And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me, and having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands, [One] like a Son of Man, clothed to the foot, and having been girded around at the breasts with a golden girdle, and His head and hairs [were] white, as if white wool—as snow, and His eyes as a flame of fire; and His feet like to frankincense-colored brass, as having been fired in a furnace, and His voice as a sound of many waters; and having seven stars in His right hand, and out of His mouth a sharp two-edged sword is proceeding, and His countenance—as the sun shining in its might. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead, and He placed His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, and He who is living, and I became dead, and behold, I am living through the ages of the ages. Amen! And I have the keys of Hades and of death.
—Revelation 1:12–18 (LSV*)
...but hold that which you have, until I may come; and he who is overcoming, and who is keeping My works to the end, I will give to him authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron—they will be broken as the vessels of the potter—as I have also received from My Father; and I will give to him the morning star.
—Revelation 2:25–28 (LSV)
How does one overcome? Only answers from God's own word will suffice.
...because everyone who is begotten of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that overcame the world—our faith; who is he who is overcoming the world, if not he who is believing that Jesus is the Son of God?
—1 John 1:4–5 (LSV)
We overcome by faith alone, through genuine belief in the Son of God. Not by works done in righteousness (Titus 3:5). The Apostle John uses the same word for overcome (νικάω) in both his epistle and in Revelation. No one—legalist and lawless alike—will overcome the world, unless they shift their trust from their imperfect selves to the Perfect One who died bloodied on the Cross as the only acceptable sacrifice for sins. God's word defines itself—there is no puzzle or mystery regarding what it means to overcome. The only puzzle comes from our mutual adversary who seeks to mystify what God has already concretely declared.
Whose works do we keep to the end?
Answer: Christ's works ("...and who is keeping My works to the end..."); not my works or your works. Our works can't save anyone. Christ's works were perfect and are imputed to our account.
What is the "morning star" that Christ will give to those who overcome?
I, Jesus, sent My messenger to testify to you these things concerning the assemblies; I am the root and the offspring of David, the radiant morning star!
—Revelation 22:16 (LSV)
When do the overcomers (those who believe in Jesus) meet the morning star?
Answer: At the rapture of the Church.
...because the LORD Himself, with a shout, with the voice of a chief-messenger, and with the trumpet of God, will come down from Heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are living, who are remaining over, will be snatched up together with them in [the] clouds to meet the LORD in [the] air, and so we will always be with the LORD;
—1 Thessalonians 4:17–18 (LSV)
In terms of astronomy, the planet Venus is the "morning star" and has had that designation for millennia. In Revelation 1:16 we are told that Jesus, the morning star, holds seven stars in His hand. There are three constellations almost universally known to consist of seven stars each: The Big Dipper (in Ursa Major), Orion (traditionally depicted with seven main stars), and the Pleiades (technically a cluster). Neither The Big Dipper nor Orion lie along the ecliptic, so they can never conjunct with Venus. The Pleiades, however, which is the largest cluster visible in the night sky, does lie along the ecliptic. Depending on viewing conditions, the Pleiades can appear as six, seven, eight, or even nine stars, but historically, in various cultures, it has been known as consisting of seven stars. In the Mediterranean world of the Apostle John's day, it was known as the Seven Sisters. The identification of the Pleiades as seven stars goes back to at least a century or so before the exodus. The Nebra sky disk, an astronomical artifact discovered in Germany that dates to around 1600 BC, portrays the cluster as seven stars:
On April 3, 2020, the planet Venus will fully conjunct with the Pleiades. The last time this happened was 203 years ago, to the very day (April 3, 1817). As Paul Dawson discovered recently, Venus has been ascending closer and closer to the Pleiades since 1516, around the time of the Protestant Reformation. 2012 was a near overlap, but 2020 is the real deal.
And we have a more firm prophetic word, to which we do well giving heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day may dawn, and [the] morning star may arise in your hearts;
—2 Peter 1:19 (LSV)
The morning star holds the seven stars in its hand on April 3, 2020. I don't suspect that this is necessarily the date of a major prophetic event, like the rapture itself, but I do think it is a formidable candidate for the sign of Revelation 12:5. The seven stars of Revelation represent the seven messengers of the churches (Revelation 1:20), and so the Pleiades might be a direct representation of the collective Church. On this date there is a clear sign in the sky of Christ meeting His Church in the air—better than perhaps any that has come before. Interestingly, April 3rd happens to be the date of the crucifixion if it occurred in 33 AD.
I believe that the fulfillment of prophecy is more about precision than the wow factor. God's word is true, down to the finest detail. That's why the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 12:1–2 on September 23rd and 24th of 2017 wasn't spotted because of Vegas-like lights emblazoned in the sky, but because every key detail of the passage came together over the course of those two days. Nothing was missing. You had to have read the prophecy to "get it," but once you read the prophecy and understood what was happening during the invisible, daytime sign, you realized it could never be fulfilled more perfectly in any other way.
Likewise, my argument for the separate Revelation 12:3–4 sign on October 8, 2018, wasn't made because it was particularly spectacular, but because it was uniquely precise. Approximately one-third the number of visible stars in the night sky appeared to fall to the earth from the tail of the dragon in the form of a meteor shower over the course of a very unusual Draconid's showing. This happened all while Venus, the morning star, which was already a key piece of the September 23rd sign, representing Christ—the head of the male child, appeared to be just below the woman's feet, as if just born. And the seven heads of the dragon, in the form of Serpens, stood ready to strike. It wasn't "spectacular," but it was precise. Most years have few if any Draconids, and infrequently there are huge, unexpected showers, but the October 8th shower had the number of shooting stars needed—in conjunction with the other factors—to fulfill the words of Revelation 12:3–4. The only reason I have any hesitancy in regards to this second sign in comparison to September 23rd, is that I haven't yet discovered what might have formed the horns on the night of October 8th, although several possibilities exist.
Above you can see the general outline of the sign of the dragon. The numbers represent key pieces of the alignment (see here). Below is an actual timelapse image of part of the meteor shower:
This brings us back to what might be the third and final sign: that of the male child (the Church in union with Christ) being snatched up to Heaven (Revelation 12:5) on April 3, 2020. The order is right (the first sign in 2017, the second in 2018, and the third in 2020). The key details also appear to be right. Furthermore, the alignment is unusual. There are several other interesting things to note:
1. Before the April 3rd conjunction, the last conjunction of Venus with any planet will have occurred 27 days prior, on March 7th and 8th. Venus will conjunct with Uranus as Venus transits to the Pleiades. Uranus is a direct transliteration of Greek ouranos (οὐρανός), which is the exact word used for Heaven throughout the New Testament. It's the very word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 describing Christ descending out of Heaven on His way to "snatch up" His Church.
2. If you were to alphabetize all the Greek words used in the New Testament, the 27th word is ἀγαπητός, which means beloved. On March 7th, the morning star (representing Christ) leaves Uranus ("Heaven") to travel for 27 days to snatch the beloved (the Pleiades, representing the Church). They meet in the air.
3. As I mentioned at the beginning, the last overlapping conjunction of Venus and the Pleiades occurred 203 years prior, to the very day, of this April conjunction. Alphabetized, the 203rd Greek word in the New Testament is ἀκροβυστία, which means uncircumcision. This was the collective term for non-Jews. It was a derogatory term that the Jews of the first century applied to the "heathen Gentiles." Yet the heathen Gentiles, the "uncircumcision," were the ones that primarily received the gospel (though not exclusively). From the mid to late first century on, the Church has always been overwhelmingly Gentile, as the Jewish people have largely rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ. Moses wrote that God would make the unfaithful Jews jealous by another group of people besides themselves (Deuteronomy 32:21) and the Apostle Paul confirmed that this group was the primarily Gentile Church—the uncircumcision (Romans 10:19). On April 3, 2020, we see a picture of Christ, having come from Heaven, meeting the primarily Gentile Church in the air. Furthermore, the seven churches of Revelation were all located in Gentile Asia Minor, and were likely primarily Gentile given that the prophecy was made near the end of the first century.
4. The average distance of the Pleiades from the earth is 444 light years, a number theme we've seen connected to many of these heavenly signs. Moreover, the Pleiades' static location in the sky is at +24 degrees, 7 hours. Think the 24 elders of Revelation 4, which represent the glorified Church in Heaven. And think the numerous "sevens" in Revelation: seven stars, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials, etc.
- - -
Might 2020 be the year of our departure?
I want to emphasize again, just as I did back in 2017, that these heavenly signs were predicted to occur, but the Bible is silent on their direct connection to the events they represent. They clearly tell us that we are exceedingly close, and we can tell that the Day is now visible on the horizon. We grow closer every day, but we also see as in a mirror dimly. There are dangerous extremes in studying prophecy, just as there are with all other spiritual disciplines. It is dangerous to say "Thus saith the LORD" when the LORD has not spoken and it is dangerous to stake everything in a particular date without direct revelation from the LORD testifying to that date from His word. We dare not cross those lines.
However, it is just as dangerous to misuse Scripture as many are doing as they recite "no man knows the day or hour" completely out of context as an excuse not to watch and to disregard God's holy word, which is roughly one-third prophecy. We are commanded to watch. And the rapture doesn't come upon the Church like a thief, but upon those living in darkness (Mt. 24:48–51; Rm. 13:11; 1 Thess. 5:3–4; Heb. 10:25; Rev. 3:3).
With those things said, I want to suggest the possibility that 2020 might be an upper limit of sorts for the rapture of the Church. I emphasize might, as I, like everyone else, only see as in a mirror dimly.
The only explicit definition of a generation given in Scripture is found in Psalm 90:10, which in itself has some prophetic undertones:
Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
—Psalm 90:10 (NIV)
Jesus told His disciples that the generation witnessing the end time signs would live to see them all fulfilled, up to and including the second coming of Christ (Mt. 24:32–34; in context—Mt. 24:29–31).
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Like many students of Bible prophecy, I am convinced that Jesus' prophetic parable is an allusion to the national rebirth of the nation of Israel for several reasons: first, because Jesus had already cursed a fig tree as a symbol of the unfruitfulness of Israel (Mt. 21:18–22); second, because the fig tree was a symbol of national Israel used elsewhere in Scripture (see here and here); third, because Jesus' use of the term "generation," if taken in any literal sense, implies an expansive period of time—not just a statement that some of those entering the relatively brief Tribulation would live to see its end; and fourth, because the early Church clearly taught that Jesus' prophecy was a reference to Israel (see "4. The Fig Tree is Israel" here).
When you put two and two together, that the Bible only has one explicit definition for the length of a generation (70 to 80 years), and that Jesus very likely prophesied that from the national rebirth of Israel until His second coming to earth there would only be one generation, you can see why it may be speculation, but solidly grounded speculation that we are nearly at the terminal point of that prophecy.
Israel came back into existence in Spring 1948. 80 years later brings you to Spring 2028. The vast majority of prophetic literalists, at least that I've heard, argue that the second coming must occur in the Fall. This would mean that Fall 2027 might be the latest possibility to fit within the upper limit of a generation (80 years). Thus, it could be argued that the rapture will occur between now and next Fall. 28 AD is routinely given as one of the likeliest years for Jesus' baptism and initiation of His ministry. Whichever year it occurred, Jesus declared it be a jubilee (Lk. 4:19). 2,000 years later brings you to 2028, which again, is an upper limit of sorts. Jesus paused His quotation of the Prophet Isaiah midway through, indicating that He may return to execute judgment on a jubilee, as well. The debate between 49-year and 50-year jubilees may never end on this side of Heaven, but 2027–28 may be a jubilee.
Intriguingly, Israel, the fig tree, is governed by a Prime Minister who just turned 70 and by a President who just turned 80. President Reuven Rivlin will turn 81 next Fall and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will turn 71, and this incredible "coincidence," just like the "coincidence" of "Trump/Pence," may be gone. This is another possible allusion attesting to the significance of a generation consisting of 70 to 80 years and that period of time relating to Israel. As an aside, Trump just turned 73. He'll be 80 in 2027. The dead in Christ rise "at the last trump," or at the "trumpet [Trump + Pence] call of God," if you will.
In terms of signs on the earth, everything seems to be ready. I can't think of any other domino that needs to be placed before the divine flick. Many make sensational claims about coming global economic collapse, World War III, and so forth, but all these things take place after the rapture. The rapture itself is the trigger. The rapture is the divine flick, when the restraining force in the world (the Holy Spirit-indwelt Church) is taken out of the way.
On top of the fact that things already appear to be aligned just as Scripture said they would be in the end times, in the last several months we've witnessed the world reach a sort of spiritual impasse where things have become so fundamentally polarized that nothing can move. It's like trench warfare in World War I. Between Israel's government deadlock going on half a year, the never settled Brexit situation, and Trump's political woes in the United States—nothing can move, nothing can get done. The world has never before seemed this "stuck." Not only is everything polarized, but everything is pressurized. The world is ready to blow. Christians are hated like never before, under major persecution in the East, and only experiencing mild reprieve in the West because of a handful of conservative-populist victories in Europe, South America, and the United States. But Christians' political foes in the West look set for political and even violent retribution as soon as the pendulum swings. Listening to what they're saying, you can see how things are now perfectly primed for the Tribulation. As soon as believers are gone, there will be a major, violent, global backlash against all the things of God. This violent uprising will usher the antichrist into power. As a matter of fact, we may already be witnessing the beginnings of this prophesied rebellion now.
Brothers and sisters, continue to stand firm in your faith.
Dear friends who do not yet believe in our Deliverer, get on board the Ark, because the flood is coming.
Curious about the rapture and other end times-related stuff? Take a look at these articles:
PROPHECY BASICS: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
WHAT IS HEAVEN?
WHAT WILL HEAVEN BE LIKE?
WILL THERE BE A RAPTURE?
WHEN DOES THE RAPTURE HAPPEN?
WHO WILL BE RAPTURED?
THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS
WHAT WILL THE RAPTURE BE LIKE?
CAN WE KNOW THE DAY OR HOUR?
THE ANTICHRIST, THE RESTRAINER, AND THE REMNANT
CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN (PART 1)
THE PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE
ABOUT THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
THE LETTERS TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES
WHO ARE THE 24 ELDERS?
THE DAY OF THE LORD
*Quotations from the Bible marked "LSV" are taken from the Literal Standard Version.