The Ezekiel chapter 4 prophecy deals with prophetic periods of 390 years
and 40 years.
It is important to correctly perceive the literal meaning of this
prophecy and to grasp the existence of the concealed end-time warning.
390 YEARS AND 40 YEARS
Both the 390 & 40 year periods ended with the destruction of Jerusalem!
Kingdom Divided - 3020 ---
| | 390 years
1st of Jeremiah - 3370 | ---
| | | 40 years
Jerusalem Falls - 3410 --- ---
The narrative of Ezekiel chapter 4 involved a sequence of 390 days
followed by a period of 40 days. For this reason many have seen this
prophecy as an allusion to a literal period of 430 years.
At first this approach seems logical, but it overlooks the fact that
both periods are intrinsically connected to the fate of Jerusalem.
The opening verses, Ezekiel 4:1-3, make it apparent that both periods
are to be interpreted with the fall of Jerusalem in mind.
That the fall of Jerusalem is the culminating point of both periods
is made even more apparent when one considers when the prophecy was
delivered to Ezekiel. This prophetic teaching was imparted to him some
time on or after the 5th year of King Jehoiachin's captivity (Ezek 1:2).
This 5th year was also the 30th year (Ezek 1:2) apparently of Jeremiah
(refer the Kings chronology page) so only about 10 years passed before
the city of Jerusalem fell. Therefore a sequential 390 year and 40 year
fulfilment does not pose a viable solution which can still render both
periods as prophetic.
[ NB: Although a period of 430 years is mentioned in Scripture,
this period is pre-Exodus and is not relevant to the era
of the Kings. ]
390 Years - This period began at the time of the division of the
kingdom into the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
This occurred in the first year of King Rehoboam (the son
of Solomon), refer 1Kings 12:1-20.
Over the course of the 390 years the house of Israel was
devastated by the kings of Assyria, so those who remained
of the house of Israel were only a remnant. The indication
is the remnant were mostly those who had returned to their
homeland after sojourning in foreign lands during the times
of national distress, refer Isa 16:3-4. This remnant dwelt
amongst the foreigners who had been settled in the land of
the house of Israel by Assyria (refer 2 Kings 17:24 and
40 Years - The period began with the prophesying of Jeremiah in the
13th year of King Josiah, Jer 25:3.
The passing of 23 years reached to the 4th year of King
Jehoiakim and the 1st year of Nebuchadnezzar, Jer 25:1.
Jerusalem was breached in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar
(11th year of Zedekiah). (This provides us with the period
of 40 years, ie 23 years plus an additional 17 years to
reach from the 1st to the 18th of Nebuchadnezzar.)
3900 YEARS AND 2000 YEARS
The Ezekiel chapter 4 prophecy was not recorded in Scripture simply
to assist the bible student in assembling the chronology of the Kings
The prophecy also carries a more meaningful and less apparent message
for the people of God living in the end-time.
Jacob(Israel) Born - 2090 ---
| | 3,900 years
New Testament Church - 3990 | ---
| | |
| | | 2,000 years
| | |
Tribulation Begins - 5990 --- ---
It is quite clear from even a cursory awareness of the Scriptures that
in the end-time an entity identified as Jerusalem is to suffer judgment.
This is an event spoken of in the gospel chapters Matthew 24, Mark 13
and Luke 21; and also alluded to many other Old Testament prophecies.
It is at the fall of this 'Jerusalem' that a period of Great Tribulation
is clearly shown to begin, refer Matt 24:15-22.
It is apparent that at the time of this Ezekiel prophecy a literal
Jerusalem did suffer destruction and that following the gospel warnings
the same fate befell the city once again in 70 AD. Some may not wish
to acknowledge it, but it is quite apparent these events were only
lesser examples of what is to befall the later day symbolic 'Jerusalem'.
3,900 years - It is difficult to start with the notions '390 days'
or '390 years' and identify a period of time which could
be relevant to the end-time and yet be easily derived.
Certainly without significant insight into the structure
of biblical chronology this would not be possible at all.
However, studies documented separately within this site
identify the birth of Jacob (later renamed Israel) to
have taken place 2,090 years after creation.
As with the 390 year illustration the 3,900 year period
derives its starting point from the earliest relevant
date, although its date is associated more with the
concept 'Israel', than it is with the 'house of Israel'.
2,000 years - The derivation of 2,000 years from 40 years is simpler.
40 Jubilee years of 50 years each, equate to 2,000 years.
The children of Israel wandered 40 years through the
wilderness after leaving the bondage of Egypt and this
was in essence a 'type', reflecting the journeying of
the people of God after their departure from the bondage
of the Old Covenant.
This view links the prophesying of Jeremiah with the
New Covenant urgings of the Holy Spirit.
One should keep in mind that the focal point of these end-time
prophetic allusions is the predicted destruction of an entity
being symbolically known as 'Jerusalem'.