important and you need to remember it. If you want a visual representation, here’s a gif I got from Wikipedia.


Now for the big thing. The child. The planet Jupiter enters Virgo and, due to a retrograde orbit, will reverse its orbit and go back before continuing to go around the Sun. To give a visual representation once more, here’s another gif from Wikipedia.


As you can see: Jupiter is inside of Virgo for nine months (just like a normal pregnancy. This has led many to suspect that Jupiter is the child that the woman in Revelation 12 is pregnant with. This is also very fitting given that the normal interpretation of Revelation 12 states that the child is actually Jesus; Jupiter is the Roman God of the Gods and Jesus is called the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Topping things off, the Comet Borisov (or C/2017 E1) ended up traveling from the loins of Leo into the womb of Virgo on November 17, 2016 just before Jupiter reached the womb of Virgo. As such, many believers in the Revelation 12 Sign ended up calling it the “Conception Comet”. Backing this up, this is the only time that Comet Borisov would end up traveling through our Solar System.
With that out of the way, let’s keep going. Though as always, keep what I just said in mind because we’ll be going over it a lot more later.

Marching onward, we reach July 30, 2011. It’s on this day that Scott “Scottie” Clarke of ERF Ministries posted a video to his YouTube channel that went over the Revelation 12 Sign. This video went viral and amassed a ridiculous amount of views—somewhere north of a million. However, as of now, the original video isn’t available to view as I believe Clarke has either delisted it, made it private, or outright deleted it. For what reason, I don’t know; I’m not familiar with Clarke. Some say he’s a very good man while others say that he’s a fraud and deceitful man. I’m not here to judge the man as it’s not in my place (especially given my past). Lucky for us, there is a mirror of the video—or at least part of it. You can view it below, just be warned that it’s fairly long.


Throughout the rest of 2011, Scott (as I’ll call him) continued to make videos surrounding the Revelation 12 Sign; he eventually became something of the face of the celestial alignment. This was both a blessing and a curse. While Scott’s channel saw considerable growth and he became widely known, a lot of people began to also accuse him of being a false prophet and a date setter. For those unfamiliar with either term, this basically meant that Scott had been branded as a heretic and was no different than someone like Harold Camping. While I’ve heard claims that Scott had, in the past, set a date for the rapture—or the date of the Second Coming of Jesus—I’m not aware that Scott ever claimed that September 23, 2017 was anything other than simply a date when a sign written in the Book of Revelation would take place.

Eventually, more and more Christian YouTube channels and news outlets began to pick up on the story. For example: Unsealed World News wrote about it and even made defensive articles stating that it was a legitimate sign. They ultimately became one of the key figures in the Revelation 12 Sign scene (boy, that’s an awkward phrase to say). As a side note, according to the sign’s Wikipedia article, they supposedly claimed that the sign may be connected to the rapture of the Church. Fun fact: the rapture has no scriptural basis and as such, it’s not real whatsoever.

As time went on, so too did the notoriety of the sign itself. A lot more people began to pick up on it and either subscribed to it as a real sign that would have a real impact on our world in some capacity (a great deal of this came from how the sign would be viewable over Jerusalem—which is considered the Holy City in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). On the opposite end of things, people began to run articles debunking this. You can find several prominent Christian writers listed on the Wikipedia article, but one that stuck out to me was a man named Joel Richardson. The video he made where he went over the sign can be found here on Vimeo. Now, the reason Joel’s video stuck out to me is he was the first person I found who ever pointed out that when Jupiter’s orbit enters its retrograde phase, it actually ends up exiting Virgo. More on this later though.

In the days leading up to the big day, the excitement surrounding the sign was reaching its apex. AT&T made a documentary entitled “The Sign” that explored various elements of the Revelation 12 Sign. It premiered on Audience on September 14, 2017. I’ve never seen it, but I wish I’d bothered to. Meanwhile, a very prominent full preterist by the name of Don K. Preston made three videos going over the flaws of the Revelation 12 Sign. If you want to view them, you can check them out below.




Meanwhile, numerous memes circulated centering on the date. This admittedly happened far before this point in time, but I figured now would be the best time to mention it as the date became extremely mainstream as time went on. You can view an image I found on Google Images below.


One of the funnier—if admittedly weird—claims I saw circulating in the time leading up to September 23 was this theory surrounding United States President Donald Trump and his Vice President, former Indiana Governor Mike Pence. There was a claim going around saying that the date definitely meant something because “Trump/Pence” sounds a bit like trumpet. If you don’t know: prior to the end of the world, the angels of Heaven will use trumpets when one of the Seven Seals is broken. I believe that’s how it goes; I could be wrong, but trumpets are a key part of Armageddon. This theory is still pushed by some Christians by the way.

Last, but certainly not least, there was a very weird video that Scott Clarke made a mere day before September 23, 2017 where he said that September 24, 2017 was a “more perfect date” for the Revelation 12 Sign. This was seen as a pitiful attempt at moving a goal post and the video has since been made private. Though you can read an article about the video here. As a side note, I’ll never understand the term “more perfect”. That sounds so ridiculous to me.

Anyways, the big day came: September 23, 2017. Nothing happened. It was another day in the neighborhood for many. Some people had egg on their face for saying the rapture would happen. Others simply thought that it was a sign of bigger things to come. Whatever the case may be, it’s remained a fairly prevalent topic in the world of those who believe the Second Coming is near.

Though that wasn’t the end of the story. There was a second date put forward in relation to this sign for November of I believe 2018. The Wikipedia page for the Revelation 12 Sign had a subsection on it, but it’s since been deleted—likely due to it having nothing to do with the topic at hand. However, I thought it was worth mentioning because it shows that in spite of September 23, 2017 having been almost three years ago, it’s still alive and well in the hearts and minds of many.

With that, this story comes to an end. Now we must move onto the theories; it’s time to discuss what truly happened on this date. Was it a biblically significant sign? Or was it nothing special? Well, let’s find out.

Theories

1. It was a sign

Our first theory is promoted by a fair number of Christians and Christian news outlets. It’s that the sign was, in fact, a real sign from God; the idea being that there truly will be signs in the Heavens that will warn us of the end days. While non-believers and some Christians don’t believe this, saying that nothing happened on September 23, ardent believers in the sign say that it was simply that: a sign. As such, it was merely a warning and that nothing was going to happen. While a niche group of people were adamant that it would lead to the Rapture (an unfounded concept that has no scriptural basis in Christian theology) or something else like that, most simply state that it was a sign of things to come; an omen of sorts.

Whether or not you subscribe to this theory is entirely up to you and how you perceive not only the Book of Revelation, but the idea of religion as a whole. If you’re an Atheist, Agnostic, or simply not a Christian, then odds are Revelation is something you already don’t believe in. However, certain Christians already have strong opinions of Revelation, whether it be that it was simply a critical piece of writing that spoke about the Roman Empire or that it already happened—or at least some of it already happened—in the past. Though more on that later.

So what evidence is there to prove this theory? Well, if you’re a Christian, you can always point to the Bible. Fair enough, I concede that the sign is fairly similar to what’s described in Revelation 12 (or at least part of it), though I find it rather bizarre that Jupiter left the woman for a brief period of time. I also find certain aspects of the alignment to be a tad off, but whatever. We’re not here to judge the specifics of what happened, we’re here to discuss the evidence and I can already tell some people are rolling their eyes at the notion of the Bible being evidence. However, given it’s the source of this theory, we must take the writing as what is being presented as evidence and, well, the sign did sort of happen as it’s written—at least if we look at the depiction of the sign in the book compared to what we saw happen on September 23. So that begs the question: was it really a sign? Well, there’s one more theory we can go over that counters this, so let’s take a gander at it.

2. It was a natural alignment

The second and final theory is that this was all a natural alignment. For this idea, let’s head over to Earth Sky. It’s here where we can see a few other times that the sign has allegedly appeared. Take a look; all credit goes to the Earth Sky article by the way.

The sign as it appeared on September 14, 1056.
The sign as it appeared on September 5, 1293.
The sign as it appeared on September 6, 1483.
The sign as it appeared on September 24, 1823.
As you can see: each of these times was in September and as such, it immediately debunks that claim of “Once Every 7,000 Years” that was mentioned at the start of this write-up. However, does that debunk the entire claim as a whole? Well, truth be told: The sign does look very similar in each of these. So unless the sign that’s talked about in Revelation 12 has happened many times before (which would raise many questions about Revelation in general if you ask me), then what separates this time from those times? That’s surprisingly simple to give an answer to. Per the top comment on the article from a man named Sergei Garreta:

Sorry guys, am I the only one looking at this?!
If you take the image with the arrows of Sept 23 2017 and turn it to the left (so Virgo is on her feet), you can see a pretty accurate depiction of a crown on her head. The arrangement of the stars in 1827, 1483, 1056 don't even come close to this, and the one that took place in1293 is close enough but resembles more of a draft or rough version of the crown being represented in 2017.
I'm not Christian but to say that this arrangement has happened 4 other times doesn't seem true at all.

I’ll let you be the judge of this; here’s an image of the alignment along with a close-up from the Earth Sky article.

The sign as it appeared on September 23, 2017.


In the eyes of many skeptics: the similarities in the alignments from the past are simply too similar to allow for any sort of room to be made for the alignment that took place on September 23, 2017 to be legitimate. On the other hand, a lot of believers view these skeptics as being agents of Satan who wish to lead the gullible, the weak, and the vulnerable down a path away from God. This begs the question: does this theory have any evidence that can be used to sway the minds of those that believe in it?

Well, no.

While skeptics may think that simply pointing out the similarities in the alignments of old as a way to debunk the sign, the fact of the matter is that similarities are there for them and as such, you cannot deal any substantial blow to that belief. Faith and belief are two extremely powerful emotions and the only way to really damage them is to have something that breaks that faith and belief. A false sign can easily be brushed off as a test of said faith and to the credit of those that pushed the Revelation 12 Sign, most of them didn’t say that the Apocalypse would happen on this day. Some people did, but the majority of those that I saw didn’t say it would happen. The worst I saw is that the Rapture would happen, but even then: it was more a minority than a majority.

So ultimately: the evidence for skeptics is there. Though in the eyes of believers, there’s nothing here other than those that wish to mislead the vulnerable and gullible. This remains true all these years later and I have not the slightest bit of doubt in my mind that this will be the case a decade from now.

My Take

I’ve stated this before, but I’ll state it once more for those who’ve simply stumbled across this blog for the first time: I’m Roman Catholic and I’m a Full Preterist. Now, for those unfamiliar with  the latter of those two (as I’m sure most—if not all—have heard of Catholicism), it’s the belief that all Biblical prophecy has been fulfilled. In my eyes: Revelation was fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Roman Empire invaded Jerusalem at the behest of Emperor Caesar Nero. What I believe is that the destruction of Old Covenant Israel heralded in the establishment of the Church as New Covenant Israel. I also believe that the idea of a “perfect world” isn’t exactly a literal concept; it’s the idea that the perfect world found within the Church and the acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

For Agnostics, Atheists, and non-Christians: I mean no disrespect when I say that. This is simply me trying to speak to those who do believe in Christianity. As such, take no offense to that; I think no less of you. Of course, most of you probably don’t think much of the Revelation 12 Sign. After all, it most likely isn’t of any concern to you. Though there is one thing to take away from it if you ask me. Biblical signs being seen is by no means some novel concept and it’s easy to spot them if you have an eye for seeing things that you’re familiar with. I consider it a type of Deja-Vu. I’m sure that if you’re to flip to any page in the Book of Revelation—no matter what version of the Bible you use—you can find something that you can connect to what’s going on nowadays. Though you can also connect it to past events throughout history.

This, to me, is one reason why it’s so hard to accept that Revelation is still something that is meant to be taken as a prophecy that has yet to come. However, we’re not here to analyze or discuss Revelation as a whole. This is about the Revelation 12 Sign. The fact of the matter is: Revelation 12 is talking about the birth of Jesus and his ascension into Heaven. The woman represents Israel, the dragon is Satan, and the child is Jesus. The dragon wishes to devour the child because he wishes to spread misery and sin; the child is taken to Heaven body and soul however and the dragon fails in his mission to destroy the savior of man. That’s it. That’s all Revelation is. That’s all there is. It’s merely telling the story of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

Now for some of the other aspects. First, let’s talk about using the Bible as evidence for something. This, to me, works; I am after all Catholic. However, I think that when it comes to accepting it as evidence for everything, there’s a flaw. Not everyone is a believer in Christianity and as such, you run the risk of having your entire argument being shot down in one fell swoop. While I’m not trying to sound like I’m saying that you should remain quiet on what you believe, I’m merely saying that I do have a stance over not using religion when arguing about whether or not something is real, though I’d make an exception here given that the basis for this sign is rooted solely in religion. Does that make the sign legitimate? In my eyes, no, but I can see why it would be to some.

Speaking of that: I did say in the first theory that it does mirror the sign depicted in the first theory, only to then say that I believe that it’s simply retelling the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I stand by both statements, but I don’t believe that because it mirrors it, it is a sign. Revelation is very vague in its writing and as such, you can interpret it in many different ways. As I shared earlier: Earth Sky had an article about other times this sign had happened—albeit to varying degrees of accuracy. To me though, simply mimicking it doesn’t immediately equate to “it’s the full sign!” Especially when the writing and chapter as a whole begins by all but telling the reader: “This is about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ”. That, to me, really makes it hard to buy into the idea that it’s both a literal, physical sign in the Heavens. Unless Jesus hasn’t been born yet and we’re waiting on the birth of Him. In which case, the opening to this chapter raises so many monumental holes in the entire concept of Christianity that I’d be here for the next year going over them.

Now as for Scott Clarke, I want to say that I don’t think it’s smart to hold any ill will towards him. Whether or not the man set a date or not, I personally never got the impression that he was doing anything out of malice or for the sake of money. The guy seems like a genuinely good person at heart. If he truly was doing this for money or to inflict emotional distress on anyone, then I still don’t think that holding any contempt or shaming him is the way to go. At the end of the day, it’s not in our place to judge anyone. Though hey, I know some people will disagree and as is the case with anything: that’s okay. You’re more than free to disagree with what I have to say.

On one final note: I want to touch upon how Jupiter’s retrograde orbit led it to actually exit Virgo prior to reentering her before ultimately exiting in the supposed “birth”. I very briefly touched on this when I mentioned Joel Richardson and in the first theory, but I’ll stop beating around the bush now. This is something that I can’t believe more skeptics never brought up: Jupiter leading Virgo goes directly against the idea that she’s “pregnant” with a child.

Guys, I don’t care how you twist it, how you say Jupiter is inside of her for X amount of time, or anything else. Virgo didn’t have a C-section and then have the child out back into her, nor did she give birth to a Xenomorph. Why I didn’t see more people mention this is so flabbergasting to me. Babies don’t pop out before going back into the womb. The sign doesn’t work if it isn’t fulfilled to a T. The Bible never states that there will be signs in the Heavens that will be 99% accurate, but maybe there will be some parts that aren’t accurate because reasons.

I digress though. I, of course, cannot sway the minds of those who believe in this sign and that’s okay. I don’t want to force you to change your beliefs. I’m sure there are many who will vehemently disagree with me and that’s, once again, okay. However, if you’re to ask me: there’s nothing here. While the world may not be perfect, you have to realize that what you’ve been given is far greater than you can ever imagine. There is more to this world than you’ll ever realize. Do good by it so that you may do good by the Lord. Do not wallow in despair over sin; try to save those that can be saved. Trust me, this will bring about far more joy than you can ever imagine.

Conclusion

With that, this write-up comes to a close. I must admit, this has been one of the most wildly enjoyable stories I’ve ever covered. This date actually terrified me to no end when I first learned about it, but it also helped to reshape my view on not only my faith, but the Book of Revelation as a whole. It’s what got me to fully subscribe to full preterism and helped me to fully understand what my faith was all about; it helped to almost fully redefine me as a person. It helped to make me a happier person at heart and while I’m sure as heck no saint, I like to think it helped make me a better person. I just wish I could say that it made a better person to those I know, knew, love, and loved.

Yet, despite how much fun I had writing this, I must admit that I’m still extremely hesitant to cover more religious mysteries on this blog. Religion isn’t something that everyone believes in and as such, it’s one reason that I’m often very hesitant to cover mysteries surrounding it. Of course, there are some people out there who do express interest in trying to debunk signs and prophecies related to it. While I’m generally not someone who would want to shoot down the beliefs of someone else (as my view on almost everything on this blog is to allow everyone to make up their mind), I cannot—and ultimately will not—tell anyone not to do anything they so wish. As such, whatever you take away from this sign is up to you. If you disagree with me, that’s fine. If you agree with me, that’s fine. All I ask is that you go in peace and contemplate what type of world we live in. While it may see imperfect, I believe that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what sort of potential it holds. Once we finally realize what awaits us beneath that surface though, I believe that all will be revealed to us.

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