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Time and date determination is a difficult issue because it is different around the globe. There is a surprising relationship between time and space when you look at time and date from a global perspective. A reference point is required to coordinate this relationship or chaos will result. This may be difficult for us to understand because the world has already created its reference points. These are invisible to the average person because we have already incorporated them into our society.
If you spend most of your life in the same area and travel only short distances or slowly, you do not have an appreciation of the problem. Most people are familiar with the time zones, which create a reference point for the hours of the day. Only those who travel a lot at high speed and great distances develop a deep understanding and an appreciation of what having a global reference point means. Modern electronic communication is also a way to travel great distances at high speed.
We illustrate this problem by going back to the time of Magellan. We know him for being the first person to travel around the entire globe. His crew of course went around also but we remember his name because he was the captain. His famous voyage uncovered a paradox of time and long distance travel.
Over the course of the year or so the voyage took, each day was a little longer than the normal 24 hours. You would not notice unless you kept careful time with an accurate chronometer (clock). The captain and the navigator would have some idea of what was happening because they use a chronometer as a part of navigating the sea on long voyages.
After they crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, they again encountered European civilization. Imagine the shock and confusion of the uneducated sailors to discover they had lost a day.
They had carefully marked off the passage of the days on their calendar. According to their records, it was, for example, Tuesday but the people they encountered told them it was Wednesday. This was a very disorienting experience.
Today we have the zero meridian, which passes through Greenwich in England. This was chosen long ago as the reference point to coordinate time and space on the rotating planet earth. All time on earth has a reference to GMT or Greenwich Mean Time. On the opposite side of the globe is a curious invisible line called the IDL or International Date Line.
The Biblical Calendar also has a reference point. I believe as the Jews did in the first century and most do now. Jerusalem is the reference point because the law goes forth out of the eternal city. Otherwise, people in a different part of the globe may be celebrating a different day! We celebrate the weekly Sabbath on the same day around the globe following the sunset. The observance of the yearly Sabbaths should be the same.
The importance of Jerusalem cannot be overstated. There are several prominent reasons:
Golgotha is the specific place in Jerusalem, which is the reference for time and space. You may ask yourself, "What does Golgotha have to do with the Calendar?" You will be surprised to learn more about this special place. There is an incredible story about this place, which is the focus of many events in the course of time. This is a place and a name, which strikes a deep chord of emotion in any believer in the Messiah. What few realize is this place holds the meaning to much more than they have ever imagined.
This place is also a crossroad between time and space. This place is the focal point of all history for the entire universe. This place became the focus of all time about 2,000 years ago.
These are some references from scripture to begin our understanding of the name and the place, Golgotha. We will begin with Matthew. The Strong's Greek Dictionary numbers are shown in brackets next to some important words.
33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha , that is to say, a place of a skull ,
Golgotha (Strong's Greek Dictionary number ) means skull and is actually a Hebrew word (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary number ). The common assumption is the place is called this because it resembled a skull. The idea is visualized as the side of a hill with caves resembling one concept of a skull, with eyeholes and a nose hole. I suggest there is another, better concept.
Golgotha = "skull" (compare [H1538]);
It is important to note the Hebrew word actually denotes round, coming from a word meaning to roll, thereby referring more to the top of the head and by comparison, the top of a hill which is rounded and probably solid rock.
Mark is identical but specifically indicates the Hebrew is translated to the Greek word "skull":
22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha , which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull .
It is important to note there appears to be more than just a place, which looks like a skull, which the Bible does not even say. It sounds more like the place of a specific skull. A study of early Christian and Jewish history and tradition reveals it is the place of Adam's skull returned to its original burial spot by Shem after the flood. The word Golgotha therefore can be seen as having a double meaning.
John also uses the same terms in reverse order indicating the Hebrew translation of the Greek word.
17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull , which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha :
When we come to Luke, we see something odd. The Greek word is given a completely different translation than all the other Gospels.
33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary , there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
It is surprising to note the Latin word Calvary is introduced in this Gospel. The Latin word "calvaria" a bare skull comes from "calva" the scalp without hair and "calvus" bald. This again points to the visualization of the rounded top of a bare rock hill.
How did the Latin (Roman) name Calvary end up replacing the simple translation to the English word skull as found in other gospels? Because of its association with Latin and the Roman Catholic Church, I prefer to use the Hebrew name Golgotha instead of the Latin word Calvary.
The Garden of Eden
After Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, I suspect the Kidron Valley became the gateway they could never pass. Mount Zion was probably the location of the Tree of Life within Eden at the gateway and Mount Moriah (Olivet) was probably the location of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil at the gate outside.
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
I suspect it was at the Tree of Knowledge where God taught them the system of animal sacrifice where each had to slay a lamb. I believe it was fire from heaven, which accepted all the animal sacrifices offered at this spot. Many animal sacrifices are recorded as being burned with fire from God. It was there He pronounced the curse on the serpent. God made them clothing from the lamb they had sacrificed to be a constant reminder and an object lesson of righteousness given to cover our sin.
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
What other place than at the spot where sin began, before the angels refusing entry to the Garden of Eden, and the Tree of Life would animal sacrifices have continued. From this spot they could look over to the Tree of Life and the garden home they had lost. This is the same place where the true sacrifice would be made. Here Cain and Abel would have continued the practice and offered their animal sacrifice.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
Have you ever wondered how Cain knew Abel's animal sacrifice was accepted and his was not? Fire from heaven consumed the acceptable animal sacrifice. This is a clear and unarguable distinction.
Jewish tradition and ancient history contain many references indicating Adam was buried at the location of his sin, before the gate to his Eden home. Where he made sacrifices for his redemption. This became the location of "The Skull", the head of the human race.
Many of the things I am suggesting are not teachings or doctrines from the Bible. I am pointing to a series of ideas I suspect to be true from clues in Bible, the records of ancient history, and tradition. There is significant inspirational value in recognizing the events circling around this place.
Ancient tradition records Noah preserved the bones of Adam in the ark. The skull was given into the care of his son Shem who returned it to its original resting spot at Golgotha.
Shem probably continued to live at Salem below Mount Zion. He would have continued the worship of God at this place where animal sacrifices were held before the flood. His long life span continued 150 years after the birth of Abraham and 50 years after the birth of Isaac. He is generally recognized as being the Melchizedek (King of Right) mentioned in Genesis.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
The Sacrifice of Isaac
When God decided to test and to teach Abraham in greater depth about the plan of salvation, there would be no better or more important place for this purpose than Golgotha. This is where animal sacrifices began and where they would be finished.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.Many traditions recognize Abraham was brought to the vicinity of what would become Jerusalem. Many believe the aborted sacrifice occurred on Mount Zion. It is more likely it occurred across the Kidron Valley, where the final sacrifice occurred and I believe millennia of animal sacrifices occurred.
The Jerusalem Temple
The establishment of Jerusalem and the temple is a part of God's plan from the Garden of Eden through the time of Shem reaching its peak with the building of the temple by Solomon.
1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.
You will be surprised to learn there was a special place for a special sacrifice of a red heifer. This sacrifice was not in the temple but was "without the camp" at a place called the Miphkad altar. According to Jewish tradition, this heifer was to be sacrificed with its face to the west looking at the temple.
2 This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:There are several clues to the exact distance of this separation, which is 2000 cubits or 3000 feet east of Mount Zion. This points to near the top of the Mount of Olives and Golgotha.
4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.
The First Coming of the Messiah
The Mount of Olives was a special place well known to the Messiah. He was often found there. He seemed to be drawn to this spot.
37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.It was at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day Sabbath, when He made His famous call in the temple.
37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.After the dispute occurring from this proclamation, He went to His special place.
1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
Consider all the major events of His earthly ministry, which occurred on the Mount of Olives.
The Triumphal Entry
The place of His triumphal entry to Jerusalem was the same place where He would be crucified an apparent failure.
1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,Luke is very explicit it was just as they were descending from the Mount of Olives, heading west toward the temple into Jerusalem, when the Holy Spirit moved the multitude to rejoice.
37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
Prophesying the Future
His prophecy about details of the future events around the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the end of time was given from this historic spot ascending east from the temple to the Mount of Olives and facing the temple.
1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
His place of betrayal and arrest was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the side of the Mount of Olives. His place of prayer and suffering for the burden of the cup He was to bear was probably near the very spot where He was later to die.
36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Have you ever wondered why the swords were needed? It was to ensure the location of His arrest would be considered the scene of the crime of treason. The Romans crucified criminals at the scene of their crime.
How did Judas know where to lead the soldiers to find Him? He knew this was where the Messiah would be. Is it becoming clear to you the importance of this place?
The most important event of all time occurred at the most central place of the Great Controversy in all space. It was on Passover Eve, the end of the day before the first yearly Sabbath. The word "Passover" also refers to the sun passing over the equator at the time of the equinox. I suspect, the year of the crucifixion, Passover Eve occurred just after the day of the equinox.
44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
According to the chronology of Luke, a carefully prepared gospel, the Messiah saw the curtain in the temple torn just before He died. The Messiah was facing west looking directly at the temple and the Most Holy Place, which represented the presence of the Father when He made His cry of anguish.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
He was of course quoting scripture.
21 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?The sun was over the temple at His death and set exactly in the west, which is how the equinox is determined, as specified by the Biblical Calendar. The full moon arose over the scene from the east, exactly at sunset, as determined by the Biblical Calendar. The full moon provided ample light all night over the tomb while the Savior rested.
The tomb where he rested was also nearby the place of a skull on the Mount of Olives.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
The Savior's ascension also occurred on the Mount of Olives probably at Golgotha. Today the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives is erected over a large stone, which superstitiously is believed to contain the footprint of the Messiah. Could this have been the stone, which looked like the rounded top of a skull?
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
Luke was again very specific about the exact distance from the location of the ascension to the temple gate at Jerusalem.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.The Sabbath day's journey is incorrectly understood to be the limit of how much travel could be done on the Sabbath according to tradition. In truth, it was the exact distance traveled on Sabbath by the priest taking ashes and remains from the altar of the Temple to the designated place of the "Miphkad altar", which was "without the camp". This is where the red heifer was sacrificed.
2 This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:
The Second Coming of the Messiah
Currently the side of the Mount of Olives is the site of an enormous cemetery. Devout Jews and Christians throughout the ages have sought to be buried here where they expect the Messiah to return. Their belief is those buried on this spot will be the first to be resurrected and the first to see the Messiah. Sadly, the only ones who will be there when He actually touches the ground at His third coming will be those who are among the lost. The righteous will meet him in the air at His second coming.
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
The Third Coming of the Messiah
When the Messiah returns to earth with all the redeemed from sin, He will return to the same spot from which He ascended. The New Jerusalem will be set up on the site of His sacrifice and triumph. John was given the privilege of seeing this event in prophetic vision.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,The Bible states the Holy City will be placed on the current site of Jerusalem in the New Earth. This will be God's dwelling place and the center of the universe.
4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.The Great Controversy ends after seven thousand years with all time and space focused on Golgotha on the Mount of Olives.