Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
On Temporal, Tell-Tale Signs
One of my favorite poets is Ted Kooser who hails from the U.S. Midwest, as do I, although I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of my adult life.
Kooser’s poetry resonates with me in part because he speaks from our shared cultural foundations gleaned from life on the “Great Plains” region. Excerpts from one of my favorite of his poems on how to foretell certain (temporal) changes is featured below.
That region is known as the nation’s “bread basket” due to large swaths of land devoted to agriculture, thus, I surmise, people are exceptionally attuned to nature on which a big part of their farming success depends–and that their noticeably taciturn personalities might reflect.
For example, while an out-of-stater might wax excitedly over some glorious sunset, a Midwesterner might note, simply, “Good weather for plowing,”* knowing that the vibrant color splash across the western sky indicates the sweat spent on the back forty tomorrow will likely be profitable.
Most Midwesterners I know are also of a noticeably practical bent due to occupations and concerns that are dependent on such basics as the implications of good–and bad–weather.
Yet, poets, writers, artists, and photographers from that part of the U.S. abound, inspired by, I think, those same “basics.” I think this might be due to the fact that as one is investigating the wheat fields, pig pens, or cow barns for signs of both health and disease, birth and death, bud and blossom, it is easy to see the metaphor.
Instead of viewing creation through the workaday world of, say, a play write, as “All the world is a stage,” as did Shakespeare, a farmer might muse, “All the world is a field of dreams, some to harvest, others to blight,” or something like that. That is, if the farmer responds in any way at all other than a nod, at day’s end, to the reds and oranges of some blazing evening sky that will eventually and inevitably sink below a horizon slowly fading to black. (Kind of like the eventuals and inevitables of one’s lifespan, come to think of it, right?)
A farmer pays particular attention to what indicates a change in the weather because that is so closely connected to a change of season–which for the farmer signals when to plow, plant, and harvest. This always reminds me of Kooser’s poem, “How to Foretell a Change in the Weather,” which is essentially a long list of, well, how to know. Here are a few examples:
…You will know that the weather is changing
when your sheep leave the pasture
too slowly, and your dogs lie about
and look tired; …
cocks will be crowing
at unusual hours…
hens will chant…
when wild fowl dip and wash…
and the earthworm is seen on the surface of things…
The list goes on…
On Spiritual, Tell-Tale Signs
As farmers study natural signs to prepare for the next work season, those with an eye and an ear attuned to spiritual matters foretell the times in that realm of our lives, that is to say, they remind us of what is foretold in the Bible about spiritual epochs and what is evident in the skies, on earth, in historical events, and in men’s hearts. In so doing, such spiritual observers, also known as prophecy scholars, help us prepare for the next spiritual season.
Just now, prophecy scholars talk a lot about the specific season known as the end of the “Church Age,” or “end times,” and prior to a change of season in this realm, there are also many signs.
There are astronomical signs (constellation alignments, “blood moons,” for example), events in the nations and on the land (wars, earthquakes, and famine), and events in people’s “hearts” even as false prophets multiply. All these signs–and more–indicate we may be very close to the end of the era of the Church and soon coming upon a season of great tribulation, also known as “Jacob’s Trouble“.
Of course there are controversial and differing opinions on such things among believers.
But whenever, however, and wherever these biblical signs and seasons are coming to fruition, there is no doubt in the minds of many, believers and non-believers, some big, global change is pending.
Whatever signs you can think of seem to be there.
I should say, here.
But whereas non-believers might wax worried and fearful, the observing believer in the same stressful milieu can also anticipate a certain “blessed hope“.
Signs of the spiritual times also inspire believers to work more diligently in the Gospel fields, you might put it, plowing, planting, and harvesting there because, by many indicators, the next spiritual season, whatever it may be, approaches fast, it seems.
With regard to reality and metaphor, you might say that prophecy observers operate the opposite of farmers. Farmers glean metaphor from reality. Prophecy scholars point to the reality foretold in the Bible that many people thought was only metaphor…
I offer further observation and some additional signs to be on the lookout for from a post of 9/24/17, specifically the sign of “time,” itself, which is not discussed enough, in my view and others’, yet.
On the Metonic Cycle, Redux
Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Claire Beveridge Gumbs (for prophecy charts to go with)
In the fullness of time…
If you were perhaps thinking that on September 23, 2017 the Rapture was supposed to occur, as some thought, but now it’s the 24th or later, you are likely both disappointed and discouraged. I mean, according to some prophecy watchers, those recent signs in the constellations were pretty convincing, right?! (See here for an example discussion.)
You might even be a touch cynical by now, tending to agree with those referenced in 2 Peter 3:4 who said, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
But please remember: as the epigraph connotes: it is not only signs but also time that factor into prophecy.
Using my new favorite metaphor for God’s Word and His interactions with His creation, the Antikythera mechanism (the ancient calculator comprised of multiple linking gears and levers that helped people determine many cosmic and other, time-specific events), I see signs and time as two gears in God’s prophetic calculator, if you will, that, synched up, help us to know more precisely what to expect.
But what about “(no) one knows the day or hour when these things will happen (the Lord’s return–in the “twinkling of an eye“), not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36, NLT)?
This Scripture, weighty due to its utterance by Jesus, Himself, does give pause to attempt to set a possible date and for more reasons than just His warning.
For instance, with regard to the minute measurement of an “eye twinkle” that some believe to be what’s called “Planck time“–the smallest amount possible– we are literally hardly conscious of that minute amount of time let alone able to predict it.
For another, regarding the larger time allocations of days and hours, prophecy scholars point to the return of Jesus to “harpazo” (“snatch away” ) His bride as most likely to occur at some moment during the over-two-day Feast of Trumpets where the exact appearance of the new moon could be any time within the late hours of one day or the early hours of the next.
For yet another closely related to the previous one, many scholars point to how major prophecies relate closely with the Jewish feasts and the ones left to be fulfilled are all in the fall season. Here is a chart with this information clearly presented.
And then there are the various interpretive traditions regarding the Rapture ranging from the notion that it was an idea invented in the nineteenth century to the notion, on the other end of the interpretive spectrum, of “Pan-Tribulation,” or, everything will just “pan out” in the end as a lighter-side reference to how mankind will somehow just work it all out.
BUT what I think is perhaps the greatest challenge is the prophecy-comprehension-challenging event of the changing of time measurement to solar and luni-solar calendars versus the original, lunar calendar, “God’s original calendar,” as it were.
I mean, if one’s prophesy predictions are based on one kind of calendar but over time that time measurement is changed, how easy would it be to not only get the “time” of His appearing wrong but in all the confusion how easy would it be to then just focus only on the “signs” which are much easier to notice–and, it has to be said, to fool millions (sometimes on purpose)?
So how’s a serious prophesy student to make sense of time-sensitive events if the calendar got hacked?
Researchers might have found a way. A way hidden, perhaps, both in the dusty tomes of eras past and obscure modern scientific texts; in meeting minutes of by-gone religious councils, convocations, and committees who met (often in secret) to decide such things from their viewpoint; and/or in complex charts and graphs with calculations beyond the math levels of most of humanity.
But with God, you know, any seeker can find…
ON THE METONIC CYCLE
I think one such help exists in the little known work of Greek astronomer Meton of Athens who calculated what is referred to as the Metonic Cycle (5th century B.C.). The cycle, when synced up with the Jewish Feasts and other historical data compiled elsewhere concerning what prophecies have already been fulfilled and what remain, opens up much greater understanding of our times.
For prophecy watchers, crucial understanding.
Among other purposes, the Metonic Cycle allows researchers to see specifically when the solar calendar and the lunar calendar sync up which, as it just so happens, tend also to be times, as noted in other references, when events of prophetic significance for Jews have occurred and many believe, will occur–not only prophetic events involving Jews, but Christians and mankind at large.
(Note: at this point people who, for one reason or another, believe God switched His allegiance from Jew to Christian at the turning of the Testaments will experience some serious cognitive dissonance, but please read on and allow yourself to be challenged.)
Thus, I think it is important to consider the significance of the Metonic Cycle as a key element of prophecy because whereas many similar “signs” such as the so-called Revelation chapter 12 constellation that just occurred have occurred before, this one could have simply been another such sign in a series, a shadow of the real and time-precise event. And, much more importantly, if prophecy watchers focus only on signs, they are at great risk of being led–and fooled–by signs alone.
Consider how our real enemy can very convincingly counterfeit all manner of signs and wonders in the sky as well as on land. BUT, please note, Satan cannot control time. And even though there were those who changed how time is calculated, He Who knows the end from the beginning knew that would happen, too.
You might say that when God established the lunar calendar, as it is now known, as the way to chart days and months and years (and Jewish feasts established on that calendar), He already knew about the hackers.
And He Who is in ultimate charge of orbits and constellation movements and other cosmic wonders as well as correlating events on land had, in the design of His calculating mechanism, as it were, geared it so that certain signs occurred on certain dates when–wait for it–the various calendars (solar and lunar in particular) aligned with His original plan.
–Jesus was raised from the dead as “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep,” on precisely, the Feast of First Fruits according to the Jewish (lunar) calendar of the year He was crucified. (To see a chart detailing how other key prophetic events align with Jewish Feasts, click here), and for just one modern-day event,
—Israel will be reborn in one day (see also how that ancient prophecy was fulfilled, literally, on May 14, 1948). (Even in modern times, centuries after the councils, convocations, and committees finished tweaking the calendar according to their ideas, prophesies continue to click with the original as designed in the very first convocation of Three at the juncture when eternity synchronized with time, you know, in the beginning.)
And that’s not all.
Within the precise natural and supernatural mechanisms of God’s calculation device that has been, and will continue to be, aligning and clicking fulfillment through time (and space and feasts and worldwide events) despite mankind’s efforts to obfuscate the plan of salvation (whether our efforts are unintended or intended–see here , for example, for a prophecy way back when about what the future Anti-Christ will be up to with regard to time) there are other gears slowly synchronizing with God’s will, plan, and ultimate redemption of all who place their trust in Him.
For example, see here for a charted view of a “gear” called “The Model of Three Then Four” that gives a brief background for how the Metonic Cycle factors in, then here for more specifics on Meton’s ancient, brilliant device that helps prophecy watchers now, particularly now, as many Christians are temped to run hither and yon following this or that sign and/or wonder, spending money, time, and emotions trying to comprehend what it all might mean.
After all, aren’t we supposed to have a heads-up about things to come–and not some random, anti- or extra-biblical, bizzaro “things to come,” but the real McCoys?
Meanwhile, it has to be said, many pastors are leading their flocks in other directions altogether in the quest for “a richer life now,” or some manner of (emotion-grabbing and collection-plate-filling) “gold dust and feathers” phenomena, and/or weeping statues, stigmata-pierced “holy people,” and/or New Gospels that filter out the hard stuff (like repentance and Hell and those deemed “non-seeker-friendly” messages).
So some suggest, and I concur, that in order for the two “gears” of signs AND time to sync up, it has to be the right “signs“ at the right time.
Some students of prophecy are slowly beginning to understand that the Metonic Cycle needs to enter the prophecy discussion, and given the signs of the times that even non-believers have a hunch might be biblical in proportion, the discussions need to commence and continue.
So that not only will believers who are sincerely trying to understand prophecy cease to be discouraged by yet more questionable date/event setters but we will also remain hopeful and, most importantly, continue to “occupy” in each of our specific “ministries” as time ticks–and gears click–closer to that “blessed hope“.
And so that we will better understand just how imminent the Rapture is–along with other prophesied events of end times even now unfolding.
*Most Midwesterners I knew took this ancient mariners’ rhyme very seriously:
Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.
Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.
Of course, Shakespeare noted this as well, in his genre: