The Exit Sign
Unless you've been living on the planet Jupiter for the past couple of years, you've almost certainly heard the buzz about the Revelation 12 sign that the Bible prophecy community has been buzzing about since 2011 (if you're one of the few who hasn't, read this first). This isn't the first time I have written about it—and the way things are going, I suspect it won't be the last.
Although the Bible prophecy community may have been abuzz about it since 2011 (particularly in the last couple of years), the mainstream Church has been eerily quiet on the subject. It seems most established ministers (with reputations to protect) have been avoiding the topic the way you would avoid a worried-looking manager clutching a fistful of documents heading in your general direction 15 minutes before quitting time. Many simply don't want to address it—and when they do, they typically bungle it so badly it would have been better for all concerned if they had remained silent.
After some of the laughable remarks I've heard coming from the mouths of certain high-profile ministers concerning the REV12 sign, I am reminded of something I recall my mother saying when I was a child:
It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
For some, it's just blind, irrational hatred of the biblical doctrine of the pre-tribulation Rapture and anything that points clearly to its truth. For others, it smacks of the lunatic fringe and thus is dangerous—it's too "out there" and so must be avoided. But for some it's a question of the proper handling of fundamental biblical doctrine that has informed the tenets of Evangelical Christianity for centuries: specifically, the doctrine of imminence.
What I want to do in this article is discuss both the doctrine imminence and its corollary that states the Rapture is a signless event, and the relationship of both to the REV12 sign. Many people in the Church today, especially established minsters, are staunchly rejecting the validity of the REV12 sign due to concerns that it violates the doctrine of imminence, and in a similar manner many balk at the existence of an alleged sign for a signless event.
On the other hand, some who embrace the REV12 sign are beginning to come against the doctrine of imminence or look for ways to weaken it because they feel it has become an obstacle that inhibits people from accepting the truth of what they see as an obvious prophetic fulfillment.
In other words, many on each side seem to be convinced it's an either/or affair, where you are obligated to either defend imminence and attack the REV12 sign, or defend the REV12 sign and attack imminence.
This is unfortunate, and I want to discuss why the REV12 sign's perceived violation of imminence as well as its perceived paradoxical status as a sign for a signless event are both invalid, and so imminence and its attendant "signlessness" pose no barrier to the acceptance of the truth and validity of this stunning fulfillment of Scripture.
I also want to describe how I view the REV12 sign in relationship to both imminence and signlessness by spinning a little metaphorical tale; and by the time I am finished, I hope I can leave you with the sense that every believer can and should feel free to embrace the REV12 sign for exactly what it is: a sign that has been revealed by God that heralds the season of the catching away of the body of Christ, and do so without fear of violating clear, foundational teachings of Scripture.
Way below the belt
As an example of what many established, mainstream ministers are saying about the REV12 sign and those who study and promote it, I give you Jan Markell and Rev. Billy Crone.
Rev. Crone is the Senior Pastor of Sunrise Baptist Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he was a recent guest on a radio broadcast hosted by Jan Markell, a messianic Jewish woman who runs Olive Tree Ministries, in addition to a popular website that features articles and interviews related to end-time prophecy and current events from a biblical perspective.
I love Jan Markell and have long been a fan of Jan's ministry, and have visited her website virtually every day for several years. She is a wonderful person, a dedicated minister of the gospel, and is spot on in regard to every issue that I can think of (with one noteworthy exception that I'll get to momentarily). I wasn't familiar with Rev. Crone or his ministry prior to this interview; but I have since perused his website and as far as I can tell, I could say pretty much the same thing about him. Both are solid, anointed ministers of the gospel, and both are solidly pre-trib in regard to the Rapture...I mean, these people aren't Scripture-twisting heretics skulking around on the fringe of the Church or something. They're not promoting some of the aberrant doctrinal abortions that many within the Church are spewing today...they're a couple of the good guys! That's why the following incident is so disturbing and disheartening.
In the broadcast, Rev. Crone came out with guns blazing against the REV12 sign, regurgitating many of the same tired old straw men that have been thoroughly refuted in his attempt to demonize and disparage the REV12 sign and those who embrace it. For example, it's not "rare" because this sign occurs every 11 or 12 years (that alone proves he doesn't have the first clue what he's talking about); the sign depicts a past event (the birth of Christ and the Resurrection), and so to make it about the Church is "ripping it out of context"; it has nothing to do with the stars and planets...but oddly enough he didn't say what he thought the apostle John meant when he said he saw the sign "in the heavens" (which evidently refers to someplace other than the sky in Rev. Crone's world). And it went downhill from there.
At each step of the way, Jan chimed right in with nodding agreement, and at one point Jan accused those who study the REV12 sign of practicing astrology. Rev. Crone eagerly agreed and ran with the comment, taking full advantage of the opportunity to heap scorn on those biblically ignorant dipsticks who are recklessly dabbling in such heretical hogwash.
Yes, astrology. So according to these fine, upstanding ministers of the gospel, if you study the upcoming astronomically verifiable fulfillment of Revelation 12:1–2, you're practicing astrology, which God condemns as a form of the grievous sin of divination (Deut. 18:10–14).
Well, for the benefit of Jan Markell, Rev. Billy Crone, and anyone else out there who might be inclined to imagine such a blatantly inaccurate, viciously insulting thing, let me help you out:
Divine this: Astrology is a form of divination, and it involves studying the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies for the purpose of interpreting their supposed influence on the course of human affairs and the lives of individuals, and predicting future events on earth. Any form of divination is expressly condemned in Scripture as a sin, and it matters not whether one uses celestial bodies, tea leaves, a crystal ball, tarot cards, the I Ching, tortoise shells, the zodiac, Bible codes, or cockroach droppings for that matter.
(You heard me: Bible codes.)
So when people simply observe the scientific fact that the sun, moon, and certain stars and planets will align in precisely the manner described in Scripture for the first and last time in human history, no one (at least no one I would admit to knowing) is attempting to interpret its supposed influence on the course of human affairs or the lives of individuals, or to predict future events on earth.
People who study the REV12 sign are simply marveling at God's revelation of the fulfillment of a prophetic sign given in His Word—a sign that we believe a careful study of Scripture clearly reveals as being a depiction of the catching away of the body of Christ prior to the coming Tribulation, and a sign that, while not necessarily pinpointing the exact dates of these events, almost certainly heralds their general time frame. As a result, we seek only to inform and edify the body of Christ concerning what God has revealed.
AND THAT AIN'T ASTROLOGY!!
Sorry. Any questions?
"We won't get fooled again..."
One of the things that Rev. Crone stressed in the interview was the idea that you don't set dates, and he's certainly not alone in that regard. Well, that's true, but that tells me that he is only listening to the cowboys out there who are setting dates (assuming he's actually "listening" to anyone at all). He then proceeds to paint the entire group of REV12 supporters with the same brush until anyone who embraces this sign's fulfillment is automatically one of the YooToob yahoos out there who are doing their best Chicken Little imitation.
I will admit that it's easy for me to understand the reluctance of many established ministers to accept the truth of the REV12 sign. A lot of these same people were all over the Blood Moons of 2014–2015, with many publishing books and slick DVD teaching series that trumpeted this highly significant feast-day tetrad as the mother of all signs. In the several years preceding this quartet of lunar eclipses occurring on Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, the Blood Moons were the hottest ticket in Evangelical Christianity...and baby, there was money to be made. Just ask John Hagee.
Dueling prophets...er, profits: It saddens me to say it, but if some high-profile ministers aren't trashing something, they're cashing in on it. Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Washington is widely credited with discovering the Blood Moons of 2014–2015, and he wasted no time in telling everybody in sight (including one certain megachurch pastor named John Hagee who latched onto the idea). Sensing a killer marketing opportunity, Hagee wrote a best-selling book entitled Four Blood Moons, in which he gave Biltz no credit whatsoever for the discovery. To set the record straight, Biltz responded with a book and documentary of his own, both entitled Blood Moons. Then Hagee one-upped Biltz by coming out with his own movie bearing the same title as his book, again giving Biltz no credit and slyly making it sound as if he had been the one who discovered the phenomenon. Since then, the situation has degenerated into a petty furball of conflicting statements and accusations that is so unbecoming to the body of Christ I'm embarrassed to even elaborate on it any further. Men charged with feeding Christ's sheep fighting over who owns the marketing rights to God's revelation. God help us.
But the fourth and final Blood Moon faded away in the night sky on September 28, 2015, and ever since then the sizzle has turned to fizzle as many of those same people feel like they got burned because "nothing happened." So, it's once bitten, twice shy and all that.
Of course, nothing has happened yet.
I've said it before and I'm gonna keep right on saying it: I am convinced that the Blood Moons of 2014–2015 were absolutely a legitimate sign, and there is ample precedence for signs that precede the events they portend. In fact, that can be established with one verse:
20The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.
(Acts 2:20 / emphasis added)
Not on the day of the Lord. Not during the day of the Lord. Before the day of the Lord. In other words, although this is not necessarily a reference to the Blood Moons of 2014–2015, the astronomical signs referenced here will appear some unknown period of time prior to the day of the Lord. OK? Is this clear enough? So can we stop whining about the fact that nothing has happened yet in connection with the Blood Moons? Thank you.
I am 100 percent convinced that the Blood Moons were a sign for Israel, and they portend the upcoming Tribulation that will see the Jewish people purged like they've never been purged before to bring forth a believing remnant who will ultimately come to faith in their Messiah, Jesus Christ. Clearly, the sign has preceded the event; but throughout Jewish history, it's not uncommon to see astronomical signs precede wars and other such events for Israel by up to four years. So keep your prayer shawl on.
Today, however, a lot of mainstream ministers are finding themselves on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, if they embrace the REV12 sign and talk up the fact that the Rapture might happen on that day (which is what they are liable to think if they listen to some of the more enthusiastic YouTubers out there selling it that way) and "nothing happens" again, it could devastate their reputations and their ministries. They fear being branded as a member of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade (or worse); and frankly, judging from the climate in many churches today, those fears are justified.
On the other hand, if they reject the REV12 sign and resort to attacking it, the only rebuttals available out there are so flimsy and foolishly misinformed that it will make them look like, well, misinformed fools in the eyes of those few people in their congregation who have actually done their homework.
And I can virtually guarantee you there are at least a few who have.
Many who are reluctant to embrace the REV12 sign, however, are not merely hard-headed naysayers, and they are certainly not fools—misinformed or otherwise. It's not that they want to protect their reputations in the event "nothing happens." Their problem is that because there are so many cowboys out there promoting September 23, 2017 as the likely date of the Rapture, they are shying away from what they view as irresponsible and unbiblical date-setting. And rightly so. Maybe they have listened to a few well-meaning but excitable folks who are reading things into Scripture that are not there, and this is frightening away many sincere people who fully understand the problems and pitfalls associated with making futile attempts to date-set the Rapture.
And it's not as if I don't feel their pain. Few need to be reminded of the pathetic people who sold homes, quit jobs, abandoned career plans, liquidated financial holdings, cashed in kids' college funds, and generally made real-world plans to vacate the real world because a horribly deluded, self-appointed prophet like Harold Camping convinced them the Rapture was going to occur on May 21, 2011—the Bible guarantees it! They (and we) are right to strongly condemn and reject such unbiblical nonsense.
It's not just the broken lives and shipwrecked faith left in the wake of failed date-setting that gives them pause. For many, the underlying problem is one of biblical doctrine. One of the most common complaints heard in regard to the REV12 sign from people who may be good, solid believers who sincerely seek the truth of God's Word is that this is something that violates one of the most fundamental tenets of good old-fashioned premillennial, pre-tribulational, dispensational Bible teaching:
The doctrine of imminence.
As clearly as the doctrine of imminence is taught in the Bible, I feel obligated to back this up with a few assorted passages of Scripture because there are those who are starting to lean in the opposite direction. There are a few who are embracing the REV12 sign who suddenly feel they have no choice but to chip away at the doctrine of imminence to clear the way for the sign's broader acceptance.
It is impossible to read the New Testament without picking up on the sense of expectancy with which the early Church looked forward to the Lord's return. Everywhere you look, you see the fervent hope that Jesus could return at any time, and New Testament writers urging believers to be steadfast, patient, and filled with hopeful expectation. They are admonished to watch and wait for the Lord, to purify their lives, and to keep themselves occupied with the Lord's work so as not to be ashamed at His unannounced appearance.
7Be patient therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain.
(James 5:7 / emphasis added)
5You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don't belong to the night, nor to darkness, 6so then let's not sleep, as the rest do, but let's watch and be sober.
(1 Thessalonians 5:5–6 / emphasis added)
Watch for Him.
13Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(Titus 2:13 / emphasis added)
Look for Him.
20For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 3:20 / emphasis added)
Wait for Him.
9Don't grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won't be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door.
(James 5:9 / emphasis added)
He stands at the door.
4Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
(Philippians 4:4–5 / emphasis added)
He is at hand.
Then there is what the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in his definitive Rapture passage:
15For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God's trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, 17then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever.
(1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 / emphasis added)
We. We. We. Paul included himself among those who are alive and remain when the Rapture occurs, with no hint of any intervening events.
So, it's awfully tough to wiggle around the fact that God fully intended for the Church to live in constant expectation of Christ's return to gather us to Himself. God meant for the blessed hope of the Rapture to be a purifying, sanctifying hope that would burn in the heart of the Church until the end of the Church Age.
Which would be just about any time now.
A sign for the signless
I have come to realize over the last few years that the biblical doctrine of imminence—although childishly simple at first blush—is a doctrine that is often misunderstood and misapplied. Imminence is essentially nothing more than the idea that the Rapture could happen at any time.
Or, more precisely, at no point in time during the Church Age have we ever possessed or will we ever possess the revelation knowledge of Scripture required to confirm the exact date of the Rapture before it occurs, or the existence of a prophetic event that must precede it. That's it. We simply do not know when the Rapture will occur, nor do we see clearly in Scripture any prophetic event that must happen first. Thus, the Rapture could happen today. Or in a couple of years. Or on September 23, 2017.
Let's get one thing straight right now. If someone states that he knows the exact date of the Rapture or that a specific event must occur prior to it, or has private (and typically exegetically questionable) interpretations of Scripture he claims reveal such a date or event, then he is violating the doctrine of imminence. This is what is to be avoided and ignored.
If, however, someone states that a certain date is significant for biblical reasons and so if the Rapture were to occur on that date it would make good biblical sense, he is not violating the doctrine of imminence.
Similarly, if someone speculates that the Rapture could possibly happen on a certain date for various reasons, he is not violating imminence.
This is mere speculation that could prove to be right or wrong. After all, the doctrine of imminence demands that we allow for the possibility of the Rapture occurring on any day—even though it is true that certain days make better biblical sense than others.
Hopefully, such speculation is based on sound exegesis of Scripture; but even if it's exegetically suspect or is based on things other than Scripture—things such as intriguing patterns of historical events, etc., it still does not violate the doctrine of imminence.
Speculation is just that: speculation.
Gaining a deeper understanding of various aspects of the prophetic scenario described in Scripture invariably involves a certain amount of speculation, and there is nothing inherently or fundamentally wrong with that. As a result, responsible, biblically based speculation should be regarded in a positive, constructive light as something that invites and promotes further study by others to gain deeper insight into God's prophetic Word.
2It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
As a result of imminence, it's on us to live in a state of expectation—to be ready and waiting and busy with the work of the kingdom so we won't be ashamed at His coming. We have no need to look for any intervening signs or events because we see no such signs or events clearly spelled out in God's Word—and that's exactly how God intended for it to be.
And that's exactly how it's been for the last two thousand years.
At no point during the last two thousand years has the Church possessed the revelation knowledge of God's Word to clearly see any signs or events in Scripture that would precede or pinpoint the Rapture. Thus, the following principle has always been a bedrock tenet of the Church (at least the small and ever shrinking part of the Church that hasn't utterly abandoned the proper study of end-time prophecy):
The Rapture is a signless event.
The fact that the Rapture is a signless event is part and parcel of the doctrine of imminence, and this is the bone that sticks in the craw of most people within the Church when someone tells them about the REV12 sign. It's no mystery that when many ministers hear of some wild-eyed YouTubers yammering about a "sign" related to the Rapture that's supposed to happen on September 23, 2017, jerk goes the knee and down comes the hammer.
In this article, my focus is not on the people out there who are attacking the REV12 sign and those who support it with the insipid, lamebrained rebuttals that are making the rounds these days—rebuttals that amount to so much cotton candy, only containing less substance. They have so strenuously rejected the truth of the REV12 sign that they have no choice but to busily fill the vacuum with the flimsiest of straw men. They've made their bed, and I'm perfectly content to let 'em sleep in it (emphasis on the word "sleep").
The people I want to address in this article are believers who are at least open to the truth of what God is revealing to the Church in these last days, but are choking on the bone of imminence. They see the REV12 sign as something that violates imminence, and so they feel obligated to reject it, regardless of how compelling or biblically accurate the sign may be.
In other words, while they may have the maturity and the common courtesy to not viciously attack their brothers and sisters in Christ who embrace the REV12 sign, they feel compelled to keep it at arm's length on doctrinal grounds. And as they do so, they can be heard chanting the mantra:
The Rapture is a signless event...The Rapture is a signless event...The Rapture is a signless event...
God, in His sovereign knowledge, knew full well that the Rapture wouldn't occur for another two thousand years, and so He concealed the depiction of the Rapture in Revelation 12:1–5 and its fulfillment. The sign was right there in Scripture the whole time, but we couldn't readily see its real meaning or coming fulfillment until relatively recently. God had the wisdom to conceal the sign's true eschatological meaning and the nature and timing of its fulfillment so the Church would legitimately be able to live in a state of earnest expectation. Only then could the Rapture be the purifying, sanctifying hope that God intended for it to be. In other words:
God knew we would need the doctrine of imminence to see us through.
It wasn't until the nineteenth century that some of the early dispensational Bible scholars began to identify the signs in Revelation 12:1–5 as including a depiction of the pre-tribulation Rapture; but even then, men like John Nelson Darby, William Kelly, William Blackstone, and Henry A. Ironside didn't have the faintest idea exactly how or when the two great signs of Revelation 12:1–5 would actually be fulfilled.
These men obviously didn't enjoy the luxury of having personal computers and sophisticated software programs like Stellarium that could do in seconds what would have taken them months of laborious effort. They succeeded in ferreting out the proper eschatological interpretation of this passage, but could go no further. Although they made progress by laying the groundwork, the actual fulfillment of the REV12 sign remained hidden.
In perfect harmony with the scriptural teaching that the Rapture is imminent, God, in His infinite wisdom, simply didn't reveal the fulfillment of the REV12 sign. Imminence requires an absence of known signs—or perhaps I should say revealed signs. And for the last two thousand years, there were no revealed signs pertaining to the Rapture. For nearly two millennia the Church didn't have the revelation knowledge to see any signs pertaining to the Rapture, let alone the capacity to see their fulfillment. My point is this:
The Rapture hasn't been a signless event for
nearly two millennia because there is no sign.
It's been a signless event for nearly two millennia
because God wisely chose not to reveal any signs.
But just a few years ago, God began to do just that.
How did we get here?
When discussing the beginnings of the REV12 sign phenomenon, people invariably mention Scottie Clark, who began making YouTube videos in 2011 to share his fascinating, insightful studies of the sign and related topics. Others, such as those at Unsealed.org, also got involved with it early on, but it's Scottie Clark who is chiefly credited with popularizing the sign and its fulfillment on September 23, 2017 through his outstanding series of YouTube videos, and has more or less become the face of the REV12 phenomenon, if indeed there is such a thing.
But as often happens in today's age of social media, legions of enthusiastic but marginally well-informed Johnny-come-latelies are helping themselves to information Scottie Clark, Daniel Matson, Unsealed.org, and others have uncovered and made freely available and are using it to irresponsibly set specific dates for the Rapture, the start of Tribulation, the Second Coming, the arrival of Planet X, the revelation of the Antichrist, the building of the Third Temple, alien contact, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
But at the heart of the REV12 juggernaut is a core group of people who seek only to rightly divide the Word and who have the courage to deal head-on with what God is revealing to the Church in these last days, and diligently continue to do so in spite of insulting, baseless attacks by the Jan Markells and Billy Crones of the world. The people in this core group are simply being obedient to the Holy Spirit by doing their utmost to inform and edify the body of Christ with what God has revealed, and more importantly, by taking the life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world while there is still time. And let me make this crystal clear:
They are not "setting dates" for anything.
So please don't be like the Jan Markells and the Billy Crones and others out there who can't quite seem to grasp the truth of the following statement:
When someone says the sun, moon, stars and planets will align precisely the way the sign of Revelation 12:1–2 describes for the first and last time in human history on September 23, 2017, they are not "setting dates"—they are merely stating an astronomically verifiable fact. Oh, and when they say the Rapture could happen on September 23 (or 22 or 21 or whatever) they are merely stating a biblically verifiable fact—because it could. Just as it could happen today. Or on April Fools' Day. (What...you never heard of the doctrine of imminence?)
Scottie Clark, although primarily responsible for popularizing it, isn't actually the one who first noticed the alignment of the REV12 sign on 9/23/2017. That distinction belongs to a young man named Luis ("Lu") Vega, who currently works at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. Lu maintains a website devoted to Bible prophecy at Postscripts.org, and I had previously heard his name mentioned in regard to being someone who noted the REV12 sign before Scottie Clark began making his YouTube videos.
Out of sheer curiosity, I recently contacted Lu and asked him straight out when he first noticed the coming fulfillment of the REV12 sign, and he graciously took the time to respond to my email. He told me he first noted the alignment in 2008, but studied it privately for a couple of years before the information began to make its way into the public arena in 2011.
What are the odds: It didn't occur to me at first, but while I was writing this article it finally hit me like a bullet train. OK, so Lu Vega first spotted the coming fulfillment of the REV12 sign back in 2008. Pop quiz: What other major astronomical sign did God reveal at the same time? OK, time's up...thank you for playing. Mark Biltz first spotted the Blood Moons of 2014–2015 in...wait for it...2008. Yeah, I know—so what? Let this sink in for a moment. That means God revealed two of the most stunning astronomical end-time signs at the same time: one a sign primarily geared toward Israel that they are soon to be plunged into the Tribulation (and revealed to a man who heads up a Hebrew Roots ministry, no less), and the other a sign primarily geared toward the Church that tells us we're soon to be rescued from it. Go ahead—look me in the eyes and blow it off as a coincidence.
Of course, the REV12 sign has significance for Israel as well, since Israel is the woman who gives birth to the body of Christ. But the key event in Rev. 12:1–5 pertains to the male child and the fact that the child is raptured (it doesn't ascend, it's raptured—check the Greek, for crying out loud) to escape the clutches of Satan's system—and that child is us, the Church.
So here we are, staring down the barrels of the greatest prophetic sign of the entire Church Age. I might add one other thing just for good measure:
Strength in numbers: Unlike every false Rapture prediction scheme in the history of the Church, the REV12 sign is not the product of one deluded individual attempting to foist a private interpretation of Scripture on other unsuspecting believers. The REV12 sign has been studied, pored over, and scrutinized to the nth degree by legions of knowledgeable, sharp-eyed students of the Bible and of Bible prophecy, and it just keeps growing and expanding and strengthening and deepening. Many highly capable people have contributed to its solid scriptural underpinnings, and every single rebuttal thrown at it since 2011 has bounced off it like a BB off a battleship.
Not bad for a bunch of "astrology."
The exit sign
Few devices communicate better than a good metaphor, and I struggled to find one that conveys how I view the REV12 sign in relation to imminence and signlessness. Finally, I came up with the following little tale:
A Trip to Disneyland
A children's story...for children who aren't afraid of the truth.
Once upon a time, early one fine spring morning near the end of the school year, a class of elementary school students were taken on a class trip to Disneyland. Before getting on the bus and setting out on their journey, their teacher told them she wasn't sure how far it was to Disneyland, so she couldn't tell them exactly when they would arrive. She told the children that there were no signs along the highway for Disneyland, so they would have no way of knowing when they might get there. Although the teacher had never been to Disneyland herself, that's what she had always been told and she assumed it was true. So, she just told them to be ready because they could get there at any moment.
"We could arrive at any time," she told the children. She told the kids to bring a book or some homework in order to keep busy, but that they should be prepared to arrive at any moment.
The bus headed west on the Imminence Highway, and it wasn't long before some of the children were sleeping, while some threw spitballs at each other when the teacher wasn't looking. And surprisingly enough, some actually sat quietly and read or did their homework.
Some of the children would grow impatient from time to time and peer out the windows of the bus, hoping to perhaps see some indication they were nearing Disneyland; but all they saw were signs that reminded them they were still on the Imminence Highway. As the journey seemed to be taking longer than any of them thought it would, many kids on the bus would simply sit in their seats and try to keep their spirits up and comfort the other kids sitting near them by quietly chanting "We could arrive at any time...We could arrive at any time...We could arrive at any time..."
At about 9:00, a boy who had been scrutinizing a map of Southern California he had drawn by hand with crayons suddenly yelled "We'll arrive at Disneyland between 9:11 and 9:13!! According to my highly accurate map and my equally accurate estimate of the speed of the bus, I have been able to pinpoint our precise arrival time!" Of course, 9:13 came and went, and after being mercilessly teased by the others he sulked in silence for the remainder of the trip while coloring his map.
Every now and then, a student on the bus would shout "Hey, look over there! It's Disneyland! I see it! Look!" But invariably it would turn out to be a county fair, or perhaps a farmer's market. After the initial excitement died down, the disappointed kids would go back to what they were doing, and the teacher would calmly reassure them "We could arrive at any time."
At one point, several students began to spread a rumor to whomever they could get to listen:
"Pssst, hey, we're not really going to Disneyland...there is no Disneyland! They closed it down years ago and built a bunch of condos. The teacher doesn't know...or else she's lying to us. They're just taking us on a ride in the country. Pass it on!"
Most of the children, however, had the good sense to ignore them.
After several long hours on the road, a sudden commotion caught the teacher's attention. Two students sitting together on the right side of the bus near the back had their noses pressed against the window, and were excitedly pointing at something and then began bouncing up and down in their seats for some reason. They carried on with such an electrified sense of urgency that many of the other children sat up and looked to see what was going on.
The kids who were causing the commotion were among those who tended to spend a lot of time looking out the window, scouring the road ahead for any indication they were nearing their destination. What they had spied a good ways up the road was a large sign with big letters—letters so big they had little trouble making out what the sign said:
The two children were beside themselves—within moments they were both sticking their heads out the window of the bus, pointing and squealing deliriously. They knew it wouldn't be long now! They were almost there, and this time it was for real! Of course, those kids who spotted the sign still didn't know exactly when they would arrive. They didn't know exactly how much longer it would be or exactly how much further it was to Disneyland. But they didn't care, because they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were about to arrive at the destination they had all been anxiously looking forward to since the trip began, and they were squirming with excitement because now they knew for sure they were really almost there!
The children on the other side of the bus, however, looked out the window and saw nothing...just more signs for the Imminence Highway.
"Shut up, you geeks—we don't see any exit sign anywhere. Didn't you hear the teacher? There aren't any signs for Disneyland!"
Other children went back to sleep. Some ignored the commotion completely and quietly continued to do their homework. Others went back to throwing spitballs, only this time they threw them at the two who claimed they spotted the exit sign.
The teacher was quick to respond to the disturbance, and quickly made her way to the area where the commotion was in full swing. She snapped at the children to sit down and be quiet, and scolded them for disturbing the other children. She told them to do their homework and sternly reminded them "We could arrive at any time."
"But Teacher, we really saw the exit sign! We really are almost there!"
"A 'sign' for Disneyland! What nonsense! Listen, you two...there are no 'signs' for Disneyland...we could arrive at any time. How many times do you have to be told?"
Before the teacher finished speaking, however, she felt the bus beginning to turn ever so slightly. Everyone on the bus could feel it, and suddenly all the children erupted into raucous cheers and shouts of jubilation:
"WE'RE THERE!!! WE'RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!!! YAAAAAY!!!"
As the teacher regained her aplomb amid the wild celebration, she smiled smugly and said to the two who had seen the sign, "You see? What did I tell you? We could arrive at any time!"
I believe the REV12 sign—a sign that will be fulfilled this September—is nothing less than the Church's exit sign, indicating to those with ears to hear that our "exit" is coming up just ahead. I say that because just as with real exit signs on the highway, I do not believe we will ever have revelation knowledge of anything in Scripture that pins the Rapture to a certain date. In other words, the actual exit itself isn't right there at the sign—exit signs don't work that way. They give you some advance warning, just as many of God's signs do. An exit sign gives you a heads up that you're just about there and gives you sufficient time to get into the right lane and prepare to take your exit when you come to it.
As you come to the end of a long road trip, your exit sign is a welcome sight indeed, and it never fails to get you charged up. The exit sign for your home city communicates the same message to everyone in the car (everyone who's still awake, that is):
You're almost home!
*Note: Of course, the doctrine of imminence hasn't been repealed, and so the Rapture could still happen tomorrow. If the Rapture were to occur sometime before September 23, 2017, the REV12 sign would serve as powerful testimony to the truth of God's Word for those left behind.
Hit your turn signal
The REV12 sign takes
the idea of imminence
to an unprecedented
level of urgency.
The takeaway is the simple fact that embracing the coming fulfillment of the REV12 sign, which includes a clear depiction of the pre-tribulation Rapture, in no way violates the doctrine of imminence because there is no compelling biblical reason to assume the real event must coincide with the sign in real time. Thus, the Rapture is still just as imminent as it's always been. It's always possible that the Rapture could occur on September 23, 2017 (or any day before or after for that matter), and the only reason I say that, ironically enough, is because I believe in the biblical doctrine of imminence—the very same doctrine that is causing far too may people to get their panties in a wad over the REV12 sign to begin with.
Before I close, here are several thoughts I want to leave with you:
• Don't feel as if you need to attack the doctrine of imminence in order to embrace the REV12 sign. You don't, because it leaves imminence intact since there is no clear scriptural reason to assume the sign coincides with the Rapture in real time. But know this: The REV12 sign takes the idea of imminence to an unprecedented level of urgency.
• Don't allow a rigid fixation on the (biblically sound) doctrine of imminence to prevent you from studying, understanding, and embracing the REV12 sign and what its fulfillment means for the Church. When you study the REV12 sign and its coming fulfillment, you're not standing on shaky ground or shifting sand. You haven't become a card-carrying member of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade, and you sure as the dickens aren't practicing astrology. You're standing on the solid rock of God's Word.
• Don't attack those who reject the REV12 sign because they think it violates the doctrine of imminence. Just try to get them to see that a proper understanding of the fulfillment of the REV12 sign doesn't violate imminence—it intensifies it. However, as for those crotchety souls who launch condescending, misinformed attacks against the REV12 sign and those who embrace it, don't pay any attention to them. With the amount of information that's out there today, if they don't get it by now, they're never going to get it. You can love 'em and pray for 'em, but there's not much else you can do.
Oh, and one other thing. As has been amply demonstrated, Revelation 12:1–5 is absolutely a picture of the catching away of the body of Christ prior to Daniel's 70th Week, and its fulfillment begins on September 23, 2017. To interpret it any other way reveals inherent anti-pre-trib bias (which is in no short supply in the Church today).
After two thousand years, we have a sign in the heavens painting a crystal clear picture of the Rapture as revealed to John in Revelation 12, and for two millennia this passage of Scripture has been right there in black and white. Since time immemorial, the stars and planets have been on track for the inevitable alignment that will bring about this passage's perfect fulfillment, and it heralds the season of the Rapture, followed by the Tribulation and all its attendant events. But nobody saw it until just a few years ago. Why?
Because God had the wisdom to not reveal it until the time was right.
That's why. God didn't reveal the nature of the fulfillment of the REV12 sign for two thousand years because if He had, the Church would have lost that purifying, sanctifying hope long ago. Our "blessed hope" would have faded into a distant pipe dream. Luckily, one thing is true—and there are legions of people in the Church today who sorely need to be reminded of this:
God actually knows what He's doing.
So, one last thing to take away:
• Understand that the fact that God has finally revealed the nature and timing of the fulfillment of the REV12 sign after almost two thousand years strongly suggests that the Rapture is in fact near at hand. If it were still many years away, there would be no logical reason for God to reveal the sign's fulfillment when He did. I mean, God is sovereign and all that, but it just wouldn't make much sense. It's like real life—when you see a sign on the highway that says your destination is the "NEXT EXIT," you know without a doubt that exit is just a mile or so up the road, not 15 or 20.
I sincerely believe the doctrine of imminence will remain solidly intact until that glorious day when the trumpet sounds and we are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. God may have shown us the exit sign, but we're just like those kids on the bus. We still don't know exactly when we'll get there, but who cares?! We may not know exactly what will happen this September, but what we do know is we're almost there!
So, just what does the REV12 sign do to the doctrine of imminence?
It doesn't violate it—it invigorates it!
It doesn't trash it—it turbocharges it!
It doesn't overthrow it—it throws it into overdrive!
The REV12 sign gives us a powerfully clear reason to watch and wait like we've never watched and waited before. We should be champing at the bit, ready to harpazo all over ourselves! We should be hitting our turn signals right about now to let the world know that we're anticipating the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Every prayer we pray ought to include something equivalent to maranatha! (Come, O Lord!), or something along the line of Christ's words in His model prayer: "Thy kingdom come!"
Bring it, Father! We're sick of this Christ-hating cesspool, that spits on your grace and mercy and blasphemes your holy name nonstop! Help us snatch those last few precious souls out of the fire so we can get it in gear! We want the world to know YOU ARE THE LORD!
And knowing the time, here's what we should do:
11Do this, knowing the time, that it is already time for you to awaken out of sleep, for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed. 12The night is far gone, and the day is near. Let's therefore throw off the works of darkness, and let's put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for its lusts.
(Romans 13:11–14 / emphasis added)
• Awaken out of sleep.
• Throw off the works of darkness.
• Put on the armor of light.
• Walk properly.
• Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
We're much too close to the end of our journey to do anything less, and I dare say that it's time for many in the Church to focus greater effort on obeying the above passage of Scripture...but you'll have to get in line behind me for that. It's time to saddle up, spiritually speaking, because the Lord is coming...we've seen the exit sign that tells us we will soon be leaving this world to meet Him in the air.
And our exit is just a mile or so up the road!
Greg Lauer / May 2017
If you like this article, share it with someone!
1. Deriv. of "Sunset Over Grass Field" © AOosthuizen at Can Stock Photo
2. Deriv. of "Next Exit Freeway Sign" © trekandphoto at Fotolia.com
3. "Astrology" © starblue at Fotolia.com
4. Deriv. of "Mondfinsternis" © Felix at Fotolia.com
5. Deriv. of "Judgment Day 21 May 2011" © O'Dea [CC BY-SA]
6. Deriv. of "Next Exit Freeway Sign" © trekandphoto at Fotolia.com
7. "Bus on Country Highway" © Yuri Bizgaimer at Fotolia.com
8. "Car Tachometer" © Rawf8 at Fotolia.com
(All CC-licensed works are via Wikimedia Commons.)
All Scripture is taken from the World English Bible, unless annotated as KJV (King James Version) or AKJV (American King James Version).