Does a day equal a year in bible prophecy?


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Many people teach that in bible prophecy a day equals a year. I am aware that the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses do. What authority is there in Scripture for this method of interpretation?



There is absolutely no authority in Scripture to change prophecies of days into years. Because God punished Israel for 40 years in the wilderness when they rejected the report of Joshua and Caleb following their return to Kadesh Barnea from a 40-day spying trip through Canaan, does not give anybody the right to change prophetic days into years. Neither can it be assumed that prophetic days can be changed to years because Ezekiel lay on his side for 390 days and 40 days to represent the years of Israel and Judah’s iniquity. These were historic events, NOT prophecy.

Actually, the two historical instances are different. For Israel at Kadesh Barnea the days were changed to years, but for Ezekiel the years were changed to days! So we may ask, Does a year equal a day, or a day equal a year?

In prophecy, when God speaks of days and months and years He means them to be taken literally. Like the bogus Bible Code skip method, the year/day theory manipulates God’s Word to support whatever theory is being pushed.

British Israel Theorists use the Year/Day Theory

British Israel theorists, such as G T Armstrong, who wrongly believe America is the tribe of Ephraim, argue that God judged Ephraim’s disobedience “7 times” beginning from when the Northern Kingdom was taken captive by the Assyrians in 745BC. (Actually Sargon captured Samaria in 721BC so they have used a wrong start-date). They then quote Leviticus chapter 26, where God warned Israel that He would judge persistent disobedience “7 times more”, and change” 7 times” into 7 years, 7 years into 7×360 days to arrive at 2,520 days, and then convert 2,520 days into 2,520 years! That is a disgraceful manipulation of God’s Word!

Next these British Israel theorists switch from the 360-day prophetic calendar to the Gregorian 365.24-day calendar to arrive at AD1776, which was the year America declared her independence from Britain!

Jehovah’s Witnesses use the Year/Day Theory

Jehovah’s Witnesses use the same year/day method to arrive at Christ returning in 1914, which did not happen. They take the “7 times” and apply them to the Southern Kingdom of Judah which began to be taken captive in 606BC. They argue that God said He would punish the Jews “7 times” if they disobeyed. First they take 7 times as 7 years, then they change the years to prophetic days to arrive at 2,520 days (7×360). Then they change the 2520 days to 2520 years. Having worked thus far on the prophetic calendar, they then switch to the Gregorian calendar and count from 606BC when the first Babylonian captivity began, and arrive at 1914. Of course Christ did not return in 1914 and the year/day theory was once again shown to be wrong.

Leviticus 26 simply teaches that if Israel disobeyed, God would chastise them. If they continued to disobey He would judge them “7 times MORE. It has nothing to do with calculating the date of prophetic events.

Seventh Day Adventists use the Year/Day Theory

William Miller, the forerunner of the Seventh Day Adventists, used the year/day theory to prove that Christ would return in 1843. When Christ did not return he adjusted his calculations to 1844. When this date proved wrong he gave up and admitted his mistake but the false prophetess, Mrs Ellen G White, said his calculations were correct but he misunderstood what would happen. Instead of Christ returning, she said He would enter the sanctuary in heaven to begin the countdown to the Second Coming.

Seventh Day Adventists call the whole episode “the Great Disappointment”, and Mrs White’s theory was the cover up for Miller’s mistake.

The calculation goes as follows: In Daniel chapter 8 Daniel prophesied that there would be a period of 2,300 days from the time Antiochus Epiphanes would corrupt the Temple worship to the time that the sanctuary of the Temple would be cleansed of the Greek idol and pagan sacrifices which Antiochus set up in the Temple.

This prophecy was fulfilled on 25 December 165BC when the Maccabees overthrew the Greeks and cleansed the sanctuary. It has been commemorated by the Jews ever since as the Feast of Dedication and Jesus observed it so it really happened (John 10:22). It was a literal 2,300 days from the time that Antiochus Epiphanes corrupted the priesthood in 171BC to the cleansing of the Jewish sanctuary.

Mrs White ignores the historic fulfillment of this prophecy and changes the 2,300 days to years. Then beginning at 457BC she counts 2,300 years to arrive at 1844. The date 457BC was supposed to be the Persian decree to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity but the Bible says it was the 20th year of Artaxerxes which was 445BC! Artaxerxes began to reign in 465BC. The fact that Bible prophecy uses the Jewish calendar of 360 day years and the dates AD and BC are on the Gregorian calendar apparently did not occur to Mrs White. The difference in calendars alone would account for 33 years!!

The Seventh Day Adventists also use the year/day theory to locate the demise of the Papacy which they claim began in AD538 when Silverius was bishop of Rome. This was to support their teaching that the Antichrist is the Papacy and was overthrown in 1798 when the Pope was taken captive for a few years to France at the time of the French Revolution. In 2007 the Papacy is still alive and flourishing.

Silverius never exercised secular power which is what the papacy has done. He was sent to Rome from Byzantium by the Emperor and deposed the reigning bishop. He was recalled to Byzantium for insubordination and after 8 years allowed to return. When he left Rome the people stoned him and he never returned for he died enroute and was buried at Syracruse in Sicily.

However, if you want to make 1798 the demise of the Papacy and if you believe that 1260 days of Antichrist’s reign actually is 1260 years, then counting back from 1798 on the Gregorian calendar must be AD538. The fact that 1260 days is based on the prophetic calendar of 360 days per year has been overlooked and compounds the error by another 18 years.

The Papacy actually began in AD600 with Gregory the Great who exercised secular power over kings. By AD800, Pope Leo III was able to crown Charlemagne, the King of Germany as the Head of what became the Holy Roman Empire.

Even Augustine who denied the Premillennial return of Christ and whose writings are the basis of Amillennialism, had to admit that there would be a literal three and a half years of trouble before Christ returned and that the many Bible references to this period as 1260 DAYS, 42MONTHS, and TIME,TIMES and HALF A TIME, had to be taken literally.

To change the prophecies of the Bible from DAYS to YEARS is absolutely wrong.