I want to respond to a few points in a video from Scott Clarke, who evidently introduced the recent “Great Sign Revelation 12” theory (the video is down below). I will be responding to him more in the future on various aspects of his pretribulational Revelation 12 rapture theory. So this is just the first in a series of responses to him. There are other prophecy teachers piggybacking on his theory giving their own spinoffs. I do not have time to respond to every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there promoting this theory, so I will be responding namely to Scott Clarke.
For future reference, you can follow my ongoing series throughout the year responding to him at this link.
I want to comment on a few things he says.
(0:30) He says that he first discovered his theory of Revelation in “an astronomy program.” Does that sound familiar? (i.e. blood moon theory). When I hear people talk about taking astronomy and correlating it to prophecy, they end up reading it into the Bible (justifying this by citing the wise men commits category errors). So often their disposition is “I want this to work.” The end result is that Scripture ends up being twisted to fit some astronomical coordinates. This is not an argument against his theory; it is simply my observation of the history of prophecy teachers and their failed theories.
(1:10) He says that he was greatly influenced by an article written by pretrib teacher Michael Svigel who argues that the pretrib rapture can be found in Revelation 12:5. I am writing a substantive article responding to Svigel’s deeply flawed pretrib rapture interpretation in the book of Revelation. In the meantime, I participated in a written debate with him and post-tribber Craig Blomberg a while back. You can read it here. In this written debate, I was not given the allotted space to interact specifically with his Revelation 12 interpretation, and so I focused on other aspects of his pretrib view. My forthcoming paper responding to Svigel will focus on his pretrib interpretation of Revelation 12.
(1:20) He claims that he learned that centuries ago certain church interpreters believed that the “child was the church.” He says this “changed everything for him.” I am not sure if he is Protestant, but Protestants do not believe that interpreters within church history (let alone a couple of centuries ago) are the touchstone of truth or at least the beginning of truth. The Bible is our only touchstone for inspired truth. I wonder if Clarke is aware that the early church believed the church would face the Antichrist before Jesus returns. If he wants to be consistent then he needs to change his pretrib view because of this point.
(2:15) Throughout his video he adamantly says we need to “question!” established doctrine. It’s too bad that he does not take that same attitude and question his own established doctrine of pretribulationism. Scott Clarke seems like a sincere person who is seeking truth, but he is terribly misled by his preconceived strictures of his own man-made tradition.
(6:00) He confuses the great tribulation with the day of the Lord, the fatal flaw of pretribulationism. Pretrib theology gets so much eschatology wrong because they fail to distinguish these two events. He says that celestial disturbances in Joel 2:31 is a harbinger to the tribulation period. Actually it says it will signal the day of the Lord: “before the day of the LORD comes.” And if he recognized that Jesus cites from Joel in his Olivet Discourse he would know that the celestial disturbances come “Immediately after the tribulation of those days [the great tribulation, vv. 21–22] the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.” (Matt 24:29)
(7:30) He makes a lexical blunder by claiming because the Greek word harpazō is in Revelation 12:5, somehow this argues for a rapture. This sort of concordance-type methodology is fallacious and naive. You have to demonstrate that this passage is a rapture passage or at least in the context of Christ’s immediate return, otherwise you are circular reasoning. Moreover, harpazō is not a technical word for the rapture. It is used in many other contexts, not to mention it is not the only word that can be used for a rapture. Incidentally, he is getting this from Michael Svigel’s article where Svigel goes to great effort to try to connect harpazō with the rapture. In the end, his analysis of this word does not work. It is strained to fit a preconceived pretrib theory. Clarke also says that the word “rapture” is found right there in Revelation 12:5! Once again that is first rank circular reasoning. And then he actually says, “I don’t think I am reading into that.” Yes, you are Mr. Clarke. He also talks about the rapture occurring at Revelation 4:1 (I refuted this notion here), which he correlates in arbitrary fashion with Revelation 12:5.
(14:10) Being pretrib himself he goes off the imminence reservation by not affirming imminence, and that he thinks—though not claiming— that the rapture could happen on September 23rd, not before. Obviously he is getting push back from his own pretrib camp that he should not be denying imminence. This is nothing new with Clarke. There have been a host of date setters in the past who were pretrib and denied imminence to promote their date-setting. Clarke says he is not dogmatically date-setting. But he does the typical thing that many sensational teachers do: date-suggest. Functionally, I believe it is the same thing as date-setting. I just would not want to stand before God one day and say, “I was only suggesting a date.”
“Then a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet, and on her head was a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was screaming in labor pains, struggling to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadem crowns. Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days.” (Rev 12:1–6 NET)