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The Christian Counter

     
MASTER OF TIMING
Page 1 of 2

In this study, we are going to take a close look at prophetic time periods and related time study principles. They are summarized in the following way:

a.      The operation and importance of the Jubilee Calendar in Bible history and prophecy.

b.      How the 18 apocalyptic time periods harmoniously support the Great Week Theory that suggests a 7,000-year history for the existence of sin.

c.       Some apocalyptic time periods are reckoned in day/year units and other time periods are reckoned in literal time.

I believe a proper understanding of prophetic time periods serves at least two purposes. The first purpose is to identify our chronological position in God’s plan, and second purpose is to help each of us affirm our prophetic faith. These two purposes work together. If believers can see where they are chronologically within God’s great plan to restore the human race to their Eden home, they will have a deep sense of confidence and anticipation in God’s timely behavior. Studying apocalyptic time periods and God’s scale of time enhances our understanding of God’s movement and purpose as He deals with humankind. For me, it is very assuring to know where we are in God’s marvelous timing. It has strengthened my faith, even when the current events appear to be less than dramatic. It is so easy to grow spiritually careless or negligent when nothing prophetically significant is taking place. This is why Jesus repeatedly warned us to stay on our toes, watching and waiting. I do not believe the ten virgins went to sleep in the midst of some great excitement. (Matthew 25: 1-13) The arrival of the bridegroom was delayed and they all grew bored and weary of waiting (since nothing was happening). Although nothing of shocking prophetic importance has happened since 1798, we should have a great deal of peace and joy as we reflect upon things that God has revealed to His children. “He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth – the Lord God Almighty is his name.” (Amos 4:13)   “He [Jesus] said,  “the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.” (Luke 8:10) Jesus says two important things in this last verse: First, God’s secrets are revealed to His children because they can only see truth through eyes of faith.” Second, Jesus taught many important spiritual concepts using parables because they require a level of understanding that the carnal heart cannot comprehend. (1 Corinthians 2:14) When using parables, Jesus was able to present wonderful truths for “truth seekers” without unnecessarily offending those people who could not understand.

18 Apocalyptic Time Period

(The word “apocalyptic” is emphasized because an apocalyptic time period is a time period that belongs to an apocalyptic prophecy. This point is made because there are other time periods mentioned in Daniel and Revelation that do not belong to an apocalyptic prophecy. For a few examples, see Daniel 4:16; Daniel 10:3 and Revelation 2:10.) I should point out that although there are 18 apocalyptic time periods mentioned in Daniel and Revelation, there are actually 14 different time periods. The difference between 14 and 18 prophecies (as I explain them) is because some time periods are identified more than once.

God carefully designed and created the prophetic time periods and each one needs to be chronologically located on a time line by students of Bible prophecy. As I said last month, I take this privilege and responsibility very seriously. The asterisks below indicate five of the 18 time periods I believe were fulfilled prior to 1994.  From my study, I have concluded that the remaining 13 time periods will occur after 1994.

(Note: Please see the charts on pages 7 and 8 of this document for the location of each time-period. These 18 time periods are not to be confused with the 18 Apocalyptic Prophecies. Instead, I am discussing 18 specific time periods.)

*1.   Time, times and half a time (saints persecuted – Daniel 7:25)

 *2.   2,300 evenings and mornings (until temple restored – Daniel 8:14) 

 *3.   70 weeks (determined upon the Jews, Messiah crucified – Daniel 9:24,25) 

4.      Times, time and half a time (when completed, power of the holy people – Daniel

9:24,25) 

5.      1,290 days (from the end of the daily to the setting up of the abomination – Daniel

12:11) 

6.      1,335 days (blesses is the one who waits for and reaches this day – Daniel 12:12) 

7.      Half hour of silence (at the opening of the 7th seal – Revelation 8:1) 

8.      5 months (length of torture upon those not having the seal of God –Revelation 9:5)

9.      Hour, day, month and year (a precise event when war begins – Revelation 9:15)

10.  42 months (Gentiles trample holy city – Revelation 11:2)

11.  1,260 days (Two Witnesses empowered for this length of time – Revelation 11:3)

12.  3.5 days (bodies of Two Witnesses lie in the street – Revelation 11:11)

13.        * 1,260 days (woman fled into the desert – Revelation 12:6)

14.        * Time, times and half a time (woman fled into the desert – Revelation 12:14)

15.        42 months (persecution of saints –Revelation 13:5)

16.        One hour (ten kings join with beast – Revelation 17:12) 

17.        One day, one hour (Babylon’s destruction begins – revelation 18:8,19)

18.        1,000 years (Satan in the abyss – Revelation 20:2)

* Fulfilled prior to 1994

Predestination

To “predestine” an event or a time period is to decree the event or time period. Since God is omnipotent, He can pre-decree an event, a process or a time period and make it come to pass. While we are discussing the subject of predestination, I should emphasize how the Bible presents a balanced perspective on this subject. God does predestine events; processes and time periods and each of these directly affect the lives of the people. (Acts 17:26) However, the Bible also clearly states that God does not predestine the eternal destiny of any person. Rebellion against God or submission to God is a matter of choice. (John 3:16)

God pre-decreed every apocalyptic time period and this predestination has fascinated me for years. Prophetic time periods remind me of the class bell during my high school days, signaling that one class ended and another class began. The bells and chimes would signal the appointed time. In the same way, God is like the registrar who set the master clock before the school year began. (Acts 1:7) Just as each bell marks the daily progression of the school year, the fulfillment of each prophetic time period in the Bible indicates Earth’s timely progression toward fulfillment of God’s plan to restore man to Eden.


“The Father Has Set…

Notice this text: “He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples]: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7) Individuals who do not want to concern themselves with the timing elements of end-time prophecy sometimes misuse this text. They reject the importance of such study and often justify their attitude with this text. This is most unfortunate. Look again at the text and read it carefully. It says two important things: First, Jesus’ statement implies that the Father has set time and dates by His own authority (omnipotence).  Second, Jesus says the Father did not want His disciples to know certain pre-decreed events that were in the far distant future. Certainly, such knowledge would have destroyed the disciple’s enthusiasm for spreading the gospel and their hope in His promised return. Imagine what would have happened if Jesus would have told them that he would not return until after the year 2004? On another occasion, Jesus said to His disciples, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” (John 6:12) Do these statements mean that Christians will never hear all that Jesus wants to reveal? Do these statements mean that no one will ever know the dates and times the Father has set? Not at all. There is a time for everything and a time when every purpose and truth under the sun will be understood. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Jesus promised His disciples that revelations regarding the future would be coming. He promised, “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears [from me], and He will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13, insertion mine)

Every student of prophecy knows that very important information for Earth’s final generation was sealed up in the book of Daniel. “He [Gabriel] replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9) This text indicates that the time of the end, new information will come from the book of Daniel. Indeed, I have found this to be the case. Within the book of Daniel, I have discovered four rules that govern apocalyptic interpretation. One of the rules concern prophetic timing and this rule unlocks a number of mysteries found in apocalyptic prophecy. This rule states that God reckons apocalyptic time periods by the presence or the absence of the Jubilee Calendar.

God is Always on Time

Another point that fascinates me about God’s timing is His punctuality. God is always on time. Notice the text: “At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.” (Exodus 12:41, italics mine)  Did you notice how the 430 years were measured “to the very day?” The next verse always makes me smile, “Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.” (Exodus 12:42) The words, “Because the Lord kept vigil” are most encouraging. This verse means that even though generations come and go, God never grows careless or indifferent about His promises. (Genesis 15:13) On the contrary, the Lord Himself delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage right on time, to the very day.

(It is my understanding that 430 years reach from the day when Joseph’s brother has sold him into Egyptas a slave until the very day of the Exodus.) When one considers all that God had to do through Moses to get Pharaoh to let His people go, it is amazing how God delivered the nation of Israel on the very day He intended. What does this say about God’s interest in punctuality? What does this say about God’s omnipotence?

Captives for 70 Years

There are many examples of God’s punctuality in the Bible. Three amazing Bible stories that build confidence in the precision of God’s timing follow. God told Jeremiah that Israel’s captivity in Babylon would last seventy years. “This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylonseventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:11) And sure enough, when the seventieth year of captivity had been fulfilled, the Jews were set free – right on time. Notice what the Lord did: “In the first year if Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and put it in writing:This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: The Lord, the God of Heaven, has given me the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.  Anyone of his people among you – may the Lord his God by with him, and let him go up [to Jerusalem].’” (2 Chronicles 36:22,23)

Tested for 70 Weeks

The second story concerns the appearing of Messiah. God gave this particular prophecy to Daniel during the Babylonian captivity, and He actually told Daniel when Messiah would begin His long awaited ministry on Earth! He also told Daniel when Messiah would bring an end to the sacrificial system that had been used since Adam and Eve sinned. (Daniel 9:27) This was a conditional promise that God would establish His kingdom on Earth if Israel passed the 69 weeks test. In other words, the exiled Jews must honor God’s covenant when they returned to their homeland. The appearing of Messiah after the passage of 69 weeks was, to ancient Israel, the equivalent of what we now call the Second Advent.

As recorded on Daniel 9, God revealed to Daniel that Messiah would appear 483 years after a decree was issued to restore and rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:25) Although God foreknew there would be four decrees regarding the reconstruction of Jerusalem, the specific decree that God wanted Israel to use as a starting point to count down the 69 weeks had a unique timing consideration that distinctly separated it from the other decrees. With God, timing is everything! The Bible record indicates that four decrees were made. They are:

1.      The decree of Cyrus in 536 B.C. – Ezra 1

 

2.      The decree of Darius in 519 B.C. – Ezra 6

 

3.      The decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. – Ezra 7

 

4.      The decree of Artaxerxes in 444 B.C. – Nehemiah 2

To make it simple, the third decree is the only decree in God’s Jubilee Calendar that occurs during the first year of a Jubilee cycle. This is why the 69 weeks of Daniel 9:25 is “spelled out” as “seven weeks and sixty two week.” (69 x 7 = 483 years) The “seven weeks” period mentioned in verse 25 is one complete Jubilee cycle of 49 years (a day of the week represents one year, so seven weeks equals 49 years). The 457 B.C. decree is the only one that satisfies this prophecy because it was given at the commencement of the 21st Jubilee cycle. God initiated the Jubilee Calendar at the time of the Exodus.) When 69 weeks had expired, Jesus appeared at the Jordan Riverfor John to baptize Him in the first year of the 70th week (A.D. 27)! (Luke 3) God’s timing is perfect!

An interesting parallel exists here. The first year of a Jubilee cycle is also the 50th year of the previous cycle. Because this is true, the prophetic significance of the decree in 457 B.C. becomes very great. (Leviticus 25:10) During a Jubilee year, God freely returned the land to its original owner. Here the parallel can be seen. God also intended to freely restore the land to the nation of Israel after the 70 weeks of years, just in time for the year of Jubilee.

Notice the Precision

At the very beginning of the Jewish year in 457 B.C. (Spring, 457 B.C.), God moved upon the heart of King Artaxerxes and prompted him to decree that Jerusalembe rebuilt. Further, he proclaimed that the land of Israel should be restored to its original owners! Notice the timing details recorded by Ezra:

 “I [Ezra] assembled them [those among the exiles returning to Jerusalem] at the canal that flows toward Ahava, and we camped there three days. When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there.” (Ezra 8:15)

“There by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:21-23)

“On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canalto go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.” (Ezra 8:31,32)

“…this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord was on him. Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. He had begun his journey from Babylonon the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalemon the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.” (Ezra 7:6-9)

When assembling the pieces of the story outlined above, the following information becomes clear. God moved upon the heart of Artaxerxes to write a decree to begin rebuilding Jerusalem on or about the first day of the fist month of Jubilee Calendar. (The first day of the first month is called Nissan 1. The Passover lamb is slain on Nissan 14). As mentioned earlier, this particular first day of the first month in the Spring of 457 B.C. marks the beginning of the twenty-first Jubilee cycle since the Exodus! In other words, the timeliness of this decree is incredible. The decree was written on or about the first day of the Jubilee year and given to Ezra who assembled a host of exiles by the Ahava Canal by the ninth day of the month.



4. Time, times and half a time (Daniel 12:7)

5. 1,290 days (Daniel 12:11)

6.  1,335 days (Daniel 12:12)

7.  Half hour (Revelation 8:1)

8.  Five months (Revelation 9:5)

9.  Hour, day, month and year (Revelation 9:15)

10. 42 Months (Revelation 11:2)

11. 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3)

12. 3.5 days (Revelation 11:9)

15. 42 Months (Revelation 13:5)

16. One hour (Revelation 17:12)

17. One hour/One day (Revelation 18:8,10)

18. One thousand years (Revelation 20:3)

To his great dismay, not one Levite wanted to go to Jerusalem. (Does this say anything about preachers?)  Consequently, Ezra was delayed for more than three days so he could round up some Levites. Eventually, the group arrived in Jerusalemon the first day of the fifth month and after resting three days, Ezra called a meeting and read the proclamation of the king. 

 

Note: The 2,300 evenings and mornings (2,300 years) prophecy of Daniel 8:14 also began at the same time as the 70 weeks, thus the 2,300 years came to an end in the Spring of 1844. From all of this information, two profound timing issues surface. First, God moved the heart of King Artaxerxes to issue the “Messiah decree” right on time in 457 B.C. In the same way, God moved on the heart of King Cyrus to release the Jewish Nation. They had been held as slaves for seventy years. The ways of God are beyond comprehension! He can put favor in a king’s heart, even whom claim they do not serve Him or do His sovereign will! What does this say about His omnipotence?  What does this say about His punctuality? Second, the Bible (as well as history) confirms that Messiah appeared during the first year of the seventieth week after the 69 weeks had expired. Jesus began His ministry, right on time, just as predicted. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of woman, born under the law.” (Galatians 4:4) 

 

These three stories – the Exodus, the 70 years of captivity and the appearing of Messiah at the appointed times – give me great confidence that God is very careful about keeping vigil. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not share one more example of God’s punctuality that removes all doubt!

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