It was obvious that the next part of the Bible's time structure to be examined was the era of the Kings of Judah and the period on to the beginning of the 'Seventy Weeks' or 490 years to Christ, which commenced in Nehemiah's day. Would this second division of Israel's national history also turn out to be 'seventy weeks' of years? After light had been received as to the Divine principles of measurement employed, there was little difficulty in reckoning up the regnal years of the Kings of Judah and calculating this era with accuracy. The total was found to be 560 years.
With the Key in hand, it was not difficult to unlock this part of the Bible's chronology, for who could be ignorant of the great 'seventy years' of the Babylonian Captivity (Daniel 9: 2)? Plainly, these were years of punishment outside of God's 'seventy times seven' or 490 years of forgiveness; so once again in the Chronology of Redemption there stood out a clear 490-years period.
This meant that the God of Israel had been in relationship with His people, on the ground of Redemption, for three times 490, or 1,470, years between the Exodus from Egypt and the Cross of Calvary.
It was interesting to see that Jacob, whose name was changed to 'Israel' was the one who said to God that of all he possessed he would surely 'give the tenth unto Thee.' We are told that 'the whole age of Jacob was 147 years' (Gen.28: 22 and 47: 28). So his age was exactly the tenth part of the length of Israel's national history, while they were in covenant relationship with God. God is evidently the God of design in history, as He is in nature.
(It should be mentioned that the date of the Exodus, which is somewhat earlier than is generally held by modern historians, has been abundantly confirmed in a multiplicity of ways by the Bible's chronology, and also by research into Egyptian Chronology in recent years - see 'Ages in Chaos' by I. Velikovsky).
The next question was whether this same time-scheme of reckoning by Jubilee was carried back prior to the Exodus, that is, to the Birth of Abram, the father of the Jewish race (see Chart 2). The well-known total of 505 years, which was simple to calculate, was, of course, 15 years more than the required 490 years, but it did not take long to be shown by the Spirit of God that there was a break in the continuity of this period - a delay in the purpose of God, brought about by an act on Abram's part which was to have disastrous consequences right down the course of history even to our own day. This was when Abram 'hearkened to the voice of Sarai' and married Hagar the Egyptian when he was 85 years old (Genesis 16:2-3).
It was 15 years that Abram had to wait before Isaac, the son of promise, came, and no reader of Scripture can be ignorant of God's thoughts concerning Isaac, and concerning Ishmael also (see Genesis chapters 16 to 21). Isaac was the seed through whom the Redeemer was destined to come, and for Abram to take Hagar and beget Ishmael was an attempt to fulfil the promise of God by natural means and by so doing to leave the path of faith and obedience. So these 15 years, too, fell outside of the 10 Jubilee cycles which measure the first of the four periods of 490 years from the birth of Abram to the Cross of Calvary. (Isaac was born when Abram was 100 years old) (see Chart 2 ).
The establishing from Scripture of these four exact divisions of 490 years was a tremendous discovery, but where was it going to lead? Were we going to see that God had planned all history, right down from Adam, on the basis of these Jubilee cycles of 49 years? Were we, in fact, going to find that the Bible - the immutable Word of the Living God - contained within its covers the answer to the everlasting search of man for his Creator? 'How can there be a God?' asks the scientist, 'We can't find one. And we certainly are not interested in the subjectionist who can only talk about his own experience. Where is there positive Evidence of God as a Person, and not just a creative force - that is what we want to see?'
As we pondered these things in the middle 1930's, the evidence began to mount. The terminal datings of the First World War of 1914-1918, and such interpositions as the great Quetta earthquake of 1935 (see Chapter 20 ), were to be seen exactly timed as part of the Plan of the Ages which was beginning to come into view, and we realised that we must press on and leave no stone unturned, so as to be able eventually to present to our fellow men the proof that the Bible's figures were 'true from the beginning.' (Psalm 119:160)
But far more than this was in the mind of Almighty God.
The 'plan of the ages' or 'purpose of the ages', as the words in Ephesians 3:11 should be translated, was centered 'in Christ Jesus our Lord,' and it is the purpose of God to reveal His Son to our dying civilisation - and particularly to His restored Israel - and also to reveal all those secrets concerning time to do with His Birth and Ministry and His sacrificial Death and Resurrection which had been lost to memory by His Church after the Apostles departed. Perhaps more important still for our generation was the fact that, until this priceless knowledge was restored to the members of His Body, the Church, it would be impossible for knowledge to be released concerning the timing and manner of His Return - a subject which is increasingly occupying the thoughts of all who 'love His appearing'(2 Timothy 4:8) in the present day.
So the research went on and, as is usual with those who find themselves in 'the school of God', from the first it was necessary to abide by the rules of the school - that is, to live like the early disciples of the first century who were in the main unencumbered by their possessions. For ourselves, this meant living in furnished houses, and being in dependence upon God for all resources, as we also were for the wisdom necessary to understand His Word aright.
As already mentioned, one basic reason why none had ever been able to produce from the Bible a record of time which could be seen to be accurate to the day, as well as palpably true - that is, perfectly revealing the Plan of Redemption - was that God's use of the 49-year cycle and the 'fiftieth year', which is called the 'Jubilee' in Leviticus 25, had never really been understood. See Chart 5.
A second 'secret' was the Divine use of the Calendar Lunar Year of 354 days throughout the whole course of time. Of course, it was clear that Israel kept their Passovers in the Spring, as they do today, and this demands the insertion, or 'intercalation', of months (or 'moons') every three or two years. Reference to a modern Jewish calendar will show that generally, in the third, sixth and eighth years, one of these intercalary months has to be inserted, so as to keep the first month, Nisan, in the Spring season. This is because our Solar year of 365 and a quarter days is 11 and a quarter days longer than the 12 lunar months.
But the Bible never acknowledges the existence of a 'thirteenth' month, and it is clear that with God the year is always one of twelve 'moons' (the Hebrew word for 'month' is literally, 'new moon'). The order of days in the 12 months is, invariably, 30 days in the first month, 29 in the second, 30 in the third, and in that alternation throughout the year. Between the Exodus and New Testament days the 'intercalary' 13th months were simply gaps of 30, or often 31 days, in the Calendar, while Israel waited to see the New Moon which signalled the incoming of their New Year. This had to be when the barley was ready - the first month being called 'Abib', or 'green ears' (see Exodus 13:4) but later, 'Nisan'. The present fixed Jewish Calendar, with many innovations, such as 353 or 355 days in their 'Common' years, has no warrant in the Bible and was brought in around the fourth century AD. It has been acknowledged that this present system often has the Nisan, or first month, positioned too early in the Spring and that in Bible times the year would have commenced a month later.
There is a divine reason why God kept to the 354-day year in His reckoning of time in Scripture, and this will be discussed in later pages.
During the past century many thousands of Christians have followed writers who have attempted to build up a chronology with 'years' of 360 days. Nowhere in Scripture, however, is a period of 360 days ever called a 'year', but always a 'time' - like 'the seven times' of Daniel 4, or the 'time, and times, and half a time' of Revelation 12:14. In verse 6 of this chapter, the other three and a half 'times' are shown to be equal to '1,260 days', which confirms that a single 'time' is 360 days (see Note 1).
An interesting and instructive illustration of the 'year' is to be found in
the Genesis account of the Flood, this being the first occasion where 'months'
(lit. 'new moons') are spoken of in the Bible. The Flood commenced on 'the 17th day of the 2nd month' and Noah left the Ark on
'the 27th day of the 2nd month,' exactly one solar year
later, that is, inclusively, one 354-day year and 11 days from the Flood's
beginning. (See Genesis 7:11 and 8:14).