On November 11, 2011, a group of Christians gathered to worship God together at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. I was in the Philippines at the time, but tried to follow the event from a distance as well as I was able. The special date had been put on the hearts of a number of different people around the US, and God’s leading as sensed by a number of them had converged on the planning and scheduling of this event, which they called “A Line in the Sand”
After the day had come and gone, I checked in at the website to try to get a report on what had happened. I guess mainly I was hoping if they’d gotten some specific messages of prophecy or guidance from the Lord, that these would be passed on. What I saw at first was a little discouraging. I didn’t find any reports of how the Lord had led, and the event hadn’t been as well attended as I’d expected, either. So soon afterwards I just put it out of my mind and moved on, thinking “Well, it was a good idea, but I wonder if the Lord was really in this. How do we really know after all, when a thought comes to mind, whether it originated from the Lord, from the enemy, or just from our own active imaginations?”
More than two years passed before I thought much more about this. In the meantime I began to truly see the Lord’s clear leading in my own life, as He led my family into a major transition, moving back to the US from the Philippines, and settling in the Dallas area to continue our Bible Translation support work from here. It was a complicated transition, involving buying a house for the first time ever, shipping several crates across the ocean, coordinating the move with our daughters so that they could move here from California to join us, and driving lots of things across the country to Texas. It was complicated, but yet amazingly smooth. I don’t think I’d ever had such a clear sense of the Lord’s hand in smoothing the way before us and directing our steps.
When I did think of this “Line in the Sand” event again, it was for rather different reasons, and what I’m now seeing leads me to believe that it was indeed God who had called these people together, as a sort of preparation time, confirming to their hearts that these are indeed the last days that we’re now navigating.
I had been doing a lot of astronomical studies, beginning with the Star of Bethlehem which had led to some fascinating insights, but with the results of that study leading me on into broader investigations. It turns out that the Lord God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, has clearly marked a number of things in the heavens. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at this, given what He told us through Moses back in Genesis 1:14, And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” He’d put all those things in the heavens for quite specific purposes. And the studies I’d done had made it clear that there really aren’t any limits to what God is able to do. From what we now understand about the nature of the Solar System, it’s clear that most of the details about when one planet crosses paths with another, or with a particular star, and from where on earth these events can be seen, are firmly fixed. They must have been set in place long, long ago, even before man had first set foot on earth. So if God has marked events like the birth of the Messiah by signs in the heavens, it means not only that He has the power and strength needed to control the precise position and speed of motion of each of these incredibly massive heavenly bodies, but also that way back at the dawn of time, He already knew how history would unfold. He knew that the people he was to place on earth would rebel against Him, enabling the evil one to gain much power over them. He knew that there was no one but Himself who had the ability to correct this situation. He knew that He Himself would have to step into the realm of time and space, coming to earth as our Messiah – first to die for us so that we could be reconciled and restored, and then when everything else had been set in place, to return and rule over us, for the first time bringing true peace to our troubled world. All of these events and their exact timing, He knew in advance, even before they had begun to unfold.
When I was studying the cycles of the planet Mars, and began to examine its patterns with respect to Regulus and Spica, the two brightest stars found near the path followed by the planets, that’s what brought the date Nov 11, 2011 back into focus. Not only had the Lord God called those people together for prayer in Pasadena on that date; He had also marked that date in the heavens. As far as I know, nobody there was aware of the astronomical connection. The people God had called to come together for prayer had written various accounts of how they’d been led into this, and none of them mentioned anything about expecting a sign in the heavens. But yet here it was. What we find is that on that date was a conjunction of Mars with Regulus:
(See http://www.sott.net/article/237506-Colorful-Conjunction-Mars-and-Regulus for a photo of this event on the previous day, 11/10/2011)
Now, that was just a single conjunction. Not a double or triple conjunction. So is this a rare thing – a conjunction of Mars with Regulus?
No, not at all. It happens about every two years.
So what’s so special about this?
Well, by itself I wouldn’t have given it much thought. But it seems that the Lord used this heavenly sign and the “Line in the Sand” event in Pasadena, to confirm each other as truly being from His hand, marking the beginning of something important. Because, look at what we find if we continue to track the activities of Mars after this event. Here’s the very next conjunction of Mars with Regulus about 2 years later:
(See http://blog.cajunastro.com/2013/10/16/comet-ison-mars-and-regulus-october-16-2013/ for a very nice photo of this event on the following day, 10/16/2013)
Now, this doesn’t feel all that significant either, right? The Comet Ison. At first it held some promise that it might possibly put on a spectacular show when it came near the Sun. At this point many people had their eyes on it, watching to see what would happen. But it didn’t get quite as bright as expected, and then on the swing around the Sun it fizzled and disintegrated. But on its way in toward the Sun, it seems to possibly have fulfilled a purpose. It passed by Regulus at the same time as Mars, as if to make us look up and take notice.
To notice what?
To notice Mars – to pay attention to Mars. To watch, and see what’s coming next.
And what we do see next is quite significant astronomically. A triple conjunction this time – of Mars with Spica, with the closest occurrence happening July 13-14:
Not only this, but while the triple conjunction is in process, we also find a total eclipse at Passover, with the eclipsed moon at Spica, while Mars is at the heart of Virgo:
This does not happen very often. If we examine the astronomical data for a very long time span from 5200 BC to 4200 AD, looking for all occurrences of double or triple conjunctions of Mars with Spica, with one or more total lunar eclipses occurring at Passover and/or Tabernacles of the same year or of the preceding or following year – we find all these things co-occurring only 55 times (see Lunar Eclipse/Mars Correlation Data for specific details), or on the average just one occurrence every 170 years.
The previous occurrence of a similar conjunction occurred at a very significant time for the present-day nation of Israel, in the year from fall 1966 to fall 1967, with the 6-day war happening while these conjunctions were in process:
After the 6-day war, the Passover eclipse came the following year this time:
I take the eclipse to have been a sign not of the war, which was already over, but a sign to God’s people that the victory had been from His hand, and that it was time for them to get up and go – for those who still lived in various parts of the world far from their own nation Israel, to begin coming home to their own land. There was also an eclipse in the same year as the conjunctions, but unlike the 2014 case, this one was in the 2nd month rather than the 1st, so wasn’t a Passover eclipse. So the sign wasn’t yet fully aligned with the Hebrew calendar in 1967, but would be in 2014. I take this as parallel to the fact that what was accomplished in the 6-day war also wasn’t fully completed. Israel gained the Temple Mount, the city of Jerusalem, and some of their land, but still doesn’t have full use of these things. It seems likely that the more complete sign in 2014-2015 is pointing to the completion of what was begun in 1967.
There is a fascinating pattern of correlation that has been built into the Solar System, between lunar eclipses and the cycles of Mars. Besides the pattern of Mars/Spica conjunctions that we’ve gotten a glimpse of here, there’s also a significant pattern of Mars/Regulus conjunctions. This pattern points to 1947/1948, the year of Israel’s restoration as a nation, as one major event, and then when we trace the pattern back into ancient times we find it also pointing to 1496/1495 BC – a year which, based on chronological studies currently in process, stands as a likely candidate for being the year in which Israel first became a nation upon their exodus from Egypt. As we investigate these patterns and come to recognize more and more such linkages, it becomes more and more impossible to just dismiss the correlations between historical events and signs in the heavens as coincidence. The full details are beyond the scope of this writeup, but if you’re interested in digging deeper, they are available at Lunar Eclipses and their correlation with the cycles of Mars.
Ok, so jumping back now to 2014, we see that the eclipse on Apr 15 carried deep significance because of the associated triple conjunction of Mars, and because of the similar but incomplete sign that had happened 47 years earlier in 1967. But the significance doesn’t end here. This eclipse was the first of a series of four total eclipses in a row, which all will happen at the Hebrew feast times of Tabernacles and Passover. The next two eclipses have a special significance of their own. The Hebrew calendar has an ongoing 7-year cycle of Sabbatical years, and these next two eclipses are marking Tabernacles and Passover of this Sabbatical year:
This too is a very uncommon feature, to have a Sabbatical year marked by total lunar eclipses at both the fall Tabernacles festival and the spring Passover festival. Searching for every case of a Sabbatical year marked in this way, I find only 14 occurrences in the entire time span from 4100 BC to 3100 AD. The last occurrence before 2014 was 651 years ago in the year 1363, and the next one will be the year 3085, probably very close to the end of the millennium, perhaps marking something significant after the evil one has been released for his final showdown. It was a bit more regular for the most ancient BC dates, with typically 3 occurrences every 763 years. For the full search results, see the charts at Sabbath years marked by lunar eclipses
Ok, we’ve looked at 3 of the 4 eclipses of 2014/2015. The first marked by Mars, and the second two marking the Sabbatical year. One feature of these three eclipses that seems odd at first is that they won’t be visible from Israel. They are visible from most of the US, and are marked (as “Dallas time” or “Pasadena time”) according to what location each view represents. I take them to be signs primarily to God’s people on the other side of the world from Israel. But the last of the four eclipses will be visible from Jerusalem. It will be a morning eclipse, just before sunrise in Israel. It will also be what astronomy buffs call a “supermoon”, meaning that it will look significantly larger than other full moons because it’s at a point of minimum distance from earth. Just being eclipsed near the horizon just before sunrise provides some degree of “supermoon” effect, magnifying the apparent size of the eclipsed moon. So adding to this the fact that it’s also at its minimum distance from earth, this eclipse has the potential of looking very special as the new day dawns in Jerusalem:
So that’s the last of the four eclipses in a row, happening just before the Feast of Tabernacles, on day 13 of month 7, as the new year and the new 7-year Sabbatical cycle are beginning. But let’s back up just a few days. Remember we began this investigation by tracking Mars. First 11/11/2011 was marked by a Mars/Regulus conjunction. Then two years later, 10/15/2013 was marked by a Mars/Regulus conjunction accompanied by the comet Ison. Looking once more, again two years later, a few days before the last of the four eclipses, we find one more significant event. We find the next Mars/Regulus conjunction marking the date 9/25/2015.
Ok, but what’s significant about Sept 25?
On the solar calendar that we’re accustomed to, the significance is kind of hidden. But where does this fall on the original calendar – the lunar calendar that the Lord God gave His people to follow? It’s day 10 of the Hebrew New Year, the most Holy Day of the Hebrew calendar, the day of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement:
So God got His people’s attention by pointing us to a date on the calendar we know – to 11/11/11, telling us to start watching because we’re now at the 11th hour. But by means of these astronomical connections, when the Lord God called us to take note of that date, He was also pointing ahead to the coming 2014/2015 Sabbatical year, and to the Day of Atonement following that Sabbatical year. And also to signs in the heavens which may be foretelling more conflict in Israel between now and then. The Lord God is fully familiar not only with the original calendar He gave His people to follow, given to enable them to make sense of the Signs and Seasons He has set in place – but He’s also fully familiar with the modern solar calendar that most of the world currently follows. So He’s given us a path linking us from what we know, to what He wants us to know – linking us from a recognizable date on our familiar solar calendar, the date of 11/11/11, to a recognizable and important date on the original lunar calendar – to month 7, day 10, the Day of Atonement.
So what should this mean to us – this Day of Atonement in 2015? There are students of Scripture who expect the Messiah’s return – his final return to defeat Israel’s enemies and usher in the millennium – to actually come on the Day of Atonement. Can we take this sign to be pointing to His return then? Well, we need to think on the other things that Scripture tells us before jumping to any conclusions. The Lord hasn’t given us all the details about the end times, but some basic things we can know from Scripture are:
- There will be a final 7-year tribulation period before His return.
- A leader known in Scripture as the Antichrist will be revealed and will begin to shape world events by the beginning of this 7-year tribulation period.
- By the middle of this tribulation period there will be a Temple in Jerusalem, which at this point the Antichrist will defile, in an attempt to exalt himself above the Lord of heaven and earth in whose name the Temple was built.
- Those of us now on earth whose hearts already belong to the Lord will be snatched up, taken out of the world to be with the Lord, most likely before any of these events. Our absence in fact, and of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, is likely one of the things that will clear the way for the Antichrist to begin exerting his influence. So we may not personally be here to see the revealing of the Antichrist, or the rebuilding of the Temple, and certainly not the Antichrist’s defiling of the Temple and the times of extreme tribulation which are to follow that. We’re not told when exactly we’ll be snatched up, and in fact are told to be alert and watching, because it could happen most any time.
As we take note of what’s happening in the world around us, though we do see many of the wars and rumors of war that Yeshua told us would take place near the end, we can clearly see that at this point the 7-year tribulation has not yet begun, since the Antichrist has not yet been revealed, and there still is no Temple in Jerusalem. Also the fact that we’re still here to talk about it is pretty good evidence that our Messiah’s coming is still more than 7 years away. This much we can know with clarity from what the Lord has revealed in the Scriptures. His coming to snatch us up – that’s another matter. That could come at any moment. But His coming to defeat Israel’s enemies and usher in the millennium is a different event which will come 7 years or more after the existing believers have been gathered up and taken out of the world.
Now, when this does happen – when we’re snatched up – what will this mean for those who are left? Does it mean that they’ve totally missed the boat – that they’ll now never have a chance to know the Lord and be reconciled with Him? Actually, no. And to me this is one of the amazing things about this whole plan that our Father is working out. For those who are able to think on what they’ve seen and draw rational conclusions, recognizing finally that the Word of God has been telling the truth all along, as evidenced by the amazing disappearance of so many believers – this disappearance that they’ve witnessed with their own eyes, in fulfillment of what the Scriptures said would take place – for those who now believe, He will be right there with them, leading them into truth just as He has been with us. The seven or more years ahead of them will be a particularly difficult time, and they may not live through all the way to the end, but their names too will now be written in the Lamb’s book of life, and in the end they too will be with the Lord. We actually read in the book of Revelation that during the seven years of tribulation a large number of these new believers will come into the fold, including many from the nation of Israel, and it sounds like they may well end up being some of the strongest and most faithful believers ever – seeing the truth of the gospel so clearly now that they will gladly give up their lives rather than to let go of the precious jewel that their faith has become, probably much like the faith of the original apostles who had walked with Yeshua during His time on earth.
But getting back to the question of the Day of Atonement in 2015, these things do give us a clear answer that, no, it won’t be marking the Messiah’s return and the beginning of the millennium.
Is it just a fluke then? Just an interesting coincidence that really has no meaning? I doubt it. Such a sign landing right on the Day of Atonement is not a common occurrence. Looking just at the span of years from 1900 to 2050, I find only two cases of this day being astronomically marked – by Mars/Regulus in 2015, and by Venus/Regulus in 2036. Interestingly, these two days are 21 years apart – 3 sevens of years – so both have the same potentially meaningful relationship to the cycle of Sabbatical years. For more complete data on when this kind of marking has occurred or will occur, see “Exploring Astronomical markings of Atonement Day“.
My expectation is that there is an intended meaning to the marked Day of Atonement in 2015, but I can only speculate on what it might be. It may be meant to work in conjunction with the marked 2014/2015 Sabbatical year, to help His people get on track in understanding when this cycle of Sabbatical years begins and ends – with the two middle eclipses marking the Sabbatical year itself, and the Day of Atonement and last eclipse marking the beginning of the new 7-year cycle. This marked Day of Atonement along with the Tabernacles eclipse just three days later may be a special sign to the people of Israel in Jerusalem, telling them, “Return to me, for I have redeemed you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22)
Addendum – Jul 15, 2017
In retrospect, I believe I now understand the meaning of the marked Atonement Day in 2015. During the following year I came to understand that 1917/18, 1966/67, and 2015/16 are very likely to be Jubilee years, with a number of historical observations from previous centuries also aligning with this, and even the alignment of things at Israel’s return from the Babylonian exile working well with this interpretation. So this is what the special marking of month 7, day 10 was showing us in 2015. It wasn’t marking just that day, but also the whole following year as a Jubilee year, and perhaps also the whole following 49 years as the next Jubilee cycle. Helping us to get back on track with God’s timetable.