The Open Scroll - The Magi Series: Part II

The Magi Series: Part II

By Bob Schlenker  (Prints about 6 pages) (Part 2 of 3)  updated 2/24/01

The celestial scene to the west of Bethlehem

A Great and Wondrous Sign

Let me now show you how God has revealed the time of His Son's birth. This information had been concealed very cleverly for many centuries!

A great and wondrous 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. {2} She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. {3} Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. {4} His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. {5} She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. Revelation 12:1-5
The dominant theme of this passage is that of the birth of a son to the woman. The celestial sign somehow relates to that birth. Let's investigate the clues that allow us to identify the meaning of the sign.

First, verse 5 states that the woman gave birth to a son who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. Her son is thus identified as being the Son of God by the allusion to Psalms 2:9, Revelation 2:27 and 19:15. The woman who literally gave birth to Jesus was named Mary. She was in the royal lineage of David as suggested by the crown that was seen on the woman's head. But, was this woman Mary ever seen in heaven clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head? Probably not, but consider this: The Greek word for "sign" is the very word which appears in the Greek secular literature for the signs of the Zodiac. Of those Zodiacal signs, Virgo is a sign, or, constellation,  that appears in heaven, the only one that is pictured as a woman. Mary is not named in this passage in Revelation, nor is Virgo, but both are clearly implicated. Virgo seems to represent Mary by way of the meaning of the name, the meanings of the names of the stars in Virgo, and the pictorial representation of this constellation. The Hebrew name for the sign is "Bethulah," which means "virgin." I propose to you that the sun, moon and crown are each celestial bodies that pass through Virgo at various times, and in fitting with the context of the verses that follow the description, I propose that this is the precise configuration in the heavens that marked the birth of our Lord over 2000 years ago! I believe that, though there may be more levels of interpretation of this passage, it is intended to lead us to date the Lord's birth accurately to the day, month and year, and to set the precedent for revealing the sign of the Lord's second advent..

The first two of the three components of the sign are obviously the familiar celestial bodies we are accustomed to seeing in our sky - the sun and the moon. The third celestial body is represented symbolically as a crown of 12 stars. It is the accurate identification of this symbolic reference that appears to separate those who really understand the sign from those who don't. Let me explain.

There are 12 signs of the Zodiac. These constellations are those through which, viewed from our perspective on earth, the sun appears to pass as it moves against the backdrop of the stars throughout the year. This apparent path of the sun is called the ecliptic, a path followed fairly closely by each of the other orbiting celestial bodies in our solar system, including the moon and each of the planets. Each year, the sun appears to move a full circuit through the Zodiac because, by definition, a the annual cycle is based upon the orbital revolution of the earth about the sun. Because the number of signs through which the sun must pass in the annual cycle is 12, each sign is "clothed with the sun" for 1/12 of the year. So then, by knowing that the Lord's birth took place when Virgo was clothed with the sun, we know that he was born roughly in the month Tishri, or September.

While Virgo is clothed with the sun, the moon is only beneath her feet for a day as it quickly passes through that region of the Zodiac. The lunar cycle is only about 29 days in duration, so the moon makes it's full circuit through the Zodiac very rapidly.

With these two pieces of the puzzle in place, we are able to identify what month of the year, and what day of that month our Lord was born. While this is very helpful, it is not yet enough to identify which year he was born. I will shortly return to address the third component of the sign and the identification of the year, but let me take this opportunity to introduce the special significance of the day and month we have noted.

Rosh HaShanah: The Feast of Trumpets

At the time when the moon would have become visible beneath Bethulah's feet as the sun clothing her set below the horizon, Yom Teruah, the day of sounding the shofar began! That the son of God should be brought forth on a day he commanded to be celebrated was no coincidence. An event so important as the birth of God's only begotten son could not have been ignored in the prophetic calendar of Jewish Holy Days. Remember, God commanded these to be kept as cryptic prophecies about what Christ would be and do. If you've ever recognized any logic in God's creation, you have to conclude that God is not a random God, or a God who changes the rules as He goes along to throw everyone off track. He is a God of logic, precision, symmetry and consistency. Sometimes the things He does are complex, but when He reveals the keys, lifting the veil that obscures them, His prophecies can then be understood and their perfection noted. It is a well established fact of history that God fulfills the Holy Days and Feasts on anniversaries of the days they were commanded to be observed. He keeps His appointments! September 29, 2 BC was such a moed, an appointment, a Jewish Holy Day in which can be found the signification of Christ's birth!

The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. In the time of our Lord's first advent, a month began when a new moon was first sighted in Israel, at sunset. The moon which appeared under the woman's feet while she was clothed with the sun would have necessarily been a new moon, the first visible crescent marking the beginning of a new month, in this instance, Tishri. Now, every new moon was a holy day, but Tishri's new moon was that special one to which all the others seem to point. I believe that a new moon is a symbol that speaks of the appearance of the Messiah in his first advent and that a "new" Sun appearing at dawn speaks of the appearance of the Messiah in his second advent. The very day of the Messiah's birth was apparently the very event to which all the new moons pointed and therefore, particularly that new moon which announces the coming of Yom Teruah.

About this new moon festival, Jewish Christian scholar Alfred Edersheim noted that "...the blowing of the priest's trumpets and the special sacrifices brought, would summon, as it were, the Lord's host to offer their tribute unto their exalted King, and thus bring themselves into 'remembrance' before Him." Isn't that something? Although this great celebration was taking place at the very time the King Y'shua was born, Israel was unaware of the awesome verity that the blowing of the trumpets was at that very time paying tribute to the great Messianic King and summoning all heaven and earth to pay tribute to him! The sound of a trumpet represents a voice speaking for God as an important proclamation is made. On that day, trumpets were blown all day long in celebration of the sovereignty of God. Further signification of the trumpet blowing celebration can be noted from Psalm 81:1-6.

Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! 2 Begin the music, strike the tambourine, play the melodious harp and lyre. 3 Sound the ram's horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast; 4 this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. 5 He established it as a statute for Joseph when he went out against Egypt, where we heard a language we did not understand. 6 He says, "I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket.
Isn't this musical accompaniment to the New Moon likened to Joseph's voice in Genesis 42:23 as he spoke to his brothers in a language they did not understand? The language of Egypt, which is to say, the language of Heaven is that which is trumpeted. It would seem that trumpeting of the New Moons and of the Feast of Trumpets is very much related to the angelic host's praise and proclamation on the night our Lord was born. Luke 2:13-14 so wonderfully records what was witnessed by the shepherds as they were receiving the testimony of their Messiah's birth:
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
This Jewish Holy Day is also the day from which the reign of the kings was accounted. No matter what day of the year a king in Israel began to reign, it was accounted from Tishri 1 to Tishri 1. The son of the Almighty God, born of a virgin on that day would become the King of every and all kings, reigning forever!

This Feast is a very joyful celebration which begins the accounting of a new civil year on the Jewish calendar. As it marked the transition into a new "year," a time such as the world had never known had finally arrived! The civil year relates specifically to government, and so it may be noted what was written for our benefit by the prophet Isaiah.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6
I find it quite interesting that, even today, on Rosh HaShanah, the tradition of the Jews is to read Genesis 21. This is the record of the birth of Isaac, a clearly defined type of Christ. If you remember from my study of the Hebrew word moed, the usage of this word for appointed times can be viewed as binding together the birth of Isaac, the Feasts and the celestial signs. I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised to find just how it was that God was faithful to His promise to announce His son's appearance on a Holy Day via celestial signs!

The Crown Reveals the Year

So far as I have observed, those who write on this subject, including Dr. Ernest Martin, the man who may have (so  far as I know) discovered the concept of dating the Lord's birth by celestial means, have suggested that the crown of 12 stars seen on the woman's head is to be interpreted in such a way that its meaning diverges from the trend established thus far in the sign's description. To these men and women with whom I respectfully disagree on this point, rather than this crown representing a celestial body that passes through Virgo, it represents some attribute of Virgo herself that adds nothing to the dating of the sign. This mistake has caused them to choose 3 BC instead of 2 BC, a decision based upon historical and certain scriptural evidence alone. The historical evidence is important and must still be considered in determining the precise time of our Lords' birth, but we require the correct interpretation of each of the three components of the celestial sign and a more fully developed understanding of the scriptural evidence before we should conclude that we have truly learned the time.

I had made the same mistake in misinterpreting the meaning of the crown until J.R. Church called me one day way back in 1992 asking about when Jupiter would have been seen in Virgo's head. When I checked and saw Virgo clothed with the sun, the moon beneath her feet and Jupiter on her head in 2 BC, I realized the significance of his insight, that Jupiter was indeed the crown of 12 stars. Just as with the positioning of the sun and moon, the crown of 12 stars is intended to instruct us about the timing of the event as surely as the position of the sun and the moon. Although it was J.R. Church who had the initial insight into this matter, it is a fact that he has since adapted the view of Dr. Martin and others in choosing 3 BC as the date. There are those who have, like myself, determined that 2 BC is the correct year and September 29 the day. Chuck Missler is one of the most prominent, Stephen E. Jones being another of note. Another gentleman, a physicist by the name of John Zajac has recently determined the same by close examination of the Great Pyramid at Giza.
(See His conclusion about the date of our Lord's crucifixion is similarly in precise agreement with what I have determined by correlating celestial and scriptural revelation.

What difference does it make whether we choose 2 or 3 BC? The difference between truth and error. That's all. If that matters, and I believe it does, there is something of value to be gained by knowing the actual date of our Lord's birth. I feel that the accurate identification of the sign of Revelation 12:1 is important, in greatest part due to the fact that, when its meaning and component's meanings are understood, a very important precedent is established for understanding the sign of Y'shua's coming again. The positioning of the event on the calendar of the ages is also important.

How can Jupiter be the crown of 12 stars? A crown is a symbol of a king, the authority to rule. Jupiter has long been known as the King planet, the ruling planet. This King planet revolves about the sun once every 12 earth years, thus the number 12. A Most people distinguish between planets and stars, but they are often referred to together in the Bible as stars. A crown is circular, as is a planetary orbit. Since there are 12 signs of the Zodiac and Jupiter requires 12 years for one full circuit, it may be seen in each of the zodiacal constellations for one year at a time. As it moves through the ecliptic, its progression is marked by elliptical retrograde motion, like a crown. It was that way at the birth of our Lord in the fall of 2 BC as in November Jupiter began a reversal of direction in typical retrograde motion. Although the crown would not be seen in the evening as it sets ahead of the sun, Jupiter would have been a prominent light in the Eastern sky come morning.

Jupiter is seen in Virgo for one year out of every 12. Adding this piece of the puzzle to the other two, the criteria narrows the time of Lord's birth down to a particular year in twelve, one month of that year and one day of that month. Now, given the window of time established by the historical and scriptural evidence, there is only one candidate; according to Gregorian calendar dating. I believe September 29, 2 BC was the day of our Lords' birth.

Celestial Signs Marking His Baptism

In the year 29 AD, a very interesting celestial configuration appeared on Tishri 10, Yom Kippur, dramatically marking for all time the very day Y'shua was baptized in the Jordan. For us in our day, it is as a celestial datestamp, if you will. The value of recognizing this sign seems to lie, at least in part, in teaching us the vocabulary of the celestial language.

On Tishri 10 in 29 AD, the planet Mercury (the messenger planet) conjoined with the star in Virgo which is today known as Spica. It is known in Arabic as Al Zimach; "the branch." In Hebrew it is tsemech which means branch. Of the twenty or so Hebrew words in the Old Testament scriptures which are translated as "branch," tsemech is the one, the only one which is exclusively messianic. In celestial language, a Mercury/Tsemech conjunction would then be interpreted as the announcement of the branch. It occurs in the sign of the woman - Israel. Bethula in the Hebrew - "virgin." We know it as Virgo.

According to the scriptural account of the time of Y'shua's baptism, we know that an audible heavenly announcement was made, being recorded in the first three Gospels. This audible anouncement from heaven appears to have been given in concert with an inaudible announcement from the celestial heavens.
And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Matthew 3:17
Please note that the testimony given in those Gospel accounts states specifically that the voice came from "heaven". Where does this direct our attention? UP! To the heavens!!! And what was happening in heaven at that time? The Mercury/Tsemech conjunction! That celestial event would appear to be a second witness bearing the identical testimony as the voice from heaven - that the branch had arrived and that it was Y'shua of Nazareth - the anointed one! The heavens most certainly do function as signs to mark seasons (the moad, the appointed times, the Holy Days) as stated in Genesis Chapter 1. Clearly, the spiritual seasons regarding Y'shua in God's plan of redemption for man are as much a part of God's design for the celestial heavens as the natural cycle of the four seasons we call Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

The fact that the voice from heaven accompanying Y'shua's baptism is omitted in John's Gospel record is a noteworthy observation that encourages us to pay close attention to why this might be so. Since it is the Gospel of John that is the very gospel ordained to proclaim Y'shua with a focus as the son of God, the most conspicuous absence of the audible voice declaring the relationship between the branch and the one from whom it came brings our focus upon this very relationship and upon the "missing" voice which declared it. Now, at this late hour at the close of the age, we learn that the declaration of Y'shua as the son of God at that time isn't really missing at all from John's Gospel account. It was merely displaced somewhat. It appears in the passage in the form of John's testimony, as it is he who represented the Father Himself, symbolically.
Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. {33} I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' {34} I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.  John 1:32-34
Do you see it? As representative of the Heavenly Father, John bore witness thusly: I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God. So it is in this cryptic fashion that God's own testimony that Y'shua is His Son is found here in the Gospel record - the one ordained to establish this very fact. It was hidden in symbolism - typology. For emphasis. This is God's way of revealing his great truths. He emphasizes important things by hiding them. Strange but true.

Continuing on, it may be noted that the Mercury/Tsemech conjunction is not the only celestial sign marking that day. Let me set up some background for you. Isaiah is the prophet whose message foretelling about John the Baptist is recorded in all four Gospels, so there's a distinct correlation between these two great prophets. If you look at the reference I just gave from John 1, you find in verse 33 that God sent John to baptize with water and that Y'shua would baptize with spirit. (See also Mark 1:8) Now, consider the message from Isaiah 44:3, which reads:
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
Note the water and the spirit - both here are "poured out."

There's a Zodiacal constellation in which we find this significance of the "pouring out." The brightest (or, alpha) star in this constellation is named Sa'ad al Melik, which means "the record of the pouring forth." The beta star's name, Saad al Sund, means "who goeth and returneth," or, "the pourer out." This constellation which we call Aquarius (The Water Bearer) means "Their Blessings Ensured, or the Living Waters of Blessing Poured Forth for the Redeemed" according to Bullinger. He also speaks thusly of the sign of Aquarius. "The atonement being made, the blessings have been procured, and now they can be bestowed and poured forth upon the redeemed. This is the truth, whether we think of Abel's lamb, of patriarchal sacrifices, the offerings under the law, or of that great sacrifice of which they all testified. They all with one voice tell us that atonement made is the only foundation of blessing."

See how insightfully he speaks of atonement with regard to this sign? That's what Aquarius is about! The connection between Aquarius and this Day of Atonement in 29 AD is that this is the sign where the other celestial event took place! At the time Mercury and Tsemech were in conjunction in Virgo, the moon conjoined with Jupiter the (Messiah/King planet) in the precise portion of the sky where the water is pouring out of the urn or pitcher borne by Aquarius! The Moon speaks of the Messianic presence - the reflection of Yahweh's glory. (and of the Bride) As Y'shua was being anointed with holy spirit, marking and equipping him as the Messiah - the Anointed One of Israel, and while the audible (voice) and inaudible (celestial) announcements declaring Y'shua as the branch of Yahweh were being made, the Messianic-presence/Moon was conjoining the Messiah/King planet in the sign who's brightest star's name means "the record of the pouring forth." Coincidence? No way! By appointment!

Let the celestial voice speak to us today.

Next in the series: The Magi Series: Part III