Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Prophetic Time Periods of the Bible: Part 2


In the previous blog entry, I examined some prophetic time periods used in Biblical prophecy. In Biblical prophecy, a day is used to represent a year. The book of Revelation, which speaks of the revelation of the New Jerusalem which will succeed the Catholic and Protestant churches, mentions a period of 1260 days, or three and a half years (phrased as a "time, times and half a time"), which represents a longer 1260 year period. During this time period, there will be a spiritual conflict between the old churches that follow a trinity of three persons, and the New Church which follows one God in one person, Jesus Christ our Lord. This will culminate in the spiritual battle of Armageddon. During that time, the Divine truth will be in obscurity, thus it is represented by the woman - the New church - fleeing into the wilderness from the wrath of the serpent. We are in that time now.

When reading older books on Biblical prophecy, this long time period was recognized by several Protestant authors, but there is a bit of confusion as to when is starts and ends. One theory, which interprets it literally, applies it to the time period of Islamic rule over the land of Palestine before the Jews would return. The other theory is that it applies to the time when the Papacy would rule over the Christian church. Swedenborg states that these prophecies should be applied to the spiritual states of the Church, and not to historical political events. Scripture is primarily focused on the Lord and His church. Unfortunately, when interpreting these time periods, Swedenborg interprets them generically, stating that they refer to a time period from beginning to end, without getting more specific.

As for the time period of 1260 years mentioned in the book of Revelation, it should be applied to a time period after the revelation of the spiritual sense of scripture was received by Swedenborg. Most students of Biblical prophecy know of this time period, but are completely unaware of the revelation that was given to Swedenborg. In the book of Daniel this same time period is mentioned again, but this time applied to the period of the Papacy. He sees the kingdom of Rome represented by the fourth beast, which had 10 horns on its head. Then another "little horn" rises and subdues three of the horns:
The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces.The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings.He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever.Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him. (Dan. 7:23-27)
There is much speculation on the interpretation of the 10 horns, the most common of which is that is refers to the smaller kingdoms of Europe that arose after the fall of the Roman Empire. In a more spiritual sense, the number 10 signifies "all" and horns signify the power of falsity - thus the power of the falsified Word. That a little horn came and subdues three of the former horns means that the truths of scripture were falsified in order that the Papacy and the Catholic Church could achieve dominion through religious means. But the point to note here is significant: this power of domination by the Catholic Church will last only for a period of 1260 years, after which will come a spiritual judgment. This is HIGHLY significant for anyone who wants to understand the true meaning of this spiritual judgment that follows. For if one can determine when the 1260 year period starts, one would know the approximate time period when the spiritual judgment should take place. Moreover, the book of Daniel declares that it is during that time that scripture would for the most part be closed and sealed up, after which its meaning would be revealed:
And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?"
Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.
Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?"
And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end."
(Dan. 12:6-9)
It is only after the Christian Church is practically and utterly destroyed, which would last over a period of 1260 years, that not only a spiritual judgment would take place, but there would be a revelation concerning the spiritual sense of scripture. Again I will repeat: most students of Biblical prophecy know of these prophetic time periods, but are completely unaware of the revelation that was given to Swedenborg. So students and church denominations (e.g., Seventh Day Adventists) who study these prophecies struggle to explain the judgment which should have taken place following the 1260 year period, and do not know how the inner spiritual meaning of scripture was revealed.

So the question may arise, why is there a time period of 1260 years in Biblical prophecy? There is one intriguing point that was first noted (to my knowledge) by the author E.W. Bullinger in the 19th century: the 1260 year time period may in fact be related to a cycle of solar eclipses known as the Saros cycle. And knowing that, it can actually help to pinpoint this prophetic time period with accurate precision. Although Bullinger made the association between this prophetic time period and the Saros cycle, he did not take the next step of associating the prophecy to a specific Saros cycle. He also misapplied the prophecy and thought that it referred to the return of the Jews to the land of Israel (perhaps more on that later in another blog entry).

So let's backtrack a bit: what is a saros?  In ancient times, astronomer priests took particular interest in solar eclipses, looking on them as a bad omen.  Even in the Bible, it is declared that before the Second Coming, the sun would become black. These ancient astronomers also discovered that about 18 years and 11 days later, the earth, Sun and Moon would return almost to the same location, and there would be another solar eclipse in similar circumstances, although visible in a different geographic location. Solar eclipses that are related to each other, where they occur 18 years and 11 days apart, belong to a Saros series.  Each series has been assigned a number. As an example, here are the eclipse paths for Saros series 154, which began in the year 1917, and which will end in the year 3179.  And how long is that?  Do the math, it is 1262 years, which is close to the 1260 year prophetic time period of the Bible:


The periods of each Saros cycle can vary: they can be short as 1244 years or as long as 1478 years. But they average out to be about 1262 years - and the Saros cycles that last 1262 years tend to contain 70 or 71 eclipses. This is significant, as the Jews were taken into captivity into Babylon for a period of 70 years.  This historical event is symbolic of how the Christian Church would be under the rule of the Catholic Church (spiritual Babylon) for a period of about 1260 years - in other words, about 70 solar eclipses, not 70 years. The spiritual rule of the Catholic Church has not of course quite ended. What is not well known is that the theology of the Protestant Churches is just about identical to that of the Catholic Church, stripped of the extraneous rituals and papal authority. So these scriptural prophecies are not just historical, they are applicable today, here and now. For the church must withdraw from Babylon, and return to the promised land, which symbolizes God's true kingdom of heaven. And this kingdom of heaven is known on earth as the church of the New Jerusalem: one that follows one God in one person Jesus, and follows the 10 commandments as binding on one's life.

So, the Saros cycles of solar eclipses are constantly repeating...which one exactly (if any) are these Biblical prophecies referring to?  Well that is the subject of a subsequent blog....

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