Friday, December 09, 2016

Remembering J. R. Church and His Key Role in our Discovery

I'm glad to see that Prophecy in the News is revisiting this classic, a reprint of an article about how the Lord blessed brother J. R. and I in that season with a refinement of what Ernest Martin had discovered almost a decade earlier. I had learned of the interpretation of Revelation 12:1 as a celestial sign from a book called, Jesus Christ our Promised Seed, which appeared to have been inspired by Dr. Martin's work.

Exact Birthdate for Christ Discovered? Written by: J. R. Church

I wrote about it here, When Jesus was Born - The Celestial Signs, and here's J. R.'s testimony about that insight he had and the excitement of our discovery.

“Only once every 12 years will Jupiter be found in the head of Virgo. But rarely will we find Jupiter in the head of Virgo when she is clothed with the sun and the moon directly under her feet!

I called Bob Schlenker and asked him to crank up his computer program on astronomy and tell me in what year Jupiter would be found in the head of Virgo on the evening when the sun was in Virgo and the moon was under her feet.

He has one of those computer programs that can tell you precisely where any heavenly body can be found from any location on our planet at any time from 4,000 B.C. to 10,000 A.D.

It took him about 5 minutes to pinpoint the exact date recorded in the story of Revelation 12:1-5. He found Jupiter in the head of Virgo with the sun clothing the constellation and the moon under her feet on September 28, 2 B.C. The moon was .01 degrees from the sun. On the next evening, September 29, the moon was .04 degrees from the sun and moving into Libra.

Therefore, the date of 2 B.C. seems more likely to me to be the year for the birth of Christ than any other suggested date. Though calendars may change, the movement of the heavens are constant enough to give us a precise accounting of ancient events.”

He called around dinner time and I remember using an obscure shareware astronomy program on a 5 1/4 floppy disk, on my IBM-clone 286-12 with a 14" VGA monitor and a 9-pin dot matrix printer. As I recall, as long as you weren't trying to actually use Windows 3.0 for multi-tasking or run anything too serious with the native DOS 4, it worked fairly reliably. J. R. was really very accomplished with the Apple equipment, with impressive skills in desktop publishing. I believe he was very gracious to share his insight and include me in that discovery!

So, what difference does it make whether Jesus was born then or at some other time? Details matter - truth matters. While the date has become known to some, with some even discerning it from their study of the Bible and well sifted historical evidence, it's still hidden from most, obscured as one of the Lord's valuables; one of the precious keys to discerning the chronology of these end times with confidence!