Since 2019 (Anno Domini) is upon us, here are four times the Bible uses the word “year.”
In Hebrew (which is the primary language the Old Testament is written in), the word first used that we translate as “year” is “shaneh.” The first use of this word comes in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, in the first chapter. Here’s the verse (14) in its context:
“Then God said:
‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and YEARS [shaneh]; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth’;
and it was so.
God made the two great lights:
⁃ the greater light to govern the day
⁃ and the lesser light to govern the night; (He made the stars also.)
God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.
There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”
— Genesis chapter 1, verses 14-19
The last time this same word for “year” is used in the Old Testament is from the book of Malachi. He was a prophet of God who wrote the last book of the Old Testament sometime around 430 B.C. Here’s the verse in its context:
“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant (in whom you delight), behold, he is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.
“But who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former YEARS [shaneh].
Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against:
⁃ the sorcerers
⁃ and against the adulterers
⁃ and against those who swear falsely
⁃ and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages–the widow and the orphan
⁃ and those who turn aside the foreigner and do not fear Me,
says the LORD of hosts.
For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”
— Malachi chapter 3, verses 1-6
So, the first reference to a “year” concerns the ultimate power and wisdom of Yahweh in creating the universal “luminaries” (i.e. sun, moon, stars). The last use of the word “shaneh” to describe a year is a reference to Yahweh’s coming judgement and the “messenger” God will send, before the judgement, to Israel.
In Greek, the word first used that we translate as “year” is “etos.” The first use of this word comes in the first book of the New Testament, Matthew’s historical account of Jesus’ life and ministry (called the Gospel, or Good News, of Matthew). There’s another word translated as “years” used in Matthew chapter 2, but that word refers to the age of children, so I chose “etos” instead, first seen in Matthew 9. Here is the verse in its context:
“And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve YEARS [etos], came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well.’ But Jesus turning and seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well.”
— Matthew 9:20-22
The last time the word “year” is used in the New Testament comes from the book of Revelation in the 20th chapter. Here’s the verse in its context:
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed–after these things he must be released for a short time.
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
When the thousand YEARS [etos] are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth (Gog and Magog) to gather them together for the war (the number of them is like the sand of the seashore).
And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
— Revelation 20:1-10
So, the first reference to “year” in the New Testament comes from a description of a woman who was suffering from an illness for over a decade, but who Jesus healed. The last use of the word “etos” comes from a description of Jesus ruling the world for 1,000 years with his saints, resurrecting and judging the dead, imprisoning Satan, releasing Satan and casting that Devil and his followers into Hell.
It’s interesting to note that the Bible’s first mention of a year comes during the historical creation account, and the last mention of a year comes before eternity begins. The Bible bookends human history with eternity, and the concept of “years” only exists within the context of time. I know it may sound too obvious or possibly redundant to state that “years” only exists in the context of time, but there’s a point in the statement.
Time is a creation of God and everything which happens within time is sovereignly ordained by God. God describes the future, God causes the future to work out the way He desires, God existed before time began and He’ll continue to exist when He ends time.
In the Genesis passage we saw God created the celestial bodies (sun, moon, stars) which existed before mankind. Those celestial bodies were created for the use of mankind (“let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years”). In the Revelation passage we see that all of human history is anchored to two opposing kingdoms: the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (God) and the kingdom of Satan.
Presently, on the Earth, Satan reigns as a king (other places in scripture express this as well), but his reign is one of deceit:
⁃ “so that he would not deceive the nations any longer.”
There are those in the world who resist him, even unto death:
⁃ “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image.”
When Jesus Christ returns, He will forcibly remove Satan from his reign:
⁃ “holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him.”
After Satan is sealed away for a time, Jesus will Himself reign over the world with His people:
⁃ “they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
When the 1,000 years draws to a close, God will allow for Satan’s release for the final revelation of God’s perfections, and then Satan (and all who have ever followed him “in the course of this world” — Ephesians 2:2) will be punished forever in Hell. Every person who has ever lived will be judged, and “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Then, after this, the years of creation’s history close:
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.”
— Revelation 20:11
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’”
— Revelation 21:1-4
“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
— Revelation 21:23-27
The two middle uses of the concept of “years” refer to the promise of coming judgement to those who follow Satan, and the freedom and healing which is only received by those who follow Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God.
There’s only a certain amount of time left in your life, dear friend. We’re somewhere between the giving of the Malachi prophecy and the inauguration of Jesus Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. This is, figuratively speaking, the time for you to receive your salvation and healing from Jesus Christ. Consider again the woman who received healing from Him:
And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.
— Matthew 9:20-22
⁃ She has suffered in her life.
⁃ She recognized her suffering as something evil in her life (for such a sickness is hardly a blessing while it is afflicting us).
⁃ She sought Jesus out for healing because she knew only He had the ability to free her from her constant affliction and burden of sin’s effects in this life.
⁃ She had faith, she trusted in Him with full assurance to save her.
⁃ She was welcomed by Jesus.
⁃ She was embraced as family by Jesus.
⁃ Her faith was rewarded and praised by Jesus.
⁃ She received her salvation immediately.
This woman’s sickness was representative of sin because sickness and death only exist because sin came into the world at the Fall (read Genesis chapter 2 and 3). The woman’s recognition of her sickness lead her to seek salvation from it, and the greater salvation is what her physical healing lead to: Jesus acknowledged her as a daughter and proclaimed her faith in Him with joy.
This is the point of history wherein we now stand. This is where you stand.
You’ve now seen the beginning and the end of all things. God stands at each end of the book of human history, and you’re in the chapter right before the judgement begins. How will you respond to what you now have seen?:
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the bride [the church] say, “Come.”
And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the Water of Life without cost.”
— Revelation 22:12-17
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
— Mark 1:15
And Jesus cried out and said:
“He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
— John 12:44-50
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
— Revelation 22:20