Old Testament and New Testament Timing Methods
By Dr. Ken Matto
(Eccl 3:1 KJV) To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
While every single thing on this earth is governed by time constraints, there emerges a definite difference in the method of timing which God uses in both the Old and New Testament. When we read the Old Testament, we will see that timing plays a great part in the law. Now the first encounter we have with time is the genealogies found in Genesis 5. Then we move to Genesis 6 and there we read about Noah who built the Ark and we read that Noah took 120 years to build the ark. (Gen. 6:3) Then seven days before the flood began, God told Noah to get his family and the animals on to the ark. (Gen 7:4) Then we are told that it rained for forty days and nights. (Gen. 7:17) Then we are told that the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat in the seventh month and seventeenth day. I went through this to show that in the Old Testament, God had used specific times and dates for every event which was planned. We will see this under the Mosaic law as well.
Then when we look at the Old Testament Feasts, they were to be celebrated at certain times of the year and for a certain length of time:
1) Passover was to be celebrated on the fourteenth day of Nisan (Lev. 23:5)
2) Fifteenth day of Nisan is the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days (Lev. 23:6)
3) Feast of Pentecost - 50 days after Passover (Lev. 23:16)
4) In the seventh month Tishri, on the first day, the Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:24)
5) In the seventh month Tishri, on the tenth day is the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27)
There are other feasts but these five will give us examples of how meticulous God was in instituting the feasts at certain times of the year and for specific lengths of time. Not only was God very specific on the Old Testament Feasts, He was also very specific on the timing of the Judges and how long the land had rest as a result of their deliverance:
Othniel - 40 years (Judges 3:9-11)
Ehud - 80 Years (Judges 3:30)
Gideon - 40 years (Judges 8:28)
Elon - 10 years - (Judges 12:11)
Samson - 20 years (Judges 16:30-31)
God was also very meticulous in letting us know the length of time the Kings of Judah and the Northern Kingdom ruled.
Northern Kingdom (Israel)
Jeroboam - 22 years
Nadab - 2 years
Zimri - 7 days
Shallum - 1 month
Hoshea - 9 years
Southern Kingdom (Judah)
Rehoboam - 17 years
Ahaziah - 1 year
Uzziah - 52 years
Manasseh - 55 years
Zedekiah - 11 years
As you can see in these ten kings of Judah and Israel, that God gives us the length of time they served as kings. Then we not only find the genealogies in Genesis chapters 5 and 11, but sprinkled throughout the Old Testament are other genealogies.
Other Old Testament Genealogies
Ruth 4:18-22
1 Chronicles 1-9
1 Chronicles 14:3-7
New Testament Genealogies
Matthew 1
Luke 3
The New Testament genealogies are the culmination of all the genealogies found in the Old Testament. This is because the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3, end with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two Different Time periods
There are two totally different time periods in reference to Scripture. Before the Bible was completed, God had used prophets as He stated in Amos 3:7 but now we live in a different time. We now live in a time when the Bible has been completed. The message we have today is different than the ones in the Old Testament. Our message is to proclaim Christ and Him crucified.
New Testament Timing Methods
1) The Apostle Paul was beheaded - Did God tell him before when it would happen?
2) The disciples were told by Christ that they were to stay in Jerusalem until the Promise of the Father, which was the Holy Spirit, would be given to them. - They were given no time frame as to when it would happen.
3) In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus speaks about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. which signaled the end of the Mosaic era. Notice the word "here." No time frame was given at all as to when that would happen. In fact, it is not even mentioned in the book of Revelation written 25 years later. (Mat 24:1-2 KJV) And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. {2} And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
4) The return of the Lord is going to happen but there are no specific time frames in the NT as to when it is going to take place. (Acts 1:11 KJV) Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
We are only told that certain events will precede the Lord's return but again, for example, no time frame is given as to how long the Great Apostasy would last till it dovetails into the Lord's return.
Now these four instances, and there are others, show us that there is a difference in the way God uses time in both the Old and New Testament. The times in the OT are specific times such as three times a year all males must appear before the Lord, the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies yearly, the Feast of Pentecost was seven weeks after Passover, the men of Israel could not go to war until they were 20 years old, etc. In the OT, time was governed by law but in the NT it is governed by grace. What I mean by that is simply found in a verse like Luke 19:13. (Luke 19:13 KJV) And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. The Christian is told to occupy, till when, the next feast day or new moon? No, until the Lord returns or He takes us in physical death. In the temple service in the Old Testament a person had to retire at 50 years of age. There is no such thing as retirement for a Christian in the New Testament.
The New Testament, under which we live right now, is governed by different rules. In the NT, believers do not have a High Priest who goes into the Holy of Holies each year, Christ is our High Priest. In the NT, there are absolutely no feasts for the believer to keep because they were all kept in Christ and done away with under the Mosaic law. This is why when people use these timed events from the OT and try to force them on the NT, they fall into a trap by building upon the length of the feasts which lead to total disappointment because OT law was a different dispensation than NT Grace (even though grace was present in the OT). This is why we are told to be ready because we do not know the day nor hour because the timing of the NT is much different and readiness is the required key given throughout the NT.