What are the four distinct periods that God dealt with ancient Israel?
God's relationship with His people have to do with actual durations of time rather than with specific dates. God's dealings with ancient Israel are divided into four distinct periods that are 490 (70 times 7) years each in length:
From the birth of Abraham to the children of Israel's exodus out of Egypt.
From the Exodus to the foundation of Jerusalem's Temple.
From the Dedication of the Temple to Nehemiah's return to rebuild Jerusalem.
From Nehemiah's return to rebuild Jerusalem to the Second Advent.
It is clear that these are periods of duration having regard only to Israel, and to Jehovah's immediate dealings with them. For in each one there is a period of time during which He was not immediately governing them, but in which His hand was removed, and His people were without visible tokens of His presence with them.
PERIOD 1 of God's relationship with Israel
From the birth of Abraham to the children of Israel's exodus out of Egypt
|From the birth of Abraham to the Exodus|
(Genesis 12:4, 16:3 and 21:5)
|Deducting the 15 years while Ishmael was Abram's seed, delaying the seed of promise ||15|
505 - 15 =
Notes on Period 1
Abraham was 75 years old when the promise (Genesis 12:4) was made to him. The Law was given 430 years after (Exodus 12:40; Galatians 3:17). But 430 and 75 make 505 years, or 15 years over the 490. How are we to account for this gap of 15 years as forming part of the 505 years? The answer is that at Abraham's departure into Canaan (12:4) he was 75 years old, Ishmael was born 10 years after (16:3), therefore Abraham was 85 years old at Ishmael's birth. But he was 100 years old when Isaac was born (21:5). Therefore it follows that there were 15 years (100 minus 85=15) during which Ishmael was occupying and usurping the place of the "promised seed"; and 15 from 505 leaves 490. Here then we have the first of the seventy times seven years, and the first "gap" of 15 years.
PERIOD 2 of God's relationship with Israel
From the Exodus to the foundation of Jerusalem's Temple, according to Acts 13
"Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, 'Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. Now for a time of about FORTY YEARS He put up with their ways in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.
"'After that He gave them judges for about FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for FORTY YEARS . . . ' " (Acts 13:16-21, NKJV)
|In the Wilderness ||40 |
|Under the Judges ||450 |
|Under King Saul ||40 |
|Under King David ||40 |
|King Solomon (1Kings 6:1,37) ||3 |
But from the above total we must deduct the years of captivity under:
|Cushan (Judges 3:8) ||8 |
|Eglon (Judges 3:14) ||18 |
|Jabin (Judges 4:3) ||20 |
|Midianites (Judges 6:1) ||7 |
|Philistines (Judges 13:1) ||40 |
573 - 93 =
|To this we must add the years during which the Temple was in building, for the finishing of the house (1Kings 6:38) ||7 |
|And at least for the furnishing and ending of all the work (1Kings 7:13-51) ||3 |
480 + 7 + 3 =
Notes on Period 2
The actual number of years was 573, according to Acts 13:20. But 1Kings 6 says:
"And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord." (1Kings 6:1, NKJV)
Therefore commentators immediately conclude that the book is wrong. It never seems to dawn on them that they can be wrong. But they are, because the number is ordinal, not cardinal, and it does not say four hundred and eighty years, but "eightieth year." The 480th from or of what? Of the duration of God's dealings with His people, deducting the 93 years while He had "sold them" into the hands of others. Thus there is no discrepancy between 1Kings 6:1 and Acts 13:20. In the book of Acts the actual number of years is stated in a cardinal number; while in the Kings a certain reckoning is made in an ordinal number, and a certain year in the order of God's dealings with His people is named. And yet by some, the inspiration of Acts 13:20 is impugned, and various shifts are resorted to, to make it what man thinks to be correct.
In regard to the 40 years of oppression under the Philistines: The 18 years of Ammonite harassment mentioned in Judges 10:8 were part of a joint 40 years' oppression - on one side of the Jordan river Israel was oppressed by the Philistines, and on the other side of the river they were oppressed by the Ammonites.
In regard to the addition of 3 years for the furnishing of the temple and ending all work: In 1Kings 8:2 the temple was dedicated in the seventh month, though it was finished in the eighth month. Therefore it could not have been the same year; and it may well have required three years for the completion of all the interior work described in 1Kings 7:13-51.
PERIOD 3 of God's relationship with Israel
From the Dedication of the Temple to Nehemiah's return to rebuild Jerusalem
|From the dedication of Jerusalem's temple to Nehemiah's return |
|Deduct the 70 years' Captivity in Babylon |
(Jeremiah 25:11,12; Daniel 9:2)
560 - 70 =
PERIOD 4 of God's relationship with Israel
From Nehemiah's return to the "cutting off" of the Messiah
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks . . . And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; . . . Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week . . ." (Daniel 9:25-27)
|The Seven weeks of Daniel 9:25 (7 times 7) ||49 |
|The Sixty-two weeks of Daniel 9:25 (62 times 7) ||434 |
|After this, Messiah was to be "cut off," and then comes this present interval, the longest of all, to be followed, when God again deals with His people Israel for "one week" ||7 |
|49 + 434 + 7 = ||490|