Clothed With the Sun, Moon Under Her Feet
by John P. Pratt
2 Nov 2016, 1 Kis (PH), 13 Reed (SR), 0 Tra (UMa)
©2016 by John P. Pratt. All rights Reserved.
|1. The Prophecy
|1.1 Sun and Moon in Virgo
|1.2 The Dragon
|2. Birth of Jesus Christ
|2.1 Heralding the Year
|2.2 Date of Birth
|3. Birth of Kingdom of God
|3.1 Heralding the Year
|3.2 Date of Birth
|3.3 Stars Cast Down
|3.4 Nourished for 3.5 Years
|4. 2017: Heralding Rebirth?
The prophecy of a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet may refer to rare celestial signs of the Feast of Trumpets in 2 BC, 1832, and 2017, which herald the future birth of her son.
This article looks in detail at the prophecy in the Book of Revelation about a woman who gives birth to a son who will rule all nations with an iron rod. After a discussion of it referring to actual configurations of heavenly bodies in the skies, three interpretations are presented. In every case the sign occurs on the Hebrew Feast of Trumpets in the autumn. The first is that it could refer to the birth of Jesus Christ. Second, the possibility that it refers to the birth of the Kingdom of God is presented, along with supporting evidence. Finally, a prediction getting some attention promoted primarily by several Christian ministers that the sign will be fulfilled in 2017 is discussed. It is suggested that all three could be correct and actually implied by the prophecy.
1. The Prophecy
Let us begin by looking at the prophecy itself. It has been an enigma for the last two millennia and to my knowledge it has never been well explained. Neither will this article unravel all of its mysteries, but an attempt is made here to establish precise possible fulfillment dates.
Here is the King James version of the text of the prophecy (in this article emphasis may be added to quotations):
1 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.
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
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.
6 And 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.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
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.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. — Rev. 12:1-17
Before considering the relationship of this prophecy to the heavens, let us first note two very important changes to this revelation made by the Prophet Joseph Smith in his New Translation of the Bible. First, verse 5 was moved to be before verse 3. That is, the birth of the man child was put before the appearance of the dragon and his casting down a third part of the stars of heaven. This reordering was emphasized with the words “to devour her child as soon as it was born” being changed to “to devour her child after it was born” seeming to imply that the dragon’s attack was at least a little time after the birth.
Secondly, an interpretation of just who the woman and her son represent was explicitly given. The words “And prevailed not” beginning verse 8 were augmented to read:
And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ.
Thus we are are told exactly who the woman and her son represent. This interpretation is supported by the declaration in verse 10 of “a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ”. Note also that the precise wording in both the New Translation and also in verse 10 states that the woman brought forth the Kingdom of God and His Christ. That could mean that there could be at least two fulfillments of this prophecy: one when the woman brings forth the Kingdom of God and another when she brings forth His Christ.
These prophecies must be read very carefully. Sometimes they appear to repeat themselves, but then seem to mix up little details in so doing. But the Lord does not mix up details! Often those small differences are given to point out that there are actually two fulfillments, and even though they are similar to each other, those different details imply the difference. In this case when the child is born, the woman “flees” into the wilderness (v. 6). Then in what appears to be a recap or retelling the woman is given eagle wings to “fly” into the wilderness (v. 14). When she went to the wilderness did she have wings or didn’t she? This discrepancy could well imply that there are at least two different flights to the wilderness. Thus, there could be a total of three fulfillments of this vision of the woman implied. In fact, three distinct fulfillment dates are proposed in this article.
1.1 Sun and Moon in Virgo
Let’s look at this prophecy from the point of view of astronomy and calendars. The first verse tells us of a “great wonder” in heaven. The Greek word translated “wonder” is translated “sign” nearly thirty times in the New Testament (Rev. 15:1). The word “sign” when referring to the heavens often means “constellation”, as when someone asks, “What is your sign?” and the answer is the name of a constellation. The Prophet Joseph changed the word “wonder” in this verse to “sign”, which is consistent with that interpretation.
Note also that verse 14 says that the woman was given the wings of an eagle. The constellation of the Maiden (Virgo) has very large wings, like the wings of an eagle. The Greek star table lists the location of each star in the constellation and those shown in the wings are listed as such. This constellation does not depict an angel; it is a woman with the wings of an eagle. That is a huge witness that the prophecy indeed refers to this constellation. Moreover, the only bright star in the figure is in the ear of wheat held in her hand. The name of that star is Spica, which is Latin for “Ear of Wheat”. Traditionally it represents the offspring of this virgin, so that is another huge indication that this constellation is intended. Figure 2 is a traditional rendition showing the wheat in her left hand.
With that in mind, the first verse tells us of a vision of a great constellation of a woman with the sun in her clothing and the moon under her feet. Anyone familiar with the constellations knows that the Maiden is a huge constellation, one of the largest in the sky. She is one of the twelve constellations in the path (called the “ecliptic”) along which the sun, moon and planets appear to move through as the earth orbits the sun. Thus, as the sun makes it apparent annual transit of all twelve zodiac constellations, it appears in the clothing of the Maiden for a couple of weeks of each year. At the time of Christ that occurred near the beginning of September; today it occurs at the end of September.
About once every three years the moon appears as a thin evening crescent under the feet of the woman at the same time the sun is in her clothing. This gives us two big clues to what is going on here. First, the prophecy seems to be indicating a date which can be determined by the position of heavenly bodies in the constellation of the Maiden. Second, for those familiar with the Hebrew Calendar, it strongly suggests a date of 1 Tishri, the first day of the seventh month, called the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). Between the time of Christ and now that feast date usually occurs during September, exactly when the sun can be in the clothing of the Maiden. That feast is symbolic of when 7 angels each blow a trumpet at the beginning of the Millennium, the seventh thousand years of history. Because it is the celestial configuration of a holy day, it really looks like the prophecy concerns an occurrence on the Feast of Trumpets.
This much has been obvious to many researchers for centuries and to me for decades, but it does not narrow the field of possibilities much because the moon is underfoot of the Maiden on the Feast of Trumpets about once per decade. Until last month my research had not focused at all on this prophecy because the way to proceed was not obvious. It simply was not clear how to narrow down the fulfillment more than to about one year per decade.
1.2 The Dragon
Next we learn of the red dragon who eagerly awaits the birth of the man child in order to devour Him immediately. Note that he is not interested in eating the woman, only her child who will challenge his ruling of the world.
There is in fact a constellation of the Dragon (Draco) and indeed he has what could be considered a third part of the stars within the main coil of his tail, as shown in Figure 3. That illustration is a map of the heavens with the outer circumference being the ecliptic circle around which the sun, moon, and planets all appears to travel clockwise. The Dragon is near the center of this circle in an exalted place which can be thought of as the top of the sky (Isa. 14:12-13). He is not in a location that is easily identified with a date as is the Maiden (shown at far right), but the fact that he is also referred to as a constellation (sign or wonder) is a strong second witness that this entire prophecy deals with the heavens. Even as the Maiden does not have a crown of twelve stars, the Dragon only has one head rather than seven, but both can easily be identified.
To avoid being devoured, the man child was immediately caught up to heaven, apparently to protect him and give him time to mature. On the other hand, the woman flees into the wilderness to a place which God had prepared for her where she was apparently safe from the dragon. There she was nourished for 1,260 days, which amounts to three and a half years, if each year has 360 days. This prophecy may have several fulfillments: in one it might mean 1,260 years but in another it could mean just what it says: 1,260 days. For the time being let’s keep both options open.
Next we are told that at this point there was a war in heaven between the devil and Michael, the leader of God’s army. This interjection has baffled Bible scholars who have generally interpreted it as a flashback to some time before Adam and Eve where Satan was first cast down to the earth. But let’s try reading what is said. While the woman is being nourished, there is a war between God’s army and Satan’s. Michael prevails and Satan and his followers are cast down to the earth, like falling stars. This war might have had something to do with how the woman was protected for three and a half years, so she could be nourished and strengthened.
Once Satan and his army were cast down to the earth, the dragon decided to harass the woman. She was given the wings of an eagle an flew to the place prepared for her where she was nourished for time, times, and a half. That sounds a lot like one plus two plus a half or three and a half years again. Thus the war between Satan and Michael may have been during the time the woman was being protected from Satan.
Note that the constellations are not a perfect match to the woman and dragon in the prophecy. The Dragon does not have seven heads and the Maiden does not wear a crown, at least not as preserved by the ancient Greeks. Nevertheless, there are enough points of similarity as to leave no doubt that it was to these two constellations that John referred.
Presumably these details can help us identify just what is going on in the prophecy.
2. Birth of Christ
Many Christians have felt that the woman represents the Virgin Mary. That makes a lot of sense because the figure is of a virgin (Virgo) and the only bright star in the constellation (Spica) is the seed she is holding in her hand, representing her offspring. One name for the Savior Jesus Christ is the “Seed of Woman” (Gen.3:15). In my work the Virgin Mary is indeed also associated with the Maiden.
Of course the man child the Maiden delivers would then be Jesus Christ, who is destined to rule the nations with the iron rod of the word of God (1 Nephi 11:25). Moreover, Satan (the dragon) tried to devour Him right after His birth at which time she fled into the wilderness to Egypt. Indeed, in my religious chronology, the day on which Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to save Jesus from the slaughter of the infants was the day 1 Dragon on the Sacred Round calendar. Another match is that the dragon did not attempt to devour the woman, but only the child who threatened to reign. Not all details have obvious interpretations, but there seems to be enough merit in this suggestion to pursue it, especially in the light of the suggestion that this prophecy might have multiple fulfillments, whereas the Prophet Joseph may have been emphasizing the least obvious.
Many Christian researchers feel that because the constellation can represent Mary and the revelation is about her bringing forth a man child that it must be telling us that Jesus Christ was born on 1 Tishri (usually in September) in some year around 1-5 BC when most scholars believe He was born. Those who follow this line of reasoning usually conclude that Christ was born in the autumn of 2 BC because that is the only possible birth year in which the sun and moon are in the indicated locations (see Figure 4). Let us look at this possibility in more detail.
2.1 Heralding the Year
Looking at Figure 4, the year 2 BC is not only a candidate for a fulfillment of the prophecy, it is an excellent fit. The day Mon 30 Aug 2 BC on our Gregorian Calendar might very well have been the Feast of Trumpets on the calendar given to Moses to follow.
The illustration of the Maiden in Figure 4 was made according to the exact star positions as listed in star tables by the ancient Greeks. For example, the positions of the feet of the Maiden are correct, which is essential when evaluating whether or not the moon is under her feet. Note that the exact wording of the prophecy is important. For example, we may imagine that “under her feet” means what is shown in Figure 1, that the woman stands upon the moon. But in the heavens, the moon usually travels on a path below both of the Maiden’s feet, which are indicated by the stars at the ends of the stick figure legs. So even though she does not appear to be standing on the moon, the moon’s position is still an acceptable, even if not ideal, interpretation of the prophecy.
Looking at the full figure something else shows up. While there is no crown of twelve stars on the head of the Maiden as prescribed in the prophecy, there are two planets Jupiter and Mars right there in the very position on the head where a crown would be. The outer planets like Mars and Jupiter cannot stray far enough from the straight line of their path (the ecliptic) that is formed by the sun, moon and planets in the illustration and so their locations can never be at the actual top of her head. Thus, these two planets can be thought of as forming a crown for her. It is not unusual to see Mercury and Venus near the sun because they never can get very far from it. But Mars and Jupiter travel all the way around the heavens as do the sun and moon, so it is rare to have both Jupiter and Mars right at her head. Moreover, those two planets represent lower and higher priesthoods (Mars being the lower Aaronic). What were the twelve stars in the crown supposed to represent? They might well have represented the twelve apostles or twelve tribes of Israel. If so, then the crown of twelve stars might represent the same thing as a crown of two planets representing two priesthoods. Thus, this looks like an excellent candidate for the date to herald the year of the birth of Jesus Christ.
2.2 Date of the Birth
The dates of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are some of the best attested dates in all the chronology done in my work. They are witnessed by an intricate web of relationships to other key religious dates throughout history. For the purposes of this article, let it simply be noted that all of the evidence is consistent with the Savior having been born on the evening preceding Thu 6 Apr 1 BC, which was the evening of the Passover Feast. In fact, it now appears that the purpose of the Passover feast was not only to celebrate the birth of the nation of Israel at the Exodus but also the birth of Savior!
In fact, in the prophecy there is a hint of Passover being indicated for the birth. Verse 11 states that the dragon was overcome by “by the blood of the Lamb”, which could refer to two events which happened on a Passover: (1) the blood of the lamb on the door posts saved the children of Israel at the time of the Exodus at Passover and (2) the sacrifice of Christ at the Crucifixion occurred at Passover.
With that in mind, the fulfillment of this prophecy as related to the birth of Jesus Christ seems to be exactly what the symbolism of the Feast of Trumpets is all about. It is where trumpets are blown to herald a new year because for some purposes the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is the first day of the year. Thus, it is concluded that trumpets of 2 BC were announcing that this would be the year during which the Christ would born into the world.
3. Birth of Kingdom of God
Now let us look at a parallel between the birth of Jesus Christ and the birth of the Kingdom of God.
3.1 Heralding the Year
As noted above, the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible provides a huge breakthrough in interpreting this prophecy. It identifies the woman as the “Church of God” and the man child as the “Kingdom of God”. Actually, the latter was suggested in the text all along. Verse 10 states, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ”. In other words, now that the child is born, the Kingdom of God has arrived.
The phrase “Kingdom of God” has been used to refer to various concepts. During the Millennium the Savior’s kingdom will reign on earth over all nations. It will not be a church which is reigning. It is a political government (kingdom) with Jesus Christ ruling as the King of Kings (Rev. 19:16). That is what is referred to as the “Kingdom of God” in this article: it is a political government on earth, not one in heaven. It is the kingdom set up “without hands” in the dream interpreted by Daniel which will grind all other nations to powder and become a great mountain and fill the whole earth (Dan. 2:34-35). The Lord in His revelations is careful to make this distinction between the Kingdom of God as represented by the man child in this revelation and the Church which is represented by its mother. Often, to make His meaning clear, He will include the phrase “made without hands” or another allusion to Daniel.
With that in mind, in the revealed dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple in 1836, the Lord stated that the Kingdom of God had already been set up “without hands”:
Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth; — D&C 109:72.
That is a clear statement that the kingdom had already been set up (born) before that temple dedication on Sun 27 Mar 1836. A casual reading of that verse could make it sound like the Church and the Kingdom are the same, but they are not. That appears to be why the quote from Daniel about the kingdom being made without hands and filling the whole earth was included.
With that in mind, there a clear date that presents itself as a perfect fulfillment of the heavenly configuration described by John in the revelation of this prophecy. That date is the evening of Wed 26 Sep 1832 on which the Feast of Trumpets began on the Perpetual Hebrew Calendar. Days on the Hebrew Calendar begin at 6 p.m.
Let us now look in detail at the sky on the proposed date of the fulfillment of the prophecy of the woman clothed with the sun and standing on the moon. Figure 5 shows the sky as seen at that time from the location of Independence (near Kansas City), Missouri. That location was where the city of the New Jerusalem was being founded which was anticipated to become the center of the new world government, the Kingdom of God. Note that the sun is in the Maiden’s clothing. The sun only moves toward her feet by two diameters every day, so it will stay in the clothing for several days. But it must be far enough away from the moon so that the thin crescent can be seen after sunset. Notice how dim the moon is; it is extremely hard to see the crescent on the first day of a Hebrew month because it is so close to the sun and can be very low in the sky at sunset.
The moon is centered under both of her feet much better than in the example of the sign of the coming birth of Christ shown in Figure 4. This time she does indeed appear to be standing on the moon. That is very unusual because the moon wanders above or below the usual path of the planets by twenty moon diameters, so it is rarely exactly beneath her feet. The moon moves about its own diameter every hour to the left on a line with the sun, which is why the time is so precisely specified. The moon is like the fast moving second hand on the celestial clock. Less than an hour after the time of this snapshot, at 6 p.m., the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) will begin so the moon will still be close to that position. That is the day for the trumpets to herald the beginning of the new year. In this case it is announcing the year in which the Kingdom of Heaven would be born.
The big bonus is that the planet Venus, which Jesus Christ identified as representing Himself (Rev. 22:16), is right next to the star Spica. As discussed above, that is the bright star representing the Maiden’s child. In this case, it represents the man child who will rule the nations during the Millennium. Thus the planet representing Christ is a perfect fit to be located right at that spot. Having Venus be in conjunction (next to) Spica makes this a rare date indeed. It’s hard to calculate how rare, but instead of occurring once every decade, any requirement that Venus be at that location would probably cut down the frequency of this configuration down to about once in a few centuries on the average. Look back at Figure 4 to see how far the planet Venus can wander from the usual path of the planets.
As illustrated in Figure 6, each of nine key religious events in the life of Jesus Christ all occurred on a different one of the nine pairs of holy days on the Venus Calendar. Of all of the planets, Venus would probably be the best choice to represent “the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ” (Rev. 12:10). Of the nine phases of Venus, on the night of this sign the planet was in the “Birth” phase rising as an evening star (between markers 3 and 4 in Figure 6).
A repeat witness from the 2 BC event is that again there are two planets that could represent the crown of the Maiden. This time they are the planets Saturn and Mercury. While Mercury is always near the sun, the planet Saturn is only in that position about one year in thirty, so that is rare. As mentioned above in the case of Jupiter, Saturn cannot stray far enough from the ecliptic path to ever be seen up above the head of Virgo, so this position is as close as it can get to represent the crown. The fact that in both of these two apparent fulfillments (2 BC and 1832) there are two planets at the Maiden’s crown is a witness that it is not a random coincidence, but is intended to be recognized as a sign.
Considering all of these alignments together, this sign in the heavens is so rare as most likely only to occur once in history. The fact that it occurred so soon after the latter-day saints began to lay the foundation of Zion on Tue 2 Aug 1831 (DHC 1:196) is in itself amazing timing and another witness of the correctness of the date being a fulfillment of the prophecy.
3.2 Date of the Birth
The precise date of the official birth of the Kingdom is perhaps indicated by the pattern shown at the birth of Jesus Christ: it was born on the Passover following the sign of the heralding of the year.
Did anything of importance occur on Passover of the year 1833? It was indeed a date so significant that one of my earlier articles opined that if the date of the birth of the restored Church (Tue 6 Apr 1830) had not been known, that the most likely date as indicated by sacred calendars would have been Sat 6 Apr 1833, which was Passover that year. One of the reasons for that choice was that the day was both 6 Apr the day to celebrate the birth of the Savior on our calendar and also Passover, also a date to celebrate His birth. In fact, it was Passover on both the Hebrew Calendar and also the Enoch Calendar. Moreover the article in which this was discussed noted that every year is named as a day on the Enoch Calendar, and that year was PASSOVER (all capitals indicates a year). Finally, it was noted that it had been exactly 1,803 years (a “saros century”) since the beginning of the Savior’s public ministry on Sat 6 Apr 30. That is an interval in which the Hebrew Calendar exactly repeats. Thus, there was a long section in that 2002 article with little to say that actually happened on that day except that there was a general conference of the church held in Zion (Independence, Missouri).
Now the significance of that date becomes more clear. It appears now that an event occurred which was even more important than the birth of the Church. That is, the date of birth of the man child representing the Kingdom of God is of more importance than the birth of its mother, being the Church. The Prophet Joseph summarized that day by stating: “The day was spent in a very agreeable manner, in giving and receiving knowledge which appertained to this last kingdom — it being just 1800 years since the Savior laid down his life that men might have everlasting life”. He goes on to say that “they thought upon the time when this world came into existence” and “they thought of the time when Israel ate the Passover”. Moreover, he said they “felt like the shepherds who watched their flocks by night” at the birth of the Savior (DHC 1:337).
Think about the significance of what he said. First he mentioned that they talked of the “kingdom”, which is a bull’s-eye for the current proposal. Then he confirmed that it was 1800 years since the death of Christ, which exactly matches the date proposed in my work. That may not be too significant because it also matches the most popular belief at that time. But then he talked about the creation of the world. They were thinking about beginnings and this article is proposing that it was an important beginning date. And finally, he speaks of thinking about the night of the birth of Christ and that day was Passover. It is not clear that he knew from secular sources that the day was Passover, but in any case he pondered both Passover and also the birth of Christ. That is the first (implied) suggestion known to me from anyone in history that Christ was born on Passover, which is one of the cornerstones of my chronology. It was an important date indeed and the Prophet definitely either sensed or knew that.
It is true that no clear earthly record of the birth of the Kingdom of God has been brought forth in this section to prove its date of birth. But remember, this was a kingdom founded without hands! Thus, the record of heaven has been subpoenaed to testify and it’s witness is compelling when combined with that of the next two sections.
3.3 Stars Cast Down
Right in the middle of this prophecy is a rather long discussion of Satan and his angels being cast down to the earth, falling like stars from heaven (v. 4). What is all of that about? It is usually considered totally out place and ignored as part of this prophecy. It is interpreted as a flashback to the pre-existence when Satan and a third part of the hosts of heaven were cast out before Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, where Satan was allowed to tempt them.
But as stated above, prophecies can have several fulfillments. Let us suppose that the Lord did not lose his train of thought at this point and that what John saw was indeed all relevant to the prophecy. What if it actually referred to stars falling?
During the pre-dawn hours of Wed 13 Nov 1833 there occurred what was most likely the largest meteor storm ever recorded. It was seen all over the United States. The sky was so bright with bright falling stars that people were awakened believing that their house was on fire! “Meteor” is the scientific term for what are popularly called “falling stars” or “shooting stars”. They are caused when particles enter the earth’s atmosphere and brilliantly burn up from intense heat caused by friction. For comparison, on any given night there is about one falling star per hour. During a meteor shower, there are about 100 meteors per hour. When the earth’s path takes it through a huge patch of space debris left over from the head of a shattered comet, it is called a meteor storm and there can be hundreds of thousands of falling stars per hour. The meteor storm of 13 Nov 1833 lasted at least from 2 am until dawn.
Here is what the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded both of seeing and interpreting this marvelous event:
“November 13. About 4 o’clock a.m. I was awakened by Brother Davis knocking at my door, and calling me to arise and behold the signs in the heavens. I arose, and to my great joy, beheld the stars fall from heaven like a shower of hailstones; a literal fulfillment of the word of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures …
“Some at times appeared like bright shooting meteors, with long trains of light following in their course, and in numbers resembled large drops of rain in sunshine. These seemed to vanish when they fell behind the trees, or came near the ground. Some of the long trains of light following the meteoric stars, were visible for some seconds; these streaks would curl and twist up like serpents writhing. The appearance was beautiful, grand, and sublime beyond description; and it seemed as if the artillery and fireworks of eternity were set in motion to enchant and entertain the Saints, and terrify and awe the sinners of the earth. Beautiful and terrific as was the scenery, it will not fully compare with the time when the sun shall become black like sack-cloth of hair, the moon like blood, and the stars fall to the earth (Rev. 6:12-13) — DHC 1:439-440.
Note that the Prophet Joseph stated that this event was a fulfillment of the word of God in the scriptures and yet still did not compare to what would happen when the usual prophecy about the stars falling would later be fulfilled. So to what prophecy did he refer that was fulfilled? One clue that he had in mind the prophecy discussed in this article is that in his translation of the Book of Revelation he placed the appearance of the dragon after the birth of the man child. That fits with the stars falling a few months after the birth of the Kingdom of God.
The fact that this incredibly rare event occurred just a year after the sign proposed to herald the birth of the Kingdom of God highly favors the date of 1832 as being the correct date of the sign. Moreover, it occurred on the very night when many saints were fleeing from the dragon and even camping out where they would see it. It appears that the entire description in the middle of the prophecy of the stars being cast down from heaven was one way to indicate exactly which date is correct of the many choices throughout history for the fulfillment of this prophecy.
3.4 Nourished for 3.5 Years
The prophecy states that when the dragon attempted to devour her child, that the woman fled into the wilderness to a place God had prepared for her. There she stayed for three and a half years where she was nourished and apparently protected from the dragon. After that time, when she was strong enough to survive it, the wrath of the dragon was unleashed upon her.
It turns out that all of these details have an exact correspondence to early LDS Church history.
First of all, the word “wilderness” in the prophecy may be a big clue. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden into the “wilderness”. On Tue 2 Aug 1831 the Prophet Joseph Smith began to found Zion near Independence, Missouri. He also stated that the location of the original Garden of Eden had been near there. This is where the Kingdom of God would be centered, to rule the nations with the iron rod. That is, he was apparently laying the foundation for the Kingdom of God in Independence, Missouri. If so, that would be the expected place for the later birth of the Kingdom of God, which would be not in the “wilderness”, but would be in Zion.
Immediately after the Sat 6 Apr 1833 birth of the Kingdom of God in Zion, on Thu 18 Apr 1833 mobs began to meet to plan how to expel the Mormons from Missouri. Talk about the dragon being there waiting to devour the infant just after his birth! Then on Tue 23 Jul 1833 a mob forced the saints to sign an agreement that they would be out the state by the end of that year. The persecution kept mounting and by November many were fleeing mobs. On the night of 12-13 Nov 1833, the Night the Stars Fell, many of the saints were sleeping outdoors on the banks of the Missouri River, having just crossed it to safety.
Think about that. On the very night that several hundred saints were being driven out of Missouri, the sign was given which appears to be the very one predicted in the prophecy in Revelation. They were fleeing out the Garden of Eden area into “the wilderness”. Was this not the woman fleeing? And whither into the wilderness did the Church of God flee? She fled to a place which God had prepared for her in Kirtland, Ohio.
There the Church was nourished for about three and a half years. Previously, on Sun 11 Sep 1831 the Lord had declared that Kirtland would be a “strong hold” of the church for five years (D&C 64:21). That period would end in Sep 1836. As persecution mounted in Missouri there were three and a half of those five years left. During that time there was no persecution there and most of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were given before that period ended (111 of 138). It culminated with the dedication and acceptance by the Lord of the Kirtland temple.
One interesting confirmation of this proposed scenario is that in the dedicatory prayer on the Kirtland temple, it was mentioned that the Church there in Kirtland was indeed in the “wilderness” (D&C 109:73)
The Prophet Joseph commented that Satan would not be allowed to tempt them during that time but added, however, that soon after that Satan would be loosed. After the dedication of the temple, Daniel Tyler recorded:
All felt that they had a foretaste of heaven. In fact, there were several weeks in which we were not tempted of the devil; and we wondered whether the millennium had commenced…. the Prophet Joseph … said: “Brethren, for some time Satan has not had power to tempt you. Some have thought that there would be no more temptation. But the opposite is true, and unless you draw near to the Lord you will be overcome and apostatize.”
Think about that. During how many periods of history can it truly be said that Satan had no power to tempt someone? The fact that his statement matches exactly the proposed 3.5 year period during which the Bible states that the woman would be protected from Satan is a huge confirmation that the proposed dates are correct.
In all of my research, the period of 3.5 years usually has a special meaning. It often refers to the period of 11 cycles of the planet Mercury, usually counted between holy days, as was true of the the 3.5 years of the Lord’s mortal ministry. A period of 1,260 days equals 42 months of 30 days. All twelve months on the Enoch Calendar have 30 days. It also has 4 extra days which are not to be counted in many calculations (Enoch 74:2), so it is a likely candidate to be the implied calendar. A search for dates which are holy days on both the Mercury Calendar and also on the Enoch or Uniform Enoch Calendars yield two dates separated by 3.5 years to mark what might be called the “Golden Age” of Kirtland. The opening date is the morning of Sun 12 May 1833. That day was 1 Storm (Sacred Round), 1 Fulness (Mercury), 1 Summer (U. Enoch), and the day of the star representing Perseus (Star Calendar), which in turn represents Joseph Smith. The date of 1 Fulness also seems symbolic as it represents the Fulness of the Priesthood which had to have been restored before the Kingdom of God could have been born. If so, the Golden Age ended on the morning of Sun 6 Nov 1836, which was 1 Reed (SR), 1 Fulness (M), 1 Winter (UE). It was also the date of the star named “Wanting” which is in the higher tray of the scale of the Balance (Libra), meaning man was weighed in the balance and found wanting (Dan. 5:27). That is exactly 1,260 counted days in the 42 months and also exactly 3.5 years on the Uniform Enoch Calendar. The two stars which begin and end the interval seem perfectly chosen.
Early in 1837 all the forces of hell broke loose in Kirtland. Hundreds apostatized from the church and by January 1838 the Prophet Joseph and those who still believed he was a prophet fled for their lives from Kirtland, Ohio, to Far West, Missouri. By April 1838, all of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon and half of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles had been excommunicated. The Church barely survived even though it had had all that time to be nourished and strengthened.
That LDS history matches the revelation perfectly. The woman was nourished out of the reach of Satan for 3.5 years. Then when she was strong enough not to totally succumb, Satan was released. So what power had been binding Satan? That might well have been the war between Michael and Satan mentioned in the prophecy.
Thus, many details of LDS Church history match precise events mentioned in the prophecy including the Night the Stars Fell and a 3.5-year Golden Age of the Church in Kirtland after which the dragon was allowed to attack it. Details of just how and when the newborn but elusive Kingdom of God was taken to heaven are not clear at this time.
4. 2017: Heralding Rebirth?
Several Christian ministers have been popularizing the importance of what appears to be a fulfillment of this prophecy of the woman and the dragon next year on Sat 23 Sep 2017. After the 1832 fulfillment date was discovered in my work just last month, it seemed like due diligence to investigate just what was being said about 2017. Articles were found on the Internet dating back to 2012 so that discovery has been known for some time.
To my surprise, the date looks every bit as good as 1832, or even better. It looks to be a repeat with a few things added. Figure 7 show the sky map for that day derived from one of the many versions on the Internet. The main difference between it and 1832 is that Jupiter is in the place of Venus. That seems about as good as Venus and the only other planet that would make sense in that position of representing the Kingdom of God being born. Venus was appropriate because it represents Christ who comes to reign as King. The planet Jupiter, however, also is a great choice because Jupiter represents both God the Father and also is the King planet. We are talking about the birth of the Kingdom of God, and Jupiter is both king and God, so that is a match also.
The feature that makes this configuration even appear better than 1832 is what happens for the ten months before this date, starting now. The planet Jupiter takes about twelve years to orbit the sun, so it spends about one year in each of the twelve zodiac constellations. But it does not just go straight around on the ecliptic circle. It actually makes a loop in each one of the constellations for about 9-10 months and then races on to the next, mostly hidden in the sunlight. Figure 8 shows why the outer planets (farther from the sun than the earth) appear to loop in the sky as the earth passes them. The effect is that in the night sky the planet seems to be stuck in one constellation most of the year and then disappears into the sunset. When it reappears again in the dawn sky it has almost magically jumped to the next constellation where it again begins the next loop.
Guess where Jupiter spends it ten-month loop in 2017? It is in the womb of the Maiden! Clicking on Figure 7 to enlarge it shows the position of Jupiter in the ten months from Nov 2016 to Aug 2017. Right now at the beginning of Nov 2016 it has recently reappeared in the morning sky. Each night it will rise earlier during this gestation period until it begins rising in the daytime and setting in the evening. By next September it will having finished looping in that area and before it sets in the west at sunset it will have reached its birthing position. After that Jupiter will begin to race toward the Balance (Libra). Thus, in September it moves rapidly to the position of leaving the womb and being born. That is really a great visual effect; it would be tough to ask for more dramatic symbolism of the birth of her son.
One point shown in Figure 7 is that it was felt necessary to actually find twelve stars to form a crown for the Maiden. To me it was too much of a stretch of the imagination to use all of the bright stars in the Lion (Leo) to form this crown along with three planets. It is noted, however, that all three of the fulfillments of the heavenly configurations discussed herein have at least one planet at the position of the top of the Maiden’s head, which most likely represents a crown (in this case the planet Mercury). Nevertheless, Figure 7 is included so the reader can decide if the 12-star crown was really implied or not.
It seemed necessary to make my own illustration of these planetary positions, partly to emphasize the importance of drawing the constellations accurately. The Internet illustration in Figure 7 shows the moon well below the feet of the Maiden, but if she were seen as standing then the moon would be off to her side. The positions of her feet are not correct in that illustration; her left foot is where her right foot should be. Figure 9, my illustration, shows the correct positions of her feet as indicated by the stars at the end of her stick figure legs. In that illustration at 5:20 pm in Jerusalem, the moon is directly below both of her feet, just as it was in 1832. The moon can move far above and far below the ecliptic, so that alignment of the moon is an important clue to the prophecy fulfillment. Thus the position is much better than has been popularly understood.
There is another point in favor of this date. Previous articles by others about this 2017 date have pointed out that according to the traditional Hebrew Calendar that the day Sat 23 Sep 2017 is the day 3 Tishri, rather than 1 Tishri the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). If that were all we knew, to me that could disqualify the date because the whole idea of the sign is about trumpeting the importance of an event coming during that following year. In all of my work, sacred events happen on the exact day on which they are meaningful.
Early in my work it became clear that there are problems with the traditional Hebrew calendar. Sometimes it is one or two days off and sometimes an entire month off. Thus it was necessary to correct it with what is called the Perpetual Hebrew Calendar. That seems to be a calendar which God is using. On that calendar, the day Sat 23 Sep 2017 is indeed the Feast of Trumpets!
There is another point which adds to the importance of this date. Considering that day on the array of sacred calendars discovered in my work shows that on those calendars the afternoon of Sat 23 Sep 2017 is the holiest day of the entire year of 2017. It is holy on nine separate calendars as listed in Figure 9. Another day of likely significance is the following day. Sun 24 Sep 2017 is 1 Summer on the Uniform Enoch Calendar (where Summer can start during any actual season) and it is also the day 1 Storm on the Sacred Round. That is the same combination of days which was proposed to be the start of the 3.5 year interval of the Church fleeing into the wilderness on Sun 12 May 1833. The 2017 date is also the day 1 Lord on the Mercury Calendar, starting a 3.5 year sacred interval pattern for Mercury just as in 1833.
Another possible sign next year is the total eclipse of the sun on Mon 21 Aug 2017 in a narrow path across the entire United States. The last such eclipse visible in the U.S. was in 1979, so they are not common in any given location. Moreover they are spectacular because the sky becomes so dark that stars appear, but only if observed in the path of totality, shown in Figure 10. The reason this is being mentioned here is that path crosses the city of Independence, Missouri, the location where the Kingdom of God was apparently born in 1833. The meaning of the eclipse is not obvious to me.
Note that in all of these signs, nothing of note occurred on the days on which the signs were seen in the heavens. In every case they were foreshadowing things to come. In all of my articles, no predictions of what would happen on any future date have been made; it has been enough to analyze the past. But when one has a calendar one can say what a future date will be and calculations can predict where the sun, moon, and planets will be on that date. All that is being said here is that in 2017 it truly appears that those celestial bodies will be in positions that seem to perfectly fulfill the stipulations of the prophecy. As in the other occurrences, it is not expected that anything else unusual will happen on that day. Any implications about the future are derived only from the prophecy itself and comparison to the earlier apparent fulfillments.
So what about the rest of the prophecy of the dragon spitting out a huge flood to destroy the woman and the earth swallowing it up to save her? If the three interpretations suggested in this article are correct, then it would be at this next fulfillment in 2017 where the woman is given eagle wings to fly to safety in the wilderness. If that is the case, then the last part of this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. The important point is that in spite of every effort of the dragon, those who repent and come unto Christ to become part of His Church will be saved (D&C 10:67).
Three possible fulfillments are proposed of the prophecy in Rev. 12 of the woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet who delivers a man child whom a dragon wants to devour. Each of those corresponds to configurations of the sun and moon in those locations in the constellation of the Maiden (Virgo) on the Feast of Trumpets: one in 2 BC, one in 1832 and one in 2017. In the first the woman represents the Virgin Mary, her son is Jesus Christ and the attempt of the dragon is the slaughter of the infants. The sign is understood as heralding the birth of the Savior on the following Passover.
The second proposed date is a perfect fit because the planet Venus, which is identified with Christ, is near Spica, the star representing the son of the Maiden. Moreover Venus is in the “Birth” phase of its cycle. And finally, there are two planets located near her head where the prophecy says there should be a crown of stars. The event being heralded by this sign is the birth of the political Kingdom of God on the following Passover. The inclusion in the prophecy of the dragon casting down the stars of heaven shortly thereafter is identified with the Night the Stars Fell in Nov 1833.
Finally, on Sat 23 Sep 2017 there will be a similar fulfillment to that of 1832 with the planet Jupiter being “born” of the woman after a 10 month gestation period in her womb. That is especially interesting because again there is a planet at her crown and it also occurs on a holy day on nine sacred calendars, the most for any day in 2017. The meaning of this sign is not clear to me, but it is noted that the Kingdom of God was taken to heaven shortly after birth, so this sign might herald some sort of return or rebirth of the Kingdom of God.
- The day of the year on which the sun appears at any given position in a constellation changes by about one day every 72 years due to precession of the equinoxes. Thus, after 2,016 years the sun appears there later by 2016/72 = 28 days.
- In Joseph Smith’s inspired interpretation it has been changed to read “1,260 years”.
- Pratt, John P., “The Virgin Mary’s Birth and Death Dates” (6 Feb 2014), Section 3.1 Mary’s Constellations: The Virgin.
- Pratt, John P., “Venus Testifies of Christ” Meridian Magazine (10 Feb 2010), Section 2.2 The Trip to Egypt.
- The basic illustrations of celestial positions in Figures 4, 5, and 9 were created by the Starry Night Pro proram.
- On the former Julian Calendar used by historians this day would be called Mon 1 Sep 2 BC. On the Perpetual Hebrew Calendar developed in my work that day was 1 Elul, exactly one month before 1 Tishri, the Feast of Trumpets. Hopefully an article will be posted soon on my website explaining that the calendar used by Moses was not identical to the Hebrew Calendar, which could explain why Jesus ate the Passover (Last Supper) on Thursday night and yet He was sacrificed Friday with the Passover lambs which would be eaten at the Judean Passover meal on Friday night. Both calendars have their purpose, and this is another example. This information is actually buried in footnotes 12 & 13 of my first article in 1985 where the Mosaic Calendar is called the Galilean Calendar.
- It was the time of the Passover Feast on the Perpetual Hebrew Calendar. It may or may not have been when the Judeans celebrated that feast, but if it was, it would certainly explain why the inn had no room because all of Israel was supposed to gather at Jerusalem, just a few miles from Bethlehem, for that feast. The suggestion that one purpose of the feast was to celebrate Christ’s birth is proposed in my article “Passover: Was it Symbolic of His Coming?” The Ensign 24, 1 (Jan, 1994), pp 38-45.
- Thanks to Kamryn Fenn for suggesting this interpretation.
- This verse was noted and the suggestion that this prophecy was fulfilled sometime between 1831 and 1836 was made by OneWhoIsWatching in Solving the Prophet Puzzle, (2015), Chapter 9: The Church of God Brings Forth the Kingdom of God, pp. 157-176.
- Again we see the importance of having the correct calendar. On the traditional Hebrew Calendar, the day just beginning in the evening would have been 3 Tishri, not 1 Tishri.
- Pratt, John P., “Venus Calendar Patterns Testify of Scriptures” (26 April 2013), Section 2.1 Life of Christ.
- Pratt, John P., “Enoch Calendar: Another Witness of the Restoration” Meridian Magazine (5 Aug 2002), Section 1.3 Passover Meditation: Sat 6 Apr 1833, 14 Spr 14 SPR. For a discussion of the saros, see “The Saros“, Ensign vol. 15, No. 7 (July 1985), p. 63. A saros century is 658,532 days.
- For several more accounts from LDS members and others, see Pratt, John P., “Spectacular Meteor Shower Might Repeat” Meridian Magazine (15 Oct 1999).
- “The group on this date constitutes the first organized resistance to the Mormons in Missouri.” See J. Christopher Conkling, A Joseph Smith Chronology (SLC, Utah: Deseret Book, 1979), p. 41.
- Tyler, Daniel, “Incidents of Experience” in Scraps of Biography (1883), pp. 32-33, quoted in Teachings of Presidents of Church: Joseph Smith (SLC, UT: LDS Church, 2007), Chap. 27, p. 315, quoted in Solving the Prophet Puzzle, p. 171.
- Pratt, John P., “Uniform Hebrew Calendar Witnesses Sacred Events” (2 Dec 2014), Section 2.4: High Priests.
- It was not obvious in my research exactly who first announced this celestial alignment, but Scott Clarke seems to have been one of the first in 2011. His website at ERF Ministries claims he is “the discoverer himself.”
- The path of totality between Oregon and South Carolina is shown in detail at “The Path Through the United States“.