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COSMIC SIGNS AND LAST DAYS PROPHECY

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They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be fed away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring: men's hearts fail­ing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:24-28).

Saddam Hussein sat silently in his private palace, sur­rounded by the most noted astrologers Morocco had. The Iraqi dictator had brought in these men from another country to assist him in a special astrology reading. Did the position of the stars tell a secret? Would Saddam be defeated in the coming Gulf War, or would he be victorious? According to inside sources, the Arab stargazers determined that the stars of heaven were on Saddam's side. Like the false prophets in 2 Chronicles 18 who gave King Ahab ill-fated prophecies of victory, Saddam was told he would defeat America and eventually defeat Israel.

The stars were wrong and so were those interpreting them. I am certain that a few heads rolled after Saddam's Iraqi armies were crushed by the coalition. The Bible speaks of the utter nonsense of believing the stars in heaven can influence and govern your private life: “Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognostica­tors, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold they shall be a stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it” (Isaiah 47:13, 14).

This type of venture, known as astrology, is a belief that the position of the stars at certain times induces the effect of good or bad luck in your daily routine. While astrology and star worship is forbidden in Scripture, there is a study of Biblical astronomy that can reveal clues to Biblical signs in the heavens as they pertain to the last days. These are the signs in the sun, moon and stars that Christ spoke of in Luke 21:25-28.

FOR SIGNS AND SEASONS

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and for years” (Genesis 1:14).

The sun, moon and stars were created for more than to simply give light to mankind. Prior to calendars, the sun determined the cycle of the day and year; and the moon determined the cycle of the month. Most primitive cul­tures used a solar calendar, but Jewish seasons were determined by a lunar calendar. In the circuit of the heav­ens, there are 48 star bodies recognized as constellations.

Jewish rabbinical sources point out that for 2,500 years, men had no written record of the words of God. According to historians such as Josephus, God gave to the first man, Adam, the secrets of the universe. Adam then passed these heavenly mysteries on to his son Seth-whose sons passed them on to their children, including one of the first proph­ets in the Bible, Enoch.

Josephus also wrote that God revealed to Adam the earth would be destroyed twice: once by a volume of wa­ter, and again by a judgment of fire. “They also were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned with the heavenly bodies and their order. And that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam's prediction that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire and an­other time by the violence and quantity of water, they made two pillars; the one of brick, and the other of stone: they in­scribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind; and also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them. Now this remains in the land of Siriad to this day. (Josephus; Antiquities of the Jews, 11.3).”

Adam's prediction of a global flood occurred in Noah's time, around 1,658 years after the creation of Adam. Adam's second warning, forecasting the destruction of the earth by fire, is also predicted in 2 Peter 3:7. This is called by theolo­gians "the renovation of the earth with fire."

If we are to understand the true purpose of the heav­enly signs, we must not embrace the perversion of per­sonal astrology. Instead, we must discover the original intent of God's creation, and see how God stamped a unique, visible picture of the progression of His story in the heavens. Our comprehension should include the abil­ity to perceive times and seasons by recognizing how God's people understood these things before pagan corruption perverted their understanding.

Numerous times in Scripture, the sun, moon and stars became a visible picture of a future prophetic promise:

* Abraham was told his seed would be as the "stars of heaven" (Genesis 21:r7).

* Joshua was given the heavenly sign of the sun staying in one spot (Joshua 10:13).

Hezekiah was given the sign of the sundial going backwards (Isaiah 38:8.

* The Magi saw a star in the east as the sign the Messiah was born (Matthew 2:2).

TWELVE MAJOR CONSTELLATIONS

I believe Adam, Seth and Enoch recognized that the con­stellations in the heavens held a mysterious redemptive story, placed there as a visible reminder of God's plan. It appears that 4,000 years ago, ancient nations (China, Chaldea, Egypt) all used the same names and meanings of the stars in the heavens.

Eventually, through idol worship, the Babylonian and Greek myths brought corruption in both the names and mean­ings. These star pictures, created originally by God, are sym­bolisms that represent things to come.

For example, out of 48 constellations, there are 12 ma­jor ones that the sun passes through during a solar year.

Jacob, the father of modern Israel, had 12 sons who were the titular heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. These tribes eventually formed the nation of Israel (see Genesis 35:22).

In chapter 37, Jacob's youngest son, Joseph, experienced a prophetic dream in which he saw the sun, moon and stars of the heavens bowing before him (Genesis 37:9). Jacob interpreted his son's dream to mean that he (Jacob), Joseph's mother and the 11 other brothers would bow be­fore Joseph (Genesis 37:10).

The 11 stars were symbols of the 11 constellations in heaven, with Joseph representing the 12th. Some Jewish schol­ars believe that the 12 tribes were given an emblem connect­ing each tribe with one of the 12 major constellations.

An example related to the tribes is the symbol for the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:9 reveals that Judah's tribal emblem is a lion. In the heavens, one of the 12 major con­stellations is a lion known as Leo. The sun begins its yearly circuit in constellation of the virgin (Virgo) and the year ends in the constellation Leo, the lion.

These two heavenly symbols, a virgin and a lion, reveal the beginning and the conclusion of Christ's ministry. He was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and He will become the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). Notice a proph­ecy given by Jacob to his son Judah: “Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shi loh come; and unto him shall the gathering o f the people be” (Genesis 49:9-10).

In his book, Jesus Christ Our Promised Seed, author Victor Wierwille writes Jacob by inspiration declares that Judah is symbolized by the lion. In the 12 constellations of the (heaven), there is one sign for the lion and that is Leo. Here in Genesis 49, Leo the lion and Judah are being identified with each other. Further, Jacob declares that "the scepter shall not depart from Judah, not the lawgiver from between his feet."

In astronomical terms, this statement is also significant because of the star named Regulus, which is the dominant, brightest star in the constellation of Leo. The Arabic word regel means foot and is identical to the Aramaic word rega and the Hebrew word regel. Thus the brightest star in the constellation of Leo has the Biblical connotation of the foot, tying in with "from between his feet" of Genesis 49:10.

In this one verse alone, the Lion of Judah, Leo, is inter­twined with a lawgiver coming from between his feet, rep­resented by the king star Regulus."

Note that all ancient civilizations recognized Regulus as the king star. The word regulus means "kingly" in the Latin. Therefore, this single star was considered the only king star in the heavenly constellations.

Another example showing the connection of Biblical sym­bols to the signs in the heavens is Revelation 1:16. John saw Christ in heaven holding seven stars in His right hand. These seven stars represent the pastors of the seven churches listed in Revelation 2 and 3 (see Revelation 1:20). There were certainly more than seven leading churches at the time John wrote this.

Why did Christ choose these particular seven churches to receive His prophetic message?

History reveals that the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3 were all located in Asia Minor, or what is today modern Turkey. All were located at the base of the Taurus Mountains. The parallel is this: In the heav­ens, there is a constellation called Taurus, the bull; in the ancient Jewish Temple, a bull offering was designated for the high priest (Leviticus 3:6-14).

Within the constellation Taurus is a star cluster called the Pleiades. It consists of a main star surrounded by seven other stars. The word Pleiades means "congrega­tion of the ruler." The Arabic name is al-Cyclone, mean­ing center, because ancient Jews and Arabs considered the Pleiades the center of the universe. How significant it is that the Pleiades, with one star surrounded by seven others, is in the constellation Tau­rus, and the seven churches were located at the base of the Taurus Mountains! (The Pleiades is mentioned in the Bible in Job 9:9 and Job 38:31). Christ had seven stars in His right hand, and He addressed the seven churches. We can see that this vision of Christ has a parallel star picture in the heavens.

The prophetic symbolism found in the Book of Revelation can correspond to certain heavenly constellations. The woman with child (Revelation 12:1, 2) is a picture of Virgo the virgin. The great dragon (Revelation 12:3) could allude to Draco, the dragon. The ram (lamb) with two horns (Rev­elation 12:11-16) and identified with the false prophet could be parallel to the star formation called Aries, the ram. Christ is called the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5); the constella­tion called Leo is identified as a lion. It appears that some of the veiled symbols John saw in his revelation were heav­enly symbols the people of his day were familiar with.

TYPES of COSMIC SIGNS

With this concept in mind, let us attempt to interpret the various prophetic signs in the sun, moon and stars. Seven types of cosmic signs are mentioned in prophecies throughout the Bible:

* A sackcloth sun (Revelation 6:12)

* A bloody moon (Revelation 6:12)

* Great signs in the heavens (Luke 21:25)

* Fearful signs in the heavens (Luke 21:11)

* Stars falling from the heavens (Matthew 24:29)

* A darkening of the constellations (Isaiah 13:10)

* The powers of heaven are shaken (Luke 21:26)

THE SIGNS IN THE SUN

Christ indicated there would be signs in the sun. Ac­cording to Biblical prophecy, during the seven-year Tribu­lation, we are told the sun will be darkened:

“And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became blood” (Revelation 6:12).

“Immediately after the tribulation ... shall the sun be dark­ened.” (Matthew 24:29).

“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 3:15).

When I read this as a child, I imagined the sun going completely black, or supernaturally burning itself out. In the early 1990s, a war in the Persian Gulf gave me an­other perspective on this prophecy. During the Gulf War, black smoke from hundreds of oil well fires poured into the blue skies over Kuwait, causing the sun to appear to be veiled in blackness.

Observers in the surrounding areas also noted that the chemicals released in the atmosphere by the fires created an illusion that caused the moon to appear to be blood red. The prophet Joel, more than 2,500 years ago, predicted:

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:31).

Could the billowing smoke, veiling the sun, and the red moon be an allusion to what Joel saw in a vision thousands of years ago? Or is there another application to the sun being darkened and the moon turning into blood? After the Gulf War, I learned that many rabbis believed that a sack­cloth sun, or the sun being darkened, could suggest a com­plete solar eclipse.

The rabbis taught that a solar eclipse is a bad omen for the world. Rabbi Meir made another observation when he said, "When the luminaries are in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel." According to the rabbinical interpretations of eclipses, a solar eclipse is a sign of trouble for the world and a lunar eclipse is a sign of trouble for Israel. No more than seven eclipses can occur in one year.

Twice in the 20th century there were seven total eclipses. Both years, 1917 and 1973, were filled with prophetic impli­cations. During the seven eclipses that occurred in 1917:

* The Russian Revolution occurred, introducing communism, and World War 1 was coming to an end.

* Occurring in December, the seventh eclipse coincided with General Allenby liberating Jerusalem from 400 years of Turkish rule.

* The Belfour Declaration was signed, giving the Jews access back to Palestine.

During the seven eclipses that occurred in 1973:

* The Yom Kippur War occurred, which could have destroyed Israel.

* The Arab oil embargo impacted America and the West. Twenty-eight nations suffered from drought.

* History's largest explosion occurred on the surface of the sun.

Since Israel is on a lunar calendar-based on the cycles of the moon-any eclipse on the moon is considered a cosmic sign for Israel. The moon has a 291/2-day cycle. In slightly less than 30 days, the moon enters a four-phase cycle as it moves from darkness to light, and back to darkness. According to Avi Ben Mordechai, in his book Signs in the Heaven, with each cycle of nearly 30 days the ancient rabbis under­stood that the moon was being reborn, or "born again."

In the Old Testament period, an entire Jewish festival was proclaimed at the beginning of the month, called the B'rit Chadasha, or the New Moon Festival. During the 1,000­year reign of Christ, the New Moon Festival will be reinsti­tuted (Isaiah 66:23).

THE MOON OF BLOOD

The inspired Bible prophets predicted that the moon would become blood (see Acts 2:20). For centuries, scholars have attempted to ascertain the meaning of this prophecy. After America's moon landing in the late 1960's, some suggested this verse could refer to a war on the surface of the moon between America and Russia.

Again, an understanding of Jewish beliefs may help ex­plain the possible meaning of this unusual prediction. In 1996, Israel celebrated the 3,0001''-year anniversary of Jerusalem­from King David's conquest in 1004 B.C. to A.D. 1996.

On Passover, April 3, 1996, a full lunar eclipse appeared over Jerusalem. A photograph of this eclipse appeared in the Jerusalem Post with the caption, "The Moon of Blood." This phrase caught my attention. When a full lunar eclipse appears, the moon takes on a reddish, almost bloody appearance.

On September 26 of the same year, a second lunar eclipse created a blood-like image and was visible in Jerusalem on the eve of the Feast of Tabernacles. A third lunar eclipse (90%) happened six months later during Purim, the cel­ebration to remember how the famed Jewish Queen Esther defeated the wicked plans of Haman.

Thus, three lunar eclipses occurring within one year on or near three Jewish celebration days is almost unheard of. These three "blood moons" caused excitement among the rabbis in Israel. The fact that a blood moon appeared twice the same year and fell on the first and last feast of Israel indicated to them that this was a cosmic sign from God of impending trouble in Israel. The ancient belief was that a blood moon (lunar eclipse) could symbolize bloodshed and war. Since 1996, thousands of Israelis have died in their own land from the suicide attacks of Islamic radicals.

From a Hebraic understanding, the signs of a sackcloth sun and a blood moon can refer to a full solar and lunar eclipse. According to the Scriptures, this will be one form of cosmic activity prior to the coming Day of the Lord and the future Tribulation (Acts 2:20).

ECLIPSE OVER EGYPT

When the final Islamic dictator forms the eighth king­dom, he will invade Egypt. We read about this in Daniel 11:43 and in the book of Ezekiel. The Bible reveals un­usual cosmic activity during this time. And when l shall put thee out, l will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark: I will cover the sun with a cloud and the moon shall not give her fight (Ezekiel 32:7). The bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and will set darkness upon the land saith the Lord God (Ezekiel 32:8).

This prophecy has two possible interpretations. First, these clouds may form through massive explosions of weapons and bombs, whose aftermath fills the skies with dark suffocating pillars of smoke and gas. This would cre­ate a dark cloud covering over both the sun and the moon.

The second possibility is that the prophecy could refer to darkness caused by a complete solar eclipse. A scrip­ture found in Ezekiel predicts a time when the king of Babylon (a type of antichrist) will come, as Nebuchadnezzar did centuries ago, and conquer Egypt. Ezekiel 30:4-6 says that Ethiopia and Libya will fall into the conflict. These three nations, Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia, will be conquered and controlled by the future Antichrist (see Daniel 11:43). The Ezekiel prophecy reads: “At Tehaphnehes also the day shall be darkened, when l shall break there the yokes of Egypt: and the pomp of her strength shall cease in her: as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity” (Ezekiel 30:18).

If the fulfillment of this prophecy is linked to a solar eclipse, there are two eclipses that will cover this area mentioned with darkness. The first one is on October 3, 2005 at 12:50 p.m. Cairo time, and another on March 29, 2006 at 11:52 a.m. Cairo time. Dr. J. H. Hertz makes an interesting obser­vation related to the March 29, 2006 eclipse. According to him, the ninth plague to hit Egypt in the time of Moses happened on the first of Nisan.

March 29, 2006 is the first of Nisan on the Jewish cal­endar. On this date and at this particular time, there will be a 114-mile path of total darkness in the very area men­tioned by Ezekiel. Of course, there will be other future eclipses, but these are the more recently predicted. Such research by Christian astronomers helps them examine the evidence to see if there is a connection to Biblical prophecy, and the possible time of its fulfillment.

SIGNS OF THE PLANETS

One of the strangest petitions in Scripture is when King Hezekiah requested that the shadow of the sundial go back­wards ten degrees (2 Kings 20:11). In order for this to hap­pen, it would necessitate a shifting in the rotation of the earth, and that would cause a global upheaval. Ancient historians Berosus and Seneca said this is what occurred.

Plato ascribed the conflagrations of the world to the ac­tion of a "celestial body that, changing its path, passed close by the earth." This may be why in about 701 B.C., the ancient global calendars changed from a 360-day-a-year calendar to a calendar with five extra days added each year. For an additional five days to be added, some drastic change had to occur.

At the time of the Exodus 3,500 years ago, a series of ten plagues struck Egypt. An ancient papyrus, written on both sides, was found in Memphis, Egypt, near the pyramids. In 1828, it was acquired by the museum of Leiden in the Neth­erlands, and Alan Gardnier translated it in 1909. The papy­rus was a lamentation that revealed the horror and ruins of Egypt. The information in the scroll dealt with Upper Egypt, the same area where the Hebrews lived and eventually made their exodus.

In his book, Ages in Chaos, author Immanuel Velikovsky believes the papyrus alludes to the plagues that struck Egypt at the time of the Exodus. The plagues of Egypt included three days of darkness (Exodus 10:21J, large hail stones (Exo­dus 9:24) and rivers turning into blood (Exodus 7:20). In Up­per Egypt, the fields and cattle were devastated (see Exodus 9:25, 10:15). These plagues were God's judgment being un­leashed against the unbelieving, idolatrous Egyptians who held the Hebrews in captivity.

Numerous secular historians wrote of strange and hor­rible plagues that struck the earth about the same time that the exodus was under way in Egypt. Some scholars point out that a massive comet passed by the earth about the time that God opened the Red Sea. In Natural History, Pliny wrote that it was "a terrible comet . . . (that) was twisted like a coil, and it was very grim to behold." The Jewish Talmud reports that stones fell in Egypt and were very hot. An Arabian writer from the ninth century named Masudi related the tradition of this catastrophe and told of swift clouds, ants and other signs of the Lord's rage when many perished in Mecca.

In Ages of Chaos, author Immanuel Velikovsky writes about "plagues of insects, drought, and earthquake in the night . . . clouds sweeping the ground, (and) a tidal flood carrying away entire tribes. These disturbances were ex­perienced in Arabia and Egypt alike."

Whatever method God used to judge the Egyptians, the impact was felt as far away as Arabia. Astronomers seem to think the Egyptian catastrophe was rooted in some form of a heavenly activity, perhaps by a comet passing close to the earth's orbit. In early history, the planets were considered wandering stars. Modern science acknowledges the exist­ence of nine planets, but the early Hebrews recognized only seven planets. The seven-branched candlestick in the an­cient Jewish Temple was a picture of the seven planets. Called the menorah, it consisted of seven gold branches filled with olive oil that provided light for the holy place:

The Temple ... had in it three things that were very wonder­ful and famous among all mankind: the candlestick, the table (of shewbread), and the altar of incense. Now the seven lamps signified the seven planets; for so many there were springing out of the candlestick (Josephus, War of the Jews, VS).

ALIGNMENT AT THE TIME OF CREATION

Modern computer software can now trace the position of the sun, moon and stars in history as far back as 3996, B.C. According to some models, the seven planets were in a straight line at the time of the creation of Adam. This alignment was similar to the seven lamps sitting on top of the menorah.

According to computer models, a similar alignment occurred the year that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, and on August 3, 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed.

On December 1, 1997, the moon and eight of the planets lined up in a straight line. This alignment lasted for eight days and occurred during the Jewish celebration called Ha­nukkah, also known as the Feast of Lights. From west to east it was Pluto, Mercury, Mars, Neptune, Jupiter and Saturn.

A similar alignment occurred again in May 2000. This string alignment is a noted event in secular history. For example, the Chinese calendar began about 1953 B.C., with a planetary alignment in which all of the visible planets were lined up next to the sun. This same alignment was repeated on May 5, 2002. On this day in Bethlehem, at the Church of the Nativity where Christ was born, a siege was underway involving local Islamic militants.

During May, 2002, another cosmic sign appeared in the sky over Bethlehem. On April 1, 2 B.C., the planets Sat­urn, Venus, and' Mars formed a triangular conjunction that could be seen in Israel. On May 5, 2002, another triangu­lar conjunction occurred with three planets, and was vis­ible in Israel. It appeared to be directly over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

It is possible that the cosmic signs that introduced the birth of King Messiah may be repeating themselves to in­troduce the return of the King!

The planetary alignments were once thought to create dangerous stress on the earth, but scientists have discov­ered that the pull of the planets is too far away to have any impact on earth. Therefore, they serve only as a sign, or a visible indicator of prophetic parallels.

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MORE SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS

In early history, the planet Mars was recognized by the Romans and Greeks as a planet of war. Among the He­brews, the planet Jupiter had a special meaning. The He­brew name is Tzedeq, which means "righteous one." It was called the Star of David and it represented kingship, coronations and the birth of kings.

In 1994, a cosmic event involving Jupiter excited both astronomers and rabbis. A comet known as the Shoemaker­Levi comet broke into 21 pieces. For seven straight days, from July 16 to July 22, a series of 16 fragments from the comet began to bombard the surface of Jupiter. These im­pacts caused explosions much larger and more powerful than the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. They covered an area that was much larger than the diameter of the Earth. Hebrew researchers indicate that, according to Jewish tradition, when the planet Jupiter is hit in the heavens, it is a sign of the end of the world. It is also strange that the beginning of this cosmic activity was the 9th of Av on the Hebrew calendar. This was the anniversary of the destruction of both Jewish Temples in 587 B.C. and A.D. 70. Note also that the bombardment occurred on the same day that secret talks to discuss exchanging Israel's land for peace were being conducted in Oslo, Norway.

Since the planet Jupiter was considered to be the planet representing King David, and he was given the promise of a throne in Jerusalem, the bombardment of Jupiter can be interpreted as a sign of future strikes on Israel, Jerusa­lem and the Jewish people. Certainly the end-time Bibli­cal prophecies speak of a time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7).

This phase alludes to the 7-year Tribulation period when Israel will experience one more assault from the offspring of Ishmael as they aspire to reverse the blessing of the birthright God imparted to Abraham's seed through Isaac and Jacob. This historic family feud between the Hebrews and their Arab cousins will climax during this final seven years of Tribulation that is recorded in Daniel 9:27.

THE APPEARANCE OF COMETS

Throughout secular history, comets have been consid­ered a bad omen. They often appear several years before a major war or natural disaster. In ancient history, nations would not enter into battle after a comet was observed.

One of the first comets to ever be named was discov­ered by Sir Edmund Halley. Named Halley's comet, it re­appears approximately every 78 years. Researchers note that this comet appeared in 12 B.C. at the time Herod was extending the Temple platform in Jerusalem. It reap­peared in A.D. 66, four years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

THE HALE-BOPP COMET

The initial discovery of this large comet was on April 27, 1993. On the Hebrew calendar this was the 6th of Iyar. Forty ­five years prior, on the same day, the British Mandate over Palestine ended. On our calendar this date was May 15, 1948, the official day Israel was re-birthed as a nation.

On August 2, 1995, the pre-discovery images were found on plates taken at the Anglo-Australian Observatory that showed the comet was active. It was spotted again on July 23, 1995 in the constellation Sagittarius, the half-man, half-beast constellation (perhaps a picture of the coming Antichrist). It was reported that the comet was 50 times brighter than Halley's comet.

The Hale-Bopp comet was eventually seen by the hu­man eye during the entire year of 1998. According to Chris­tian astronomers such as Bob Wadsworth, the last time this comet was seen was when it passed by the earth about 4,200 years ago. This would be about the time Noah began building the ark. Bill Cloud, founder of Shoreshim Ministries, states that according to the Seder Olam Rabbah, an ancient Jewish text, a comet appeared in the heavens at the time that Noah was building the ark.

Imagine, some 4,200 years later, seeing the same comet that was visible at the time when Noah was warned the flood was coming! Jesus said in Matthew 24:37-39, "But as the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." The cosmic sign of Noah's day was again re­peated in our generation.

On May 20, 1997, the Hale-Bopp comet entered Orion and had exited it by June 16. The comet was positioned in Orion during the Jewish Feast of Pentecost (June 11, 1997). In 1998, it was reported in Israel that, according to Jewish oral tradition, when a comet was seen passing through, Orion, it was a sign that the earth would be destroyed. The combination of the bombardment of Jupiter and the huge Hale-Bopp comet created a stir among prophetic students who endeavor to discern the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3) and the signs in the heavens (Luke 21:25).

An additional note, when the Hale-Bopp comet was vis­ible on earth, it was the year 5758 on the Jewish calendar. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a number value, and the numbers can be interchanged as letters of the alphabet. The name Noah in Hebrew is two letters, Nun and Het. The numerical value of Nun is 50, and the value of Het is eight. Therefore, the Hebrew name Noah totals 58. How unique: that the comet Noah witnessed in his day reappeared unex­pectedly 4,200 years later at a time when the last two numbers on the Jewish calendar spell Noah in Hebrew!

THE MEANING OF FALLING STARS

It may seem strange to many that Hebrew astronomic investigators have noted that major prophetic events are also connected to falling stars or meteorite showers. When any strange cosmic activity happens on a Jewish feast day or other noted season marking Jewish history, it is taken as either a good or bad omen, depending upon how the ancient teachers viewed the previous patterns of such activity in history.

One day during the Jewish year that is considered the worst day in Hebrew history is the 9th of Av. According to Jewish tradition, the following bad events occurred on the 9th of Av:

* The 10 spies brought an evil report to Moses.

* The first Temple /Solomon's) was destroyed by the Babylonians.

* The second Temple, built by Zerubbabel, was destroyed by the Romans.

* In A.D. 71, the Romans plowed the city under with salt and destroyed the third Temple (Herod's).

* The messianic hero, Shimon Bar Kochba, and his men were destroyed.

* England expelled its entire Jewish population in A.D. 1492.

* Twenty-one huge meteorites hit Jupiter in 1994

* A huge meteorite shower hit Earth in 1997

In his historical writings, the Jewish historian Josephus gave a list of the strange and supernatural signs that oc­curred four years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem: “The signs were so evident and did plainly foretell their future desolation ... Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet that contin­ued a whole year ... on the feast of unleavened bread on the eighth day of Nisan at the at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shown round about the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for an hour ... At the same time a heifer, as she was led to sacri­fice, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner court of the temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and rested upon a ba­sis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the first floor, which was made of entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Those who kept the Temple came running to the captain of the Temple, and told him of it: who then came up hither, and not without great difficulty, was able to shut the gate again” (Josephus, Antiquities, War of the Jews.

These series of cosmic signs began occurring four years prior to the actual destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. The comet that passed through in the year A.D. 66 was believed to be Halley's comet. The most unusual cosmic sign was the "star that was shaped like a sword." Naturally this was interpreted as a sign of war with the Romans, and the eventual defeat of the Jewish revolt. The meaning of the "star shaped like a sword" has been a mystery until recently.

During a meteorite shower in Italy in 1998, a photograph of it displayed the falling stars fashioning the shape of a large sword in the heavens! (Center section). Four years prior to Israel's war with the Romans that led to Jerusalem's demise, the star like a sword was a cosmic warning of impending dan­ger. Four years prior to America's war on terrorism, and ap­proximately four years prior to the Catholic Church experienc­ing its worst internal conflict in hundreds of years, a meteor­ite shower formed a sword over Italy! In November of 2001, another meteorite shower, the Le­onid shower, occurred. This time the cosmic dust appeared to be falling from the paw of Leo the lion. As stated earlier, the lion is the emblem of the tribe of Judah. Christ is iden­tified as the "lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5).

This meteorite shower also formed the shape of a long sword in the sky. Was the sign that Josephus recorded, the star shaped like a sword, a meteorite shower that was visible over Jerusalem? If so, we are experiencing a repeat of the same type of signs.

One may say, "Hasn't there always been comets, eclipses and meteorite showers? What is so important about these?" These are important because they are falling on Hebrew feast days and are happening during times when other Bib­lical prophecies are being fulfilled. Some, such as Hale-­Bopp, have a pattern associated with the days of Noah. Since Jesus said there would be signs in the sun, moon, and stars, then we must be aware of these signs and un­derstand how to properly discern them.

At the time of the birth of Christ, there were wise men from Persia and Babylon called Magi. These men were trained to scrutinize the alignment and position of the plan­ets in the constellations. When certain planets were posi­tioned within certain constellations, it was understood as a sign of a coming war, or possibly the birth of a king. Such was the case when the Magi came to King Herod and an­nounced the birth of a Jewish king. These astronomers had seen His star in the east (Matthew 2:2).

The star they saw was likely a conjunction of certain plan­ets that created a very bright star in the heavens. Astrono­mers note that on August 12, 3 B.C., Jupiter (the king star) and Venus (the morning star) were in conjunction. Any con­junction with Jupiter was considered a sign of the birth of a leader or royalty. Due to the corruption of astronomy that was birthed by astrology, the true understanding of the signs in the heavens was lost and the myth-seekers and star­gazers took the symbols of the twelve constellations and began applying them to the personal, daily lives of people.

After hundreds of years, Christian researchers are now reexamining and revisiting the original meaning of the stars and their signs. Such a book is W. E. Bullinger's Witness in the Stars. The stars in the sky are a visible word picture of the progression of God's revelation of Jesus Christ.

Many of the symbols used in the Book of Revelation-the lamb with two horns, the dragon, the virgin woman in tra­vail, and the lion-are all part of the ancient symbols con­nected to major constellations.

THE SIGN OF THE GRAND CROSS

Prior to the new millennium, a total solar eclipse over the Middle East was interpreted by some as a sign of the time of the end. On August 11, 1999, a total solar eclipse occurred over Israel. In Europe and the Middle East, from start to finish, it lasted from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., about three hours. At the time of the eclipse, four planets-Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Uranus-were positioned in such a manner that, if a person were to draw an invisible line from one planet to another, it would form an X-shaped cross.

Called a "Grand Cross," this unique sign becomes more interesting when you consider the time in which the eclipse and the positioning of these four planets occurred. Christian astronomers point out that on Passover, April 28 in A.D. 28, the same four planets were in a similar position to form a Grand Cross. Some scholars believe this was the time of the crucifixion.

If April 28 in A.D. 28 is the first day, and we move forward using the ancient 360 day a year prophetic calendar, then 2,000 years later (720,000 days) the date is August 11, 1999, the same day the three-hour eclipse occurred from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The New Testament notes that as Christ hung on the cross, there was darkness upon the earth for three hours, from the third to the ninth hour (Luke 23:44). This was from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Both days fell on a Wednesday.

One of my secular Muslim friends in Jerusalem told me that Muslims living in Jerusalem and the West Bank fell into great fear when this eclipse occurred. Many remained locked in their homes, praying. Some who were very illiterate be­lieved this was a sign the world was coming to an end and the day of judgement was about to arrive. Other Muslims believe a tradition that a time of great darkness will precede the day of judgement.

How interesting it is that the sign of the Grand Cross, a unique positioning of four planets, was seen in darkness as the sun was hidden for three hours, stretching from the Middle East into Europe! The next day, August 12, 1999, the new moon was visible at sunset. This first day of Elul on the. Hebrew calendar begins a period of 40 days of repentance that concludes on Yom Kipper, the Day of Atonement.

Perhaps the eclipse was a reminder of the darkness the earth would enter, and the Grand Cross was a reminder that our faith in the Cross of Christ is our only solution. The answer for humanity is to repent of sins and accept the redemptive work of Christ. A month later, Israel celebrated its New Year on September 11.

TARGET DATE: SEPTEMBER 11

The plan was set and the strike date was September 11. Immediately following the breaking news reports from New York, my office was inundated with a myriad of e­mails and phone calls, asking if we had inside informa­tion about what was happening and why. The question kept coming up, "Why was September 11 selected?" Is this date special in the Islamic religion? Was it linked to American history? Many Islamic terrorist attacks have occurred in the month of September: September 6, 1970-Palestinian militants hijacked four different airliners in one day.

* September 5, 1972.-Black September terrorists executed an attack at the Olympics

* September 10, 1976-Croatian terrorists hijacked a TWA airliner.

* September 23, 1983-An Omni Gulf airbus was brought down by a bomb.

* September 20, 1984-Islamic radicals bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut

* September i1, tool-Terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon

The month of September has been marked as a month for terrorist attacks. Often, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, falls in the month of September.

THE STAR THAT LED THE MAGI

While nobody is certain about the actual birthday of Christ, scholars note that the Magi came to see Him in Bethlehem after "seeing His star in the east" (Matthew 2:2). These Magi were possibly chief men of the Persian religion. They were among six tribes of the Medes. In his­tory, they would have interpreted the dreams of the Per­sian leaders and were noted for their genuine knowledge in the natural and spiritual realms. They were also famil­iar with the astronomical phenomena.

There was also a religious belief among the Persians that three deliverers would come. Two would be prophets who would reform the world and raise up a kingdom, and a third would rule the kingdom and raise the dead. These men may have been influenced by the Jewish Scriptures and history left in their nation after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity. The Magi's reference to "his star" may be this verse: “I shall see him, but not now: l shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth (Numbers 24:17).”

Because the Hebrew prophet Daniel held a high position in the Persian Empire, I am certain the wise men of the Medes and Persians were familiar with Daniel's prophe­cies concerning the future of Israel. These prophecies, along with the predictions in the Torah, gave these men an un­derstanding that a king Messiah would one day be born in Israel. Daniel was set in command over the wise men in his time (Daniel 6:3).

So, it was a cosmic occurrence in the heavens that pre­cipitated the interest of the Magi in journeying to Israel to visit the infant child destined to be the King of the Jews. It appears this mysterious star was actually formed by some type of planetary conjunction that developed within one of the major constellations.

Victor Paul Wierwille, in his book Jesus Christ, Our Prom­ised Seed, uses Scriptural, historical, and astronomical evi­dence to evaluate and answer the question, "When was Jesus Christ born?" Western Christians traditionally celebrate Christ's birth on December 25. It may be possible that He was conceived at this time, but His birth would have actu­ally occurred in the early Fall, more than likely on or near one of the Fall feasts of Israel.

Scholars have placed Christ's birth from as early as 7 B.C. to as late as 1 B.C. No early church source places the birth of Christ before 4 B.C. In fact, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Julius Africanus, Bishop Hippolytus of Rome, Origen and Euseubus all date the birth of Christ between 3 B.C. and 2 B.C. Also, Josephus records an eclipse that oc­curred at the death of Herod.

Secular history records five major eclipses from 5 B.C. to January 9, 1 B.C. Jesus was in Egypt at the time Herod died, and the angels told Joseph it was safe to bring Jesus back to Israel (Matthew 2:19-20). Most evidence points to the January 9, 1 B.C. eclipse being the one that occurred at Herod's death. This would coincide with Jesus' birth being either 2 or 3 B.C., since Christ was in Egypt for a brief time as an infant.

The Magi saw "His star." The ancients considered all heav­enly bodies as stars, including the planets (except the sun and moon). In ancient history, Jupiter was considered the star of kingship, even among ancient Jewish scholars.

Three years before the birth of Moses, Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction in the constellation Pisces. Josephus, Abarbanel, Eliazar and other historians affirm that Egyptian astronomers interpreted this sign as an indicator that a great man would be born among the Jews. Perhaps this is why Pharaoh placed heavier workloads on the Hebrews.

What cosmic event happened between 3 and 2 B.C. that would have served as a sign of the birth of the King of the Jews? In both 3 B.C. and 2 B.C., there was a series of conjunc­tions that involved the planet Jupiter. In 3 B.C. Jupiter, the planet representing King David, was in conjunction with Regu­lus, the star of kingship, in the constellation Leo the lion, considered to represent the tribe of Judah. This conjunction in the lion would have served as a sign of the birth of a leader.

The Book of Revelation gives the prophetic scene that unfolded at the birth of Christ, and tells us how Satan at­tempted to kill Christ after His birth: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered” (Revelation I2:I, 2).

The scene is describing in graphic terms the astronomi­cal activity at the time of Christ's birth. Mary, Christ's mother, was a virgin. The constellation Virgo represents a virgin. In Revelation 12, the sun appears to "clothe the woman."

As the sun travels its elliptical trajectory through a year, it enters into the body of the constellation Virgo. The sun is in the area between the neck and the knees, for approximately 24 hours. A new moon is formed during this period under the feet of Virgo.

According to Victor Wierwille, on September 11, 3 B.C., the sun and moon were in such a position in the constella­tion Virgo. On September 11, sunset was at 6:18 p.m. and moonset at 7:39 p.m. It would have been during this 81­ minute period of time that Christ would have been born in Bethlehem, the city of David, of the tribe of Judah! The Gospel of Luke indicates the shepherds visited the child at night. This was Tishri 1 on the Jewish calendar.

September 11, 3 B.C. was also a Jewish feast day known as Rosh Hashanah. This is the Jewish New Year. According to Hebrew tradition, Rosh Hashanah is the time Adam was created. The reckoning of the Chronicles of the king was counted from first Tishri 1, because it was the beginning or head of the year on the Hebrew calendar (Rosh means head).

September 11, 3 B.C. is believed by other researchers such as Craig Chester, co-founder of the Monterey Institute for the Research of Astronomy, to be the actual day Christ was born in Bethlehem. Dr. Ernest Martin, in his book The Star of Bethlehem: the Star that Astonished the World, also indi­cates that according to the cosmic signs, the birth of Christ was on September 11, 3 B. C. These books and articles were written years before the attack that shook the world! Those who assume the Bible says little about the importance of cosmic activity should perhaps reconsider their opinions in the light of the Scriptures.

AL-QAEDA AND SEPTEMBER II

One can be almost certain that Al-Qaeda did not posi­tion America's terrorist attack for September 11 as an assault on Christianity because of Christ's birthday. Yet, if this date is correct, it is imaginable that our spiritual adversary selected September 11 as the season for a major strike as a mockery of America, which is globally recog­nized as a Christian nation.

The prophetic imagery in Revelation 12 is that of a male child being born to rule the nations. It pictures the dragon (Satan) attempting to destroy the child. The man child, who is Christ, is "caught up to the throne of God." Afterwards, Satan sets his attention towards a remnant of believers.

According to Biblical prophecy, the Antichrist and the false prophet will produce their own supernatural signs to im­press humanity to follow their diabolical program (see Rev­elation 13:12-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). With such warning, we should not be surprised when strange and unusual signs begin to appear in the Muslim world. After all, the Apostle Paul warned of the danger of spiritual deception inspired by satanic signs and wonders:

Whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they re­ceived not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11).

Often in Scripture and in prophecy, bleeding images, crying statues and other supernatural phenomena are nothing more than an assignment of the Adversary to draw attention away from Christ. They are attempts to draw attention away from the Bible and the truth. The birth of a lamb in a Muslim village helps to illustrate this danger.

MUSLIMS AND THE LAMB OF GOD

Just as Christians carefully discern the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3) to ascertain the prophetic season we are in, Muslims likewise have their own conviction about the last days and the signs that precede the Mahdi and the day of judgment. They, too, believe we live in a momen­tous season. From time to time, an unusual incident will generate renewed concern in the approaching last days.

Such interest was generated in Uzbekistan with the birth of a lamb. The headlines of The Nando Times read "Lamb of God Brings Consolation, Controversy." To a Christian, the title would suggest an article about Jesus Christ whose life of sacrifice identified Him as the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29). Instead, the article told of a lamb that was born in Durmen Village in Uzbekistan.

Born three days before Eid al-Adha, the Islamic holiday marking the end of Muslims' annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the lamb had unusual white patterns on its black fleece. The patterns resembled the Arabic mark for the word Allah on one side, and the mark for the name Muhammad on the other side.

The markings on the lamb caused a major stir, drawing visitors from China, Turkey, Central Asia and all the Ara­bic nations. How could a lamb be born with these two marks on its sides? Was this a mere natural phenomenon, a sign from Allah, or the early stages of what the Apostle Paul warned of-signs and wonders that will eventually cause people to be deceived?

THE FINAL SIGNS

Muslims, Jews and Christians believe there are certain signs of the end of the age. The Muslims believe in the Mahdi and various signs of the end of time. The religious Jews are looking for the Messiah and have a series of Old Testament prophecies that indicate the birth pangs of the Messiah have arrived. Christians combine both the Old and New Testa­ment revelations to form a Scriptural end-time theology.

The difference between Christian theology and Islamic be­liefs is that, to the Christian, the Bible is a book of prophecy and redemption; while the Koran is a book of simple instruc­tion. The fulfillment of Biblical signs gives ample proof that the Scriptures are true. Cosmic signs are only one part of the evidence that indicates we are in the time of the end.

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