Revelation 12 sign – September 23 Rapture
This article is quoted in the Wikipedia article Revelation 12 sign
The child in Revelation 12 is Jesus not the Church
By Craig C. White
Today the Bible prophecy arena is buzzing with a theory that says that the Rapture of Christians will happen on September 23rd 2017. This theory is derived from a great wonder seen in heaven by the disciple John in Revelation chapter 12. John describes a woman clothed with the sun.
I have read several articles and have also watched a few videos that have been produced by proponents of the Revelation chapter 12 sign theory. The Revelation 12 sign theory says that the Rapture of the Church will happen on September 23, 2017. This theory is based on the position of the constellations and on a faulty interpretation of Revelation chapter 12. The more that I study this chapter and learn what is being said about it, the more that I am convinced that Revelation chapter 12 has nothing at all to do with the Rapture of Church age believers.
Revelation chapter 12 is not about Church age believers but it is all about the nation of Israel. It is particularly about the Jews living in Jerusalem and the surrounding region of Judea during the great tribulation. First of all Revelation 12:1-5 is so obviously depicting the history of Israel and its Messiah. Revelation 12 is not addressing the Church. Except for the letters to the Church at the beginning of Revelation, the book of Revelation deals with the events of the Tribulation period. The letters to the Churches at the beginning of Revelation tell the Church that it will be spared from the trial that will come upon the whole earth. The Bible tells us that the Church will be spared from going through the coming Tribulation on Earth.
Revelation 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
Now let’s look at Revelation chapter 12:1. The first thing that I want to point out is that the Apostle John says that “there appeared a great wonder in heaven”. He doesn’t say that “there will be a great wonder in heaven”. He doesn’t tell us to “look for a great wonder in heaven”. In Revelation 12:1 it is universally accepted that the woman depicted represents the nation of Israel and that the twelve stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel.
Revelation 12:1-2 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
Within the Revelation 12 sign theory community, opinions about this verse vary widely but some proponents confuse the child in Revelation 12 with the Church. The child is obviously Jesus. Some theorists rightly identify the woman in Revelation 12:1 as Israel. In Revelation 12:5 the woman gives birth to the child. Did Israel give birth to the Church? Well sort of, but Israel literally gave birth to the Jewish Jesus their Messiah. Nowhere else in the Bible is the Church described as being birthed by Israel. Some theorists say that the Church hasn’t been born yet, but throughout Paul’s letters to the Churches he describes the Church as a body. I say that the Church has been born and has also been born again!
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Some theorists even say that the Church will rule with a rod of iron for one thousand years when it is obvious that Jesus Christ will rule with a rod of iron.
Revelation 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Jesus Christ has a sharp two edged sword and a rod of iron to rule the nations. How you can replace the ruling son of God with the Church is beyond me but many people are following this interpretation. Jesus Christ is the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS not the Church. Can we at least agree on that?
Revelation 12 sign theorists point to the following verses to conclude that the Church will also rule the nations with an iron rod. They say that Revelation 2:27 really says that “they shall rule them with an iron rod” instead of saying “he shall rule them with an iron rod”; meaning that Jesus Christ has extended his authority over the nations to the Church. That may apply to some degree but it is not enough evidence to change the meaning of this verse. First of all there is no preposition found in the original Greek text. So there is no grammatical indication that the verse is referring to “they”. Also, in every other passage in the Bible that refers to a rod of iron; it is evident that it is Israel’s Messiah who will rule over the nations with a rod of iron. This is never directly said about the Church.
Revelation 2:26-27 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
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.
Revelation 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
I’m sorry to have to put you through this but there is still more folly surrounding the Revelation 12 sign theory. Theorists say that the phrase “caught up” in Revelation 12:5 is describing the Rapture of the Church since it uses the same Greek word (harpazō) as does 1Thessalonians 4:7. The Greek word harpazo is translated as “caught up” in Rev 12:5 and also in 1Thes 4:17. The Greek word harpazo is used thirteen times in the New Testament and is translated as take by force, catch away, pluck, and pull out.
1Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught 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 sign theorists say that the Greek word harpazo reflects a forceful taking away. I agree with them on that point but they go on to defend their position by saying that Jesus was not Raptured (or taken away by force) at his ascension. They say that Jesus gently floated away on a fluffy cloud.
There are several different Greek words that describe Jesus Christ’s ascension. They are translated as taken up, ascend, received, and carried up. These words also imply the use of some amount of force in order to lift somebody up. Here are a few examples.
Acts 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Luke 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Speaking of clouds; when Jesus travels between Heaven and Earth he is always described as coming in violent clouds (or whirlwinds, or tornadoes).
Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Mark 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
Jeremiah 4:13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.
Nahum 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
Jesus was taken up into the clouds. This is the same sort of event that is described at the Prophet Elijah’s ascension. Elijah went up (or ascended) in a whirlwind (or tornado). To say that Jesus floated gently away into heaven is mere fantasy.
2Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
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.
Revelation 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Should we look for Jesus Christ to return to Earth for his Church on September 23, 2017? Probably not. At least the interpretation of Revelation chapter 12 cannot prove this. Revelation 12 is an important message for the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea. It describes some specific trials that the Jews will endure and even explains how to escape them.
There are several world events that the Bible has predicted that we can see taking shape today. Turkish President Erdogan is threatening to attack Damascus in order to remove Syrian President Assad from power (Jeremiah 49:23-27). The nations that Ezekiel 38:5 identifies (Iran, Sudan, and Libya) are all gathered in the Golan Heights of Syria. According to Ezekiel chapter 38 Turkey will lead these nations into Israel. The Prophet Nahum seems to predict the defeat of ISIS in Mosul, and also predicts the destruction and flooding of the city. I must also mention that it has now become glaringly apparent that Turkish President Erdogan is the Antichrist. He will lead the world into the terrible time of trouble called the Tribulation. All of these things tell us that the Tribulation is near. If the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation begins then the Rapture is even nearer! Jesus Christ might not return to collect his Church on September 23rd but he is coming back awfully soon.