Q&A: Why did Jesus Spend Exactly 3 ½ Years in His Ministry?
An eTPL30 Analysis: Q & A April 28, 2020
Question from a correspondent – Why did Jesus take exactly 3 ½ years to finish his work – a 'supposition' that is commonly made? Jesus stated that during His ministry, He had “finished” the work given Him by His Father. “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” John 17:4
The period of 3 ½ years is prominent in Bible prophecy. It is also expressed as 1260 days as well as 42 months. Daniel 12:7 also defines it as “time, times and half a time.” As such, it is also half the length of the seven times of Gentile domination termed by Jesus, “the times of the Gentiles.” Luke 21: 24.
Is there any correlation of the ministry of Jesus to any of these prophetic time periods?
Consider this discussion:
As I contemplated this question, amazingly, I could not make an immediate connection with any prominent prophecy. So I contacted an associate to see if he could offer any help.
He honed in on the answer immediately – and the directness of the answer is remarkably simple and straightforward! (Many of you readers have probably already arrived at the same conclusion as my correspondent!)
Think of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9: 24-27 – the premier prophecy of the coming of Messiah the first time. Recall that the prophecy was given as three time periods: seven “weeks,” “sixty-two weeks,” and the final week. The vision would span 490 calendar years (seventy times seven calendar years – each seven of which, prophetically, are a prophetic “week” or seven, in Hebrew terms).
Speaking of the final “week” (seven-year period) of the prophecy, Daniel was told, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (i.e., the 70th week): and in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel 9:27
The prophecy concerns “Messiah,” as in verse 27, it was He Who should “confirm the covenant” with many for that final week. He would be “cut off” in the midst of that week (see vs. 26).
The “midst” of any calendar week is 3 ½ days, but in prophetic terms means 3 ½ years.
Note that verse 26 states that after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, which obviously is a reference to his death on the tree at Golgotha at the midst of the 70th week.
Remember, that seven weeks of the prophecy preceded the middle period of 62 weeks – so the two periods add up to 69 weeks. When that 69th “week” ended in AD29, the seven years of the final week remained – the “week” in which He would be “cut off,” in three and a half years!
During that week Messiah should be ‘cut off,’ a phrase which, of course, refers to His crucifixion in three and a half years after the beginning of that 70th week – the final week – and by doing so he “caused the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” BY His sacrificial death, taking death captive (overcoming it within Himself), fulfilling the Law of Moses, and consummating the Sacrifice needed to validate all the sacrifices made under the Law!
This is one reason that we know that His earthly ministry was of 3 ½ years duration; besides that, chronological calculations from the gospel accounts lead to the same conclusion.
So it follows that His ministry was of 3 ½ years duration in order to fulfill the prophecy. It was foreordained by the Almighty. But His ministry continued from heaven throughout the remainder of the week until the conversion and baptism of Cornelius the Centurion in what has been concluded was AD36, and the end of the seventieth week of the prophecy.
Why do we consider Cornelius’ baptism important as the “end” of His ministry (which was carried forward to that time by His apostles and disciples). Because that event marks the last updating of the Plan of Redemption which Jesus instituted – the baptism of Gentiles directly into His Name without having to undergo the previous stipulation that only Gentiles could be baptized who had first become proselyted Jews.
The apostolic permission of the direct conversion of Gentiles was given by the divine authority of Jesus Himself to Peter in his previous vision; that is the remarkable feature of Cornelius’ baptism as authorized by the “sheet let down” vision of animals “clean and unclean” (Jews and Gentiles) which Peter had seen in his vision at the house of Simon the Tanner only days before.
From that time no new features or additional features of the Gospel Plan of Salvation have been added; the Plan was now complete!
What Span of Time did the Three and One-Half Years Entail?
That question has an easy answer as to the END date of His earthly Ministry: it was Tishri 14, AD33, in our opinion – because of the following considerations... and from that specific date, we may determine the beginning date of His Ministry (His baptism) quite easily, in our opinion.
Passover always occurs in the first month of the religious year of Israel, at the full moon of the month, on Nisan 14. On that day Jesus was crucified, ending His earthly ministry...
The spiritual year begins at the end of six months later with the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, which is marked by The Feast of Trumpets.
Since the earthly ministry of Jesus was of three and a half years duration, and he was crucified on Nisan 14 of a given year, then His Ministry should have begun exactly 3 ½ years before his death.
What date would that have been?
Since we presume that Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14, AD29, he must have been designated as Messiah 42 months (3 ½ years) prior to that date – which was accomplished when He was baptized by John in Jordan. That date should have been Tishri 14, AD26, one day prior to the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles.
I believe it was also His thirtieth birthday (Luke 3: 23) – the birth anniversary upon which the priests of Israel became consecrated in their duties (Numbers 4:3), befitting our Great High Priest. He was fulfilling an anti-type in being baptized (and therefore consecrated a Priest) on his 30th birthday.
Jesus, not being a Levite, was not personally subject to this formal ritual, but the undertaking of His own personal Priesthood over the Household which He would immediately begin to form was a reflection of that priestly ritual.
These two dates are exactly a half-year apart. Add three years and the period would define exactly three and one-half years as the years of His ministry, during which He served His Father perfectly, fulfilling all righteousness, setting in place all the necessary provisions for His future Kingdom, appointing the Twelve Apostles, and carrying out His own sacrificial death.
I hope this answers your great question!
HEL. April 28, 2020 ~1200 words. Published April 2020.
Ezekiel 39:10 – A Brief Discussion An eTPL30 Analysis: Q & A
Thank you Brother Harold! [Your reply was] ...very much appreciated. I sent you another email to that same address on a different subject, although you may not have received it. I'll reiterate. I completely agree that Christ is in the land when Israel dwells safely. Jeremiah 23:6 seems to be shouting "Connect me to Ezekiel 38!" [He obviously alludes to verses 8, 11, 14 – all of which attest to either the opinion of Gog or the irrefutable declaration of the Almighty, as to Israel’s utter peace and safety - Ed.] Ezekiel is also very clear that Gog makes no progress whatsoever. I do have a question though regarding your interpretation of Ezekiel 39:10, which seems to imply that Gog robbed and spoiled Israel. "They shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them." The context seems to require that it be talking about Gog, but none of the other verses regarding him and his destruction in chapters 38 and 39 seem to even allow the possibility of Gog robbing or spoiling Israel. I've wondered if it is talking about the other gentile nations that Israel conquers who have robbed and spoiled in the past, but that doesn't seem to fit naturally in the context of the verse. What are your thoughts?
Signed: (a correspondent)
Answer: My comments are several...
1. The “spoiling and robbing” of Israel by Gog and its cohort does not have to have occurred within the conflict being described. For example, at the present time, Iran (a destined member of the Gogian host) is actively “spoiling” Israel – not in the sense of taking a war prize (a spoil) but in the sense of striving to RUIN Israel, and to harm it by enclosing it within a snare of thousands of missiles and vile “fighters” for Islam – and has been doing so for years. Also, for years, Russia did everything it could to harm Israel during the cold war years, never siding with it in UN decisions, not actively taking its side in any matter, and in general, being antagonistic to Israel. Libya and Sudan (Ethiopia) have voiced opposition to Israel in every way. Togarmah (Turkey) is now taking the same stance. So my view is that those enemies have exhibited the historical posture of animosity to Israel throughout the years although not being actively at war with Israel. A state of obstruction, hindrance, and hostility by them has been prevalent.
2. But in a sense, the Gogian confederacy shall at that time also have actually “spoiled “Israel” by bringing its invasion to the geographic point at which it is interdicted: northern Jordan (Gilead of today, and Bashan (Ezekiel 39:18) but “Israel” in that future day). Remember that the first mission of the returned Christ is, in my opinion, to clear the Land of all its interlopers and squatters (the proximal Arabs of all stripes) from HIS PROMISED LAND – to dispel from it ALL the nations “round about” the Jewish state which have threatened its existence for over seventy years (even longer – from before the time when it became a state).
They shall have neither part nor parcel of it forever once He appears, and His removal of them from His Land will be forthwith and summary. He will conduct His war on a footing never conceived in the annals of human warfare. He does not lack manpower, finances, resources, even planning (it has already been written!), or strength of resolve. He already knows that Islam will NEVER capitulate to the will of the Father (which He shall be enforcing), so there is no need for the gradual destruction of those heathen foes – or offers of repentance or conciliation; such will never happen!
In my thinking, his extremely rapid and decisive judgment of those enemies will strike a new level of fear in all the enemies of Israel. I really believe that when the prophets speak of “in that day,” they probably are speaking of ONE CALENDAR DAY.
Islam, within the confines of The Land (between the Rivers and the Seas: the Nile to the Euphrates and the Med to the Persian Gulf) will have evaporated in the furious heat of His wrath. They are both Israel’s enemies and God’s enemies (cf., Psalm 83: 2, 3, where their equivalency as both His enemies and Israel’s enemies is established) and He will destroy them forthwith and without quarter. It will be a slaughter equivalent to that of Sodom and Gomorrah – or to the people of the earth of Noah’s day. At Sodom, the fiery bolts from the heavens snuffed out the life of everyone instantly – and none survived. At the Flood, after each desperate person became so exhausted that he no longer could tread the churning, deadly waters, or grasp some object of flotsam which could keep him above water, he sank below the billows of death and ceased to exist in a maximum of four minutes ... without hope ... with none to help. The destruction of those two events was instantaneous! The end-time destruction shall be the equivalent of that, in my opinion. And NONE shall survive the coming conflict, as Obadiah testifies - Obadiah 1:18 – “And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they (Jacob and Joseph) shall kindle in them (the House of Esau), and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.”
3. I also am of the opinion that there is yet another principle at work in this conflict. Revelation 13:10 - He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. There is a huge principal of INTENT in this statement. At the time of Gog’s destruction that invasive force shall have entered “Israel” long before it reaches Gilead and Bashan (north Jordan of today, but “Israel” tomorrow), and it shall have done so with the sole intent of “taking a spoil and a prey,” which means “spoiling” Israel. That intent is as strong as the deed.
At the moment when Gog crosses the Euphrates River it has already encroached upon the northern boundary of the Kingdom of Christ, Who at that moment is occupying David’s restored throne in Mt. Zion, and ruling over the nascent First Dominion of His Kingdom (Micah 4:8). But He patiently allows the Gogian coalition to advance deep into the expanded Israel of that day. I would think He allows this deep penetration in order to make it completely apparent to all observers (the other world powers of that day) that Gog HAS come with one intent: to destroy His people and to take their possessions, and in a sense to “justify” His coming destruction of them, again in ONE day (IMHO); that time-and-space lag in resistance to Gog by the Almighty (for it is HE Who destroys Gog by the forces of nature as well as every man’s sword against his brother – Ezek. 38: 21 et seq) will illustrate to the world His patience – and then, His resolve to destroy them to the last man. Note: only the KJV, if my memory is correct, states that Gog will be 5/6 destroyed. All the other translations mention nothing about a sixth part remaining. This result is consistent with the text of the Septuagint – the Greek Bible available to Jesus and the Apostles, which is quoted extensively by them in their daily contacts. Meanwhile, as stated, Jesus is personally occupying the restored Throne of David (Luke 1: 32) building His kingdom’s infrastructure, including the Temple of the Millennium; including the resettlement of the People by Tribal ancestry in their respective Cantons; completely disarming Israel’s military; demolishing its Great Wall of defense against the PLO and its ilk; and ruling the people with the assured peace and utter safety which the nation shall have come to accept – for by accepting His Authority and Messiahship, it shall have cried in blessed unison and in complete repentance, “Blessed is He Who cometh in the name of the LORD!” as it was said they must do by Jesus Himself in Luke 13: 35.
I hope the above addresses your concern. It may not be an exhaustive commentary but it’s all I have to offer at the moment.
Fraternally and with love in Christ Jesus,
<>HEL ~1450 words. An eTPL30 Analysis: Q & A Published April 10, 2020 in Q&A 2020...
Q&A As to What We May Expect to Happen Now
Good morning Harold.
Hope you've been able to get some sleep in these hectic, moment-to-moment changing times. I'm good for a solid 3 hours at best! Just wanted to get a VERY brief reply from you without going into any major detail.
Taking into account what we are witnessing now with this worldwide crisis, what event / events do you believe might happen next? I don't know how the situation is where you're located (where exactly are you?), but here in the U.S., we are now on the verge of entering into the most critical phase of this spreading virus. Authorities are saying that mid-April will see its peak here...and could continue on that plateau for another 10 weeks thereafter...with the real possibility of another 3 waves of the virus passing thru or even morphing into something even more deadly for the next 18 months.
I'd like to know your personal thoughts as you have been a very reliable source of information continually. I know you don't have a crystal ball, but your knowledge of Scripture is beyond reproach. Kindly help me out a bit if you have the time and energy left from your daily exercises.
Good morning, Bro. ______:
It is good to hear from you. Yes, I’m getting sleep in snatches – my current sleep pattern it seems – an hour or so in my great recliner situated in my dear wife’s sitting room where we constantly monitor the TV news channels – mostly Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel, but others as well to get contrasting views.
This current crisis is dreadful in human terms … but that’s how our Father intended it, I’m sure. He is striving to get some valid attention from His creation – but is failing.
Entire governments have instituted vile laws that go directly against His word. The GLBTQ movement has never been stronger and has infected Israel in a terrible wave of its acceptance as Tel Aviv is now known as the homosexual capital of the world. (That will soon change, as we know.)
Then there is the abominable practice of abortion. So far over 60 million babies have been killed since that vile practice was made lawful – even including killing of babies being born alive! It is the resurrection of the old worship of Ba’al in this country ... and nearly every other.
Of course no one has a crystal ball from which to forecast what will happen next; we just don’t know. But we should be prepared for nearly anything. US and Israeli military forces are being steadily disabled by the Covid-19 outbreak, reducing their preparedness levels – which may be the mechanism our Father will use to prevent ANYONE from going to the assistance of Israel when the critical event of Isaiah 59 occurs … the enemy flooding over Israel’s borders like floodwaters and His response of raising against them (vs. 19) a Standard (Heb. Nus – as a flag or banner, or symbol of His authority), which is immediately defined in the next verse (20) as “the Redeemer,” which is unmistakable for, well, the Redeemer! It is, in my thinking, the most definitive OT reference to the Second Advent that exists. And it perfectly fits the times we live in.
I am so chagrined that (some of) our brethren ... are so absorbed with the Gogian host that they completely overlook the massive problem that Israel has faced for the last 72 years – that of the nations round about.
In my book, Twilight of the Prophets (this e-book is available free of charge to anyone on request to my email address: email@example.com), I quote and discuss in great depth over FIFTY references to this clear and present danger – which must be resolved before Israel can dwell in peace and safety – and nearly everyone ignores the incalculably complex problem.
Well … it really ISN’T so complex, because the simple, elevator answer is that it will be resolved by the Second Coming of the Lord in order to fulfill the prophecy of Zacharias in Luke one as well as multitudes of others ...
Luke 1:71 That we (Israel) should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
Luk 1:72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
Luk 1:73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
Luk 1:74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
This accomplishment is necessary to set the stage for the Gogian invasion. Israel now has abundant riches – yes – but just think of the amassed wealth of all the Gentiles (Zech. 14:14) that they shall gather in when Jesus frees all the Land from the Nile to the Euphrates, and from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf – the core inheritance of Abraham as specified so many times in Genesis, defeating all the countries in that area!
Israel will instantly become one of the wealthiest nations on the face of the earth ... and certainly the most powerful under the leadership of the LORD. Israel already has oil shales which contain the oil equivalent of all the liquid crude oil reserves of Saudi Arabia (Valley of Elah SE of Jerusalem), but then will possess the oil shales of Jordan as well, which are estimated to be SIX times the size of the deposits in Israel! Untold wealth in just this “spoil.”
And Israel will then possess the liquid crude oil reserves of Iraq and Kuwait and Syria as well as northern Saudia – over half of the world’s known oil reserves will then be possessed by the Jewish state, for whatever it is worth in the kingdom age. At least the Islamic powers will no longer own it!
Also, it will then possess all the real properties, the mineral wealth (think the potash deposits of Jordan – vast), the chattels, the cash accounts, the accounts receivable and everything else now owned by its hostile neighbors … and there shall be “not one remaining of the House of Esau” (Obadiah 1: 18). It is a catastrophic blow to Islam that puts the Covid-19 pandemic down in last place!
In my mind, that event of the return of Christ and the fulfillment of His immediate obligation to His People fulfills the ONLY two stated prerequisites for the Gogian decision to invade Israel, which they view as a country then ruled by a lucky, powerful, and naive “king” unknown to them of course (neither to the Orthodox Church of Russia or to Islam), who has disarmed Israel (Zech 9:10) so His people are now dwelling in utter peace and safety … and at that time contains the “spoils and prey” (which, by the way, indicates wealth confiscated in warfare – as then shall be the case) that are coveted by the Gogian leadership.
Well, dear brother, that was a tortuous pathway to my well-considered conclusions...
I really don’t see any other necessary action by the Almighty in order to usher in the Second Advent – the silent return of the Christ to His household.
This volatile virus (with its great propensity to mutate) may bring other strains of it to the forefront as you suggested – which will present insurmountable challenges for the country and the world – we just don’t know.
But the economic shock is just beginning. Financial advisers that I sometimes read feel that the stock market will drop FAR below its current levels causing panic among the nations of the world that has not been seen since 1929. Trillions of dollars in value have already been wiped out.
Home prices are forecasted to drop to about half of their current values. Many families will lose their principal investment of their entire lives as foreclosures for default will soar.
People’s 401k savings will proportionately further diminish giving everyone cause for great concern. (These have already sunk by about 30 percent!)
So in my thinking we should be prepared for the immediate appearance of the angels of the Shophars as they sound the “last trump” and bring about the resurrection of the responsible dead of all ages – and conduct these along with the living brethren of Christ to the place of Judgment.
It seems imminent to me. Christ, it would seem, has to allow some indeterminate length of the time prior to those events outlined above, in order to conduct the Judgment Bema and to prepare his immortalized Saints to take part in that great physical deliverance of His People, as discussed, will be the case I believe.
To me, that is so logical and so well supported scripturally as to be undeniable. It is a logical sequence that follows ALL His words of prophetic revelation to us. The problem for most folks is, is suspect, that they just have not had the time (or have not taken the time) to investigate the intricate details of the end times, and have been diverted to a “lazy” approach of viewing the Gogian invasion as the next big event. I see a gradual change in this sequence of expectations by some, as occasionally expressed by (some) ... after my insistence for a number of years that they recognize that important series of events as being PRIOR to the Gogian invasion.
And of course, there is the vital factor of Jesus’ saying in Luke 21: 32 that “this generation” (which witnessed the resurrection of Israel) shall not pass away till all be fulfilled. We are now almost 72 years beyond that pivotal date, which lends gravitas to the conviction that we are “at the door!”
Forgive me for my extended conversation above but I suspected you would not mind … and the urgency of the core message is always needful of being put forth.
Sha’alu Shalom Yerushaliyim! (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!)
Fraternally, H. Edward Lafferty
Added to Q&A on March 24, 2020