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An Extraordinary Convergence

There seems to be a popular idea going around that the planets and constellations can be re-interpreted to tell the Gospel story. I know that some people go further and claim that since the movements of the planets are ordained by God then they too are used by Him. Here are some of the verses that people use to back up these kind of claims:
  • The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
  • Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years. Genesis 1:14.

Of course the Bible warns against astrology - against reading too much into what the exact positions of planets may mean:

  • And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. Deuteronomy 4:19
  • All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Isaiah 47:13-14
Now I don't hold a strong view on a Gospel in the stars idea, but I do find artistic value in a stellar convergence that will take place in 2017 as well as an apparent convergence of events that also points to 2017. What follows are some statements of facts concerning a convergence of planets, followed by a review of a convergence of some historical events, and then a brief conclusion.

A Convergence of Planets

On September 23rd, 2017, the position of the sun, moon and four of the five visible planets will form a pattern in the sky that appears to act out this verse in Revelation 13:
  • A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Revelation 12:1-2.
Revelation 13:1

The above is a graphic produced by the Stellarium astronomy program*. If the heavens were to put on a show to act out this verse in Revelation literally, then it would be hard to do better. Points to note:
  • Virgo (The Maiden) is one of the 12 constellations of the Zodiac. It is the only one depicted by a woman.
  • The moon has just passed through the constellation - it's at the feet of Virgo in all artistic interpretations as far as I can see.
  • The Sun is in the constellation Virgo clothing it with light. 
  • Jupiter is passing Spica - the brightest star in the constellation. If you were looking for birth to be acted out, then it is in the right position. With Jupiter being the king planet, this is acting out the birth of a king.
  • The crown of 12 stars is illustrated by the 9 stars of the constellation Leo that are at the woman's head, and 3 planets that are all in Leo.
So all the visible planets, Sun and Moon are in the play except Saturn which is in Scorpio (The Scorpion). As an aside Scorpio is separated from Virgo only by the constellation Libra (The Scales). As homework you can read the rest of Revelation 13 and see if and how this imagery applies further.

The first key question for me is how often this kind of pattern emerges. After all the Sun is in the same position every year, and the Moon the same position every month. Jupiter is in the same position every 10 years or so. Also Mercury and Venus are often close to the sun, so perhaps this kind of pattern isn't that unique. If it's not unique then this is just a bit of fun. 

Now I am not one to spend hours in front of a computer program and go crosseyed looking for this kind of pattern through 1000s of years. As a programmer I needed a more systematic method of answering the question. So I obtained the mathematical equations that governed the positions of the Sun, the Moon and the planets and promptly wrote some software to help with the search. I was looking for a pattern in the sky that could act out this verse in Revelation - that the Moon and Jupiter were close to the above depicted positions - that the Sun was in Virgo, and that there were 3 planets in or close to Leo.

The search was conducted from 6000BC to 4000AD. Over these 10,000 years the number of times this pattern or something close to it shows up is 17. I then looked at each pattern in an astronomy program* and discounted 8 leaving the following 9:
  • 4710 BC - Good match. Mercury rather than Saturn not in Leo, and Mercury is close to the Sun in Virgo.
  • 3915 BC - Identical pattern compared to that in 2017, except Mars rather than Saturn is not one of the three in Leo, and Mars is in Pisces whereas Saturn will be in Scorpio in 2017. 
  • 3856 BC - Good match. Mars, Saturn and Venus make a close triple conjunction in Leo. Mercury is close to the Sun in Virgo.
  • 3666 BC - Good match. Like in 2017 Saturn not part of the act and is in Sagittarius (The Archer).
  • 3239 BC - Good match. Again Mercury rather than Saturn is not in Leo, and instead is close to the Sun in Virgo.
  • 2705 BC - Good match. Like in 2017 Saturn not part of the act but this time is right next to the Sun in Virgo.
  • 1851 BC - Identical pattern compared to that in 2017, except Saturn is has just passed from Leo to Virgo and is very close to the Sun. So all 5 planets are in the act, and Saturn is either hidden in the Suns glare or could be a 13th star around the head of Virgo (which would discount it). 
  • 356 AD - Good match. Again Mercury rather than Saturn is not in Leo. It is in Virgo but close to the Moon.
  • 2017 AD - Ideal. The pattern against we compare all the others..
In summary this pattern is rare - it has only occurred twice in the last 4500 years and except for 2017 will not occur again until well after 4000AD. I looked on and there's a close match 4306AD but would be discounted. If Saturn being in Scorpio is important then it's unique over this 10,000 year search period.

For reference if you want to check, all patterns occur in August or September when the Sun is in Virgo. Years with patterns close but not matching were:  4947, 2278, 2029, 1234, 997BC and 629, 1056, and 2444AD.

A Convergence of Events

But this is not all. Lets start with a brief review of some historical highlights that impact the existence of the nation of Israel.
  • 1897
    • 8/29/1897 - First Zionist Congress takes place in Switzerland. This was a symbolic parliament for Jews with the desire for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It formed the Zionist platform, where "Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law. "
  • 1917
    • 11/2/1917 - The Balfour Declaration published. This is a letter from the British government to the British Jewish community. In it is says "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object"
    • 12/9/1917 -  Turks surrendered Jerusalem to the British. On 11 December, two days after the official surrender, it is recorded that General Allenby made his formal entry into Jerusalem on foot through the Jaffa gate to show his great respect for the holy place.
  • 1918
    • 10/31/1918 - Armistice formally bringing all of Palestine under British military rule.
  • 1922
    • 07/24/1922 - The British mandate for Palestine formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations which legalized the temporary rule of Palestine by Great Britain. The mandate ended at midnight on 14 May 1948.
  • 1947
    • 11/29/1947 - UN general assembly resolution 181 called for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. It was approved - 33 votes in favor, 13 against, 10 abstentions and one absent.
  • 1948
    • 5/14/1948 - Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel read and signed. British forces leave and immediately five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded Israel. In the end Israel prevailed and signed various armistice agreements with the aggressors between February 24 and July 20 1949.
  • 1967
    • 6/5/1967 - Start of six day war.
    • 6/7/1967 - Old city captured. At the Western Wall a rams horn (shofar) was blown to celebrate the event.
    • 6/10/1967 - Ceasefire agreed. Israel has held the West Bank and Gaza strip ever since.
  • 1973
    • 10/6/1973 - Start of Yom Kippur war. Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise attack against Israel with support from other Arab states. 
    • 10/25/1973 - Cease fire agreed. The USA was supporting Israel and Russia the Arab states. This conflict was in danger of spreading from the region.
(Many other conflicts took place, but these focus on those that directly impact the existence of Israel.)

Now if we compare time periods with 2017 we see that
  • 120 years earlier - 1897
  • 100 years earlier - 1917
  • 70 years earlier - 1947
  • 50 years earlier - 1967
In other words 4 key events in the history of Israel took place on some decade multiple prior to 2017. Do these time periods mean anything? Does the Bible offer a clue?
  • 120
    • Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” Genesis 6:3
    • Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. Deuteronomy 34:7
    • In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) Acts 1:15
  • 100
    • Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Genesis 21:5
    • Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. Isaiah 65:20
  • 70
    • With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all. Genesis 46:27
    • This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. Jeremiah 29:10
    • “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Daniel 9:24
  • 50
    • Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. Leviticus 25:10
Several thoughts come to mind but I find myself only speculating and I'll let you come to your own conclusions. I will say that of these, I find the most interesting to be the last and it's implications related to the events of 1967.

Concluding remarks

A personal note: as a Christian I believe that Jesus is coming again very soon. But I no longer spend too much time wondering about the exact sequence of events. Too many people with more intelligence than me argue about this. My current bias is such that I now think that everyone is partially wrong - although I can't pin down exactly where because I don't know. Ok so that's not very helpful but I really do think that the end time events will unfold in a manner that is quite unexpected.

For example some people believe strongly that the next prophetic event is the rapture of the Church and - for those who have picked up on the above celestial convergence - they think that this must take place on September 23rd, 2017. Well it is possible I suppose but I doubt it.

Consider the traditional interpretation of Revelation 12: the woman represents Israel. From her Christ the Messiah came. The 12 stars are the 12 tribes of Israel. So on one hand this sign concerns Israel. On the other it could concern the return of Jesus. But why is this celestial pattern showing up now and not 2000 years ago when Jesus was born? Again I don't know, but as Jesus said:
  • There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. Luke 21:11.
Is this one of those signs? Perhaps something significant will happen in 2017. Perhaps it will be obvious for all to see, or perhaps something will happen that will be hidden from everyone until later. Then again perhaps nothing will happen and it's all a co-incidence. Jesus also said:
  • When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28.
And elsewhere some sage advice:
  • Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. James 5:7-8

John Bell
July 19th 2015
Irvine, California, USA.

*An internet search will enable you to find the free program Stellarium. Note that this program maintains a Gregorian calendar so has a year 0 (at least the version I use does.) So to look at 4947BC you'll have to dial the year to 4946BC.

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