The Bible is written using a standard set of prophetic time ratios. Knowing those ratios is important because it allows readers to unpack the prophetic meaning of various passages in the bible. This article summarizes the ratios and provides links to supporting articles that define the various ratios.
Prophetic ratios are built up using the definitions of various time intervals that are then set as equivalent values for various prophetic purposes. Because of this a complete understanding of prophetic time requires the reader to understand the definitions of time in the Bible and also to understand the common ratios between these various definitions.
The finest unit of measure given in the pages of the Bible is hour. There are 12 hours in the daylight part of a day.
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 NIV
1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 KJV
In this verse Jesus states the number of hours in the daylight part of a day. These hours are stilled used by people today, though there are several points worth noting.
Modern clocks are set to measure time with 12 hours being the 12 hours of daylight from 6:00 AM through 6:00 PM. (Military: 6:00 through 18:00.)
Of course only two days of the year actually have this many hours of daylight, these are the spring and fall equinox. All the other days in the year have a slightly different amount of time for the daylight hours based on the location of the observer on the planet. Nowhere in scripture is a time measure smaller than an hour used by the text, though there are many places where precision under an hour is quite possibly deduced. More in the section below on ratios.
Measuring Time: Picking a Location
The likely time point where all time measurements should be taken is Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The reason is this is the location where God directed the ancient Isrealites to host the temple.
As a matter of historical curiosity, the location of the zeroth meridian, through Grenwich, England, was chosen by leaders of Great Britain as a memorial to their empire. Two other candidates were seriously discussed, the Great Pyramid at Giza, and Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The choice of Giza was supported by the fact that most major pre-historic monuments around the globe are located on even meridians from Giza. This suggests Giza was at the center, or at least aligned with, an ancient meridian system. If this had been chosen it would have been a restoration of that ancient, but unknown, system.
Temple Mount was also considered as the zeroth meridian because it is the center of Biblical Christianity. Though was was not ultimately selected, it does provide the only logical place to base the center of Biblical time keeping because it was the location of Solomon’s Temple.
The Levites were the time keepers for the Temple. The book of Leviticus includes time references not found in an otherwise copy of the material in the Book of Deuteronomy. (See Leviticus 26 and compare to Deuteronomy 28.) Leviticus was written to the Levites for Temple service while Deuteronomy was written to the overall People of Israel. Precise time keeping is only focused on the Temple in Jerusalem, Temple Mount of today.
For the purposes of anyone interested in precise time measures relative to Bible Prophecy, Temple Mount is therefore the only serious candidate.
Counting Hours in the Day
For completeness, it is also important to note that hours in the day are counted quite differently than we do now. This is not just a matter of up-ending a modern clock to 6:00 is at the top instead of the bottom, as many Bible translator footnotes foolishly suggest. The problem is that counting itself was different in the Biblical Era and the measurement of hours is based on Biblical counting.
To understand this further, consider a regular 12 hour clock (ie: a North American style clock, not a European 24 hour clock nor a military 24 clock.) The hour hand of a modern North American 12 hour clock is a mechanical approximation of a sun dial. This is important because a sundial is perhaps the most simple, most universal and most ancient, of all time keeping devices. It can be formed by anyone with a clear view of the horizon, a stick and some sand in which to stick the stick. (Fun, huh?)
The first hour of the 12 hours of in an average day is the hour between modern 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM. Those 60 minutes of today would all start with the hour ’6:’ followed by some specific minute.
In ancient times that hour was the first hour, or hour ’1’. The difference between these two is 5 hours not the more commonly thought 6 hours. The number that belongs at the top of a Biblically based 12 hour clock is 7 not 6 as is so commonly thought.
The hour between modern 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM is by inference the 12th hour of the day, again the difference from modern labeling is 5 hours, not the supposed 6.
Watches In the Night
The next smallest unit of time found in the pages of the Bible is called a ’Watch’ of the night.
Weeks of Days
8"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. Exodus 20:8-10 NIV
8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: Exodus 20:8-10 KJV
Weeks of Years: Sabbaths
2"Speak to the Israelites and say to them: `When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD. 3For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. 4But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Leviticus 25:2-4 NIV
2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord.keep: Heb. rest 3Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; 4But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. Leviticus 25:2-4 KJV
Weeks of Weeks of Years: Jubilees
8¶And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Leviticus 25:8 KJV
8"`Count off seven sabbaths of years -- seven times seven years -- so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Leviticus 25:8 NIV
Note On 10 fold Jubilees
Millennia -- God’s Days
Creation Week Days
Ratio: 1 Day to 1 Year
Ratio: 1 Day to 1000 Years
Ratio: 1 Watch to 1000 years
Ratio: 1 Week of Days to 1 Week of years
Implied by the definitions. Any expression ’week’ is either 1) week of days or 2) a week of years, a Sabbath, or 3) a week of weeks of years, a Jubilee.