The Witness of the Stars
|reckoning backward, we get to 587 BC, the very date of the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar.|
|reckoning forward, we get to 1860 AD, the very date of the European intervention in the Lebanon, which has brought the Eastern Question into its present prominent position.|
If we take Zodiacal years (=1242 Solar)--
reckoning backward we get to 608 BC, the date of the battle of Carchemish (2 Chron 35:20), when Babylon completed the conquest of Assyria, and became supreme; utterly shattering all the hope which Israel had in Egypt. reckoning forward brings us to 1879 AD, when, by the Treaty of Berlin, Ottoman power received a blow from which it has never recovered, and which has prepared the way for its extinction.
If we take Solar years, then--
reckoning backward, we get to BC 624 (AM 3376), the beginning of the Babylonian kingdom, the "head of gold." reckoning forward we get to 1896-7 AD, which is yet future.
These reckonings in their beginnings and endings form an introversion, or Epanodos, thus:--
624--BC dates increasing.
1860--AD dates increasing.
The Solar reckonings are the more important dates; the Lunar are next in significance; while Zodiacal reckonings furnish us with dates which, to say the least, fit neatly into their places.
Having thus fixed the central date, which already points forward to the end, let us go back and find the starting point, that we may the better understand the end.
When Daniel was explaining to Nebuchadnezzar his mysterious dream, he said, "Thou art this head of gold"! (Dan 2:38). This moment is popularly, but erroneously, supposed to mark the commencement of the Babylonian kingdom--the first of these four great Gentile powers.
But Daniel spoke of what ALREADY existed, and was explaining the then condition of things. He said, "God hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory" (Dan 2:37). The kingdom of Babylon had already been in existence for more than thirty years, for its king had destroyed Jerusalem and burnt the Temple with fire, and brought away many captives, amongst whom was Daniel and his companions. The opening words of the book make this very clear.
The monumental history of Babylon, as now dug up, shows that before this it had been sometimes tributary to, and sometimes almost independent of, Assyria. In AM 3352, after a severe struggle with Assurbanipal, the Assyrian king, Babylon was once more subdued, and its king setting fire to his palace perished in the flames. After that there was peace for twenty-two years, during which time Kandalanu governed Babylon in succession to Sumas-sum-ukin, a son of Assurbanipal.
In AM 3375 (i.e. BC 627), * another revolt broke out, and the Assyrian king sent a general of great ability to quell it. His name was Nabu-pal-user (which means Nebo protects his son). He put down the rebellion with so much skill that Assurbanipal made him governor of Babylon. He shortly afterwards, in AM 3376, himself rebelled, and made himself King of Babylon. Associating with him his son Nebuchadnezzar, they commenced a campaign against Assurbanipal, which ended in the fall of Nineveh and the complete subjugation of Assyria. The kingdom of Babylon, thus commencing in BC 625, ** became the first great Gentile kingdom as foretold in Daniel.
* These dates are those furnished by the Monuments, as given by Dr. Budge, of the British Museum, in his Babylonian Life and History, RTS, 1885. They also agree with the dates dug up by Sir Henry Rawlinson in 1862, consisting of fragments of seven copies of the famous "Eponym Canon of Assyria," by which the Assyrian chronology has been definitely settled. Before this, historians had to be content with inferences and conjectures.
** In adjusting the AM and BC dates, the latter are always apparently one year in advance of the former, because BC 4000 was AM 1, and BC 3999 was AM 2. Hence AM 3376 is not BC 624, but it is BC 625.
There is practically no question, now, as to this date.
The actual duration of the three kingdoms that followed--Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece, may not perhaps be so accurately determined. Their total duration is known, because it is fixed by a known date at the other end, but it might introduce controversial matter if we attempted to assign to them their exact relative duration. Probably they were, roughly:--Babylon about 90 years; Medo-Persia about 200 years; Greece about 304 years.
We believe these to be fairly proportionate, * but whether they are or not, their total amount must have been 594 years, because the undisputed date of the battle of Actium, by which Augustus became the head of the Roman Empire, was September BC 31. From this date Jerusalem passed permanently under the power of Rome until the Mahommedan conquest in AD 636-7.
* Cyrus took Babylon, according to the Monuments, in the 17th year of Nabonidus, BC 539. 1 Maccabees i begins the first of Alexander from the death of Darius Codomannus in AM 3672. This would slightly vary the above distribution of the years of separate duration.
We have, therefore, three fixed dates, and these decide for us the duration of the intervening periods; dividing them into the two great Eclipse Cycles of 594 years and 666 years!
Jerusalem under the Gentiles
|Fixed Dates||Duration of Years|
|Babylon (the 1st Kingdom) commenced||BC||625|
|Battle of Actium,
ending the possession of the 3rd Kingdom
|Duration of the three Kingdoms,
Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece,
together (1st Eclipse Cycle)
|Rome (the 4th Kingdom)
became the possessor Jerusalem
|Mahommedan conquest of Jerusalem,
ending the possession of Rome
|Duration of Rome's possession of Jerusalem
(2nd Eclipse Cycle)
|First Half of "the Times of the Gentiles"||1260|
|Date of Mahommedan conquest of Jerusalem||AD||636-7|
|Second half of "the Times of the Gentiles" and
Duration of Mahommedan possession of Jerusalem
|End and "fulness" of "the Times of the Gentiles"||AD||1896-7||2520|
* In passing from BC dates to AD dates, one year must always be deducted, e.g., from BC 2 to AD 2 is only three years, not four! Thus--
From Jan 1 BC 2 to Jan 1 BC 1 is one year
From Jan 1 BC 1 to Jan 1 AD 1 is one year
From Jan 1 AD 1 to Jan 1 AD 2 is one year
Making only three years.
Hence, BC 31 to AD 636 is 666 years, not 667.
From this it appears that 1896-7 AD would mark an important year in connection with the "times of the Gentiles."
The above reckoning has the following advantages over all previous historicist interpretations:--
1. Controverted dates are excluded.
2. The whole period of 2520 years is dealt with, instead of only the latter half (1260), as is usually the case.
3. It confines these "times" to the one place where the Lord Himself put them, viz., "JERUSALEM." He said, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
These "times," therefore, are confined to Jerusalem. This "treading down" is confined to Jerusalem. It is not the city of Rome that is to be trodden down for 1260 years. Why, then, should these "times" be separated from what is characteristic of their duration, and applied to Rome, papal or imperial? Why should historicists search for some act of emperors or popes in the early part of the seventh century in order to add it to 1260, so as to find some terminal date in or near our own times!*
* While the premises of the Historicist school are thus strengthened, their conclusions are shown to be erroneous.
We claim that the Lord Himself has joined these "times of the Gentiles" with the city of "Jerusalem," and we say, "What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt 19:6).
When Jesus spoke of this treading down, it looks as though it were then still future; for He said, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down," etc. The occupation of Jerusalem by Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, was for purposes of government rather than for a wanton treading down. Government on the earth was committed unto them. But when Jerusalem passed from the government of the Roman Empire into the hands of the Turks, it could then be said, in a very special sense, to be "trodden down." For of any government worthy of the name there has been none; and of desolation and desecration the city has been full. Under the feeble rule of the Turks, all the Gentiles seem to have combined in laying waste the holy city.
Though Jews are returning thither in ever-increasing numbers, they are only strangers there. They have as yet no independent position, nor can they make any treaties. But when these "times" shall end, it means that they will have a position of sufficient independence to be able to make a treaty or league with the coming Prince (Dan 9:27); and then the course of events will bring on another treading down of 1260 literal "days," which will thus have had a fore-shadowing fulfillment in years! This is written in Revelation 11:2. And to save us from any misunderstanding, the time is given, not in days, but in "months."
The angel, after directing John to measure the Temple of God and the altar, adds, "but the court which is without the Temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months."
This refers to a future treading down, which will be limited to the brief period of "forty two" literal "months," during the time of the coming Prince; and "in the midst" of the last week, when he shall break His covenant with the Jews, * set up the "abomination of desolation" (Dan 9:27; which is still future in Matt 24:15), and "tread down the holy city."
* And cause sacrifice and oblation to cease (Dan 9:27). We know that is referred, by historicists, to the Messiah. But they are not entitled to so interpret this passage unless they take with it 8:11, 11:31, and 12:11, where the same event is distinctly referred to, and is spoken, not of Christ, but of Antichrist.
We now desire to specially emphasize the fact that all these dates, and their termination in a rapidly approaching fulfillment, refer ONLY TO JERUSALEM, AND THE GENTILES, AND THE JEWS! They refer only to the end of the Gentile possession of Jerusalem, and to the settlement of the Jews in their own city and land.
These "times and seasons" have nothing whatever to do with "the Church of God" (1 Thess 5:1). The mystical Body of Christ, whenever its members are complete, "will be taken up to meet the Lord--the Head of the Body--in the air, so to be ever with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:15-17). This glorious event has nothing to do with any earthly sign or circumstance, so far as the members of this mystical Body are concerned.
Therefore we are not dealing here with the coming of the Lord; either for His saints, or with them. We are not referring to what is commonly and erroneously called "the end of the world." We are merely pointing out that the end of Gentile dominion over Jerusalem is drawing near! And we cannot close our eyes to the marvellous manner in which the veil is being removed from Jewish hearts: to the change which has come over the Jewish nation in its attitude towards Christ and Christianity, chiefly, under God, through the unparalleled circulation of more than a quarter of a million copies of a new translation of the New Testament into Hebrew, by the late Isaac Salkinson, published by the Trinitarian Bible Society, and freely distributed by the Mildmay Mission to the Jews: to the Palestine literature which has sprung up amongst the Jews in recent years: to the persecutions in various countries which are stirring their nest, and setting the nation in motion: to the organized emigration to Argentina, which its promoters avowedly speak of as "a nursery ground for Palestine" (Daily Graphic, March 10th, 1892): to the railways completed and in course of construction in the Holy Land: to the numerous Societies and their branches which have permeated the whole nation, which, while having various names, have only one object--"the colonization of Palestine."
When we put these events side by side with the teaching of the heavens as to the "cycles" or appointed times, we are merely showing how wonderfully they agree with what is written in the Book, and witnessed to by great and uncontested historic dates.
Nor are we absolutely naming a definite year or day even for these Palestine events. After all, they can be only approximate, for man has so misused every gift that God has ever given him, that even with such wondrous heavenly time-keepers he cannot really tell you what year it is! And, besides this loss of reckoning, there is confusion as to the commencement of the AD era, which makes absolute accuracy between the AM, BC, and AD dates impossible.
Added to this, there is another point to be borne in mind, viz., that when the "times of the Gentiles" shall end, Jewish independence need not be either immediate or complete!
For when Nebuchadnezzar began his kingdom of Babylon in AM 3376 (BC 625), the Jews, though in their land and city, were not independent. Nebuchadnezzar went to and fro to Jerusalem, and put down and set up whom he would; and it was not till some thirty years afterwards that he destroyed the City and Temple and made the people captives.
So, likewise, in the time of the end, there may be an epanodos. There may be a similar period of possession without independence, a quasi-independence guaranteed by the Great Powers; and, for ought we know, it may be that, in order to gain complete independence, they may ultimately make that fatal league with the coming Prince.
So that while we name the dates 1896-7 as being significant, we are not "fixing dates" in the ordinary sense of the term, but merely pointing out some of "the signs of the times," concerning which we ought not to be ignorant.
The true interpretation will in any case still remain, and will surely be literally fulfilled in its own time. The Word of God will be vindicated; its prophetic truth will be verified; God Himself will be glorified; and His people saved with an everlasting salvation.
Meanwhile the members of His Body will "wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess 1:10). They will live "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people (RV, a people for His own possession) zealous of good works" (Titus 2:13,14). They will "look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ," from heaven, believing that there is no hope either for "the Jew, the Gentile, or the Church of God," or for a groaning creation, until "the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN" (Acts 3:19-21).
"The world is sick, and yet not unto death;
There is for it a day of health in store;
From lips of love there comes the healing breath,--
The breath of Him who all its sickness bore,
And bids it rise to strength and beauty evermore.
Evil still reigns; and deep within we feel
The fever, and the palsy, and the pain
Of life's perpetual heartaches, that reveal
The rooted poison, which, from heart and brain,
We labour to extract, but labour all in vain.
Our skill avails not; ages come and go,
Yet bring with them no respite and no cure;
The hidden wound, the sigh of pent-up woe,
The sting we smother, but must still endure,
The worthless remedies which no relief procure,--
All these cry out for something more divine,
Which the worst woes of earth may not withstand;
Medicine that cannot fail--the oil and wine,
The balm and myrrh, growth of no earthly land,
And the all-skillful touch of the great Healer's hand.
Man needs a prophet: Heavenly Prophet, speak,
And teach him what he is too proud to hear.
Man needs a priest: True Priest, Thy silence break,
And speak the words of pardon in his ear.
Man needs a king: O King, at length in peace appear."