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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

     

Part I: Time and Eternity:Creation and the Theory of Relativity

Chapter 5

Time in Redemption

     WE HAVE NOT yet exhausted the light of Scripture on this wonderful subject. It has been known for many years, to those who have studied biblical chronology, that there have been times in the history of God's people which He was pleased to overlook and to count as though they had not been. The most familiar instance of this is to be found in 1 Kings 6:1, which reads,

     And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Zif [May], which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.

     Many attempts have been made to correct or emend this text on the grounds that, according to information derived on the basis of Paul's figures in Acts 13:17-22, the period specified was actually 594 years, a difference of 114 years. Paul picked out certain critical periods in Israel's history and gave a summary of the times involved as 40 years for the wilderness period, 450 years for Judges, and 40 years for Saul. Between these critical periods were others, the duration of each of which is given elsewhere in the Old Testament (Judges, 1 Samuel, etc.). Adding all these together, we have a grand total of 594 years from the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon's reign, when he began to build the Temple. This seems quite clearly to have been the actual interval in years, historically speaking, between these events.
     However, a wonderful truth is revealed by this apparent contradiction. It is found that if all the years during which the children of Israel were in bondage to their enemies 'round about in the time of the Judges are added together, with an extra three years in which Abimelech usurped the throne, the total period is 114 years. It is evident that the inspired writer of 1 Kings 6:1 was directed to strike from the record these years of failure. This is manifestly not human

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history as we think of it, but the history of God's people as God thinks of it.
     These periods of servitude are as follows.

Periods of Servitude

 Oppressor  Period in Years  Reference
 Chushan of Mesopotamia
8
 Judges 3:8
 Eglon of Moab
18
 Judges 3:14
 Jabin of Canaan
20
 Judges4:2,3
 Midian
7
 Judges 6:1
 Ammon
18
 Judges 10:7,8
 Philistines
40
 Judges 13:1
 Sub Total
111 years
 
 Abimelech
3
 Judges 9:1-57
 Total
114 years
 

     To these must be added the usurpation of Abimelech (Judges 9-1-57), for a period of 3 years. These two totals therefore account for the missing 114 years, which added to the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1 provide the total of 594 years.
     These figures are treated in some detail in Martin Anstey's classic work on biblical chronology, and some of his comments are worth repeating. He wrote:
(25)

     Why, then, are these 114 years of servitude and usurpation omitted? Because the author is computing the years of the Theocracy, of the government of God, and during those years Israel was not Israel, not "governed of God," but under the heel of the oppressor and the usurper. Hence they are not included in the Theocratic years of the reckoning of God, though they are reckoned in the computation of the years of the age of the World.
     The method appears strange and almost impossible to the modern mind, with its highly developed historical sense, its keen scent for fact, and its pantheistic indifference to distinctions of good and evil. Nevertheless, there are days in the history of individuals and years in the history of the nations which we would fain blot out of the calendar of time. Job desired for the day of his birth that it might perish, that it might "not be joined to the days of the year, nor come into the number of the months."
     It is a first principle of Statistical Science that no list of figures compiled for one purpose, should be used for another purpose.

25. Anstey, Martin, The Romance of Bible Chronology, Marshall Brothers, New York, 1913, vol.1, p.159.

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     There is another interesting example of the obliteration of time, in this case not from the nation's history, but from the history of one individual, David. And it was noted by the Rabbis. For six months David was, in their view, a leper. They concluded this by comparing 2 Samuel 5:5 and 1 Kings 2:11. The first tells us that David reigned in Judah for seven years and six months, but the second that he reigned only seven years. The latter could be a kind of abbreviated statement. But we know from Jewish custom that such an abbreviation would be quite exceptional, since any part of a year is credited as a whole year, not merely discounted entirely: seven and a half years would certainly be abbreviated to read eight years, not seven years.
     This is a habitual mode of reckoning and was adopted by Jewish writers as a standard practice. By noting this principle, Edwin Thiele was recently able to establish complete harmony between the records of the reigns of the kings of Judah and of Israel respectively, thereby solving a problem that had bothered biblical chronologists for centuries.
(26)
     The same principle seems to have been applied to the period of three nights and three days during which the Lord was in the grave.
(27) This principle is, for the most part, foreign to our way of thinking, but not entirely so we do allow a man married on December 31 to claim married status for that whole year when he makes out his income tax return. But the Rabbis went to extremes and counted a reign of one year plus one day as being equal to a reign of two years. (28) So the Rabbis themselves were led to comment on the apparent contradiction between 2 Samuel 5:5 and 1 Kings 2:11 by saying that God struck from the official record of David's reign that period of time during which he was in disfavour with God. This disfavour they took to have been leprosy, brought upon him by his treatment of Uriah. The Rabbis ferreted this out in the following way (29): Psalm 51:7 says, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean." This, they held, was the specific treatment for leprosy. During that time the shekinah departed from him, for it is said (verse 12), "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." The time period they then calculated on the basis of the difference between the figures given in 2 Samuel 5:5 and 1 Kings 2:11. It seems a little fragile as

26. Thiele, Edwin, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, University of Chicago Press, 1951, xix and 298 pp.
27. See "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Part VIII in The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in The Doorway Papers Series, especially chapter 2.
28. Eighth Tractate of the Mishnah B. Rosh Hasshanah, p. 2a and b, in the Babylonian Talmud.
29. See Paul Isaac Hershon, Genesis with a Talmudic Commentary, Bagster, London, 1883, p.25.

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a proof of leprosy, but it does show that they felt it necessary to account for these missing six months and did so by using as a key the basic principle that God does not reckon time when His chosen are under His displeasure. The principle itself was clearly recognized, even if it was sometimes abused.
     There is a lesson in all this. God strikes from the record those occasions of failure and disobedience and judgment which eternity might have otherwise recorded to the discredit of each one of us, that even the times which occupied them are eliminated also, as though they had never been. It is as though God would never give to our enemies or to Satan the opportunity of asking what were we then doing. There will be no "thens" except those which have been redeemed and for which we will gladly render an account. The wasted times will not be on record to bear witness against us; they will have ceased to exist. But they will not merely have been removed out of hand they will have been purchased. There are times which we can redeem (Ephesians 5:16), but those which we cannot redeem, the Lord will have redeemed for us. And this brings us to the final and most solemn aspect of time and eternity in Scripture.
     The Lord Jesus Christ was both the Son of God and the Son of Man. As such He lived in time and eternity at one and the same moment. He also lived both in heaven and on earth at once: on earth as the Son of God, while as the Son of Man being in heaven. This is clearly revealed in John 3:13, where He said of Himself, "No man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." Notice two things here: first, that He uses the title "Son of man" though speaking of being in heaven; and He uses the present tense "is in Heaven" though He was on earth.
     It will be found that the great majority of passages referring to the eternality of the Lord appear in John's Gospel. Because of the fact that Matthew, Mark, and Luke give a picture of the Lord from a single "point of view," their Gospels are termed Synoptic. There is a real sense in which they deal, by analogy, with the three dimensions of space, while John deals with the fourth dimension; only John substitutes eternity for time. In the light of this, a remarkable fact is revealed with reference to the events of the last hours of the Crucifixion.
     Matthew, Mark, and Luke all refer to the circumstance that there was darkness over the earth for a period of three hours by our clocks,
(30) during which God laid upon Jesus Christ the iniquity of us

30. Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44.

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all. In John's Gospel, no mention whatever is made of this. God had turned away, and time in the record books of eternity was eclipsed.
     But this does not mean that it was eclipsed in the experience of the Lord Jesus Christ. For Him, it stretched out interminably. When the end cannot be seen, suffering is endless while it is endured. That God might strike from the record every moment of sin, of defeat, of envy, of faithlessness, of sheer wickedness, in the lives of all who are to be redeemed, Jesus' suffering was added together in one great total of time, the length of which, while it was experienced in utter shame, must have been beyond comprehension.
      For this ghastly interval of inconceivable length which our clocks mistakenly marked off in history as three hours -- the Lord Jesus assumed personal responsibility, consciously and with the frightful intensity which only a perfectly innocent Man could experience, for the total guilt of all who believe. Christ became actually responsible, as though the dreadful catalog of wickedness was His very own doing. And God turned away from the One who had become so wicked, for our sakes. For how long? We shall probably never know. But for long enough that at last God said, "It is enough!" And Jesus, in His moment of victory, cried out in triumph "It is finished!" (John 19:30).
     And it was, and it is.
     But who is adequate for such thoughts, and where shall we find words? It is sufficient to believe, and to find forgiveness, because of the Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world."  

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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