Iconoclasm is a genuine recognition of the power of the work of art. Nigel Halliday


Streefland, Marja - VM - Marja Streefland

Marja Streefland: The Sign in the Heavens

The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God

by Marja Streefland

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The great dragon was thrown down to the earth and he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. (from Revelation 12:1-17)

Revelation 12 describes the vision of the apostle John called ‘the sign in the heavens’. He stands on the sand next to the sea when this cosmic drama is presented to him. The dramatic quality of the vision is intensified by the contrast of black and white. The painting shows the main actors in the vision: the woman, the Child and the dragon, who could be taken to represent Israel, Christ and Satan. The idea behind the painting is that John's vision can sporadically be really seen in the night sky by means of the constellations.

The dragon (constellation Draco) is thrown out of heaven by the archangel Michael. Then he appears on earth as a seven-headed dragon with seven crowns. With his tail he sweeps down a third of the stars and throws them to the earth. These stars are the fallen angels, who are visualized as the black tail of the dragon on the left side of the painting. Michael (constellation Hercules) stands on the head of the dragon.

The woman (constellation Virgo) is clothed with the sun to the right of her and the moon is under her feet. Twelve stars are on her head (constellation Leo and the planets Mercury, Mars and Venus). She is pregnant and gives birth to a child (constellation Libra or balancing scale, symbol of the justice which the male child will bring to the earth). The dragon aims to destroy the woman and the Child by the water that pours from his mouth (constellation Hydra).

All constellations mentioned in the vision can be seen in the northern hemisphere. The woman (constellation Virgo) has a crown of twelve stars on her head, which normally are the nine stars of constellation Leo. Once every 7000 years however the crown is completed by the planets Mercury, Mars and Venus, as they form the remaining three stars. Only recently it has been possible to calculate this frequency of occurrence of the twelve stars in the crown of Virgo by using NASA software. The first occurrence will take place on 23 September 2017. If you would like more background information, just google ‘Revelation 12’.

It cannot be proven that the vison in Revelation 12 refers to the combination of constellations and planets on 23 September 2017. But the idea that this vision is not only a metaphor but will be visible in the firmament, is fascinating. The Bible is clear that God can speak by means of astronomical phenomena, for instance the star of Bethlehem.

Psalm 19:2, The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Psalm 147:4, He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

Isaiah 40:26, Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.


Marja Streefland: The Sign in the Heavens, 2016, mixed media on canvas, 100 x 100 cm.

Marja Streefland (Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 1960) paints and draws in her free time. Currently she paints black-and-white pieces with acrylic paint, pencils and charcoal. She is an autodidact who continuously likes to learn and develop her work. She works as an IT architect.

Further reading: E.W. Bullinger: The Witness of the Stars, Kregel Pubns (January 1984).

ArtWay Visual Meditation August 6, 2017