The Measurement of the Times and Seasons of Biblical Prophecy

Time….    Time is often defined as a way to measure the progress of existence and events around us from the past, present and future. We use units of time measurements of hours, minutes and seconds centered around noon or midnight, and repeat the sequence every day. In the study of science and physics, time is a simple concept of using a forth dimensional measurement (t) in calculating processes in our three-dimensional world (x, y, z). Biblical time, however, is more of a mystery and more of a subjective concept. Time was created by God in the very beginning for the development of his creation. “In the beginning…” as stated in both of Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, God does not give us a measurable starting point of time for the creation of the universe or the beginning of existence of the Word. And the bible teaches us there is not ability to measure the end of time or the Second Coming of Jesus: Acts 1:7 – “…It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.” But yet, God provides to us through the scriptures to use the measurement of time through the Sun and the Moon to be used for signs, and for counting days and years. There are quite a few scriptures in which God provides units of time assigned to anticipate specific events or periods to come, and to know their exact period from start to finish. These are measurable, specific and limited in duration. This command of using time to read the signs of the times is given in the opening chapter of Genesis:

Genesis 1:14 – “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”

Right from the very beginning of the first book of the bible, we are given spiritual insight of God’s intent and command of using the planetary clocks in the heavens to measure his divine plan for his ultimate salvation for man. From the earliest of civilizations man has used the sun, the moon and the stars to measure the days, seasons and years as the earth revolved around the sun. The sun is the center of our solar system and it’s largest object. It provides light and heat which provides all life on the earth. The moon is approximately 400 times closer than the sun but “coincidentally” also about 400 times the size of the sun. This provides the perfect conditions of the viewing of a total solar eclipse from earth, oven viewed as an ominous sign of significance or doom. God created the sun to count the years and seasons and the moon to measure the days, and their occasional alignment with the earth to cause awe and wonder under a black sun or red moon. And just as we can observe an analog clock to measure time by moving with it’s revolving hour-hand, minute-hand and seconds to rotate clockwise round and round, God established a similar rotation of the moon and the earth around the sun as a similar cyclical clock rotation with the lunar and solar cycles. This was done not only for our benefit to count the “times” and “season” as commanded in Genesis 1:14, but also for His own sake of measurement in order to fulfill and execute the prophetic events revealed through the scriptures at the appropriate times.

Measurement of “Times” and “Seasons” with the Solar/Lunar Clock

Nicholas of Cusa, a fifteenth century philosopher, is known for the famous quote: “God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”  Similarly, the time measurement of years with the movement of the earth around the sun can be represented as finite circle but with an infinite (albeit causal) repeating sequence of rotations. This movement and measurement around the circle forms the basis for all of geometry and trigonometric concept of 360 degrees in a circle. Where did this measurement of 360 degrees in a circle come from originally? Did the prophets of the bible equate this concept with a 360-day biblical year? If the 360 degree circle was based on a 360-day year, then why do we not use the actual number of days in a solar year for representing 365 degrees in a circle for our mathematical and geometric calculations?

We think of a year as having a duration of 365 and ¼ days. But, many ancient calendars were developed using 360 days for a year, as their astronomers noticed that the sun seemed to advance in that path by approximately one degree per day. Around 3000 BC, the Sumerians invented writing and used a calendar from around 2400 BC which divided the 360-day/year into 12 months x 30 days per month. It is thought that the Sumerians, Akkadians and Babylonians in Mesopotamia studied the skies and invented a 360-degree circle to describe their identification of the repeating pattern of the stars and five planets. They didn’t try to understand the physics behind the motion of the planets, but they did observe the circular track of the Sun’s path across the sky, and measured this cycle to be 360 days. The Egyptians around 1500 BC divided the day into 24 hours. Around or before 100 BC, the Babylonians further subdivided the hour into 60 minutes per hour and 60 seconds per minute. This base-60 unit of measurement still exists today with our clocks and geometrical calculations. Why is this unit of measurement used in math and science today?

360 degrees in a circle

 

There still is question as to as why the ancients mysteriously picked 360 days/year and not 365 or 366 days/year. Well, quite simple, the number 360 is a number that is divisible by every number from 1 to 10 except 7, i.e, the number 360 divides evenly by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 and makes it very convenient and easy to perform mental calculations of an angle. It might be possible that the earliest ancient calendars showing a year of exactly 360 days, and that the year at that time was 5 days shorter than our year. Or this 360 day per year was in place when the earth and moon were formed in the first days of the earth’s rotation around the sun. Over time the planet is said to be drifting farther away from the sun, just as the moon is drifting farther away from the earth, which has lead to the slow increase in the number of days per year. Another reason could be that the number 360 is conveniently an average between the solar year of 365.25 days/year and the lunar year of 354.37 days/year (based on 29.53 days/month cycle).
365.24 (solar) + 354.37 (lunar) = 719.61 ÷ 2 = 359.8 days = 360 ave days/year
This gives rise to another important point for our discussion of biblical prophecy measurement. There are 3 calendars that are used… a “trinity” of calendars.
365.24 days/year = solar calendar
360 days/year = biblical/ancient calendars, used in geometry/trigonometry today
354.37 days/year = lunar calendar

Lunar Cycle and Solar Year Durations
The bible often gives the words “times” or “days” or “months” in the prophecies to measure the times and seasons. Which calendar, therefore, do we select for computation of the “times”? Do we standardize only on the biblical year of 360 days/year? And do the prophecies support multiple applications of the times with the use of multiple calendars? This is the question we will try to answer and offer evidence to support or refute this claim. However, with the consideration of applying more than one calendar do demonstrate fulfillment, it is interesting to highlight the fact that the use of the three calendars combined can reveal the beauty and mystery of the Holy Trinity. The standard 360-degree biblical calendar represents “God the Father”, the 365.24 day solar calendar represents the “Son/Sun of Righteousness”, and the 354.37 day lunar calendar represents the “Holy Spirit/Church.” It might very well be possible that we ARE expected to consider to apply multiple calendars for calculating the correct fulfillment of a given prophetic timetable – like we can show with the 1260 “days” and 42 “months” of Daniel and Revelation.
In considering the use of the 365.25 “solar” calendar, it should be noted we could have multiple calendars to select from, although primarily the % difference or error is too negligible to factor their use. But in brief, here are the differences between the various solar calendars used to measure the rotation of the earth around the sun:
  • Julian Calendar Year= 365.25 days/year
  • Gregorian Calendar Year = 365.2425 days/year (approx 0.002 % difference from Julian)
  • Solar or Tropical Year = 365.24217 days/year
  • Sidereal Year = 365.242189 days/year
  • Gaussian Year = 365.2568983 days/year (derived by Kepler’s Third Law)
Let’s reexamine the 360-day calendar. In most methods of biblical interpretation, the prophetic year is often taken to be a 360 “day” period of time. However, in identifying the application of a different calendar to the prophecies, we may need to do some conversion of the numbers to another “equivalent” value. That is, to convert from biblical to solar and lunar years, scaling factor in the computation would need to be used to arrive to the correct number of years in a calculation to demonstrate fulfillment of a particular prophecy. See below:
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For example, conversion between a 1260 “day” biblical calendar duration over to equivalent solar years would can be done by applying the scaling factor: 1260 year x 1.01458 = 1278.37 years. We will see that applying these scaling factors can demonstrate multiple fulfillment of the prophecies with amazing accuracy. Scaling factors between calendars can also demonstrate that for interpreting something as important as Daniel’s “70 weeks” prophecy, a 69 week solar duration can be shown to be equivalent in the number of “days” as a 70 week “biblical” duration. So again, conversion between calendars might therefore be useful (or required) to demonstrate fulfillment or provide further insight in the timing of pre-ordained events to come.
We will examine these different calendar approaches and apply some of them to the day/year principle of prophetic interpretation in some upcoming posts on Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, and the Seven Times Punishment and Return of the Jews. Stay tuned.
© 2018 by Jonathan Photius

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