From time to time, sensational claims hit the media that the world will end, or the Rapture will come, because of some supposed coming event. Now CMI is not an end-times ministry, for reasons stated in End-times and Early-times, so what follows is not specific to any eschatological view. In general, one wonders what part of the following words of Jesus are so hard to understand:
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36).
Second, the moon would ‘turn to blood’, supposedly a reference to Joel 2:31:
The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
However, although explaining what this verse means is outside the scope of our ministry, it does seem to be a relatively common and temporary natural phenomenon.
The moon turning red during a total lunar eclipse is well known, and a natural physical phenomenon. The earth itself blocks the sun’s light, but some light is bent through the atmosphere and reaches the moon. But blue light is scattered away, leaving red light to shine on the moon.
Similarly, the sun darkening is probably not a total solar eclipse, like one due in many parts of the USA on 21 August. This happens when the moon blocks the sun in an almost perfect fit, because by an amazing coincidence, the sun is both ~400 larger and ~400 times more distant.
Note also, there is no way that a solar and lunar eclipse can occur together. It’s just not possible both for the moon to be between the sun and earth, and the earth to be between the sun and moon; they are at opposite points in the moon’s orbit around the earth.
So what actually happened after the fourth ‘blood moon’? Nothing memorable of course.
The sun in Virgo?
On 23 September, there is supposed to be a sign that matches Revelation 12:1–2:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.
So what would the woman be? Apparently Virgo, the virgin, the second-largest constellation by area in the sky (after Hydra). However, there is no historical relation between the constellation and the virgin Mary or any other biblical woman until the Middle Ages. Long before that time, the Greeks and Romans mostly identified the constellation with Demeter/Ceres, the goddess of harvest. Other candidates include the Roman virgin goddess of justice, Justitia; or the Greek virgin goddess of purity, Astraea. So there is no indication that the writer of Revelation had this constellation in mind. So we don’t agree with ‘Gospel in the stars’ ideas for that reason, also because of its implicit denial of the sufficiency of Scripture.
The above should be enough to exercise proper biblical discernment, but what about other claims? First, the sun will be in Virgo. But since Virgo is part of the Zodiac, this happens once per year by definition—the sun spends about a month ‘in’ each of the 12 signs! The Zodiac is the sky around the ecliptic, the apparent path the sun traces in the sky, or under the correct geokinetic model, the plane of the earth’s orbit around the sun.
Another supposed sign is the moon at the ‘feet’ of Virgo. But since the moon orbits the earth once per month, and the sun ‘stays’ a month ‘in’ each it’s not surprising that one or two days every year, both the sun and moon will be ‘in’ Virgo.
Yet another sign is supposed to be the largest planet, Jupiter, ‘in’ Virgo. Supposedly Jupiter is to represent the Messiah, the King of Kings, although historically Jupiter was the pagan Roman king of the gods; the equivalent of the Greek Zeus. Also, since Jupiter orbits the sun every 12 years, it spends a year ‘in’ each sign. Therefore at 12-year intervals, the sun, moon, and Jupiter will all be in Virgo—2005, 1993, 1971 …. But there was no YouTube to sensationalize the claims until 2005.
Still another ‘sign’ involves the constellation Leo. This has several bright stars, so is quite prominent. Some claim that this is a sign of “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” who is also a Lamb (Revelation 5:5–6, cf. Genesis 49:9–10). But historically, Leo was a bad thing: the vicious Nemean Lion with its skin that arrows and spears couldn’t penetrate. Slaying this beast was the first of the “12 Labours of Heracles/Hercules”. This is the sign preceding Virgo in the Zodiac, and is above the ‘head’ of the ‘virgin’ so the sun will always go through Leo before it passes through Virgo.
Supposedly the clincher is three planets also in Leo: Mercury, Venus, and Mars. The word ‘planet’ comes from the Greek astēr planētēs (αστήρ πλανήτης) meaning ‘wandering star’, so these three ‘stars’ added to the nine of Leo make 12 of a ‘crown’. Point proven? Not really. Because the constellations are man-made groupings (invented by pagans!), the number of stars is not definite. The claimed nine are the brightest that make the outline of the lion. But some depictions have extra stars, e.g. omicron Leonis, rho Leonis, and sigma Leonis to make three of the lion’s feet. So as usual with any astrology (or Christian adaptations of it), one cherry-picks the stars that fit the desired conclusion.
Also, how rare is this planetary coincidence? Certainly once-in-a-lifetime, but not as rare as the sensationalists claim. It has happened four times before in the last millennium: the Septembers of 1827, 1483, 1293, and 1056.1 One might find momentous happenings at those time if you research carefully, but none are connected to biblical prophecy: unless you seriously believe the Mormonism founder Joseph Smith’s claim (made 11 years after the ‘fact’) that he found the magic golden plates on 22 September 1827 after being led to them by the angel Moroni. And even this cult leader didn’t make any astrological claims about Virgo.
There is nothing to suggest that 23 September is a momentous date for biblical prophecy, and Christians need to be careful about being drawn into such sensationalist claims. Also, the world won’t end in a ‘heat death’ (total thermodynamic equilibrium) as evolutionists predict. Rather, as pointed out at the beginning, we won’t know the day or the hour—so we should be prepared at all times!
References and notes
Graney, C.M., Biblical signs in the sky? earthsky.org, 31 May 2017. Return to text.
Graney, C.M., Biblical signs in the sky? earthsky.org, 31 May 2017.
Thank you for this article. We have more prophets today than in the course of history. God’s word is very clear on this as he says divination, which this is, is an abomination to Him. It just makes people focus on these so-called prophets and is money-making and sensationalism, to say the least.
Sami L., Finland, 27 June 2017
It is good that you at the same time warn Christians going after these things and open discussion about the coming return of Jesus, as a reminder for all of us. Isn’t the idea of Zodiac anyway much older than from Roman period and Romans just modified the old idea to their own use?
N. L., United Kingdom, 27 June 2017
There are several versions of this. I was present at the house of some people whilst they were making a video / DVD about this called Signs in the Heavens. The young lady in question said she discovered the pattern of events whilst working on a PhD in Astronomy / Astrophysics. However, they believed it pointed to the start of the Tribulation, and also that they were careful to point out that they weren’t saying that it meant it would start then, only that it was a warning that it was near. From what I recall, they had some additional details which meant that they thought this particular exact configuration was especially unique. However, I am aware there are all sorts of other variations out there, as you describe.
Bill P., United States, 27 June 2017
You guys are spot on. I also find it hard to understand why those who say they believe the Gospel (mind you I’m not doubting their faith) have a hard time remembering Jesus’s Words about that day and hour. I will say this when studying The Word of God and end time events The Lord does seem to be setting things up to fulfill His Will just before His return. No doubt about that in my mind what so ever. Sadly claiming a day for the date of His return gives this world another reason to mock God and those who truly trust and believe in Him. I would love for it to be Sept. 23, this year, for that matter even now as I type this would be fine with me.
The father of all lies is clever knowing his time is short and I’m sure using this to cause division in the church. If that comes to pass (division) I pray that all sides will get together open The Word of God and study what The Lord has to clearly say about this matter and all sides come to a peaceful conclusion regarding this subject or anything else that might cause a division within the church.
Please, my brothers and sisters in these last days use The Word of God in truth to settle debates, loving one another as The Lord commanded us to do on the night He was betrayed, let the world see our love for one another in the church that we belong to Him. It will bring Glory to His Name before the eyes of the world even those who hate Him will be without excuse, and if they still mock Him it will be their folly not our folly. I’m glad you guys addressed this I’ve been seeing some bad debate between many who claim faith in Him, and it’s sad to see, and joy to those who love this world.
Lester V., United States, 27 June 2017
There is a logical explanation for the statement Jesus made about no one knowing the “day and hour” of His return. If Jesus had said, “I am going to return on September 23rd, 2017, at 9 o’clock in the morning,” His prophecy would be correct and accurate for only ONE time zone in the world. In every other time zone, the "hour” would be different, and on the other side of the International Date Line, the "day” would also be different. Since His return would impact the entire globe, it would take place at night in some areas, and in daytime in others. No difficulty!
As for the comment, “the constellations are man-made groupings (invented by pagans!)”, I find it hard to believe that it true. Genesis 1:14–19 says that God is the One who put the stars in their place, including in constellations I challenge any “sky-watcher” to look at the night sky, without any “map” of the constellations to refer to, and do a dot-to-dot drawing to connect groups of stars into the images in the zodiac. I would find it much easier to believe that, like the various Flood legends around the world, the pagan cultures didn't make up the constellations, but distorted and perverted what God did originally. The Bible is conspicuous in its lack of pagan inputs, being God's Word instead of merely repeating pagan legends, and yet it does mention a number of constellations. That seems to indicate that God created and designed the constellations, and they were not invented by pagans. That said, I do not necessarily accept the whole “gospel in the stars” idea, although I am not going to “put God in a box” and say that He couldn't or wouldn't have done that. After all, He is God, and can do anything He wants to do.
Jonathan Sarfati responds
I don’t see the problem. Jesus could have used the hour in, say, Jerusalem, and people in different parts of the world could make appropriate adjustments. No, He was making it clear that we shouldn't be trying to outdo Him in setting dates for His return!
Indeed stars are signs, but it doesn’t entail that constellations are anything other than man-made groupings based on line-of-sight. Stars in many constellations are actually very far from each other and just look close together, while other ‘stars’ look single but are really binary or multiple star systems. There is nothing wrong with using the constellations for identification purposes, as indeed the Bible does, without thinking anything more of them.
It’s not a matter of putting “God in a box”, but believing what He has revealed in His written word, which is both inerrant and sufficient.
Tommy S., United States, 27 June 2017
"The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
However, although explaining what this verse means is outside the scope of our ministry, it does seem to be a relatively common and temporary natural phenomenon."
Actually, why is there any reason to think a red moon, which is a common phenomenon, has anything to do with the moon turning to blood as the scriptures say? Obviously, the moon turning to blood in Revelation is a unique, supernatural event and not a common occurrence. Thus, it seems obvious to me that this "blood" moon is far more than the moon simply changing a slight shade of red. The event in Revelation is unique, spectacular, and certainly will be awesome and perhaps even dreadful. A moon turned slightly red is none of those things.
"And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth."
This is obviously a representation of the nation of Israel as is clearly discerned from the following scripture regarding Joseph's dream:
Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?"
And, by the way, astrology for prophetic purposes is forbidden by scripture. Stars can be used for telling times and seasons, but no more.
Phil K., United States, 27 June 2017
“One would think that the doomsayers would give up …” I don’t think that’s the point. I think they believe they have special hidden knowledge and this makes them special because they discovered it. They will never “give up” because they will always be with us. Goodness, it even happens in politics when enlightened individuals discover hidden knowledge in the parsing of the words of a government figure. … I would consider this a “feature” of human nature.
Michael B., United States, 28 June 2017
Over the years I’ve had a number of persons ask me about what I thought of whatever ‘end of the world’ buzz was the talk of the time.
My response is “everyone has an end to their world; what if yours was today?”
I really don’t like when these come into the public arena because it fuels the scoffers; however since they do happen take advantage of the openings that are created as these things have opened many people up to introspection and discussion.
Then you can draw them away from the nonsensical predictions and bring them to earth with the reality of our mortality and the need of a Savior.
Matthew B., Canada, 2 July 2017
Thanks for writing this article on an end-of-the-world speculation that has grabbed more attention than some. Jesus not only said that no man can know the day or the hour, but also that He could return at any time. We need to remember that no amount of knowledge will allow us to get around the fact of imminency.
The “gospel in the stars” idea seems to come from cherry-picked data. Thanks for indirectly linking to another article: “Constellations: legacy of the dispersion from Babel”. I found the collection of data about the constellations very interesting. Not only do the ancient constellations fit with the latitude of Babel (between 30 and 40 degrees, depending on where one places Shinar), but they apparently date from c. 2200 BC, when the tower of Babel was built.
Stephen T., Singapore, 7 July 2017
Matthew 24:36 was made by Jesus, while He was still in human form with some restriction on His deity power, before His death & resurrection. Also in the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed to be relived of His coming death even though as God He knew His death was given. However in Revelation, after His resurrection, He was already in heaven with God & His power was restored & He Himself gave the final prophesy to John to the readers of the heavenly signs of His returns, especially the rapture in Revelation 12:1–2 and in Revelation 22:10 not to seal up this prophesy, unlike in Daniel. Also the secular organisation, NASA confirms that Revelation 12:1–2 will take place on 23 Sept 2017. The TORAcode also confirms this in Sept 2017. With three witnesses, it simply cannot be wrong, agree?
Yes I believe the world will end for some people. The question is are you ready? Have you accepted Jesus Christ. It’s not a question of when, but are you prepared for that moment when your life will end. We know not the date or the hour will be our last breath.
Kahindo Yolande K., Canada, 7 July 2017
It is amazing how the people are drawn into the world. God is strict on mediums and even Christians are letting astronomers be their mediums, but we all know Christ our Lord and Saviour is the only medium God gave to us. From the Bible, 1 Samuel 28, Saul consults mediums and we later see how this annoyed God and was also one of the reasons God killed Saul. CHRIST made it clear that no one knows the day or the hour, it is the solid truth.
Just a few thoughts. As a Christian I do believe that God gives us signs. I completely agree that the September 23rd event is not the end of the earth, or the return of Christ. However, I already believe and teach that the Church is living in the “last days”. Therefore, I can believe that September 23rd could very well be a sign to remind the church that we are getting closer to the return of the Messiah. Such a sign should only inspire me to do what we're called to do; share the Gospel. I also believe that the church is encouraged to be awake and not caught off guard as the world will be when Jesus returns. There is scripture that indicates that the Church will recognize that Jesus is “at the door”. Scripture used to say that we won't know also says that Jesus won't know. Well, ok … but I’m confident that Jesus will know when it is time for Him to leave heaven and come to earth. Hence, I believe the bride will recognize that the Groom is at the door. On the Tetrads. The day Jesus died there was both a lunar and solar eclipse. This cannot be explained by predicable celestial events. It was truly a supernatural event! In a nutshell, September 23rd will come and go, and Christians should only continue to seek God'’s will to share the Gospel with the lost. Just a few thoughts! Blessing in Christ. Tim.
The day Jesus died was Passover. There is always a full moon on Passover. Always. As you know, you require a full moon to have a lunar eclipse. However, the day Jesus died there was an eclipse of the sun. Or at least the sun was covered and there was darkness for three hours during the middle of the day. Thus it was a supernatural occurrence. In the book of Revelation we have scripture that reveals that the sun will be eclipsed by a massive angel. We may not know what covered the sun the day Jesus died but we do know that a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse could not occur on the same day.