The BIBLICAL PROPHETIC YEAR

 

ITS LENGTH, ORIGIN AND APPLICATION

 

ZIONS TOWER of the MORNING TRACT PUBLICATIONS

P. O. Box 28021 Detroit, Mich. 48228

 

1983

 

C. F. Redeker, 1982

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Introduction

 

PART ONE—Length of the Prophetic Year

 

PART TWO—Origin of the Prophetic Year

 

PART THREE—Application of the Prophetic Year .

 

A. The Reign of Antichrist

B. The "Times of the Gentiles".

C. Related Time Prophecies D. Evaluating Methods of Prophetic Interpretation

 

Summary and Conclusions .

 

References

 

Appendix: Structure of the Jewish Calendar

 

CHARTS AND TABLES

 

Exhibit Page

 

A. Comparison of Selected Scriptural Time Periods B. Comparison of Solar and Lunar Years C. Average of Solar and Lunar Years D. Comparison of Gregorian (General) and Jewish Months E. Average of Gregorian and Jewish Months F. Period of Reign of Antichrist and Persecution of True Church—A Comparison of Time Prophecies G. Period of Reign of Antichrist System (Diagram) H. The Prophetic "Times of the Gentiles" (Diagram) I. Summary of Biblical Time Prophecies Employing the "Year- Day" Principle J. Time Prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9 (Diagram) K. Prophetic Days of Daniel 12 (Diagram) L. Seventy Weeks of Daniel’s Prophecy (Diagram) M. Historical Fulfillments of Major Bible Time Prophecies N. Synchronized Jewish Calendar O. Six Types of the Jewish Year P. General vs. Jewish Years (Diagram)

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The time prophecies of the Bible have interested and intrigued students of the Bible for many generations. Though the greatest advances in understanding were made in the last two hundred years as the historical fulfillments supported the correct interpretations, certain basic principles were understood many years earlier.

 

For example, the "year- day" principle depicted in the prophecies of Daniel (and later in Revelation) was widely known and taught by leading expositors throughout the centuries: the Jews first applied it to the "seventy weeks" of Daniel prior to the first advent (their emphasis being on the duration of the second Temple), before being adopted by early Christian writers. Jewish expositors again took the lead in applying the year- day principle to the 1290, 1335, and 2300 days of Daniel in the 8th century, followed by pre- Reformation Christian teachers, and continuing to our day.

 

This study is directed primarily to those time prophecies which are stated in terms of years (" times") or months. It is not intended to be exhaustive in covering all aspects of even these respective prophecies, but to concentrate merely on the time features.

 

As will be shown, the biblical prophetic year and month are not the same length as the corresponding periods Of the civil calendar in normal use. Just how and why they differ make a fascinating study for those interested in this aspect of prophecy and in attempting to search out some of the mysterious workings of the wisdom of our great God displayed therein.

 

The specific objectives of this study are:

 

1. To determine the length in days of the prophetic year and the prophetic month as they are used in the Bible, using a procedure that will stand the test of formal mathematical reasoning.

 

2. To attempt to find the basis used by the Divine Timekeeper for the selection of these particular time spans, to the extent that such information has been made available to us.

 

3. To provide examples of the application of this knowledge to the understanding of selected Bible time prophecies.

 

4. To utilize this knowledge in evaluating conflicting methods of prophetic interpretation, particularly as they bear upon end- time events.

 

As we consider the contributions of earnest truth seekers through the centuries who sought to understand the prophecies of God’s Word, His providences in guiding and illuminating His people are clearly manifested. There emerges a consistent pattern of interpretation and approach to the prophecies, which in many instances lacked only the culminating historic event to provide the full understanding. Today, with the benefit of hindsight, we can appreciate with gratitude the firm prophetic foundation which the faith and diligence of our fathers have provided for us. Such a realization cannot fail to encourage and strengthen our own faith, as we enter the final days of the church’s sojourn this side of the veil.

 

 

 

Part One—LENGTH OF THE PROPHETIC YEAR

 

To begin with, let us turn to four Scriptures from Daniel and Revelation for special study and correlation. These are Daniel 7: 24,25; Revelation 13: 4- 7; Revelation 12: 6; and Revelation 12: 14. Each contain expressions and time features so similar to each other that they invite careful comparison.

 

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Exhibit A  - Comparison of Selected Scriptural Time Periods

 

TEXT                   DESCRIPTION                 TIME PERIODS

 

Daniel 7: 24,25        A king speaking against     Time, times, and

                       the Most High and wear-     dividing of times

                       ing out the saints.         (3- 1/ 2 times).

 

Revelation 13: 4- 7    A beast blaspheming God,    Forty- two months

                       making war, and overcom-    (42 months).

                       ing the saints.

 

Revelation 12: 6       A woman taking refuge in     1260 days.

                       the wilderness and fed.

 

Revelation 12: 14      A woman nourished in the     Time, times, and

                       the wilderness.              half a time

                                                    (3- 1/ 2 times).

 

 _____________________________________________________________________________

 

As seen from the arrangement of Exhibit A, the first two texts are describing the same event, though slightly different terms are used. In the first, a king speaks out against the Most High (God) and wears out the saints for a "time, times, and a dividing of times." In the second, a beast is heard blaspheming God and -wearing out the saints for a period of "forty- two months." We understand that the "king" and the "beast" are both descriptive of a great Antichrist system which arose to heights of power in opposition to the truth and persecuted the true saints, as will be examined in more detail later.

 

The "time, times, and dividing of times" of Daniel 7: 24,25 we understand to mean 3- 1/ 2 times, which in Bible usage would represent 3- 1/ 2 years; in this case, 3- l/ 2 symbolic years, as will be demonstrated in Part Three of this presentation. The number of years is deduced from a comparison with Revelation 13: 4- 7, where 42 months is given for the same period of time. We can readily convert the 42 months into years by dividing by 12: thus, 42 months (divided by) 12 = 3 1/2 years. . Three and one- half years, then, must be the equivalent to "time, times, and dividing of times."

 

Returning to Exhibit A, we note that the last two texts are also describing an identical event. In Revelation 12: 6, a woman is shown taking refuge in the wilderness and being fed for "1260 days." In Revelation 12: 14, a woman is depicted as being nourished in the wilderness for a "time, times, and half a time." We understand that the "woman" here referred to represents the true church, which was persecuted by the great Antichrist system and was forced to flee into the (spiritual) wilderness condition. The "time, times, and half a time" stands for 3 1/2 times, or 3 1/2 years (as derived above) and must be equivalent to the 1260 days of the parallel text.

 

But now let us take an overall view of all four of the above Scriptures together. Are they not all describing the very same period of time? The first two texts refer to the persecuting power of the antichrist, the last two to the vanquished condition of the true church. The first two equate the 42 months with the 3- 1/ 2 years, the last two equate the 1260 days with the 3- l/ 2 years. Considered together, there are two diversely stated time expressions equivalent to the very same entity, that is, the 3- 1/ 2 years.

 

Let us express this relationship in mathematical terms:

 

If 42 months            = 3- 1/ 2 years; and

 

If 1260 days             = 3- 1/ 2 years; then

 

42 months               = 1260 days.

 

This conclusion must be true since both of the latter terms are equal to the common period of 3- 1/ 2 years.

 

With these equivalencies as shown above, it is then a simple matter to derive the exact length of the biblical prophetic year and prophetic month. First the year:

 

If 3- 1/ 2 years            = 1260 days, then

 

1 year                    = 1260 (divided by) 3- 1/ 2      =        360 days.

 

And second, the month:

 

If 42 months            = 1260 days, then

 

1 month                  = 1260 (divided by) 42          =       30 days.

 

Hence it is these periods, the 360- day year and the 30- day month, which become the basis for use in considering the outworking of certain key Bible time prophecies, and these will be examined in some detail later.( l)

 

How remarkable that the Holy Spirit so directed the placement and interrelation of these numerical expressions in Scripture to permit them to be used in the foregoing formal manner to derive the exact length of the prophetic year and month’ Evidently it was important to the Divine Timekeeper that this matter should be made abundantly plain to the sincere inquirer for truth, and even amenable to the most rigid mathematical reasoning. The value and significance of this will be reserved for later consideration.

 

(1) Regarding the unique character of the biblical prophet year, Pastor C. T. Russell, author of the "Studies in the Scriptures" series, makes the following keen observation: "For the sake of some, we remark that a ‘prophetic year’ of 360 days, used to symbolize 360 years, is an arbitrary arrangement peculiar to its intended symbolic use. It is neither a Lunar year of 354- 1/ 3 days nor a Solar year of 365- 174 days. The fulfillment of a prophetic year would mean 360 actual or Solar years of the common reckoning." (Tower Reprints, "Erroneous Chronology and False Conclusions," [May 1896], Footnote p. 1979.)

 

 

 

Part Two—ORIGIN OF THE PROPHETIC YEAR

 

In this portion of the study we must proceed cautiously since nowhere does the Bible state in so many words the precise source that the Creator used in arriving at the 360- day length of the prophetic year. It may well have been an arbitrary selection or He may not have chosen to disclose the source. On the other hand, there are certain statements of Scripture and an abundance of physical data pertaining to the recurring motions of the sun and moon which suggest fruitful areas for investigation.

 

To begin with, we read in Genesis 1: 14,16: "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years... And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night." Then in Psalm 136: 1, 7- 9: "O give thanks unto the Lord... to him that made great lights... The sun to rule by day... The moon and stars to rule by night." And finally, in Psalm 104: 19: "He (God) appointed the moon for seasons."

 

From these texts, it is clear that the Creator specifically assigned time- keeping functions to the sun and moon. This was in addition to the sun’s acting as the energy source for the earth and sustainer of all life, and in addition to the moon’s role as regulator of the tides and a beacon at night. This being so, it suggests that we examine more closely the movements of these two bodies, noting how their recurring motions contribute to our "seasons, days, and years."

 

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Exhibit B-Comparison of Solar and Lunar Years  (2)

 

DECIMAL

 

DAYS           HOURS        MIN.            SEC.            CONVERSION

 

Solar Year               365                   5              48                46                365.242 days

 

Lunar Year              354                   8              48                40                354.367 days

 

(12 lunar months)     -

 

Annual Difference        10                21              00                06                10.875 days

 

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(2) Lengths of the year were taken from Zinberg’s, Jewish Calendar Mystery Dispelled, p. 38 the conversions to decimal parts of a day were computed and verified from The American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac for 1970, pp. 462- 463

 

In this study, we are particularly interested in determining how the movements of the sun and moon relate to the length of the year. With respect to the sun, it is actually the motion of the earth that is pertinent, as it proceeds on its never- ending celestial journey around the sun. The expression "solar year" is the time required for the planet earth to make one complete orbit about the sun. This is shown in Exhibit B as requiring 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds (or 365.242 days).

 

While the earth is thus in motion, its own satellite, the moon, is revolving about it in a smaller orbit that requires but 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3- 1/ 3 seconds to complete, on the average (or 29.531 days). Twelve such revolutions around the earth are considered as the length of the "lunar year," amounting to a period of 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, and 40 seconds (or 354.367 days), also as shown in the table.

 

From the foregoing data, it may be seen that neither the solar nor lunar phenomenon in itself can account for the 360 days of the biblical prophetic year. The solar year is too long (365.242 days) and the "lunar year" is too short (354.367 days). Remembering that time- keeping functions were assigned by God to both the sun and the moon, let US take both bodies into account by averaging their "annual" cycles.

 

The average of the solar year and of twelve lunar months (the "lunar year") may be computed in the following manner:

 

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Exhibit C Average of Solar and Lunar Years

 

Average                  Annual Difference         12 Lunar

 

of Annual         =      2               +         Months

 

Cycles

 

                  =      10.875          +          354.367

 

                         2               =           359.804 Days

 

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The average length of the solar and lunar years, shown to be 359.804 days, is so close to the prophetic year of 360 days that it suggests the procedure just enumerated could well account for the origin of this period.

 

Now, what of the origin of the prophetic month of 30 days? Two possible approaches suggest themselves here. First, since the average length of the solar and lunar years produces a very close approximation to the biblical prophetic year, it would be logical to simply divide this length by

 

twelve, the number of months in the year. Dividing 359.804 days by 12, yields a quotient of 29.984 days, which is almost exactly the length of the biblical prophetic month of 30 days.

 

Another method that might be used to arrive at this length is to average out the length of the months used in the Jewish and Gregorian (general) calendars. In essence, this is indirectly carrying out the same procedure as above, since the Jewish month is based on the moon and the Gregorian (common) month is based on the sun. It is fitting that these are the two commonest calendars in use amongst Jews and Gentiles. _____________________________________________________________________________

 

Exhibit D-Comparison of Gregorian (General) and Jewish Months (   3)

 

 NO. OF DAYS

 

IN MONTH                JEWISH CALENDAR                     GREGORIAN CALENDAR

 

28                      0 times.                            Once annually (except leap year).

 

29                      Irregularly alternates between      Once in leap year.

 

30                      29 and 30 days.                     4 times annually.

 

31                      0 times.                            7 times annually

 

Average                 29.528 days                         30.438 days

 

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Exhibit D lists a comparison of the lengths of the month in the Gregorian and Jewish calendars. The average Gregorian month is 30.438 days, longer than the prophetic month, and the avarice Jewish month is 29.528 days, which falls short of the 30- day prophetic month. Taking a composite of both figures yields 29.983 days, as shown in Exhibit E which follows. Again, this is almost precisely the length of the biblical prophetic month, suggesting that such a procedure might well have been followed in originating it.

 

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Exhibit E-Average of Gregorian and Jewish Months

 

Total of Gregorian and Jewish Month Averages

 

Average         =                                   2

 

 30.438 + 29.528

 

2                 =        29.983 Days.

 

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3) The average length of the Jewish month was computed by dividing the total number of days in a Jewish 19- year cycle (6,939) by the number of months (235). The average length of a Gregorian month was computed by dividing the total number of days in a four- year cycle (1,461) by the number of months (48).

 

 

 

Part Three—APPLICATION OF THE PROPHETIC YEAR

 

Leaving behind the matter of determining the possible origin of the prophetic year, let us see how a knowledge of its length may be applied to specific Scriptures. First we note that the Bible endows the Creator with all wisdom and knowledge, including the ability to foretell the future. "I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done." —Isaiah 46: 9,10

 

The Bible is full of examples of this divine ability to predict the future. Hundreds of prophecies describe both local and global events, affecting men, cities, and nations, and are contingent upon the passage of an appointed time for their fulfillment. All such are categorized as "time prophecies," whether of short duration or extending to the very dawn of modern history.

 

In this section, we desire particularly to examine two groups of these forecasts which utilize the concept of the biblical prophetic year. Our interest in these will be heightened, because both span considerable eras and one reaches through the centuries virtually to our own day.

 

Without a clear understanding of the length of the prophetic year, as previously enumerated, it would not be possible to accurately trace the fulfillments of these prophecies and identify the historical events related to them. Thus we believe it was as a special favor to His people living in the end times that God revealed the time key which would unlock these and related prophecies Such enlightenment and blessing coming at a crucial time in earth’s history serve to compensate for the peculiar stresses of this day—the unbelief, strife, and uncertainty that are everywhere in evidence.

 

With the clearer vision that a proper understanding of these prophecies thus affords, we are enabled to recognize the steady progress of God’s program of ultimate blessing for humanity. With greater certainty than ever before we can exclaim with the Psalmist, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning!" —#Ps 30:5

 

A. The Reign of Antichrist.

 

Our first inquiry concerns a group of prophecies already briefly mentioned which describe in couched and highly symbolic language the length of time that the Antichrist would reign supreme. The word "antichrist" appears but five times in the Bible, all in John’s epistles. As used there, the term applies broadly to any who oppose Christ or misrepresent his teachings. Included in that usage is the more specialized sense in which we will be using the term, to identify that great church- state system which establishes itself deceitfully in the place of the true church and rules in the name of Christ.

 

The Scriptures relate the reign of Antichrist to the period of persecution and dormancy for the saints, when the knowledge of the truth is severely restricted and believers are forced into a

 

spiritual wilderness condition. There are seven instances in the Old and New Testaments where the duration of this period is enumerated, as listed in the following table with a brief summary of the content of each text.

 

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Exhibit- F

Period of Reign of Antichrist and Persecution of True Church

 

A Comparison of Time Prophecies

 

TEXT                      DESCRIPTION                          TIME PERIOD

 

Daniel 7: 24,25          A king speaking against the           Time, times, and

                         Most High and wearing out             dividing of times

                         the saints.                           (3- 1/ 2 times).

 

Daniel 12: 7             Power of the holy people              Time, times, and a

                         scattered.                            half (3- 1/ 2 times).

 

Revelation 11: 2         The holy city trodden under-          42 months.

                         foot by Gentiles.

 

Revelation 11: 3         Two witnesses prophesying             1260 days.

                         in sackcloth.

 

Revelation 12: 6         A woman taking refuge in the          1260 days.

                         wilderness and fed.

 

Revelation 12: 14        A woman taking refuge in the          Time, times, and

                         wilderness, fleeing a serpent         half a time (3- 1/ 2

                         and nourished.                        times).

 

Revelation 13: 1- 8      A beast rising out of the             42 months.

                         sea, receiving power to

                         blaspheme God and to rule

                         nations, overcoming the saints

                         and worshiped by all.

 

 _____________________________________________________________________________

 

The three time expressions given in these Scriptures are "time, times, and half a time" (3- 1/ 2 times), "forty- two months," and "1260 days." The first two are the most difficult, requiring the application of the prophetic year and month.

 

The references to "time" in Daniel 7: 25 and Daniel 12: 7 are from the Hebrew IDDAN and MOED, respectively, both of which are defined as "an appointed time or season." (Young). In Revelation 12: 14, "time" is a translation of the Greek KAIROS, defined as "a fixed time or season." (Young). The expressions in which these words are used, "time, times [plural], and dividing of times [or half a time]" are all identical in meaning. They stand for 3 1/ 2 times or years, as already shown in Part One of this presentation.

 

Whether the years are to be taken as literal or symbolic is, of course, of prime concern in these prophecies. As we shall later note, a serious error in this judgment, or more properly a deliberate attempt to mislead the honest student, has been made which has led to disastrous consequences in the application of these texts in church circles today.

 

The specific question arising here is: Do the "3- 1/ 2 years" refer to a literal 3- 1/ 2 year period or to 3- 1/ 2 symbolic years? If symbolic, the true length of the period would be derived by multiplying the length of the biblical prophetic year—360 days—by 3- 1/ 2, amounting to 1260 symbolic days. A similar procedure would be used with the "42 month" expressions of Revelation 11: 2 and Revelation 13: 5, where 42 prophetic months of 30 days each would equal 1260 symbolic days. Then, according to the year- day principle enumerated in Num. 14: 33,34 and Ezekiel 4: 1- 8, 1260 symbolic days would represent 1260 literal years.

 

Hence, we are facing a choice of applying these prophecies either to a literal 3- 1/ 2 years or to a period of time exceeding a millennium in length, namely 1260 years. With such clearly delineated and widely differing alternatives, the decision should not prove difficult, though it must be consistent with all pertinent facts relating to the history of the church. Surely if the extraordinary events mentioned in the seven Scriptures listed in Exhibit F have occurred, it should be self evident to those of open mind by the enormity of those events and their universal impact.

 

An analysis of the teaching of these seven texts seems to suggest two main activities: The first depicts a ruthless persecution of the true saints, their consequent flight into a wilderness condition, and their miraculous preservation until such time as the persecuting power is restrained. The second series of events portray the rising to power of an apostate system described under a variety of symbols, in opposition to God and His saints, yet managing to deceive all nations and to gain a position of prominence and honor in the world.

 

We do not think it necessitates an astute student of history to realize that just such occurrences as sketched here actually did take place. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that such momentous and wide- ranging events which involve the rise and fall of kings and empires and the development of the church, both true and apostate, and which affected the very course of civilization itself, could possibly have occurred in merely 3- 1/ 2 literal years. Nor, for that matter, could merely one individual act out such a role in such a brief span. No, the rising of a church hierarchy, the systematic adoption of creedal errors, the subtle influencing of civil rulers, the martyring of true saints, the establishment of a counterfeit kingdom of Christ, and an exaltation to supreme power- among the nations necessitated time and the influence of many generations.

 

History bears out that there is only one apostate system that matches the identification of these prophecies, both in terms of the characteristics of the diverse symbols employed and the duration of time required for their fulfillment. That system was universally recognized as the Papacy which has fulfilled every prediction of the Antichrist in a manner and to an extent which could never be repeated. In using the term "Antichrist," however, we must be clear that it was not an opposition to the use of the name of Christ; rather, it was as an opponent in the sense of falsely bearinq his name, counterfeiting his kingdom and authority, and misrepresenting his character and plans before men.

 

"The Antichrist," then, refers to the great papal church state system which established itself deceitfully in the place of the true church and which ruled in the name of Christ. Some of the symbols used in the Bible to describe various facets of this evil system are: a "King," a "Beast," a "Serpent, n a "Little Horn," a Harlot Woman, n "the Mystery of Iniquity, "the Man of Sin," and "the Abomination of Desolation." Time features are specifically associated with the first three of these symbols, as already shown in Exhibit F. Surely in the light of the foregoing evidences we can recognize that the 3- 1/ 2 years expressed therein must be symbolic, and that they cover a period of 1260 actual years, as previously explained.

 

The placement on the stream of time of this period of papal dominance is shown in Exhibit G which follows. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, scores of expositors of the prophecies, from a wide range of denominational backgrounds, have been able to agree very closely with this application of the Antichrist. Only in more recent times with the rise of the erroneous "Futurism" concept has this agreement largely given way to the belief that Antichrist is an individual who is yet to make his debut on the world scene. More will be said of this later.

 

Here we observe that the limits of the 1260 year period are reasonably well documented in history. The 1799 A. D. ending point is freely admitted by Catholic sources to represent the low point .

 

 

 

Exhibit G-Period of Reign of Antichrist System

 

Papacy                           Papal

Begins                           Power

 

Rise to                          Crushed by

Temporal                         Napoleon

Power                            Bonaparte

 

Early church beliefs             Roman bishop recognized as head              Papacy

corrupted                        of Eastern and Western churches.             gradually

through human                                                                 recovers

philosophy and                   Bible authority superseded by                losses.

pagan influence.                 dogma and creeds elaborated by

                                 theologians and councils.                    Papacy gains

Clergy class                                                                  new worldwide

emerges, stressing               Pope reigns supreme, wielding                prestige and

form and organization            ecclesiastical and temporal power.           popularity,

                                                                              but lacks

 

True saints persecuted,          temporal                                     Magnificent church

flee to wilderness condition.    power.

                                                                              edifices built.

 

Ceremonies take on               Bible buried in dead language,

pomp end’splendor.             unavailable to common people.

 

Roman church inherits            Civilization stagnates during

vast lands and temporal          period of "Dark Ages."

powers, as old Roman

Empire disintegrates.            Religious protests stir Europe;

 

                                 Birth of Protestant denominations.

 

                                 Nations begin to defy "Holy See"

                                 in intellectual awakening.

 

                                 French Revolution seriously

                                 undermines Papal power; Pius

                                 VI taken prisoner in open conflict.

 

 

of papal fortunes in modern times, when the French Revolution had accomplished its destructive work and the pope was taken a political prisoner.( 4) The 539 A. D. date marked a turning point in Papacy’s rise to temporal power, as it inherited vast lands and powers from the disintegrating old Roman Empire. The fall of the capital city of Ravenna in that year (539 A. D.) exemplified this circumstance, for while the Eastern Roman emperor through his representative General Belisarius managed to capture the city by intrigue without firing a shot, and thus restore the whole of Italy to the empire, his claim to rule the land was more by fancy than by fact. In effect, the emperors simply could not maintain administrative control and gradually lost all actual power to the popes, who inherited by default the temporal supremacy of the Roman domain.( 5) Thus does history establish the limits of the 1260 year period of dominance of the papal system in Western civilization. (6)

 

 _______________________________________

 

(4) New Catholic Encyclopedia, "Papacy," Vol. 10, pp. 960, 965; "Pope Pius VI.," Vol. 11, pp. 399- 400.

 

(5) Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 4, p. l80; Encyclopedia Britannica, 1962 edition, "Ravenna," Vol. 18, p. 999; H. Brueck, The History of the Catholic Church, Vol. 1, pp. 250- 251.

 

(6) For a more detailed discussion of the entire subject of the Antichrist, see C. T. Russell, Studies in the Scriptures Vol. 2, pp. 267- 361 (esp. pp. 271- 272 and p. 296); and Vol. 3, pp. 64- 82.

 

 

 

C. The "Times of the Gentiles."

 

Our second inquiry will be directed to a series of prophecies recorded in Luke 21: 24 and Leviticus 26: 18,21,24,28. They describe in couched terms the length of a period which Jesus called the "times of the Gentiles." We understand this to refer to that interval of history during which the nation of Israel was to be subject to Gentile dominion, as a direct consequence of disobeying God.

 

Because of Israel’s covenant relationship with God, through the Mosaic Law arrangement, God held that nation directly accountable for her actions. When her people sought to follow after Him and obey His commandments, God promised blessings of an earthly kind:

 

"I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit... And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid... And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. For I will have respect unto you and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you." —Leviticus 26: 4- 9

 

Conversely, when the Israelites disobeyed God, they were warned that many afflictions would be brought upon them as punishment for their sins:

 

"If ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments... I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you... Your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits... And I will make your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation... and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen and will draw out a sword after you." —Leviticus 26: 14- 15,17,20,31- 33

 

By our Lord’s first advent, the foretold chastisements had already come to pass. Time and again, the Israelites had fallen into idolatry and not given heed to the divinely ordained statutes. And thus they inherited the curses of the covenant rather than its blessings. Ignoring the warnings of her prophets to reform, they persisted in their disobedient course and were more than deserving of the consequences which followed. The two- tribe Kingdom of Judah survived as an independent nation until her last king -Zedekiah was forcibly dethroned by Nebuchadnezzar; then Jerusalem was destroyed, the people taken captive, and the land desolated for seventy years.

 

In Jesus’ day, the captives had long since returned from, Babylon and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem. Yet Israel had never regained its independent status, and was not to do so for almost two millennia to come. She had been subjugated in turn by Persia, Greece, Syria, and Rome. Jesus, fully apprised of this circumstance and acutely aware of the longing of his people for release and the arrival of their Messiah, provided an insight into when this could be expected. Toward the close of his ministry, he prophesied in dire terms what would again befall the beloved city of Jerusalem and his people Israel:

 

"When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh... There shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." —Luke 21: 20,23- 24

 

Intermingled with this prophecy of imminent destruction, our Lord’s words contained a ray of hope: Jerusalem (and the national polity which it symbolized) was not to be trodden down forever, but only for a set time, "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." The Greek word here rendered "times" is KAIROS, defined as "a fixed time or season" (Young). It implied that the period of Gentile supremacy was for an appointed time, to be brought to a close at a given point yet future, fully known to God and predicted in His Word.

 

But now we need to ask: How long was this prophetic period? When did it begin; and when will it end7 The basic information regarding its length is found recorded in symbolic language in the second half of Leviticus Chapter26 200026, the same chapter which contains the general principle of God’s dealings with His chosen people -blessing for obedience, punishment for disobedience. Since, as we shall see, the length of this period is stated in terms of biblical "times" or years, here again an understanding of the biblical prophetic year is needed to assist in arriving at the correct solution.

 

The first 17 verses of Leviticus 26 describe various chastisements to be inflicted against Israel, of a relatively minor kind, at the hand of her neighboring enemies, including the Assyrians, Midianites, Philistines, etc. But from verse 18 onward, a more serious punishment is outlined, specified as "seven times":

 

Verse 18: "And if ye will not Yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins."

 

Verse 21: "And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins."

 

Verses 23 and 24: "And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins."

 

Verses 27 and 28: "And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

 

We believe the proper thought in these verses is not that a series of four punishments, each sevenfold in nature, would be inflicted upon Israel if the nation persisted in her wayward course. Rather, these are to be considered as repetitions of the one pronouncement—"seven times" of punishment. That is, if God’s earlier chastisements during the period when Israel was governed by prophets, judges, and kings failed, then a more severe period of dealing with them would have to be initiated in which their independent status would be lost and their crown permanently removed. The "seven times" was actually a reference to the length of this period, during which the Israelites were to be thoroughly humbled before the Lord and prepared to receive the blessings originally intended

 

for them. It is to this period of "seven times" that we believe our Lord referred when speaking of "the Times of the Gentiles, and the expression "seven times" was intended to define the length of the period.

 

In the Bible, a "time" is used in the sense of a year, but whether it be literal or symbolic is dependent upon the particular usage. In this instance, it is readily apparent that seven literal years would not satisfy the prophecy; the Babylonian captivity alone lasted for seventy years. Hence seven symbolic years must be intended. At this point it becomes evident that in order to understand the prophecy it is necessary to know the true length of the biblical prophetic year. Let us proceed, then, as follows:

 

If a "time" of Leviticus 26     =        a symbolic year,

 

then 1 symbolic year            =        360 symbolic days (as

 

derived in Part One of

 

this presentation)

 

and 7 "times"           =( 7) (360)     = 2,520 symbolic days.        ;

 

Then, according to the year- day principle already enumerated:

 

2,520 symbolic days            =        2,520 literal years.

 

Consequently, we believe the "seven times" of Leviticus 26 to represent a period of 2,520 years of Gentile dominion and supremacy over Israel. With the length of this period now firmly established, we need merely determine the beginning and ending points to fully comprehend the prophecy.

 

The beginning of these Gentile Times can be readily ascertained by combining the scriptural accounts of Israel’s downfall with known tie- in points from secular history. According to the Old Testament, the two- tribe kingdom of Judah survived the longest, but the seeds of moral and spiritual decay which permeated its society could only lead to its eventual downfall. Nebuchadnezzar was God’s instrument to bring Israel’s independence to a violent end, as he forcibly dethroned her last king Zedekiah, destroyed Jerusalem, and took the people captive. Thus was Gentile dominion over Israel begun with a ferocity of intense suffering and humiliation upon the people.

 

The exact date of Zedekiah’s overthrow, and hence the beginning of the "Times of the Gentiles," is determined as follows: Ezra 1: 1- 3 (repeated in 2 Chronicles 36: 19- 23) states that the Israelites were permitted to return from their seventy- year captivity in Babylon in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia. The fall of Babylon, which occurred just prior to this event, is a clearly marked date in secular chronology, which most historians agree occurred in October, 539 B. C. (7) Most authorities then assume it was this same year that Cyrus acceded to the Babylonian throne, and that therefore the first year of Cyrus would be 539-538 B. C.

 

 _________________________________

 

(7) Parker and Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology, pp. l3- 14; Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past, p. 29.

 

However, the Bible clearly states that Darius the Mede first succeeded to the throne; see Daniel 5: 30- 31. In Daniel 9: 1, Darius the Mede is mentioned again, and the first year of his reign is referenced, implying that he reigned for at least one year. If his reign was limited to but one year, it is possible that it would not have been officially entered into the ancient records because of its short duration. With this assumption, Cyrus’ true first year would have been 538-537 B. C. and his favorable decree could have been issued in early 537 B. C. According to Ezra 3: 1, by the seventh month of that year (about October1 200001st), the Jews were again established in the various cities of their homeland, after a lapse of seventy years.

 

The year 537 B. C., then, represents a composite of the most recent secular findings for the first year of Cyrus with the clarification of the Scriptures regarding the brief reign of Darius the Mede Seventy years earlier, marking the overthrow of Judah’s last king Zedekiah, would then have been the Year607 200607 B. C. According to 2 Kings 25: 3,8- 9,25- 26, the sequence of events was as follows:

 

Fourth month          -        Zedekiah overthrown.

 

Fifth month            -        Temple at Jerusalem burned, many taken captive.

 

Seventh month (about Oct. 1st)        -        Gedaliah, puppet governor of Jews, slain, and remainder flee to Egypt.

 

With the starting point for the prophetic "Times of the Gentiles" now established as the autumn of 607 B. C., we need merely to extend forward from this point the length of the period, shown to be 2,520 years, to determine its ending point. As illustrated in Exhibit H. the 2, 520 year period ended in 1914 A. D. In any calculations that span the B. C. -A. D. dividing point, it is necessary to keep in mind that there is no zero year.( 8) Thus, 606- 1/ 4 years before Christ plus 1913-3/ 4 years after Christ equal a full 2,520 years, ending in the year 1914 A. D.( 9)

 

 _______________________________________

 

(8) For a more complete discussion of Problems relating to calculations that span the B. C. -A. D. dividing point, see C. F. Redeker, A Confirmation of the True Bible Chronology, pp. 45, 47- 48,

 

(9) For a more detailed discussion of the entire subject of the "Times of the Gentiles," see C. T. Russell, Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, pp. 73- 102, and esp. pp. 89- 90.

 

 

 

Exhibit H-The Prophetic "Times of the Gentiles"

 

 

Judah overthrown,                      Restoration to land in 537              World War I. sets

 

Jerusalem destroyed,                   B. C. by Cyrus, King of                 in motion events

 

Jews taken captive                     Persia, proves temporary.               to reopen Palestine

 

to Babylon for 70                      Titus’ carnage and destruction          as a Jewish home

years.                                 of Jerusalem in 70 A. D.                land, culminating

 

results in worldwide dispersion         in rebirth of Israel

of Jews for almost 2000 years           as independent

                                        nation in 1948.

 

 

The significance of the year 1914 in our day is well recognized by observers of the world scene. It marked a turning point in the capitulation of an old world order and the beginning of our modern era. The World War which began in that year indelibly affected the affairs of all nations and effectively restructured the map of Europe. But no country on earth was affected to the extent of the Jewish people, who as a direct result of the First World War and the Balfour Declaration were guaranteed the right to establish a national homeland in Palestine. The Second World War precipitated a massive return of Jews from every nation where they had been scattered. In 1947 a United Nations Partition Plan cut out a small portion of land for their exclusive use, leading in 1948 to their declaration of independence and rebirth as a nation.

 

Since that time, the tumultuous events in the Middle East have kept the Jews almost continuously in the center stage of the world’s real life drama. Israel has arisen as a star of wonder amid the ashes of despair and strife amongst the nations. It would be difficult to refute the observation that whereas the "Times of the Gentiles" have indeed ended, the "Times of Israel" have but begun. The Millennial Kingdom will soon manifest the full extent of the blessings which God has reserved for His people of old, as well as for all nations, in fulfillment of His promise to the patriarchs. —Romans 11: 26- 29, Zechariah 8: 13- 15, Genesis 12: 1- 3

 

C. Related Time Prophecies.

 

Closely related to the series of prophecies just considered, and yet separate from them, are other biblical time predictions that do not incorporate the concept of the prophetic year. They are mentioned here to round out the subject and to place it in proper perspective. These additional time prophecies are also coded in symbolic terms, but the key to their understanding is based upon the "year- day" principle enumerated in Ezekiel 4: 6. In these instances, the 360 day length of the prophetic year is not involved as a factor; it is merely necessary to substitute a literal year for each symbolic day specified.

 

A listing of the major Bible time prophecies employing the "year- day" principle follows in Exhibit I. It is a fascinating study to follow the record of devout men of God through the ages as they sought to apply this principle in their expositions of the prophecies. A documented account of these efforts, covering a span of two thousand years, is set forth in the scholarly work, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, by LeRoy E. Froom. Though written from an Adventist point of view, it provides rich insights into an area otherwise generally neglected, and is therefore recommended to our readers.

 

For a fuller understanding of this group of prophecies employing the "year- day" principle, it is most helpful to diagram the time periods involved. This has been done in the accompanying exhibits. The prophecy of the "70 weeks" has been singled out for further discussion in the succeeding section, and will be illustrated there as Exhibit L. The "2300 days" is shown in Exhibit J and the "1260," "1290," and "1335 days" are pictured in Exhibit K, both of which follow immediately. Note that the ~70 weeks" are marked off as the forepart of the longer "2300 days" prophecy, showing the close relationship of the two.

 

 

 

Exhibit I-Summary of Biblical Time Prophecies

 

Employing the "Year- Day" Principle

 

TEXT                             TIME                    FURTHER REFERENCES

 

EXPRESSION

 

Daniel 9: 23- 27                      70 weeks                   Studies in the Scriptures,

 

Vol. 2, pp. 63- 72.

 

Foregleams of the Messiah,

 

Chapter7 200007.

 

The Prophetic Faith of Our

 

Fathers, I, pp. 456,457; IV, pp.

 

205,226- 248.

 

Daniel 8: 10- 26                     2300 days                  Studies in the Scriptures, Vol.

 

3, pp. 95- 120;

 

The Prophetic Faith of Our

 

Fathers pp. 784,785; IV, pp.

 

204- 225.

 

Revelation 11: 3, 12: 6                                           Studies in the Scriptures, Vol.

 

(with Daniel 12: 6,7)              1260 days                  3, pp. 61- 94.

 

 Daniel 12: 10,11                    1290 days                  Beauties of the Truth, "The

 

Little Horn," and "Reference

 

Daniel 12: 13                       1335 days                  Chronologies on Prophetic End

 

of the Age," II, Nos. 6- 11, June

 

-Nov. 1981.

 

The Prophetic Faith of Our

 

Fathers, II, pp. 125, 133, 135,

 

528- 531; IV, p. 206.

 

 

 

D. Evaluating Methods of Prophetic Interpretation.

 

The belief that the various prophecies of the Bible, especially those of the Book of Revelation, have been in process of continuous fulfillment throughout the history of the church has been called the Historical Method of interpretation. This school of thought was taken up by the reformers Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Wesley, and others, as well as by the martyrs Cranmer, Tyndale, Latimer, and Ridley. Inherent in this view was the almost universal identification of the Antichrist as the great papal apostasy, synonymous with the "Man of Sin," the "Beast," and the "Harlot Woman" of Revelation, and the "Little Horn" of Daniel, with a foretold period of exaltation of 1260 years due to expire about the time of the French Revolution. This view so dominated studies of prophetic truths for three centuries that it began to be termed "the Protestant" interpretation.

 

However, another view of prophecy, called Futurism, began to take root in the early 19th century and has since gained in acceptance until it now permeates the ranks of most Protestantism. Early proponents included James Todd, William Burgh, Edward Irving, and the founder of the Plymouth Brethren, John Darby. Essential to Futurism is the belief that the Antichrist is not a system but a single evil person, satanically inspired, who will become the final world dictator at the end of the age. Establishing himself in Jerusalem for a literal seven years, he oversees the rebuilding of the

 

Temple and the restoration of sacrificing, but at the end of 3- 1/ 2 years- will himself demand to be worshiped.

 

According to this view, the start of the eventful seven- year period is marked by the first stage of the Second Advent’ in which all true believers are "raptured" —suddenly and miraculously removed from the earth to meet Christ in the air. In the midst of the seven- year period, the Antichrist will initiate intense persecution upon all who refuse to follow him, namely the "tribulation saints" (believers who accept Christ during that time) and the faithful Jews. At the close of the second 3- 1/ 2 year period, when these are almost overwhelmed, Christ will publicly manifest himself in the second stage of his Advent, and he will then destroy the Antichrist and establish his earthly Kingdom.( 10)

 

Upon reflection, it becomes evident that the Futurist view denies the "year- day" principle of biblical interpretation which has been so universally accepted by that great body of devout expositors from before the Reformation. Building upon the prophecy of the seventy weeks of favor outlined in Daniel 9: 23- 27, it crudely and without scriptural precedent separates the 70th week from the preceding 69 weeks of favor to Israel and thrusts it forward into the uncertain future with no connecting link to the original prophecy. With the rejection of Christ by the Jews and the postponement of the kingdom, prophetic time is thought to have ceased to run. As Dr. Ironside, a prominent Futurist commentator expressed it, "The prophetic clock stopped at Calvary. Not one tick has been heard since. ”( 11) The remaining eventful seven years, corresponding to the 70th week of the prophecy, must then be placed at the end of the age, with a long, undetermined interval leading up to that point.

 

Exhibit L which follows sets forth diagrammatically the true time aspects of the seventy weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. Careful study suggests it is only by wresting the Scriptures that the 70th week could be artificially broken off from the chain of 490 prophetic years leading uninterruptedly from the decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in 455 B. C. to 36 A. D. The first 69 weeks lead to "Messiah the Prince," the baptism of Christ in the autumn of 29 A. D., marking the start of the fateful 70th week. After3 200003- 1/ 2 years, "in the midst of the [70th] week," Messiah was cut off in death, in the spring of 33 A. D., a date for the crucifixion now confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt.( 12) This leaves a balance of 3- 1/ 2 years to fulfill the full "70 weeks" Or490 200490 years of the prophecy, ending in 36 A. D. when the gospel no longer was confined exclusively to the Jews, but was opened to all the Gentiles as well. Nowhere in the prophecy is there the slightest hint or justification for divorcing the 70th week from the chronological chain and transposing it to an end- of- the- age setting.

 

 _______________________________

 

(10) Albertus Pieters, Studies in the Revelation of St. John, pp. 55, 56.

 

(11) Pieters, loc. cit.

 

(12) C. F. Redeker, Foregleams of the Messiah, chapter 7

 

What is not appreciated by a majority of Protestant fundamentalists who adhere to Futurism today is the true origin of these concepts which have so infiltrated and confused their ranks. Back around 1600 A. D. when basic prophetic truths were being reestablished and echoed widely by the Reformers, a great Catholic Counter- Reformation was launched. This included a shrewd scheme of counter interpretation, designed to strike back at the Protestant teachings and the Historical School in particular.

 

In 1585 a Spanish Jesuit priest named Ribera published a commentary flatly denying the application of the prophecies of Antichrist to the existing Church of Rome. He was followed by Cardinal Bellarmine, considered to be the greatest controversialist in defense of Papacy that the Roman Church ever produced. Together they suggested that the Antichrist would be a single individual living at the end of the age who would set himself up as a world dictator, rebuild Jerusalem, abolish Christianity, persecute believers, and rule the world for a literal three and one- half years. All of the Book of Revelation except the earliest chapters was applied to the end time instead of to the history of the church through the ages. These suggestions were made, of course, to divert attention away from the Papacy, and to relieve it of the terrible stigma cast upon it by the Protestant interpretation.( 13)

 

It is the privilege of the Lord’s followers at the end of the age to receive enlightenment both from the matters of prophetic truth now due and from the work of devout men of faith who have gone before. We are not to neglect that which has previously been uncovered and reverently passed on to our generation. A careful study of Futurism reveals its opposition to true principles of biblical interpretation and exposes the deceitful purpose for which it was intended. The sincere child of God must be constantly on the alert to avoid being entangled with the teachings of such a system, which clearly is out of harmony with the united voice of the church, as expressed by leading expositors of the prophecies from pre- Reformation times to our day. Champions of the Historical School in more recent times who should be noted include such outstanding men of God as William Miller, Henry G. Guinness, and Charles T. Russell.

 

How does all this relate to the biblical prophetic year, the main subject of this presentation? It is our settled conviction that an understanding of the makeup of the prophetic year, in conjunction with the "year- day" principle, thoroughly corroborates the Historical approach to biblical interpretation and utterly demolishes the basic Futurism concept. The application of these prophetic tools, as illustrated earlier, permits such precise identification of true historical fulfillments of the major Bible time prophecies as to leave no reasonable doubt of their correctness.

 

Note, in Exhibit M, how many of these predictions have been pinpointed to exact years, generally verifiable from well known events of world history.

 

 ___________________________________

 

(13) LeRoy E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, II, pp. 484- 505, IV, p. 387; George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope, pp. 37, 38; R. E. Streeter, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, I, Introduction, pp. xxiv-xxv.

 

Such clearly recognizable fulfillments then become another means by which the believer’s faith in the veracity and inspiration of God’s Word is strengthened. Further, the realization of how God’s providences have directed the pathway of so many of his outstanding spokesmen of the past in harmony with those true prophetic principles is indeed gratifying and encouraging to us at this end of the age. The prophetic faith of our fathers has provided us with a firm foundation upon which to build today, as we come closer and closer to the final consummation of events leading to the full establishment of that Kingdom for which we long.

 

 

 

Exhibit M Historical Fulfillments of Major Bible Time Prophecies

 

 

PROPHECY                              EVENT                  FULFILLMENT

 

Daniel 9: 23- 27         Appearance of Messiah "The

                         Prince" after "69 weeks."                         29 A. D.

 

                         Crucifixion of Christ "in

                         midst of [70th] week."                            33 A. D.

 

                         Ending of "70 weeks" of favor

                         to Israel.                                        36 A. D.

 

Daniel 12: 6,7;          Early Papal rise to temporal

 

Revelation 12: 6         power.                                            539 A. D.

 

                         Antichrist’s reign ceases

 

                         after "1260 days.                                 1799 A. D.

 

 Daniel 12: 10,11        Beginning of Millerite movement,

 

                         after "1290 days."                                1829 A. D.

 

Daniel 8: 10- 26          Cleansing of sanctuary class,

 

                         after "2300 days."                                1846 A. D.

 

Daniel 12: 13            Christ’s parousia begins,

 

                         after "1335 days."                                1874 A. D.

 

Leviticus 26: 18,21,    "Times of Gentiles" start to

24,28;                    count.                                           607 B. C.

 

Luke 21: 24              Israel begins rise to independence

                         after end of "7 times" of punishment.             1914 A. D.

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

 

It is both an interesting and rewarding study to consider the biblical prophetic year and related time prophecies. The Bible stands unique in its preview of major events to occur on the stream of human history, interspersed with predictions of the exact year and duration of their occurrence. Foremost of these events, to which so many of the promises and prophecies of Scripture point forward, are our Lord’s return and the setting up of God’s Kingdom upon the earth. Without a working knowledge of Bible prophecy, and a realization of the time features involved, it is simply not possible to gain a satisfactory grasp of these vital subjects.

 

In approaching the biblical prophetic year, the first task was to define its length, as determined by a comparison of related Scriptures containing similar time expressions. By subjecting these to a formal mathematical reasoning process, it was found that the prophetic year was equivalent to 360 days, and the prophetic month to 30 days.

 

The next inquiry, almost a parenthesis to the study, was to probe the origin of these lengths; that is, to consider how the Creator might have decided upon employing a 360- day year and a 30- day month for use in biblical prophecy. The conclusions, of course, could only be suggestive, since they are not positively stated in the Bible. Nonetheless, in correlating Scripture with naturally recurring motions of the sun, earth, and moon, certain relationships were evident. An average of the solar and "lunar" years yielded 359.80 days, and of the Gregorian and Jewish months, 29.98 days, almost identical with the prophetic 360- day year and 30- day month.

 

In terms of practical applications in Scripture, the prophetic year was found to be an integral part of two major series of prophecies. The first, the reign of the Antichrist, clearly sets forth the length of the period that this apostate system would have dominance on the world scene. This was determined to be a full 1,260 years and would need to manifest itself before the predicted cleansing of the sanctuary class could occur near the end of the age. A correlation with other prophecies unmistakably identifies this period as 539-1799 A. D.

 

The second series of prophecies concerns the length of time that the Gentile nations would be permitted to maintain dominance over Israel, as a direct result of the disobedience of God’s chosen people in Old Testament times. By the application of the prophetic year, this was determined to be a long 2, 520 year period, ending in 1914. That year set in motion a series of events which reopened Palestine to the Jews and led to the rebirth of Israel as a free and independent nation in 1948. All of this is helpful in correctly identifying one of the major signs mentioned by our Lord to precede the full establishment of God’s Kingdom—the budding of the fig tree.

 

Uniting these prophecies with those employing the "year- day" principle, including the 1260, 1290, 1335, and 2300 days of Revelation and Daniel, provides a harmonious and revealing chronological sequence of end- time events. Their combined testimony pinpoints years and occurrences with such precision as to astound those privileged to look into these matters. Certainly such clear fulfillments were designed to strengthen the faith of the believer at a time when the Word of God is being attacked from every direction.

 

A final application of the length of the prophetic year, coupled with the "year- day" principle, was found in evaluating the soundness of conflicting methods of prophetic interpretation. The Futurist view, which considers the Antichrist to be a single individual active at the end of the age instead of a vast system opposing the truth, was exposed as denying the correct principles of biblical interpretation which have been enunciated and universally recognized by leading godly expositors from before the Reformation. The seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel g was seen in its correct perspective as applying to Jesus’ day and not applicable to an end of the age setting. Thus also the Historical school of interpretation, identifying the Antichrist with the great papal apostasy, was seen as vindicated, and as offering the correct interpretation of related events of the book of Revelation.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Brueck, H. The History of the Catholic Church, I. [additional data not available].

 

Encyclopedia Britannica. 1962 edit. William Benton, publisher. Ravenna," XVIII, 999.

 

Finegan, Jack. ~ From the Ancient Past. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1959 edit.

 

Froom, LeRoy E. The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, I- IV Washington, D C.: Review and Herald Publishing Assoc., 1954.

 

Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, IV. New York: Peter F. Collier, 1899.

 

Ladd, George E. The Blessed Hope. Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1956.

 

Millennial Morning Publishers. Beauties of the Truth Journal. San Diego, Cal.

 

"The Little Horn," II, 6, June 1981.

 

"Reference Listing of Chronologies on Prophetic End of the Age:"

 

"Development of Doctrine of the Mass, II, 7, July 1981.

 

"Papal Growth in Temporal Power," II, 8, Aug. 1981.

 

"Papal Decline in Temporal Power," II, 9, Sep. 1981.

 

"Highlights of Millerite Movement," II, 10, Oct. 1981.

 

"Early Bible Student Movement," II, 11, Nov. 1981.

 

The New Catholic Encyclopedia. New York, London, etc.: McGraw Hill Book Co., 1967. "Papacy," X, 960,965.

 

"Pope Pius VI.," XI, 399- 400.

 

Parker, R. A. and Dubberstein, W. H. Babylonian Chronology. Providence, R. I.: Brown University Press, 1956.

 

Pieters, Albertus. Studies in the Revelation of St. John. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1950.

 

Redeker, Charles F. A Confirmation of the True Bible Chronology. Detroit, Mich.: Zion’s Tower of the Morning Publications, 1971.

 

 ________________ Foregleams of the Messiah. Detroit, Mich.: Zion’s Tower of the Morning Publications, 1982.

 

Russell, Charles T. Thy Kingdom Come. Studies in the Scriptures, III. East Rutherford, N. J.: Dawn Bible Students Assoc., 1949 edit. (Originally published in 1890).

 

 _______________ The Time Is At Hand. Studies in the Scriptures, II. East Rutherford, N. J.: Dawn Bible Students Assoc., 1950 edit. (Originally published in 1889).

 

 _______________ Tower Reprints. Chicago Bible Students Book Republishing Committee, 1967. "Erroneous Chronology and False Conclusions", footnote p. 1977, May, 1896.

 

Streeter, R. E. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, I. Brooklyn, N. Y.: Pastoral Bible Institute, 1923.

 

Tenney, Merrill C. (ed.). The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, "Calendar," pp. 138- 141.

 

U. S. Government Printing Office. The American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac For1970 201970. Washington, D. C., 1968.

 

Zinberg, George. Jewish Calendar Mystery Dispelled. New York, Washington, etc.: Vantage Press, Inc., 1963.

 

 

 

 

Appendix: STRUCTURE OF THE JEWISH CALENDAR

 

The Jewish calendar was ingeniously constructed to regulate all the secular affairs of the people, as well as to mark the proper time for observing the recurring religious feasts and holy days. It is established on both a lunar and solar basis, meaning that both the moon and sun affect its structure, as we shall shortly observe. Genesis specifically states that the heavenly bodies were divinely ordained to carry out a time- keeping function: days and years to be measured by the sun, months by the moon, and cycles by the stars (Genesis 1: 14). In sharp contrast to other ancient calendars, the Jewish week ran consecutively in a seven day cycle completely independent of the lunar or solar cycles. Thus it was patterned on the Creation account of seven epoch days’ duration and permitted a multiplication of cycles of seven for various religious convocations and festivals.

 

First, let us note how the moon’s motion is used as the basis of the Jewish month. The moon, earth’s sole satellite, revolves about it in just 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3- l/ 3 seconds on the average, or about 29.53 days. To closely approximate this, and to keep the months of the Jewish calendar a whole number of days, the Jewish months were made to alternate between 29 and 30 days. This becomes the unvarying rule, with every Jewish month being Either29 200029 Or30 200030 days in length. But only in what is termed a "normal ordinary" year do these days alternate perfectly with each other throughout the course of the year (i. e. -30, 29, 30, 29, 30, 29, etc.).

 

The names of the Jewish months and their order are shown in the following table, entitled "Synchronized Jewish Calendar." The names were originally borrowed by the ancient Israelites from their Canaanite or Phoenician neighbors. That the names had seasonal connotations is easily shown from the four that survived in the Biblical records. Abib, corresponding to Nissan, means "month of the ripening ears," Ziv, (Iyar) means "month of flowers, n Ethanim, (Tishri) means "month of perennial streams," and Bul, (Heshwan) means "rain or showers." We recall from the account in Exodus 12: 2 that it was Jehovah God who required Moses to begin the sacred Jewish year with the month Abib (early in the spring), commencing with the institution of the Passover. This practice would have helped to set the Israelites apart from the heathen nations round about.

 

Next we should note how the apparent motion of the sun is used as the basis of the Jewish year (as distinguished from the Jewish month.) The expression "solar year" refers to the time required for the planet earth to make one complete orbit about the sun in its never- ending celestial journey. This has been determined to be 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, or about 365.24 days.

 

To maintain a fixed relationship between the Jewish holidays and the seasons of the year, it was necessary to adopt the solar year as the basis for the Jewish year (and again we emphasize the word "year"). A "normal ordinary" Jewish year consists of 12 months alternating between 29 and 30 days, as we have stated. This aggregates 354 days as a near approximation of 12 lunar months, or a Lunar year," the length of which is actually about 354.37 days.

 

 

 

Exhibit N Synchronized Jewish Calendar (14)

 

SACRED ORDER     CIVIC ORDER        NAMES OF MONTHS         FARMING SEASON

 

7                         1              TISHRI            (Sept- Oct)          Early rains, plowing

 

8                         2              HESHWAN           (Oct-Nov)          Wheat & barley sowing

 

9                         3              KISLEV            (Nov-Dec)

 

                                                                                Winter season-

 

10                        4              TEBET           (Dec-Jan)            Rainy period

 

11                        5              SHEBAT          (Jan-Feb)            Trees blooming

 

12                        6              ADAR            (Feb-Mar)            Almond blooming

 

                                        V- ADAR          (intercalary month used only in leap years)

 

1                         7              NISSAN          (Aug-Sep)

 

                                                                                Barley harvest

 

2                         8              IYAR            (Mar-Apr)

 

3                         9              SIVAN           (Apr-May)            Wheat harvest

 

4                        10             TAMUZ            (May-Jun)

 

5                        11              AB              (Jun.- Jul)            Grape, fig, & olive ripen

 

6                        12              ELUL            (Jul-Aug)            Vintage

 

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(14) Based on Merrill C. Tenney (ed.), The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, "Calendar," p. 139.

 

But 12 lunar months are less than the solar year by 10 days, 21 hours, 0 minutes, and 6 seconds, which, if carried over from year to year, would cause each Jewish year to begin almost 11 days earlier in the solar year than its predecessor. Under this arrangement, Passover, for example, which is fixed as a spring holiday, would recede first into winter, then into autumn, and so on. To adjust for these differences and to prevent a wandering of the special holidays which were meant to be fixed according to the season, a thirteenth month was added to certain Jewish years, called leap years. Thus the addition of the thirteenth month, called "V- Adar" or an intercalary month, assists in keeping the Jewish year in closer accord with the solar year.

 

Basic to the structure of the Jewish calendar is a nineteen year cycle consisting of twelve "Ordinary" (12 month) years and seven "Leap" (13 month) years. Leap years occur in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years of the 19- year cycle. The 13th month, named "V- Adar," has 29 days and is interposed between Adar and Nissan. Also, the month of Adar is increased from 29 to 30 days in every leap year. By these and other adjustments, the accumulated time of the Jewish "l9- year cycle" is almost exactly equivalent to a corresponding number of solar years and thus maintains a fixed relationship between them. (The difference is only about two hours in any given 19- year cycle.)

 

Overall there are six basic types of years in the Jewish calendar. Each of the "ordinary" and "leap" years previously described is further divided into "deficient," "normal," or "full," because some years are decreased by one day and others are increased by a day. The six types of the Jewish year are enumerated in the following table. They are described as "deficient ordinary," Normal ordinary," "deficient leap," "full leap," and so on.

 

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Exhibit O-Six Types of the Jewish Year

 

ORDINARY YEARS                      LEAP YEARS

 

Deficient                                  353 days                          383 days

 

Normal                                     354 days                          384 days

 

Full                                         355 days                          385- days

 

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There is a fixed relationship between the Jewish and Gregorian (general or common) Calendar. By definition, Jewish Year1 200001 was designated as having begun in the autumn of the Year3761 203761 B. C. This is taken to represent both the date of Creation and the starting point for reckoning all events according to the Jewish Calendar. Thus the Jewish year is always numerically greater than its corresponding General year by the number 3,761. However, since the Jewish (civic) year begins in the autumn with Tishri 1, every Jewish year laps portion" of two General years (and conversely

 

every General year laps portions of two Jewish years). This is shown in the diagram following, and serves to complicate somewhat the conversions from one system to another. But the rules for conversion are readily available.

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Exhibit P-General vs. Jewish Years

 

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The following equivalencies serve to illustrate conversions from Jewish to General (Gregorian) years:

 

Nissan 15 in Jewish year 5741 falls in 1981 A. D.

 

Nissan 15 in Jewish year 6000 falls in 2240 A. D.