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Bible Dictionaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary


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We do not find any particular method made use of in the Old Testament Scripture, for dividing the hours of the day in one regular plan. The Hebrews made four parts in each day—morning, noon, the first evening, and the last evening. And the night was again formed into three parts—the night watch, the midnight watch, and what was called the morning watch, to the break of day. Hence David beautifully speaks of the waiting of his soul on the Lord, "more than they that watch for the morning;" yea, said he, repeating it with earnestness, "yea, I say, more than they that watcheth for the morning." (Psalms 130:6) The dial of Ahas is the first account we have in Scripture of the method the Hebrews had to mark down the progress of time; and this it should seem, was by marks or lines of degrees, and not of hours. In the New Testament we find our fathers then arrived at some method of calculating hours; and certainly then they did, as we do now, divide the day into twelve hours. Hence Jesus said, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" (John 11:9. see also Matthew 20:3-5). But the time of reckoning always began at six in the morning; and the seventh was the first hour. The reader of the New Testament should always keep this in remembrance. Hence when we read, (Acts 3:1) that Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour, that was three in what we call the afternoon; and, consequently, the twelfth hour was six in the evening.

While I am upon this subject of the Jewish hours, I cannot forbear calling the reader's attention to one circumstance, which I think, now in the present day of the church, still equally interesting as it was of old always regarded, I mean the time of the evening sacrifice. If the reader will turn to the first account of any appointed sacrifice, even the lamb of the Passover, (Exodus 12:5) he will find, that the whole assembly of the people were to kill this lamb of the first year without blemish in the evening, or, as the margin of the Bible hath it, between the two evenings, that was what we should call three o'clock in the afternoon; and to this precise time all the sacrifices of the evening corresponded. Hence, we are told, (1 Kings 18:29) they prophesied till the evening sacrifice. Ezra saith, "I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice, and at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness." (Ezra 9:4-5) Hence David also prays, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice," (Psalms 141:2) And Daniel tells the church, that the man Gabriel touched him about "the time of the evening oblation." (Daniel 9:21)

Now what I beg the reader particularly to notice in all these instances, is the uniformity as to the time of the hour; and then let him turn his attention, and look at the cross of Christ, and behold the Lord Jesus at that very hour fulfilling the whole in the sacrifice of himself. The Evangelists are all particular to remark, that there was darkness over all the earth, from the sixth hour (twelve at noon) until the ninth hour, (three in the afternoon.) And then it was Jesus, cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. Now let the reader pause, and consider the subject attentively. Who was it but God the Holy Ghost, that caused the evening sacrifice, from the first moment of appointed sacrifices in the church to the glorious finishing of all sacrifices in the death of the Lord Jesus, thus minutely to correspond? And what a sacred hour that was all along considered in the divine mind, when not the sacrifice only, but the very hour of offering it was so scruptulously regarded! Think then reader, how infinitely momentous must be the thing itself, when the mere shadow of the substance was so solemnly attended to; when through a period of more than fifteen hundred years the evening lamb was regularly sacrificed in the very hour which, in after ages, Christ, the Lamb of God, should offer himself in a sacrifice to God, to take away the sins of the world! Lord, I would say, for myself and reader, cause this hour of the afternoon, which was so sacred in the Jewish church, to be sacred to my soul also; and wherever I am, or however engaged, at the sounding bell at three in the afternoon, call my forgetful wandering thoughts to the hill of Calvary. Let me as often as the circumstances of my poor, empty, and unsatisfying life will allow, by faith, do as Peter and John did, indeed, go up to the Lord's house at the hour of prayer, the three o'clock hour; and there may my soul meet the Lord of Peter and John, and like the cripple healed in Christ's name at the gate of the temple, may my feet and ankle bones receive strength in the name of Jesus; and while the Lord himself takes me by the hand, may I, as he did, leap up and stand, and with Jesus enter into his temple walking, and leaping, and praising God. (Acts 3:1-26)

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Hour'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. London. 1828.

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