The ninth hour, or 3 PM, holds great symbolic and spiritual meaning in the Bible. This hour marked numerous monumental events in biblical history that demonstrated God’s mighty power and unfolding plan of salvation. As Christians, meditating on the ninth hour can deepen our awe of God’s sovereignty throughout human history.
In ancient Jewish tradition, the hours of daylight were divided into 12 equal hours, so the ninth hour corresponded to 3 PM in the afternoon (Matthew 20:3-5). This hour held particular spiritual significance.
- The ninth hour was associated with the evening sacrifice in the Old Testament.
- Jesus Christ died at the ninth hour, sacrificing Himself once for all.
- The Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles at the ninth hour on Pentecost.
- God often chooses the ninth hour to display His power and purpose.
The ninth hour was the time of the evening sacrifice in the temple (Acts 3:1). Yet on the cross, Christ Himself became the final perfect sacrifice for sins. At the ninth hour, darkness covered the land while Jesus gave up His spirit (Luke 23:44-46). Centuries later, the Holy Spirit descended with power upon the praying apostles at the same significant hour (Acts 2:15).
Again and again in Scripture, God displays His mighty hand at this appointed time. By meditating on these events, we gain insight into God’s nature, purposes, and sovereignty over history. The ninth hour truly represents a holy hour belonging to the Lord.
The Ninth Hour in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, the ninth hour had an established significance as the time of the evening sacrifice. When Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he allowed them to cry out to their god all morning long.
And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:27 NKJV)
Yet their efforts proved futile. It was not until the time of the evening sacrifice that Elijah stepped forward and prayed to the one true God.
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.” (1 Kings 18:36 NKJV)
At the ninth hour, God responded with a mighty display of power, consuming Elijah’s sacrifice with fire from heaven. This spectacular event directed the people back to true worship of Yahweh.
Later in Israel’s history, Daniel prayed three times a day, including at the time of the evening sacrifice (Daniel 6:10). For Daniel and the Jewish people, the ninth hour remained connected with calling upon God in faith.
Christ’s Sacrifice at the Ninth Hour
In the New Testament gospels, the ninth hour took on even deeper meaning. This was the specific hour that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, laid down His life as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.
As Jesus hung on the cross, from noon until the ninth hour darkness covered the land (Luke 23:44). Then Jesus cried out and breathed His last at the ninth hour’s arrival (Luke 23:46).
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45-46 NKJV)
The significance of the timing would not have been lost on Jewish readers. Even as the evening sacrifice was offered in the temple nearby, the Lamb of God offered Himself once for all.
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12 NKJV)
No more sacrifices were needed again. The ninth hour on the cross ushered in a new covenant of grace.
Pentecost at the Ninth Hour
The book of Acts records another major event coinciding with the ninth hour. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descended in power upon the praying apostles precisely at the ninth hour, fulfilling Christ’s promise:
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4 NKJV)
Peter explained the meaning to the amazed crowds:
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.’ (Acts 2:16-18 NKJV)
Once again, the ninth hour marked a pivotal moment in God’s plan of redemption. The Old Testament prophecies came to pass at the exact predetermined time.
Luke’s record highlights how the Spirit’s outpouring coincided with the recognized hour of evening sacrifice. As Christ had finished the once for all sacrifice, so the life-giving Spirit ushered in a new era of grace for God’s people.
The Ninth Hour and God’s Sovereignty
Throughout Scripture, we see the supreme sovereignty of God displayed through events coinciding with the ninth hour. At the perfect time, in the fullness of time, God demonstrates His glory and mighty hand.
On Mount Carmel, the evening sacrifice became the occasion for God to send fire from heaven. At Calvary, as lambs were slain at the temple, the great sacrifice of Christ fulfilled all previous offerings. At Pentecost, the hour of expected prayer coincided with the Spirit’s empowering visitation.
God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He ordains the exact times and places where He will draw near to people in power (Acts 17:26-27). Every minute, every second even, unfolds according to His perfect timing and foreknowledge.
The ninth hour offers a vivid picture of this truth. It spiritually signified a chosen time of meeting between God and His people. God designated it as an hour belonging to Him.
Lessons for Believers Today
As modern Christians, we live under a new covenant without prescribed sacrifice times. Yet the significance of the ninth hour remains spiritually relevant:
- It testifies to the completed work of Christ on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for sins. We need no other offering.
- It reminds us of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in applying Christ’s redemption to believers.
- It displays God’s sovereign control over all of human history according to His purpose.
Meditating on the ninth hour fuels our worship and awe of our great God. It spurs us to appreciate more deeply Christ’s sacrifice for us. It encourages our dependence on the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. And it instills greater reverence for God’s glory, wisdom and sovereignty over all things.
The ninth hour stands as a memorial in Scripture, pointing to turning points in redemptive history. God displayed His great mercy and power, furthering His kingdom purposes. As modern believers, we rejoice in what God has done. And we gain insight into how we can actively cooperate with His sovereign plan each day.
The ninth hour marked critical events in both Old and New Testament history. In the Old Testament, it was the hour of evening sacrifice. At the cross, Christ Himself became the final sacrifice for sin. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended in new covenant power.
In all these events, we glimpse God’s mighty hand working out His redemptive plan on mankind’s behalf. The precise timing and coordination of the ninth hour events inspire awe at God’s sovereignty and glory.
As Christians today, reflecting on the ninth hour strengthens our faith. It reminds us of the completed work of Christ, the Spirit’s ongoing ministry, and God’s complete authority over human history. Though we do not live under the same covenant rituals, the spiritual significance remains. The ninth hour testifies to our great God who transcends time yet draws near to bless His people. Ultimately, every hour belongs to Him.