LUNAR MEASURES OF THE SEVEN TIMES, RECKONED FROM THE CAPTIVITY ERA.
THE era of Nabonassar, B.C. 747, is the date of the accession of the first king of the Babylonian empire: and B.C. 587 is the date of the last stage of the fall of Judah under Zedekiah. The two dates mark therefore the beginning and end of the captivity era. Taking them for our starting-points, we measure 1,260 years by the shorter lunar scale, and are led to the years A.D. 476 and A.D. 637. [In this and similar calculations it should)e remembered that 1,260 lunar years are only 1,222« solar.]
B.C. 747 1,260 lunar years. AD. 476
B.C. 687 1,260 lunar years. AD. 637
Now what were the events of these two years? Were they critical and important in character in connexion with the history of "the times of the Gentiles"? or were they nothing remarkable? Let us note well the reply.
The year A.D. 476 was the date of the fall of Romulus Augustulus, the last of the long line of the Caesars, the last of the western Roman emperors. His fall marks the end of the four great pagan empires of antiquity.
Think of the long, complex, wonderful story that terminated in this year; think of the magnitude, variety, and multiplicity of the events constituting the rise, course, decline, and fall of these four universal empires; think of the careers of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, of Cyrus and Darius, of Xerxes and Alexander the Great, of the Maccabees and the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies, of Pompey and Julius and Augustus,-above all, of the sublime and ever-memorable events of the career of "Messiah the Prince;" think of the Herods and of Pilate, of Titus and of Hadrian, and of the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jewish nation; think of the long line of the Caesars, their conquests and their crimes, their glories and their shames, their world-wide dominion and unparalleled power; think of the pagan persecutions of the early Church, and of the first division of the noble army of martyrs; think of the conversion of Constantine, and the establishment of Christianity in the Roman world; think of the division of the empire, and of the removal of the seat of government to Constantinople; think of the dreadful inroads of northern barbarism, and of the long continued decline of the old Roman civilization; let the mind run slowly over the events of these twelve or thirteen centuries of human history; let the magnificence and the might of Nineveh, Babylon, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople, and a hundred other great cities, pass like a panorama before the mental eye, and melt away like dissolving views into the contrasted spectacle of their wreck and ruin, their struggles and sufferings, in siege and sack and overthrow; let the myriad episodes of their history recorded by the Jewish prophets and Josephus, by Herodotus and Thucydides, by Eusebius and Gibbon in his "Decline and Fall" be recalled: and let us then measure, if we can, the marvel of omniscience and foreknowledge that is involved in the fact, that, not only the occurrence, the order, and the sequence of this almost interminable series of events was foreseen in detail and foretold in outline from the beginning, but that the time required for their conjoint occurrence was appointed and arranged, and that even to a day! The entire history of the four great empires up to the point of the fall of the fourth in its first or empire form (as distinguished from its last or ten kingdom phase) occupied precisely "time, times, and a half" on the lunar scale, not only to a year, but to a day, for the exact accuracy of the period is perfectly wonderful. From the accession of Nabonassar, Feb. 26th, B.C. 747, to the fall of Angustulus, Aug. 22nd, An. 476, there are 1,222, solar years, or 446,503 days; while 1,260 lunar years (or 15,120 lunations) contain
446,502« days; so that the difference, if any, is merely one of hours. Can any candid mind regard this fact (which no one can deny or even question) as a mere chance coincidence? From the initial date of the rise of Babylon, the beginning of the Jewish captivity era, to the deposition of Romulus Angustulus, and the end of the western empire of Rome, exactly three and a half "times," or 1,260 years, elapsed; not in the open solar form, that might have challenged premature attention, but in that same veiled lunar form in which the "seventy weeks" to Messiah the Prince were measured, announced and fulfilled.
Nor should we let the mind go back merely from this great dividing date; it should be allowed also to glance forward. If A.D. 476 was the terminus of the old world-of the old Roman empire-it was, as we have seen, equally the starting- point of the new.
This year was that of the removal of the hindrance to the rise of the Papal apostasy. [#2Thess 2:6.] It marks the "deadly wound" under which it seemed for a time as if the rule of Rome must expire. The old imperial head was wounded to death; and in its place there rose after a time, another head-the final, and most evil and anti-Christian form of Roman rule, the Papacy; that line of tiara-crowned monarchs, who, for more than twelve centuries, governed Papal Europe from the seven-hilled city, and ranked, not only as high priests, but as temporal sovereigns, uniting under their sway the kingdoms of western Christendom.
Think of the great apostasy of the Christian Church, brought about in due time by the self-exaltation of the bishops of Rome, when they became Papal pontiffs! Recall the deluge of false doctrines and wicked practices which flooded Europe for twelve centuries, from the river of Papal power which rose as a little babbling rivulet among the ruins of ancient Rome! Consider the myriads of martyrs who suffered under Papal tyranny in later years, when the bishops of Rome had become just as much of "wild beasts" as the old pagan emperors! Consider the more than imperial authority which these Papal pontiffs wielded for long ages over Europe! Consider too the appalling fact that this influence was always used to repress the truth and to persecute the saints, to oppose God, to exalt self, to increase sin, to bury in Latin the Bible, to oppress mankind, to ruin souls! Surely if A.D. 476 is a great year because of what it brought to an end, it is an even more momentous crisis on account of what it inaugurated-the long and evil reign of the "man of sin" and "son of perdition "-the "dark ages" of the Papal antichrist.
Whatever importance attaches to the history of the Papacy attaches to its initial date; just as the birth of a great man derives its prominence from his subsequent career, he reflecting back on it his own importance, so this year A.D. 476 derives its character from its relation to one of the most momentous movements in history, regarded from the standpoint of the well-being of the Christian Church.
"Time, times, and a half" from the first date of the captivity era lead us then to the date of the fall of the western empire of Rome, which is also the initial date of the rise of the Papacy. The same period measured from the last date of the captivity era, on the contrary, leads us to the eastern empire, and to a date connected with the rise of that Mohammedan power before which Constantinople (or new Rome) ultimately fell.
It leads us to A.D. 637. This was, as we have seen, the year of the capture of Jerusalem by the Saracens, under the Caliph Omar. Between the fall of Jerusalem before the hosts of Babylon, in the days of Zedekiah, and its capture by this great conqueror, 1,260 lunar years, the fated "time, times, and a half," also elapsed. Now it is quite true that the great destruction of Jerusalem, the one predicted in Daniel ix., was not this one under the Saracen Omar, but that under the Roman Titus, which took place over five centuries previously, in AD. 70. Nevertheless this fall had also its importance, and is well worthy of the chronological position which it occupies in the bisection era.
It is the initial date of the long oppression and desolation of the Holy City under the Mohammedan power, Saracenic and Ottoman, which still exists, and which will probably exist until Jerusalem ceases to be trodden down of the Gentiles, "the times of the Gentiles" having been fulfilled. It is the initial date of the final desolater of the land of Israel, and of the last oppressor in the city of the great king, the Mohammedan power. During by far the longer part of the eighteen centuries of the utter desolation of Palestine, Jerusalem has been trodden down by this power. Hence the date of its first establishment in the Holy City cannot be an unimportant one. The chronological measures of its occupation of Jerusalem are given in Scripture, and they have nearly run out, as we shall see presently.
The date occurs in that central bisection era, in which, as Luther used to say, "the pope and the Turk came up together." The seventh century was the one in which the Papal power was fully developed, in which the spiritual "abomination that maketh desolate" was established in the spiritual temple, or the Christian Church, while a literal "abomination of desolation" was established in the literal sanctuary, by the erection of the Mosque of Omar on the site of the temple in Jerusalem, where it continues to this day. Thus;
1. From the rise of the Babylonian to the fall of the Roman empire was three and a half lunar "times."
2. From Nebuchadnezzars destruction of Jerusalem and burning of the temple, in the reign of Zedekiah, to the Saracenic conquest of Palestine and capture of Jerusalem was also three and a half lunar "times."
As there are 160 years between the two first events, so are there between the two last; and the double occurrence of the remarkable 1,260 years prophetic measure in this lunar form is a seal of its importance.
The bisection era to which we are led by these measures, A.D. 476-637, is well marked in its limits by events of unquestionably terminal character, and it includes all the principal stages of the rise of the Papal and Mohammedan powers. We will consider next the
LUNAR MEASURES OF THE WHOLE "SEVEN TIMES."
The full period of "the times of the Gentiles" is not three and a half times, but seven times. We must thus extend the measuring line as far again, if we would reach the commencement of "the time of the end." And what ought we to expect at the close of this period? We must remember that we are measuring from the earliest dates on the shortest scale, and are therefore likely to arrive at initial termini only. We must also remember that the era of the "time of the end" is in the nature of the case longer than either the captivity era or the bisection era. As the period runs out on two astronomical scales, differing to the extent of seventy-five years, this margin must be added to the 160 years, and the "time of the end," up to its farthest and final close, would thus appear to be 235 years in duration instead of
160. Hence its initial dates will be farther removed from its closing dates, and the initial events are likely to be proportionately incipient in character. We must expect then, in measuring by the lunar scale from the earliest date of the Nabonassar era to reach events about 235 years prior to the full and final end of the age, and consequently indicating only the beginning of its closing movements. In other words, we are likely to reach very early stages only in the decline and fall of the Papal and Mohammedan powers, nothing complete, nothing final, but events which, regarded in the light of all that had gone before, of all that has since happened, are clearly the first links of a chain, which ends in the predicted overthrow of these last forms of Gentile power.
This is exactly what we do reach! The year 1699, or the close of the seventeenth century, was unquestionably a most remarkable period in the history of two great and long continued struggles: first that between Popery and Protestantism in the West; and secondly, that between Mohammedanism and the Christian nations of Europe in the East. Two great treaties of pacification were signed at this period; the PEACE OF RYSWICK in the West, and that of CARLOWITZ in the East. We have before pointed out the nature and effect of these, and historians will at once recognise each as marking the turn of the tide, the incipient beginning of downfall and decay, the first in connexion with the Papacy, and the second in connexion with Mohammedanism.
It was not so much that either began actually to retrograde very perceptibly so early as this; but just as the Nabonassar era-the starting-point which leads us to this date -marked the rise only of that Babylonian empire which was later on to overthrow Israel and Judah, so this corresponding terminus marks the accession to superior power of the Protestant nations in the West, and of non-Moslem nations in the East. The results of the events which took place at this crisis were then dim in the future, but have since changed the condition of the world. The movements inaugurated at that period have never ceased but are still progressing, and now visibly nearing their close.
"The Peace of Carlowitz forms a memorable era in the history of Europe. Austria secured Hungary and Selavonia, which for two hundred years had been occupied by the Turks, and made the important acquisition of Transylvania. At the same time the sultans lost nearly half their possessions in Europe; and from this diminution of territorial sovereignty, the Ottoman power, which once threatened universal subjugation, ceased to be formidable to Europe." [Coxe: "House of Austria," vol. ii., p. 459.]
In the West, as we have seen, this period was equally critical. It saw confirmed the "glorious Revolution" and the Protestant succession in England, which put the power of Britain into the hands of the great champion of the reformed faith, William of Orange. This Christian hero overthrew the reactionary schemes of Louis XIV., whose despotism and persecuting cruelty had roused all Europe against him. The Treaty of Ryswick, marking the full political establishment of the Protestant religion, was signed in 1697. Innocent XII., the pope regnant at this date, had lost much of the old supremacy, and was indeed a mere servant to Louis XIV., his life abounds with proofs of the fast-increasing degradation of the Papacy. France and other Papal states at this period claimed the absolute control over their own ecclesiastical affairs, and emancipated themselves from all interference by Rome. No historian will for a moment question the critical importance of the end of the seventeenth century, in connexion with Protestant ascendency, on the one hand, and Ottoman decline, on the other.
[Several fulfilments of apocalyptic prophecy, which we must not introduce into this argument, but may indicate in a subsequent treatise, strongly confirm the importance of this date, 1699. It is the close of the resurrection of the witnesses, their ascent to power among the nations, and it is the end of the sixth trumpet, the Ottoman woe. Henceforth the conquering advance of the Turks ceased. It is "an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year," in prophetic measure, from the commencement of the Ottoman career of conquest. It is the date of the fall of "the tenth part of the city."]
We must next inquire, Where does the same period, "seven times" lunar, run out as measured from the latest date of the captivity era, the fall of Zedekiah,B.C. 587? The reply is even more striking.
In A.D. 1860,-the year which, as we have seen, witnessed the formation of the UNIVERSAL ISRAELITE ALLIANCE, as well as the first inroad on and limitation of Mohammedan power in Syria-the placing of the Lebanon under a Christian governor and British protectorate: events which must be regarded as marked stages of that Jewish renaissance which is as characteristic of "the time of the end" as is the fall of "Babylon the Great."
The character of this crisis was very remarkable; it was an evident beginning of that unification of the long scattered Jewish people predicted in Ezekiels vision of the restoration, under the figure of bone coming to his bone. In 1860 an incipient commencement of national re- organization of the Jewish people took place, on the one hand, and an incipient "cleansing of the sanctuary," or Holy Land, from Moslem domination, on the other.
Prophecy does not lead to the expectation that Moslem power in Turkey would cease at the end of 1,260 years, for Daniel xii. 11 distinctly assigns to it a duration thirty years longer: "From the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days." When this period runs out, which on the lunar scale it will do in 1889, we may expect to see the Mohammedan treading down of Jerusalem come to an end; but as this is a still future date, we do not dwell on it here, but in a later chapter.
The above events were, not only significant, as stages in Jewish renaissance, but they were also a distinct stage in the fall of the Ottoman power, which was forced by Christian influence to act utterly against its Moslem principles, against the Koran, and against all precedent, in agreeing to appoint a Christian governor of the Lebanon province; and still more in permitting England and France to have a veto on the appointment-an admission of its own loss of independence. It was one of the many stages of the fall of Islam which we shall have to pass in review, but it was a marked one, and one especially connected with the land of Israel. This year was also a decidedly critical one, as we have seen, in Italy-the great year of Garibaldi THE LIBERATOR, in which Italy was reconstituted as a kingdom under Victor Emmanuel.
This year 1860 was, not only, be it remembered, "seven times" lunar from the complete overthrow of Judah,-from the burning of the temple in Nebuchadnezzars capture of Jerusalem,-but it was also three and a half "times" from the Omar capture of the city. In other words, the "seven times" is bisected by the Moslem capture of Jerusalem, and the establishment of the Mosque of Omar, which is, in a certain sense, the setting up of the "abomination that maketh desolate" in the holy place.
B.C. 747 AD. 476 AD. 1699
B.C. 587 AD. 637 AD. 1860
We see then that the "seven times," measured to the inner lunar limits, bring us unquestionably to incipient stages in the decay of the Papacy and the Porte; and that in each case the period is bisected by remarkable and closely related events. The bisections are even more strikingly critical than the termini, which are too early to bear any character of finality.
The year A.D. 476 is, beyond all question, the end of one great stage of human history; the end of the four great pagan empires of antiquity, and the beginning of another- the Papal empire of Rome, with its dark story of corruption and bloodshed; and the year AD. 637 is equally critical as that of the fall of Jerusalem and of all Syria under Mohammedan rule, which still dominates and desolates the Holy Land and city. It is evident also that the corresponding terminal years bring to both these "little horns" the beginning, though only the beginning, of the end!