ASK Commentary
July 23, 2002 

Dr. Ernest Martin's Unsolved Wonder

Revelation 12 and the Mystery of the "Another Wonder" in the Heavens The key verses to the time of Christ’s birth are Revelation 12:1–2. As discussed in Dr. Martin’s book The Star that Astonished the World (Portland: ASK Publications, 1996).

“And there appeared a great wonder [sign, semeion] 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 cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.”

Combined with a mass of other evidence, Dr. Martin identified this verse as an astronomical indicator pinpointing a short period of time on September 11, 3 B.C.E. during which all the conditions of Jesus’ birth took place. The word “wonder” in the King James Version it is translated “sign” 50 times, “miracle” 23 times, “wonder” 3 times and “token” 1 time. 

The first occurrence of the Greek word, translated “sign” in the KJV is as follows,

“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Master, we would see a sign [semeion] from thee.’ But he answered and said unto them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign [semeion]; and there shall no sign [semeion] be given to it, but the sign [semeion] of the prophet Jonas.’”

• Matthew 12:38–39

This repetition is interesting. Jesus’ reply uses the word 3 times within 11 Greek words. This is done for emphasis, meaning “pay close attention, I’m repeating on purpose.” 

Likewise, Revelation 12 repeats the word “sign” in the verse 3,

And there appeared another [allo] wonder [sign, semeion] in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

• Revelation 12:3–4

Both occurrences of the same word semion in Revelation 12:1 and 12:3 are nouns, with exactly the same form (nominative neuter singular). 

Note the interesting word “another” [allo in Greek] in Revelation 12:3 which is commonly used and known as meaning “another of the same kind.” (There are other Greek words that denote “another” but another of a different kind.) The “wonder” in Revelation 12:3 is the same kind as the “wonder” in Revelation 12:1. That likely means that the wonder in verse 3 is also an astronomical indicator. However, Dr. Martin was never able to identify the celestial formation that indicated when, where, or the pattern in the heavens, of the second sign in verse 3, other than the information in the text. I asked Dr. Martin (bugged him about it actually) at least 4 times over a ten year period. He said he not yet developed more information about that "wonder" in Revelation 12:3. 

Nothing in the wonder of verse 3 changes the meaning of the wonder in verse 1, but the meaning of the 2nd wonder remains a mystery to this day. The views of other commentators are not useful because they all refuse to acknowledge that Revelation 12:1 is a astronomical indicator. Therefore their understanding of Revelation 12:3 would be faulty. They all say it is a metaphor, without explaining the imagery. 

There is another interesting problem with Revelation 12:3–4. It has to do with time. It seems apparent that the time-frame is close to the birth of Jesus, perhaps following the time of 12:1–2 or soon after. Another way of looking at this is that verses 3–4 seem to be “inserted” within a continuous narrative of verses 1–2 and 5–6. 

Note also that in verse 4 it is the dragon who casts the stars to earth, not God. Very interesting. This is because frequently messengers or angels are called “stars.” Whether that is the case here is yet to be determined, but it appears likely. 

When you go further down Revelation 12, to verses 12:7, the scene shifts to a war in heaven. The war is fought after the stars of heaven are cast down to the earth (verse 4), and after the birth of the child and the escape from the Dragon. How long after is yet to be determined, but Dr. Martin believed the fulfillment of this incident is yet future to us. 

Over the years Dr. Martin continued to seek a solution to the “other sign” of Revelation 12:3. I still seek a solution. This in no way diminishes his unique discovery and understanding of the birth of Jesus. Another instance occurs in Revelation 15:1.

"And I saw another [allo] sign [semeion] in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God."

Once again, this is "another sign" of the same kind. Does it refer back to Revelation 12:1, 12:3 or to the last occurrence of [sign, semeion] in verse 13:14? It seems that the last plagues of the wrath God are all one sign that will be visible in the heavens for all to see.

There is still much work to be done and discoveries to be made. Perhaps someone soon will come up with a solution to this biblical and historical problem of the "other sign" in Revelation 12:3 ... 

For further study note the usages of the Greek word elsewhere in Revelation: Revelation 13:13 (translated wonder), 13:14 (miracles), 15:1 (sign), 16:14 (miracles), 19:20 (miracles). 

For more background, see the following articles on the website, 

"How to Identify False Prophets

"How to Fully Escape the Great Tribulation"

David Sielaff
david@askelm.com

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