SOLI-LUNAR MEASURES OF OUR LORD’S EARTHLY LIFETIME, AND OF HUMAN HISTORY AS A WHOLE
WE have shown in the foregoing chapters, that the leading prophetic times are accurate astronomic cycles, -cycles not remote from terrestrial affairs, but connected with our ordinary calendar measurements of time-cycles harmonizing, more or less perfectly, the unequal yet intimately related solar and lunar revolutions.
We have also shown that the epacts of these prophetic times form, with one peculiar exception, a remarkable series of septiform periods or weeks, of years, months, weeks, and days; and that, in the one instance where it is not septiform, the epact assumes a strikingly sixfold character, in harmony with the sixfold number, attached by Divine inspiration to the power of which that period is the duration.
These prophetic times become in due course historic times; and the question naturally arises, Will this principle of epact measurement yield analogous results, when extended to other historic times, and to the whole chronology of human history?
In what follows we must endeavour to show that it. does, and that a marvellous law of harmonious proportion is clearly observable between the chronology of certain types of the course of redemption history and that of the actual events typified-the reality being to the chronological type, not as a year to a day, but as a soli-lunar cycle to a day. And what is still more remarkable is that this cycle-a cycle whose epact is exactly one solar year, measures the most important period in all human history-the earthly lifetime of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We ask special attention to this statement. The evidence which justifies it amounts-not to demonstration, for the nature of the case forbids this-but to so high a degree of probability, as to be almost moral certainty, and the fact, if it be such, is a deeply interesting and important one, indicating another underlying link of connection between the assertions of Scripture history, and the phenomena of astronomic science.
A brief consideration of the statements of the New Testament on the period in question is needful here.
We learn from St. Luke that at the time of his baptism, when the Holy Ghost, in bodily shape like a dove, descended on Him to anoint Him for his ministry, and when the voice from heaven proclaimed Him the beloved Son of God, "Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age."
His entrance on his career of public service to God at this age, was in accordance with the principles of the Levitical Law, and with the practice of the Levites. Thirty years of age is the time of mental, moral and physical maturity-a man’s prime. "From thirty years old and upward, until fifty years old, shalt thou number them," was the law respecting the Levites, "all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation." This is seven times reiterated in the fourth. of Numbers (#Num 4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, 47).
David a type of the Messiah, began to reign at this same age. "David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years." So the Son of David was thirty years old when He began his public life.
The gospels nowhere expressly state the exact duration of our Lord’s ministry, yet that it lasted three years and a half, is clearly deducible from what they do state. The gospel of John distinctly mentions three "feasts" of Passover in the course of our Lord’s ministry, and implies a fourth. The first, at which He cleansed the temple (#Joh 2:13-25.); the second, when He healed the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda (#Joh 5:1-13.); the third, about the time of his feeding the multitude (#Joh 6:3); and the fourth, which He ate with his disciples before He suffered, the same night in which He was betrayed (#Joh 18:28). Four Passovers of course include three years. There was also evidently an interval of some months between our Lord’s baptism by John in Bethabara beyond Jordan, and the first of these Passovers. The events which had intervened were his forty days’ fast, and subsequent temptation in the desert of Judea; his return journey to Galilee; his visit to Cana at the time of the marriage, when He turned the water into wine; his subsequent brief visit to Capernaum; and his return to Judea. All this can scarcely have occupied less than six months; so that it is with good ground that, from the early Fathers onwards, our Lord’s ministry is assumed to have lasted three years and a half months and seven days, so at first sight it seems more than a month longer than the life of Christ, but it must be remembered that our Lord’s connection with this earth did not terminate with his death and resurrection. He walked and talked with his disciples, He ate and drank before them; and manifested Himself to them during forty days after his resurrection before He left the world altogether, and "a cloud received Him out of their sight." These forty days must therefore be included in any estimate of his earthly life, for not until the final parting on the mount of Olives did it cease to be true that God in human form was tabernacling among men.
Our Lord’s life, then, was composed of the 30 years prior to his baptism, the three years and a half of his ministry, and 40 days after his resurrection, and as it terminated between the feasts of Passover and Pentecost, it must have commenced about the time of the feast of Tabernacles. Now from the day of ascension in A.D. 29, to the first day of the feast of Tabernacles in the 34th preceding year, the interval (as we show in the Appendix) was 33 solar years 7 lunar months and 7 days, which is the exact measure of the soli-lunar cycle in question.
If it be objected that while the first and last periods of our Lord’s life were clearly 30 years and 40 days, yet that the central period of his ministry cannot be proved to have been just three years and a half, we reply that it cannot be proved to have been more or less than that period, and there are the following good grounds for believing that the general view as to its duration is correct.
(1) The Divine system of times and seasons is, as we have seen, one of weeks. Messiah’s coming and death had been announced in the prophecy of "70 weeks," and that prophecy speaks of a division in the midst of a week. A week of years and a half week of years, are periods recognised and often employed in Scripture, and the latter is notably used in connection with the testimony of God’s faithful witnesses. "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months" (#Jas 5:17). Similarly the two sackcloth-clothed witnesses in Rev. xi. prophesy during three symbolic years and a half (1260 days), and then during three literal years and a half (symbolised by "three days and a half") they lie unburied.
The great "seven times" of the "Times of the Gentiles" is divided as we have seen, into two equal portions, each consisting of "time, times, and a half," or three years and a half (symbolic).
Now since the first period of Christ’s life (30 years) was in harmony with Old Testament chronological usage, and also the forty days closing period, it seems reasonable to suppose that the central, and most important section of it, occupied by his public ministry, should not have been an irregular interval unlike any other in Scripture. In assuming it to have been the important definite period to which we know it closely approximated; we only assume that it was in full harmony with sacred analogy, and not at variance with the law of weeks, which pervades the Bible.
(2) The events which took place before the first passover of Christ’s life, when compared with subsequent similar journeyings and tarriances, seem likely to have occupied about six months; and as there are no counter indications, but the reverses we may safely assume that the Lord’s ministry was three years and a half so nearly as to justify our regarding his earthly life, including its 40 days post resurrection period as in close, if not exact agreement with the 33 years 7 months and 7 days cycle, and to warrant our naming this soli-lunar cycle, "THE MESSIANIC CYCLE."
Now the fact that this central and all important period-the lifetime of our Lord-was comprised in such a cycle, naturally suggests the use of that cycle, as a unit for the measurement of larger periods. Before we point out the results of regarding it as one day of a great year of similar cycles, it is needful briefly to recall two points already discussed.
In our study of the law of completion in weeks (p. 270), we showed that a Divine chronologic system exists in Scripture; that it is a system of weeks; that it pervades the law and the prophets, and is traceable in the Gospels and Epistles; that it is especially conspicuous in the Jewish ritual, and in the symbolic prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse; and that it comprises weeks, or septiform periods, on a variety of scales, according to the day, or unit of computation, employed.
We considered the week of days, of months, of years, of decades, of weeks of years, of months of years, of years of years, and of millenaries; and we saw good reason to endorse, on new grounds, the ancient view, that in the course of the six first days of the week on this last scale, the mystery of God is destined to be finished, and that the seventh millenary of the world’s history is to be its sabbath-the millennial reign of Christ on earth.
In considering the week of months we showed further that seven lunar months comprised all the feasts of the Lord, and constituted the sacred portion of the Jewish year, and that these feasts of the Lord, the observances and chronology of which are set forth at length, and with great exactness in #Lev 23, form A COMPLETE CALENDAR OF DIVINELY ORDAINED TYPICAL CEREMONIES, PREFIGURING THE GLORIOUS HISTORY OF REDEMPTION. The series of feasts thus prophetic of the future, -for the law had "a shadow of good things to come,"-is introduced by the great law of the sabbatic, or weekly rest, a law involving a main principle of all these religious festivals; redemption terminating in the rest of God, and the rest of man in and with his Divine Redeemer. "There remaineth a rest-a sabbatism-to the people of God." Then follows the setting apart of the paschal lamb, and, after a definite period, its redeeming death, pointing to "Christ our Passover sacrificed for us."
The closely connected feast of unleavened bread, with its rigid exclusion of leaven in every form, the type of sin, succeeded. It is explained by the Apostolic commentary, "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
Then on the day after the sabbath following the passover, a first-fruit sheaf of the early harvest was waved before God, emblematic of the resurrection of "Christ the first fruits of them that slept," and pointing with no obscurity to the occurrence of his resurrection on the first day of a new week.
Fifty days (i.e. seven weeks and a day) reckoned from this wave-sheaf day, brought Pentecost, or the feast of weeks, with another wave offering, emblematic of the church. It consisted not of a single first-fruit sheaf but of two loaves baked with leaven (typical of evil), and consequently accompanied by a sin offering. These loaves prefigured the Church of redeemed sinners in their present imperfect state, accepted by God, but only in and through the Beloved.
The next feasts prescribed were the terminal group in the seventh month, the feast of trumpets, the great day of atonement, and the feast of tabernacles. The first seems to point to a universal gospel testimony and to the future awakening of Israel, and to be chronologically connected with the final trumpets of the Apocalypse; the second foreshadows the national repentance of Israel, when "they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourn because of Him"; and the third, the glad concluding harvest home feast of tabernacles, typifies "the times of the restitution of all things," "of which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
The antitypical realities which these feasts prefigure centre in the incarnation. The rejection of "God manifest in the flesh," and dwelling among men, led to Christ, our Passover, being sacrificed for us. At that historical point the type and the antitype met, for the crucifixion, the great act of redemption, was accomplished on an anniversary of the Exodus Passover, and the resurrection itself fell on the very day of the annual wave sheaf, which had for ages prefigured it; while the descent of the Holy Ghost, which baptized the, separate disciples into one Church and Body of Christ, took place on the "day of Pentecost fully come," so that the birth of the Christian Church, in its corporate character, synchronized with the observance of the ceremonies which had so long foreshadowed it.
Thus three of the most momentous and sacred events in the whole course of history (events than which none of greater importance have ever taken place), the atoning death of the Son of God, his glorious resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, coincided chronologically with their prefigurative ceremonial observances enjoined in #Lev 23.
Thus far the prophecy of the Jewish ritual is, therefore, fulfilled. The remaining three feasts have yet to receive their antitypical accomplishment, but we know from other scriptures that the restoration, repentance, salvation, and blessing of Israel which they foreshadowed, are to take place at the close of the "Times of the Gentiles." This is implied in our Lord’s own expression, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled;" and in the statement of St. Paul, "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (#Rom 11:25).
Now, the event which terminates the "Times of the Gentiles" is the coming of Christ and the establishment of his millennial kingdom on earth. But this event does not terminate redemption history. It is only at the close of his millennial reign, when the Son shall have put down all rule and all authority and power, subdued all things to Himself, and destroyed the last enemy, death; and delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, it is only then, that his peculiar work as Redeemer and Mediator is accomplished.
Redeeming work, therefore, extends, according to Scripture, from the days of Eden to the end of the millennium. Thenceforward the perfect results of .the great work remain, but the work itself is accomplished and over. Satan and death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire. There is no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying. The former things are passed away, and the tabernacle of God is for ever with men.
We have then two leading facts; first, that the type of redemption embodied in the Jewish ritual extended over seven months of the ordinary year; and secondly, that as far as can be ascertained from Scripture the actual history or course of redemption extends over seven millenaries. Now the remarkable result of the application of the soli-lunar cycle of 33 years 7 months and 7 days to these periods is, that it brings the week of millenaries into close and special harmony with the week of months. A thousand years contains as many of these soli-lunar cycles as there are days in a month, and consequently seven millenaries are seven months of such cycles. The agreement between the chronological type and the great antitype is not, therefore, merely that between a week of months and a week of millenaries, it is far more close and remarkable. THE TYPE BEARS TO THE ANTITYPE THE PERFECT PROPORTION OF A WEEK OF MONTHS ON ONE SCALE TO A WEEK OF MONTHS ON ANOTHER.. Either may be regarded as a week of months contained in a year; the former a year of 360 to 365 days, the latter a year of 360 to 365 soli-lunar cycles.
In the adjoined plate [not here shown] the millenaries measuring the course of human history are divided into Messianic cycles, and may be compared with the months and days of the Levitical calendar sketched in the centre.
A thousand years equal 29 Messianic cycles (analogous with the 29 d. lunar month); thirty Messianic cycles (analogous with the 30 day. calendar month of the Prophetic Times) equal exactly 1007 solar years and 7 lunations; and 180 Messianic cycles (half 360) equal 6045 solar years, 5 months.
According to the Hebrew chronology, as shown by Mr. Clinton, we have now about reached the termination of the first six thousand years of human history; and history as well as prophecy abundantly confirm the view this fact suggests, that we are now living in the last or closing days of the third great dispensation, and on the verge of another and a better age. Half a vast year of Messianic cycles, measured from the creation of man, is now expiring; -and as it expires, there pawns upon the world the light which immediately precedes the sun-rising; there arise around us the solemn yet joyful evidences of the nearness of the glorious kingdom of our God.