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DAYS, WEEKS, MONTHS, YEARS AND TIMES

Time related terminology is crucial to understanding what God is conveying to us in His Word. Unfortunately, in these end times the Churches of God have been inconsistent in their interpretation of words associated with the elements of time in prophecy. Consequently, they have failed to see that a large number of major Biblical prophecies were fulfilled in the 20th century.

It is common to hear such comments as "days in prophecy can mean either literal days, or years, or even thousand year periods, and therefore we can't be sure what God means when His Word speaks of periods of days".

 

But is this logical? God spent over 1500 years carefully putting His Scriptures together. He has seen to it that they have been preserved throughout time. II Tim 2:15 says "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth".

This teaches us that it is possible, through proper study, to understand God's Word.

Yet, supposedly, we can't be sure of what His time related prophecies are saying?! This doesn't make sense. It contradicts and even belittles God, by suggesting that He has been inconsistent in His Word. In effect it is saying that He didn't express Himself clearly enough to get His message across.

II Pet 1:19 speaks of the "sure word of prophecy". Yet we say that we can't be sure. It is unimaginable that the Great God in heaven has put us in this position of uncertainty.

The Laodicean Church era message in Rev 3:14-22 shows that God is very displeased with this final Church generation. Our poor study of His Word is at the core of our failure to please Him.

The day/week/month/year/time based prophecies in the Scriptures must be understandable, or God has wasted His time giving them to us.

As described at length on the page "THE SEVEN DAY BLUEPRINT", a day pictures a thousand years in the Creation account. II Pet 3:3-9 mentions several aspects of Creation week and in that context says in verse 8 that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years". Here Peter confirms the 7000 year foundation of time within which God is working out His plan on Earth.

However, as we will see, a day picturing a thousand years only applies to the seven days of Creation. Within that 7000 year framework, a "day" as a measurement of the duration of a prophecy always pictures one year. It then logically follows that a week pictures seven years, and a month pictures 30 years.

People may object and say that Christ spent three days in the grave, just like Jonah did in the belly of the whale. And so they may argue that a day in prophecy can mean a literal day in fulfilment. However, what we find is that God uses different wording in prophecies where the fulfilment involves literal days.

In the account of the Flood God prophesies in Gen 7:4 "I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights". This was fulfilled as forty literal days.

In Jonah 1:17 we find that "Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights", denoting three literal days. Christ prophesies in Matt 12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth". So Jonah's time inside the whale was a type of Christ's own time in the grave. As we know, this was also fulfilled as three literal days.

Exodus 34:28 presents a similar example. Here Moses, a type of Christ, ascends Mt Sinai to draw near to God and to receive His law, and "was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water". In Matthew 4:1 we find Christ fulfilling this type as He also "fasted forty days and forty nights" to draw near to God, when He was tempted by Satan to transgress God's law. Obviously forty literal days are intended in both these instances.

In other words, when God prophecies or typifies a certain number of literal days, the prophecy will express this as "X days and X nights".

A person might contradict this by pointing to Jonah 3:4 or Gen 7:4 which respectively state "Yet forty days ......." and "yet seven days ......." and claim that these statements must therefore refer to years. The answer is that they are speaking of literal days, because the "forty days" and "seven days" do not refer to the duration of the prophesied events, but rather to when the events will commence.

In Revelation 9:15 we are given a remarkable and detailed prophecy that confirms the terminology of time used by God in Biblical prophecy. It speaks here of "the hour, and day, and month and year" (NKJV). The hour indicates that the prophecy will occur at a particular point in history. The day, month and year denote the duration of the prophesied events. As fully explained on the page "THE TWO WITNESSES", this prophecy was fulfilled in recent history, so we know how long the period was. It was the period of the two world wars, which lasted for 32 inclusive years from 1914 until 1945. These two wars combined saw the mobilisation of some 200 million soldiers and the killing of one third of the Jews in the world during the Holocaust. All the other details in the prophecy are shown to add up as well in the article mentioned above. We can see therefore that in Rev 9:15 the "day" pictures a year, the "month" pictures 30 years, and the "year" is counted as a year (1 + 30 + 1 = 32).

Many other examples confirm this reckoning of days, months and years in prophecy, and they will be listed below. It will become clear that Scripture uses specific language to denote the duration of prophesied and typified events.

Days

In a prophecy where a day refers to the duration of an event, that day pictures a year.

God gives us this principle in Numbers 14:33-34 where He states "your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years".

God repeats this principle in Ezekiel 4:5-6, saying "I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year". The 390 inclusive years of Israel's iniquity began in the 30th year of Solomon's reign, and ended when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem (3018-3407AM). The 40 inclusive years of Judah's iniquity began with the death of Christ at the hands of the Jews in 31AD and ended with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD.

In addition to the example concerning one "day" in Rev 9:15 quoted above, we see in Rev 11:9 and 11 "three and a half days" mentioned. This refers to the three and a half years that it took for the Jews to re-establish themselves as a nation in the Holy Land and Jerusalem after WW2, i.e. from May 1945 until November 1948. Again, see the page "THE TWO WITNESSES" for more about this.

In Rev 2:10 the brethren of the Smyrna Church era are told that they "shall have tribulation ten days". This refers to the massive 10 year persecution unleashed by Roman emperor Diocletian in 303AD, which lasted until the Edict of Milan in early 313AD (Biblical years run from Spring to Spring. As the new year of 313 had not yet commenced when this persecution ended, the ten years ran from 303 until 312 inclusively).

Likewise, as God is consistent, the "1290 days" and "1335 days" in Dan 12:11-12 denote 1290 and 1335 years. These are related to the Islamic "Dome of the Rock" on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (as explained on the page "DANIEL 11 & 12 - KINGS OF NORTH AND SOUTH").

Also, the "1260 days" mentioned in Rev 11:3 and 12:6 indicate 1260 year periods. These are the years that the "two witnesses" fulfilled God's prophecies, and the time of protection of God's people, respectively, as explained in "THE TWO WITNESSES" and "REVELATION 12 - THE WOMAN".

Lastly, in Dan 8:13-14 we read "How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?And he said unto me, unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed". The literal text of this verse reads "evenings and mornings" instead of "days". This phrase is also found in the Creation account in Gen 1 where we are told that "the evening and the morning were the first day" and "the evening and the morning were the second day" etc. Therefore, this phrase is poetic language describing 2300 days, which picture the 2300 year period from Alexander the Great's victory against the Persian Empire in 333BC, and his subsequent defilement of Jerusalem, until the city's liberation from Gentile hands in the 1967 Six Day War. For more on this see the page "TRUTHS LOST IN LAODICEA".

Weeks

In a prophecy where a week refers to the duration of an event, that week pictures seven years.

As it turns out, there is only one such prophecy, i.e. the Seventy Week Prophecy in Dan 9:24-27. It does, however, refer to three separate periods, all described as weeks.

Although various interpretations of this prophecy exist, the fact that the seventy weeks picture a period of 490 years (70 x 7 = 490) is not seriously disputed in Christian circles.

What I believe to be the correct interpretation can be found on the page "FULFILLED PROPHECIES".

Months

In a prophecy where a month refers to the duration of an event, that month pictures thirty years.

As already mentioned above, the word month in the phrase "the hour, and day, and month and year" found in Rev 9:15, denotes 30 years of the 32 year period between 1914 and 1945.

In Hos 5:7 we read concerning the fall of the northern Kingdom of Israel "now shall a month devour them with their portions". As Hosea prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (Hos 1:1), and Samaria was conquered by the Assyrians in the 6th year of Hezekiah, this places the commencement of this 30 year progressive loss of territory by Israel in the 51st year of Uzziah. See the charts on the "CHRONOLOGICAL CHARTS" page for the details.

In Rev 9:5 and 10 we find a period of "five months" mentioned. As fully explained on the page "THE HISTORICAL SEVENTH SEAL", this is a prophecy of the 150 year period from 1095, when the first Catholic crusade was launched to liberate Jerusalem, until 1244, when the last crusader battle of that era was fought over the Holy City.

In Eze 39:12 and 14 a period of "seven months" is predicted, which refers to the time from the beginning of the Hasmonean Dynasty in 140BC, until 70AD, when the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem temple. This 210 year period (7 x 30 = 210) saw virtually unrestricted practice of the Jewish religion in Jerusalem, and is fully explained on the page "GOG IN EZEKIEL 38 AND 39".

Rev 11:2 states that Jerusalem " is (lit. "was") given unto the Gentiles, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months". This is talking about the 1260 year period (42 x 30 = 1260) during which all seven heads of the Gentile "Beast" powers came to rule over Jerusalem.

Rev 13:5 says that the Beast powers were given "a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months". This is speaking of 1260 years of independent Papal power over the people of God.

The last two points are fully explained on the pages "THE TWO WITNESSES" and REVELATION 13 - THE BEAST".

Years

In a prophecy where a year refers to the duration of an event, that year is a literal year.

As already stated, the year in the phrase "the hour, and day, and month and year" (Rev 9:15) denotes one literal year of the 32 year period between 1914 and 1945.

In Gen 15:13 God states "thy seed shall be (lit. is) a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years". As shown on the chart on the "HOME" page, this prophecy covers 400 literal years from Ishmael's persecution of Isaac (Gal 4:29) until the year of the Exodus from Egypt.

In Gen 41:29-30 we are told "Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. And there shall arise after them seven years of famine". The remainder of the chapter shows that this came to pass as prophesied, over a period of seven literal years.

In Jer 25:11 we find written "This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years". These were 70 literal years of servitude, as shown on the chart on the "HOME" page.

In Jer 29:10 we find the same time period prophesied "thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place".

In addition Dan 9:2 also says of these same literal 70 years "In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem".

II Chron 36:21 confirms the fulfilment of this period: "The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah" (NIV).

Likewise therefore, when Rev 20:2-4 tells us that Satan will be bound for "a thousand years" and that Christ will rule for "a thousand years", we can be absolutely sure that these mean literal years.

Times

A "time" is the basic unit of measurement that denotes future years on Earth. The Biblical method of the measurement of years is by observation of the sun and the moon (Gen 1:14).

A full rotation of the Earth around the sun is a solar year, which lasts just over 365 days, and most often has 12 lunar months. Observing the moon from Spring equinox to Spring equinox, a thirteenth month should be added when the 12th month ends before the Spring equinox.

A full rotation of the moon around the Earth is a lunar month. Its length varies, but is approximately 29 and a half days in duration. The account of Noah on the ark in Gen 7-8 shows that 30 days per month should be counted when no observation can be made. The Mishnah informs us repeatedly that this method was employed in the time of the second Temple.

Therefore, until observation shows otherwise, the measurement of a time, i.e. a year, consists of 12 months of 30 days each.

Hence, years that are yet future consist in theory of 360 days (12 x 30 = 360).

In Scripture we find the 360 day "time" used in the prophecy of Dan 4. Nebuchadnezzar is told that he will "be given the heart of a beast" and that "seven times" (7 x 360 = 2520 days) will "pass over him" (Dan 4:16). The story in Dan 4 unfolds and shows that this Babylonian king lost his mind, began to graze like an animal, and grew his hair and fingernails long, until "at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me".

Nebuchadnezzar's 2520 days of madness were to teach him the lesson that his power was not of himself, but had been given to him by the God of Heaven. However, they also pictured something much bigger.

Just as Ezekiel lay on his left and right sides for 390 days and 40 days respectively, picturing periods of 390 and 40 years (Eze 4:4-6), so the 2520 days of Nebuchadnezzar's madness pictured the 2520 years of "the times of the Gentiles" (Lk 21:24). These were 2520 consecutive years that the Jews were to lose control of Jerusalem as it was conquered by a succession of "Beast" powers, as shown on the chart on the "HOME" page.

Therefore Nebuchadnezzar's 2520 days were a type of these 2520 years. And, since the first of these Gentile powers was Babylon, it is fitting that this prophecy was given to the king who ruled Babylon at the time of that first conquest. Please see the page "THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES" for more information.

In Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24 and 28 God had already stated four times that Israel would be punished "seven times" if they disobeyed Him, and we see that the Daniel 4 prophecy ties in perfectly with Lev 26. These four prophecies in Lev 26 apply to four separate 2520 year periods, beginning with four separate events, these being the break up of Israel and Judah in the year of Solomon's death, the fall of Samaria and the Kingdom of Israel in Hezekiah's sixth year, the fall of Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar's seventh year, and the destruction of Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year. All these, including their years of termination, are located on the chart on the "HOME" page.

Dan 7:8 mentions a "little horn" and verse 25 tells us that God's people "shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time". More modern translations say "time, times and half a time". This period is half of "seven times" and so refers to 1260 years. Church of God brethren know, as did Protestants of old, that the "little horn" refers to the Papacy. The explanation of the 1260 years can be found on the page "THE TWO WITNESSES".

Dan 12:7 also speaks of "time, times and an half" which denotes the 1260 inclusive years from the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 691AD until the restoration of sovereign Jewish government over Jerusalem followed by the proclamation of Israel's "Law of Return" in 1950, when "the shattering of the power of the holy people" (RSV) came to an end. See "DANIEL 11 & 12 - KINGS OF NORTH AND SOUTH" for more on this.

In Rev 2:21 we read "I gave her space to repent" (KJV). However, the word "space" is the Greek word chronos and is usually translated "time". As explained on the page "THE TRUE CHURCH ERAS", this "time" is really "a time", and refers to the 360 year period from the beginning of the Thyatira Church era at the commencement of the first Crusade in 1095, until the beginning of the Philadelphia Church era with the first printing of the Scriptures in 1455.

In Rev 10:6 we find written "And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer". This prophecy is part of the sixth trumpet narrative in Revelation. It is announcing that the "seven times", i.e. 2520 years, of Judah's punishment have come to an end. Therefore, at that precise moment in history, God says there will be "time no longer". This occurred in 1945, and is more fully described on the page "THE TWO WITNESSES".

And finally, Rev 12:14 states "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent". This concerns the first 1260 years of the 2520 year period, commencing with Jerusalem's capture by Nebuchadnezzar, during which God protected His faithful people. See the page "REVELATION 12 - THE WOMAN".

To summarise in brief:

In a prophecy or type that predicts the duration of a prophesied or typified event:

A day of Creation pictures a thousand years

 

"X days and X nights" indicates X days

A day denotes a year

A week denotes seven years

A month denotes 30 years

A year remains a year

A time is 360 days, but denotes 360 years

Therefore, for example, the "two witnesses" of Rev 11:3 did not prophesy only for a literal "1260 days". If indeed they had, the text would have stated "1260 days and 1260 nights".

Rather, they prophesied for 1260 years.

A thorough study of all the occurrences of the words "day/days", "week/weeks" etc in the Bible reveals only a few that appear to challenge the rules stated above:

1) Exodus 16:4-5 "Then the Lord said to Moses, behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily".

Are these literal days? Yes they are, because no duration of the event is stated. If instead the Scripture had said "I will rain down bread for six days", it would have indicated that bread was going to be given for six years.

2) Numbers 11:19-20 states in regard to the second occasion on which God promised to send quail "You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you".

Here we have a prophecy that does give the duration of the prophesied event. However, the literal Hebrew in this verse says "a month of days". Does this phrase indicate 30 literal days? Possibly, as the account does not state whether the quail came for 30 days or 30 years. The wording however seems to favour the latter. As this prophecy was given soon after the date stated in Num 10:11, the 30 years may well have stretched from the second year until the 31st year of the Israelites' wandering in the wilderness.

3) II Chron 21:15 prophesies regarding king Jehoram of Judah "you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day". Verse 19 adds "Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness; so he died in severe pain".

Does the phrase "day by day" in this passage indicate a general progression of the sickness, or does it refer to a specific period of time that the sickness lasts? If it refers to a period of time, it must be two years, by the rules deduced from Scripture, which would then be confirmed by verse 19.

4) Luke 13:32-33 reads "And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’"

Christ is here referring to individual days, rather than giving the duration of the whole period. Had He said "I will perform cures for three days", it would have meant three years.

5) In Genesis 3:14 God states "So the Lord God said unto the serpent, because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life".

This kind of wording is not uncommon in Scripture. "Days" here are both days and years.

6) Hosea 6:2 says "After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight".

The poetic device used here, called parallelism, is common in the Hebrew Scriptures. Another example is seen in Proverbs 6:16: "These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him". The prophecy in Hosea does not indicate duration, and therefore refers to literal days. It is this Scripture that both Christ (Lk 24:45-46) and Paul (I Cor 15:3-4) refer to as predicting Christ's resurrection on the third day, as a result of which all people can be revived and raised up to eternal life.

7) John 2:19 states "Jesus answered and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up".

This refers to literal days, as it concerns a specified future time when the thing prophesied will occur, rather than the duration of the prophecy.

So we see that there are logical explanations for Scriptures that might initially appear problematic. The rules of prophetic interpretation are consistent, which is exactly what we would expect from the perfect Creator God.

Applying the seven principles of time in prophecy enables us to understand the order and progress of God's stated intentions, and to appreciate how careful and precise He has been in recording His Word.

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