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Palm Sunday


The date of Jesus' official arrival on the world scene (a.k.a. Palm Sunday) was thoroughly predicted in advance. What we're going to show you didn't originate with us. My wife and I would never have figured this one out. We borrowed it from J. Dwight Pentecost's book: Things To Come, Zondervan Publishing House, ISBN 0-310-30890-9

From Pentecost's book, within the chapter titled: The Scriptural Doctrine Of The Tribulation; came the edited excerpt below. Some of it is his own doing; and some quoted from a book written by Sir Robert Anderson titled: The Coming Prince.
                                                                                                                                

Length of a Prophetic Year

There is conclusive evidence to support the length of a prophetic year in Scripture as 360 days; or twelve months of 30 days each.

[A solar year isn't the same as a prophetic year, nor is a calendar  month the same as a prophetic month. Thirty-day  months aren't intended to be actual scientific measures of the passage of time, but are merely convenient packets of days relative to a specified point of reference like a person's birth, an earthquake, or a king's reign.]

The first argument is historical.

According to the Genesis record, Noah's flood began only seven days after he and his family boarded the Ark.

Gen 7:7-10 …Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the Flood. Of the clean animals, of the animals that are not clean, of the birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two of each, male and female, came to Noah into the ark, as God had commanded Noah. And on the seventh day the waters of the Flood came upon the earth.

Some feel that the Flood wasn't officially on the earth till later after the completion of forty days of rain. But the Genesis record doesn't agree with that point of view.

Gen 7:10-11 …And on the seventh day the waters of the Flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day. All the fountains of the great deep burst apart, and the floodgates of the sky broke open.

So our point of reference for the beginning of the Flood is the day it began to rain— before the earth was totally under water —because that's where Genesis inserted its date for the flood.

It began to rain on the seventeenth day of the second month (Gen 7:11) and the water began to drain off on the seventeenth day of the seventh month. (Gen 8:4)

Gen 8:3-4 ...At the end of one hundred and fifty days the waters diminished, so that in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

That was a period of exactly five months, and fortunately the length of that period is given in terms of days— one hundred and fifty days.  Thus the earliest known months used in biblical history were evidently thirty days in length, and twelve such months is a 360 day year.

The second argument is prophetical.

Dan 9:27 mentions a period of Jewish persecution. Since this persecution begins in the "midst" of the seventieth week and continues on to the "end" of the week, the period is obviously three and one/half years. Dan 7:24-25 speaks of the same Roman Prince and the same persecution fixing the duration as a time and times and the dividing of time— in the Aramaic: three and a half times. Rev 13:4-7 speaks of the same political ruler and his persecution of the Jewish saints lasting forty and two months; viz: 42 months.

Rev 12:13-14 refers to the same persecution, stating the duration in the exact terms of Dan 7:25 as a time and times and half a time; and this period is further defined in Rev 12:6 as a thousand two hundred and three score days. Thus we have the same period of time variously stated as 3½ years, as 42 months, and as 1260 days. So if we divide the 1260 days by 42 months we come up with 30 days in each month.

Therefore, it's clear that the length of a year in the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks is fixed by scripture itself as 12 months of 30 days each; or exactly 360 days.

The Beginning Of The Seventy Weeks.

The United States Supreme Court consists of nine people who are supposed to be experts in Constitutional law; yet they seldom reach a unanimous decision on anything. The fate of millions of Americans is often decided on the strength of a single vote. Decisions of 5-4 are common. If there is one thing in life that I hate, it's when the experts disagree. Theologians, with doctorate degrees no less, seem to be no different than the justices, when it comes to predictive prophecy.

Some insist that the first sixty-nine weeks of Gabriel's message should be calculated using the date of Cryus' decree. But that date seems to me so ambiguous as to be just about worthless for any practical consideration. The date of his decree isn't precise enough; merely said to be given in the first year of his reign; neither a month nor a day is given. And worse, adding 483 prophetic years to the date of Cryus' decree, comes out to something like 63 or 62 BC. Rome had only just gained control of Jerusalem. So unless Pompey was the messiah, Cyrus' decree just won't do at all.

Dr. David L. Cooper in his book titled Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled explains the differences between our own system of chronology compared to the Persian system and attempts to make Cyrus' decree tie into Jesus' birth. But his explanations are technical and complex. Most of us garden variety Bible students would much prefer a method that is down and dirty; quick and easy— one that would satisfy a scholar; and yet still be of use to an uneducated hillbilly.

Fixing a precise date for Christ's crucifixion is really not as simple as one might think because of the way early calendars had to be manipulated to compensate for leap years. And practical considerations had to allow for the age of young animals suitable for Paschal lambs. Often the calendar date of the feasts had to be adjusted for the seasonal time of ripening crops too because of the Jewish feast of Shabuoth (Pentecost) that follows the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So trying to calculate the times with respect to calendar chronology is unreliable.

What we're going to show you is an expert's opinion that we like because it is so simple that practically anybody can do it. And it puts the date of Jesus' execution right in the ball park.

Gabriel's 490 year period commenced with "the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem" (Dan 9:24)

In the scriptures are contained several decrees that have to do with the restoration of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. There was the decree of Cyrus in 2Chron 36:22-23, and Ezra 1:1-3. Then there was the decree of Darius in Ezra 6:3-8; and yet another decree by Artaxerxes in Ezra 7.

However, in all those, permission was granted only for rebuilding and operating the Temple; but nothing was said about rebuilding Jerusalem. In Ezra 4:17-24, temple work was in fact stopped because the Jews were accused of rebuilding the city without authorization. In none of those decrees was the condition of Dan 9:25 met.

Turning to Neh 1:1-2:18, we find our hero depressed and upset because his home town, the very city where his relatives are buried, was in ruins; its wall broken down, and its gates ashes. So, with a goodly amount of butterflies in his stomach, Nehemiah petitioned his boss for a leave of absence to go and rebuild Jerusalem.

Artaxerxes gave him permission, supported by official memorandums, in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of his reign. So it is in Nehemiah chapter 2 that we find the only actual Bible record of a royal permit to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. This, then, is our choice for the beginning of the prophetic time appointed by God in Gabriel's message.

Fortunately, the date of Artaxerxes reign can be easily and definitely ascertained— not from the elaborate investigative treatises of biblical commentators and prophetic writers; but from ordinary history books, even from Microsoft's Encarta. Artaxerxes, also known as Artaxerxes 1, reigned from 465-425 BCE.

According to Nehemiah, the Persian edict, which gave permission to rebuild Jerusalem, was issued during the Jewish month of Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. Unfortunately the exact day is not given. It is very possible the decree was dated the 1st of Nisan; but that's not really important as long as we come close enough for practical consideration. The seventy weeks then, within reason, and close enough for our purposes, will therefore be computed from the 1st of Nisan 445 BCE.

The 1st of Nisan [also called Abib] is an important factor in the Jewish religious year and has remained unchanged ever since the memorable night when the equinoctial moon beamed down upon the huts of Israel in Egypt, bloodstained by the Paschal sacrifice. And there is neither doubt, nor difficulty, in fixing within narrow limits the Julian date of the 1st of Nisan in any year one might like to choose. In 445 BCE, the new moon, by which the Passover is regulated, occurred on the 13th of March at 7:09 am. So, accordingly, the 1st of Nisan may be assigned to the 14th of March for that year.

The Fulfillment Of Sixty-nine Weeks.

No student of the Gospel narrative can fail to see that Jesus' last visit to Jerusalem wasn't only just a Bible fact, but in the purpose of it, the crisis of his ministry. The twofold testimony of his words and his works had been fully rendered, and his entry into the holy city was to proclaim his messiahship and to receive his predestined doom (Isa 52:13-53:12).

In accordance with the Jewish custom, Jesus went up to Jerusalem on the 8th of Nisan, which is roughly six days before the Passover (We say roughly because Passover dates are flexible). He probably spent the regular weekly Sabbath at Bethany; and on the evening of the 9th, after the Sabbath had ended, the events recorded in John 12:1-8 took place at Martha's house. The following day, the 10th of Nisan, Jesus entered Jerusalem as recorded in the Gospels.

The Julian date of that particular 10th of Nisan was Sunday, the 6th of April, 32 CE. To find that date, all we have to do is add the number of days in 483 prophetic years to the date of Artaxerxes' decree. As it turns out, the number of days between the 14th of March 445 BCE, and the 6th of April 32 CE is an interval that contains exactly, and to the very day, 173,880 days; which is precisely equal to 483 prophetic years of 360 days each.

Thus Anderson shows that the sixty-nine weeks began with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and terminated on Palm Sunday; the week of Jesus' death. Luke 19:42, spoken as Jesus came into Jerusalem on that day is most significant: "If you, even you, had only known on this day, what would bring you peace— but now it is hidden from your eyes." The astonishing accuracy of Daniel's prediction is observed in that Gabriel stated in Daniel 9:26 "And after those sixty-two weeks, the anointed one will disappear and vanish."

[A period of sixty-two weeks follows a period of seven; bringing the total to sixty-nine. Daniel 9:25-26]
                                                                                              

Dr. Anderson's figures appear to be in the ball park. According to Luke's version of the gospel, Tiberius was the emperor in Rome when John the Baptist began his public ministry.

Luke 3:1-3…In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar— when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Tiberius' reign spanned 14CE to 37CE. So according to Luke, John's ministry began sometime in 29CE. Precisely on what day Jesus was baptized by John we don't know for sure, but we do know that he was about thirty years old at the time.

Luke 3:21-23…When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.

Jesus' own ministry ran about three years before he was executed. So if you add 3 to 29 you get 32CE; which is the very same year that Dr. Anderson came up with.

[According to the US Naval Observatory's online Julian date calculator, and working backwards from the 6th of April 32 AD, we arrived at the 16th of March 445 BC, which would correspond to the 3rd of Nisan in that year— that is; if Mr. Anderson's calculation of 14 March is truly the first day of Nisan for that year. His choice was arbitrary since the Bible is silent on the exact day of the month that Artaxerxes issued his decree. I'm not quite sure yet why we landed two days apart but at the time when Anderson's book was published, nobody had computers yet.

Anderson also believed that Jesus ate his Pesach on a Thursday night. But if that were true, then it would be impossible to show that he was dead three days and three nights.   See Passover.

The Hebrew calendar is generally regulated by the moon, and Nisan is the very first month of the Jewish religious year. But Hebrew authorities in that era very likely did not fix the arrival of Nisan for every year by twelve precise observations of the moon because of the practical considerations that we pointed out earlier. And besides, sometimes thirteen moons occur within one year, so that method is unreliable.

Not only that, but if they were to go strictly by the moon, their year would go by too fast and Nisan would eventually end up in Winter instead of Spring. A more practical way (for us hillbilly types anyway) would be to let the last month, Adar, run overtime till a moon occurred that would be just about right for Passover. That, then, would become the official beginning of Nisan for that year. At any rate, modern Jews have figured out a way to compensate for the problems associated with calendars based on the moon. The US Naval Observatory has a pretty good explanation regarding some of the problems related to calendars regulated by the moon. Please Click Here to visit their site.]

It is indeed ironic that modern Judaism is still waiting for a Messiah who came, and went, already. Learned Jews should have been expecting Messiah to appear when he did because of Daniel's predictions; and those of today have got to know that the time has come and passed. There are, in fact, rabbis who now feel that since Messiah didn't come when he was supposed to; will never come. But he did come on time. The problem is, modern Judaism, like its predecessor, refuses to accept Jesus of Nazareth as that man.

Objection: The acceptable "year" of The Lord was a 9-month period from Jesus' baptism to his resurrection from the dead; not a 3-year period that tares and false prophets have taught for almost 2 millenniums now.

Your first mistake was in misreading Jesus to mean that he was sent to preach *during the acceptable year of The Lord, rather than to proclaim it.

Jesus' readings in Luke 4:16-19 was taken from the book of Isaiah.

Isa 61:1-2 …The Spirit of The Lord God is upon me; because The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of The Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to…etc, etc, etc.

The Old Testament Hebrew word translated "acceptable" in the KJV is ratsown (raw-tsone'); or ratson (raw-tsone'); which means: delightful or pleasurable. It actually doesn't mean acceptable in the manner you've been led to understand acceptable.

According to Isaiah, and according to Jesus' proclamation, the delightful and/or pleasurable "year" of The Lord is actually yet future, when Messiah sets up his kingdom. If you were to continue reading that section in Isaiah, you would see that there are many delights coming ahead for the people of Israel.

The "pleasurable year" is not a year of twelve calendar months any more than the "day of vengeance of our God" is a twenty-four hour solar day.

                                                                                              

Epilogue

Later on, after the "anointed one" vanished from the scene, the Jews clashed with the Roman authorities over the temple. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, right around 40 or 41 CE an emperor named Gaius Caligula ordered his own image placed in the Holy of Holies. The Pharisees and the Zealots put up such a resistance to his order that it was never carried out. Caligula was assassinated not long after.

Then in 66 CE, Jewish zealots instigated riots against Rome over the misrule of the procurators. Eleazar, son of the temple's captain, ordered an end to the imperial sacrifice— which had been offered to the emperor alongside the traditional Jewish service during the period of Roman rule. Rome's Tenth Legion attempted to retake the temple mount but failed. Soon the defiance became a full scale revolt and secured all of Judea in Jewish hands.

Then Nero sent Rome's best commander, Vespasian, with Rome's finest legions to crush the revolt. By 69 CE, after years of bitter fighting, the Romans had retaken all areas but Jerusalem. Vespasian, who had recently succeeded Nero as emperor, put his son Titus in charge of the Jerusalem campaign. On the ninth day of the Jewish month Av, in 70 CE, the city and the temple were destroyed and burned.

Rumor has it that the conflagration melted gold facades which then ran into the seams between the stones. The soldiers dismantled the temple in an effort to recover the gold and Jesus' prediction in Luke 21:6 came true: not one stone was left upon another. Over the years the rubble was hauled off the site, and a new temple has yet to be constructed. Today, little remains of Herod's efforts but a western section of a retaining wall that surrounded the temple area— the world famous Wailing Wall, and its extension, the Little Wall.

[In a book called The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, author Dr. Ernest L.Martin weaves together a collection of long dormant and seldom cited eyewitness accounts of ancient Jerusalem to present a compelling premise: the walled rectangular structure that is today the grand centerpiece of metropolitan Jerusalem— assumed to be an ancient courtyard wall surrounding the Second Temple —was in fact part of the walls of a Roman fortress named Antonia, that was sited adjacent to the Temple area.

Historically, this structure is consistent with the size and shape of Roman military encampments throughout the empire, and the only structure in Herodian Jerusalem designed to garrison the 5,000-strong Roman 10th legion. Surprisingly, the present Wailing Wall was accepted as the western wall of Herod's Temple grounds only as recent as the 16th century, following a "dark ages" of lost information and circulated inaccuracies.

Whether any of those claims are true or not I don't know. But it would be quite a shock to Christians and Jews alike if Dr. Martin were right. That would mean of course that the Dome Of The Rock is not really sited upon the spot where Herod's Temple once stood, and pious Jews are ardently stuffing prayers in the wrong place.]

The temple's destruction in 70 CE was very bad luck. All the official genealogies were kept there. It was sort of like a county seat where births, deaths, and marriages are kept on record. All the records were burned up in Titus' campaign. Now it's virtually impossible for messianic contenders to certify their genetic connection to Solomon and David. An immediate program was initiated to maintain unofficial records for the priests and the Davidic family. But the unofficial records, no matter how complete and carefully kept, are highly suspicious, subject to errors, and can't really be trusted.

But it isn't really necessary for Messiah to certify his blood line anyway. Modern Judaism isn't looking for Messiah ben Joseph— the suffering, redeemer Messiah —they're expecting Messiah ben David, the warrior Messiah. That one will not offer himself to his countrymen in a gentle, peaceable manner as did Jesus of Nazareth. On the contrary, Messiah ben David will take over the country of Israel against their will, by force if necessary. According to Psalm 2, Messiah ben David is a forceful man who will not be stopped by anyone even if they were to use atomic bombs. He is destined to rule the world— to rule it with Divine power and an iron fist —and he will bring the world to its knees, ushering in an era of world peace by war and brute force; and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Israel had an opportunity to build a third temple after the six day war in 1967 but Jewish authorities that same year returned control of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Wakf, who have stringently denied any access to the site by non-Muslims for religious purposes. Although Israel has sovereignty over the region, the government chose to leave the temple area in the hands of the Arabs for now; which, politically, was really a pretty sensible decision. Right now it is virtually impossible to build a new temple without offending the entire Muslim world and triggering a huge war in the Middle East.

But the world scene can sometimes alter with incredible swiftness. I have, in my day, witnessed remarkable changes in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, and Iraq that occurred almost overnight. The collapse of communism in Russia, the demolition of the Berlin Wall, the swift defeat of the Taliban, and deposing Sadam Hussein, are four examples of just how quickly political scenery can change. Something just needs to happen to stabilize Arab/Jew tensions in the Mideast— like during the heydays of Persia and Rome —and make it possible for the Jews to remove the Dome of The Rock and rebuild their temple. Many feel very strongly this is where the AntiChrist will come into play, and also why he will be so well liked, and so completely trusted by modern Judaism because they are fully expecting Messiah himself to oversee construction of a new Temple.

Zech 6:12b-13 ...“Thus said the Lord of Hosts: Behold, a man called The Branch shall branch out from the place where he is, and he shall build the Temple of the Lord. He shall build the Temple of the Lord and shall assume majesty, and he shall sit on his throne and rule. And there shall also be a priest seated on his throne, and harmonious understanding shall prevail between them.”

The previous temples, and the tabernacle, were constructed with Divine guidance and during periods of providential opportunity. The tabernacle came about through Moses, the original temple through Solomon, and the second temple through Persian blessing and the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. It would probably be wise to delay construction of a third temple until the time when Messiah is here himself in person to take charge of construction.

Hos 3:4 …For the Israelites shall go a long time without king and without officials, without sacrifice and without cult pillars, and without ephod and teraphim. Afterward, the Israelites will turn back and will seek The Lord their God and David their king— and they will thrill over The Lord and over His bounty in the days to come.
 



Related References

Ready To Rebuild
by Thomas Ice & Randall Price
ISBN 0-89081-956-4

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