Monday, November 16, 2009

Prophetic Distractions (1) - Hebrew Calendar

A prophetic distraction that has emerged among Christians in recent years is to take the Hebrew calendar and look at the meaning of the number for a year and use that to explain what God is going to do. I have several problems with this practice.

  1. The Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures. He has not inspired a calendar.

  2. There is no guarantee that the Hebrew calendar has numbered the number of years since Adam’s birth correctly. Biblical scholars have considerable disagreement about how a Biblical chronology should be calculated, so the number of years that elapsed during certain parts of history uncertain. Estimates of the year of Adam’s birth by serious biblical scholars vary by a couple of hundred years. Jewish scholars disagree about the date of the first temple and the exile. All this means that we cannot be absolutely certain that the year we have currently started is actually 5770 years from the birth of Adam. If several years were missed in a couple of places, we might be only in the year 5760 and the connection between current events and the meaning of 5770 breaks down.

  3. Over a long period of history calendars can easily go wrong. According to our Gregorian calendar, which was maintained during the dark ages by careful Christian monks, we are supposedly in the 2009th year since the birth of Jesus. We now know that was probably wrong. Mathew says he was born under during the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BC. Luke describes dates his birth against first census of the Roman provinces of Syria and Iudaea, which probably took place in 6 BC. If these dates are correct, we are actually living in the year 2014 or thereabouts. That is why I did not get excited about the year 2000. I knew it was not actually the year 2000, but probably about the year 2005.

  4. The truth is that we cannot be absolutely certain about the exact number of years that have elapsed, either since the creation of Adam, or from the birth of Jesus. That does not matter. We can get on and do God’s work, with out having an exact answer to that question. However, it does become a serious problem, if we want to use dates in either the Gregorian or Hebrew calendar to predict the future. The dates are just too uncertain for much significance to be placed on them.

  5. God works out his plans in history. His plans are not determined by planets or by numbers, but come from his heart. The idea that events on earth are shaped by the numbers on a calendar is only one step away from the view of the astrologers that events are on earth are determined by the movements of the planets. It is an insult to the character and power of God.

  6. The Holy Spirit loves to speak. He can speak clearly. He said to Agabus, “A severe famine is going to spread throughout the Roman Empire” (Act 11:28). That is just example of what he is capable of doing. Christian prophets should focus on learning to hear the Holy Spirit speak. Looking for signs in dates and shadows is a pointless distraction.

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