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. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its 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 it might devour her child the moment he was born. 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 astronomical alignment that so many are now pointing to comes from a literal reading of Revelation 12:1-5, which describes a sign in the sky involving a woman who is crowned with twelve stars, clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet, and giving birth to a male child. The text itself does not describe the sign as a parable or illustration, which validates the view that this passage is in fact describing a real astronomical event visible to the inhabitants of the earth – complete with real sun, moon, and stars. Each of the elements described in the sign have significant prophetic and allegorical meaning as will be shown, but the passage itself describes first and foremost a real sign and so any accurate interpretation must begin with that premise. Lacking any evidence that the Apostle John was not describing a sign visible in the sky as the text plainly says, the burden of proof is entirely upon those who would argue that this passage is only pure allegory.
There has been much confusion over both the Hebrew and Greek words for heaven. In the Greek, the word in Revelation 12:1 is ourano with a definite article, which can be translated as “in heaven” or “in the sky.” The distinction is a big deal, because many who deny a literal one thousand-year kingdom of Christ and the earthly fulfillment of Old Testament covenant promises, will opt for “heaven” being the translation every time. The same goes for Revelation 21:1. John sees what is often translated “a new heaven” and “a new earth.” However, it may be better to translate this as “a new sky,” rather than confusing modern readers by using a word in modern English most often associated with God’s dwelling.
It is also important to note that these first five verses in Revelation 12 purposefully distinguish between two different signs. The first sign, which the text calls “a great sign”, involves only a woman in labor, and so includes Revelation 12:1-2 and Revelation 12:5. The second sign, called “another sign”, is described in Revelation 12:3-4. The signs are connected in the narrative, but their distinction tells us that they are not the same and this is the likely reason that only the first sign has been apparently identified in the Fall of 2017. A number of different explanations for the second sign have been offered, such as an as of yet unseen stellar or planetary body, but that is not the topic of this study. Our focus is entirely on the “great sign”.
There is some question as to who first made the discovery in its most primordial form, but sometime in 2011 it was observed using astronomy software that a specific alignment of constellations, planets, the sun, and moon would appear to fulfill a literal reading of Revelation 12:1-2 and Revelation 12:5. Here are each of the elements involved in the alignment: