The truth of the matter is that it is not necessarily either. We do not know the day nor the hour of our Lord's return. Therefore, it could be in this coming year, but there is no Scriptural reason that it must be so. The dating system which we use and which says this is the 6,000th year from the formation of the world was done by a man, not the Bible. He was a Catholic Bishop named Usher.
As a dating system, it was done quite well. Considering the material he had available to him, it is quite remarkable. However, it is not a system based solely on the Bible; therefore, the Bible cannot be responsible for any errors in Usher's calculations.
This article is a chronology of Bible time, and what we know about it using the dates given in the Bible. Using only the Bible's dates, we will show that Usher's dates may be as far off as 100 years.
We wish to be very clear on this point. We are not saying that Christ's return is not for 100 years. We believe that Christ will be in the earth well before the end of the 6000 years, perhaps nearly 100 years before, meaning he may come at any time. Nor are we saying that Usher's dates are definitely off that far. We are simply pointing out that the information given to us in the Bible allow for Usher's dates to be off that much.
For the purpose of answering the question as to whether or not the Bible allows for time beyond the year 2000 A.D., we will take the clues given to us as, and assign the shortest period possible to those clues, to determine the longest possible time for the end of the 6,000 years of God's plan.
This chronology will show that Usher's dates do not necessarily correspond to the dating of the Scripture, and do not require that Christ returns to the earth in 2000 AD.
Just a short note as regards chronologies in general. Chronologies are most reliable when you have separate cultures interfacing with each other, chronicling the same events in independent histories. By comparing the same events and their place in the respective histories, a greater accuracy can be obtained. The more chronologies of the same time period you have to work with, the more accurate the chronology.
Of course, the way most cultures interface with each other is in war. Unfortunately, in antiquity, the losers of wars were not permitted to write histories. This has resulted in huge gaps in man's written record.
Further challenging the accuracy of the world's chronology is the fact that some leaders (even leaders from the same culture) hated their predecessor, and attempted to have all references to them removed from the written record. Some of these efforts are known. No one can comment as to the ones unknown.
Man's written record of the chronology of the world develops a very good rate of accuracy about 320 BC, when the empire of Alexander the Great had been split four ways to his four generals. These were all of Greek culture. They all kept written records, and they interfaced with each other in ways other than war, making political marriages and military alliances with each other.
Before that time, man's record is entirely suspect, and generally is supplied by the guesses of archeologists. For instance, prior to the 1990s, it was generally understood that the first Babylonian invasion into Israel occurred in 612 BC. With modern archeological techniques, this has been changed to 604 BC. These kinds of wide swings are not uncommon when dealing with the world's history before the Greek Empire.
Indeed, when dealing with antiquity, there are two mainstream chronological thoughts that are as much as ten years from each other, as recently as 460 BC. The farther back into antiquity we go, the wider the gap becomes.
It is for this reason that I will use what the dates should be, according to the Scriptural record, rather than the dates given by man. My dates are generally about 100 years off of the main stream of thought for the date of creation. By the Exodus, they are about 60 years off. And by the end of the kings, they are falling 1 -3 years off of Man's records. Following the start of the Persian reign, they fall between two lines of main stream thought.After we get into the more reliable periods of man's history, my chronology happens to fall between the two lines of mainstream thought.
The chronology of the Bible can be broken up into six sections. The clearest of these is the first period, or the period of the Patriarchs. In the first few chapters of Genesis, we are given very specific dates for the birth of the fathers of the world. This can be see in the Chart of the Patriarchs.
With one slight exception, (when Arphaxad was born which only effects one year) we have a very clear and detailed chronology of the births of the Fathers for the first 1,878 years. It is at this point that the matter becomes less definite.
Next we come to the second period of our Chronology, which is the period between the birth of Abraham to Terah, to the Passover night when the Jews came out of Egypt.
There are three questions that must be resolved in this period, and we have no definite dates by which to go. These questions must be answered using the Scriptural clues we have been given.
As the purpose of this Chronology is to find the youngest period for the age of Creation, it is necessary that we choose Abraham's birth to be when Terah was 70 rather than 135.
The justification, or how we harmonize the above verses for this date is as follows. Abraham departed from Charran at age 75. (Gen. 12: 4-5) He came to the Holy Land, entered the land, received the promises, but did not stay, rather yielding to Lot and settled south of the Land of Promise, in the Land of the Philistines. After Terah had died, when Abraham was 135, he then moved into the Holy Land to reside there.
There would appear to be a correlation between these later two questions. The 430 years from the covenant to Abraham ended on the night that the Israelites came out of Egypt. Abraham's seed wandered the wilderness for 40 years after the night they came out of Egypt. The 400 year period of Acts 7:6 must therefore end 40 years after the night of the Exodus. The starting point for the two periods, then, must be 70 years apart. This is determined because the 400 year period ends 40 years after the 430 year period--40 years difference-- and is obviously 30 years shorter--30 more years difference, or 70 years total. So the 430 of Exodus 12:40 must begin 70 years before the 400 years of Acts 7:6. The earliest possible date for the start of the 400 years of Abraham's seed wandering, would be when Abraham first had his seed (Isaac) when Abraham was 100 years old in 2048.
My date, then, for the promise first made to Abraham is made by reckoning backwards from that date, a period of 70 years. Reckoning back, this would make the promise made at AM 1978. If this is the case, then the call to Abraham was first made when he was living in Ur, before having moved to Haran, and when he was 30 years old.
The age of 30 is also Scripturally significant. This would be the same age as Jesus was when he was called to his work, the same age that Joseph was called to stand before Pharaoh, and the age of David when called to take the throne as King.
If the sojourning of the "seed of Abraham" cannot be reckoned before Abraham had "seed" can the "sojourning of the Children of Israel of 430 years" be started before Israel had children? I would answer, no! But the difference is this. Israel can mean the Power or Strength of God (The Mighty One). Abraham, while Grandfather of Israel, was also the son of Israel, being a son of God (Luke 3:38) and therefore included in the sojourning of the Children of Israel.
With the above in mind, the following Chart of the Hebrew's Wandering would be the Chronology for this second period.
This would seem all quite simple. They left Egypt on the Passover night, and then there were 480 years till the forth year of Solomon. The problem for chronologists is that there are other related time frames which appear nearly impossible to fit into the 480 years.Observe the following list.
Most chronologists have ignored the 480 years period of 1 Kings 6:1 and extended this period anywhere from 580 years to 604 years. As the purpose of this chronology is to take the shortest period for this time frame, thus pushing the end of the 6000 years as far into the future as possible, we will show that the period is truly one of 480 years. But of course it is not enough to just take the 480 years as the correct time frame for the period in question. We must show that there is some reason for doing so.
The biggest conflict there is for the traditional chronologies is harmonizing the period of the Judges with the 480 years of 1 Kings. 6:1. It is easy to see the difficulties. If the reign of the Judges is 450 years, and the reign of David is 40 years, and we have 4 years till Solomon, we already have 494 years, for a period said in 1 Kings 6:1 to be only 480 years. And it gets much worse. Some time (40 years?) must be allotted for Saul's reign. And there was a time in which Samuel judged Israel which is possibly not of the 450, but certainly would be in the 480. (I believe that Samuel's reign is included in the 450 years of the Judges.) If the time of the Judges starts (as many start it) after the death of Joshua, (reasoning that by this time, the land is settled, and Israel cannot be said to be going out of Egypt any longer) it is easy to see the impossibility of making all this work out. Earlier dates (such as Passover, or the entering into the land) create even more difficulties.
This is further complicated by the chronology of the Judges itself. If all the times listed in the book of Judges are made to run in chronological order, there would be exactly 450 years accounted for in the book of Judges from the first of Othniel till the 40th of Eli. It is very tempting to say this must be the 450 years of the Judges that Stephen referred to in Acts, even though this would make the harmonizing the 480 impossible. There would still be the 20 after Eli's death till Samuel takes charge in Israel, Samuel's growing old, Saul's reign, David's reign (40 years) and the 4 years of Solomon.
So while it is tempting to consider the book of the Judges (with Eli) to be a period of 450 years, it cannot be the correct method of interpretation. For instance, there is a chronological problem in the Judges itself, that would be set up by using the dates this way.
The Judges' account has Jephthah arguing with the children of Ammon, and Jephthah asks them why, if this is their land, they haven't claimed it for the last 300 years in which Israel had controlled the cities in question. This control, Jephthah says, began when Moses defeated Balak on the way into the Holy Land. Using the dates of the Judges, and presuming the defeat of Balak to be very near the end of the 40 years wandering (for it appears that Aaron has already died prior to the defeat of Balak, and Aaron dies in the last year, the 40th year, fifth month of the wandering) we would have Jephthah as a judge from the 396th year of the Judges, to the 402nd year. This is a period closer to 400 years, than the 300 years Jephthah is arguing for.. And since Jephthah is arguing his case for longevity in the land, it would seem far more likely that he would rounded up to 400 years, than down to 300 years, if dating for the Judges was accurate.
Harmonizing these time frames has another problem which is the length of Saul's rule. Acts 13:21 states clearly that Saul the son of Cis reigned 40 years. Chronologists, reasoning from Josephus (a Jewish historian), say Saul only reigned from 7 - 13 years but Acts is pretty clear to the contrary. Further, to accept the short reign of Saul sets up major conflicts with the life of others. Certain problems would be found in David's life, who is called a stripling when he fought Goliath, but is 30 years old at the death of Saul. If Saul's reign was only 7 years, and Saul reigned two years before his rebellion, then David must be at least 25 when fighting Goliath, not a stripling in any historical period. Further, when the people began to complain that Samuel was old and not able to judge anymore, and his children were not righteous, and therefore they needed a King, Samuel would only be 45 years old. And, at the end of Saul's reign when Samuel is referred to as an aged man, he would only be 52.
While we suppose all of that is possible, it seems too far of a stretch. David could have appeared young for his age, and Samuel could have appeared very old at a relatively young age. And Samuel could have had sons old enough for the priesthood (30) when he was only 45. And there may be some alternative reading for 1 Kings 6:1 and Acts 13:21 that I can't find that justifies other conclusions. But it does appear to be too many difficulties.
We will take a completely different tact for the solving of the "Gordian Knot". Some chronologists have observed that the judgeship of Samson was coexistent with the 40 years of the Philistines persecution. I suggest that in fact, all judgeships were coexistent with their respected enemies, and that the period allotted to persecutors should not be reckoned in the Judges Chronology. This method comes up lacking, because then there are not enough years of judges, but only 299 years accounted for. It appears to me that this is due to the starting point from the first judge.
It is reckoned that the period of the Judges must start after Joshua. This is not the case. The Acts 13 account simply says that God gave them judges after Joshua, not that the first judge came after Joshua. And it says only that the period of the Judges was 450 years, not the period after Joshua was 450 years.
With all this taken into consideration, the question becomes, who is the first Judge, and when did he begin? Acts 7:27 gives us the answer. The Israelite who wronged his brother, asked Moses, who made thee a ruler and a judge over us. Stephen says it was God who had made Moses a Ruler and a deliverer. Moses was the first judge of Israel, and his judgeship began at age 40, when he tried to judge Israel but was rejected by Israel, (though not by God). This then, began the 450 years of the judging of Israel.
Having now fixed the starting point of the Judges at Moses' first showing himself to Israel, or 40 years before the Exodus, we go on through the period of the Judges with Moses judging 80 years, Joshua 30 years, and all the period of the Judges adding up to 299 years. As stated in our previous notes, we only count the years in which a Judge judged Israel, excluding all the years recorded as years of captivity. This brings us to 409 years to the start of Samuel's judgeship, when he is 39 years old.
There is one main point to be made in this. Our chronology allows no time for the judgeship of Eli. Eli's judgeship was not as the civil judge, but as the High Priest. Therefore, he was judging Israel as the High Priest during the civil judgeship of Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. I believe that the invasion of the Philistines described in 1 Sam. 4 was sparked by the Philistines victory over Samson. The death of the judge Samson gave the Philistines the confidence to come up against Israel, and that these two events happen simultaneously.
Upon the death of Samson and Eli, Samuel will judge Israel for 40 years, till he is 69, to complete the "about 450 years" of judges, actually 449 years. Since we begin the 450 year period of the Judges 40 years before Israel's coming out of the land of Egypt, we are only 410 years into the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1. This leaves 70 years in which to accomplish the 4 years of Solomon's reign, 40 years of David's reign, and 40 years of Saul's reign. This is 84 years, which must somehow be squeezed into 70 years, and this brings us directly to the reign of Saul.
SAUL: Some chronologists believe that Josephus' short period for Saul's reign is supported by the time considerations of the Ark. Some conclude that reign of Saul depends upon the length of time the Ark abode in Kirjath-jearim. They read 1 Sam 7:2 to mean that the complete time that the Ark was there, was 20 years. This would mean that the judgeship of Samuel and the reign of Saul were both concluded within the 20 years period that the Ark abode at Kirjath-jearim. Again, this makes harmonizing Paul's works in Acts (that Saul reigned 40 years) impossible. It seems that the proper understanding would be that after the Ark had been there 20 years, Samuel (having already judged Israel 20 years) led the rebellion.
Consider why the period of the Ark in Kirjath-jearim must have been more than 20 years. Samuel could not be born till the 2nd of Eli, and the history of Josephus would indicate that this is the correct time. Josephus says that Samuel was 12 years old when God first appeared to him, which was in the 13th of Eli. Eli judged (as High Priest) 40 years, making Samuel 39 at Eli's death. The Ark was brought from Kirjath-jearim in the 8th of David. If this is only 20 years, then Samuel would be 59. Now Samuel died before David became King, which means Samuel would have had to been already dead for 9 years at this point. For this to be true, Samuel had to die as an old man, at age 50-51. (He would be 39 when he became the Judge. 20 years later would be the 8th of David, when he would have been 59. But he dies before David is king, or 9 years previous at 51.) If Samuel immediately anointed Saul king upon the death of Eli, then Samuel would only have been 39: if five years later, as suggested by some chronologists, then Samuel would have been 44. But the Scriptures are clear that they wanted a king because Samuel was too old, and his son's were corrupt. This all appears too young.
The proper explanation seems to be that after the Ark had resided in Kirjath-jearim, for 20 years, Samuel led a rebellion against the Philistines, as Israel's Judge. During this judgeship, and as he grew old, the rebellion against his son's occurred. During his judgeship, Samuel anointed Saul King, but Israel did not immediately recognize Saul as king. This did not occur until a later Philistine invasion, in which Saul called Israel to arms and delivered Israel from the Philistines. Saul and Samuel therefore, reigned jointly for a period of time. We can tell the period of time by working backward. The 480th year was the 4th of Solomon. We subtract 4 years for Solomon's reign, 40 years for David's and 40 years for Saul. This is 94 years, it means that the beginning of Saul was 14 years before the end of the 450 years of the Judges. Saul and Samuel, then, reigned jointly for 14 years until Samuel was 79.
When Saul was anointed, we are told that certain men rejected him, but Saul held his peace. Saul didn't exercise his authority until the Philistines came up against the land. Saul is then king alone, and Samuel withdraws. Saul's reign, then, consists of 14 years of a joint reign with Samuel, two righteous years as the sole king, followed by 24 unrighteous years, during which he begins the conflict with David. After his 40 year reign (only 26 of which he reigns solely), David comes to the throne.
The 450 years of judges then, begins when God made Moses a "judge and a divider" over Israel, 40 years before the Exodus. The 480 years from the Exodus, then, ends 70 years after the end of the 450 years of judges. That 70 years is made up of 26-27 years of Saul's sole reign, 40 years of David's reign, to the 4th of Solomon.
If the 480 years of 1 Kings is ignored, similar difficulties with the age of Samuel occur with the age of David. David becomes king at age 30. If Saul reigned but 7 years, then, David was anointed king by Samuel at an age after 23, even though he is referred to as a youth, and fought Goliath sometime after that when called ža striplingÓ. But most chronologists feel David was anointed King by Samuel at age 12, and fought Goliath at age 17. All of this harmonizes with the 40 years reign of Saul, but becomes difficult with a 7 - 12 year reign.
To see how this all flows chronologically, please refer to Chart of the Judges .
The fourth period is the period of the Kings of Israel. One can pick up any chronology and find the difficulty in resolving this period. Trying to match the Kings of Judah with the Kings of Israel leaves many questions unanswered. For the resolution of this problem, chronologists are indebted to the work of John Thomas. He is the only chronologist I have seen to unlocked the mystery of this period.
Ezekiel is taken in the second invasion by Babylon, prior to the destruction of the city. The prophesy he is given is the length of time that will be involved until the city is destroyed. The question becomes, what do these lengths of times mean?
The total time involved is 390 days for Israel, and 40 days for Judah or 430 days. The principle is clearly stated as a day for a year. "I have appointed thee each day for a year." The answer becomes clear looking at the chronology of the kings of Judah. By running only the chronology of the Kings of Judah, and ignoring the dates given for the kings of Israel, there are 430 years from the 4th of Solomon, when the foundation of the Temple was laid, (ending the 480 years of the third period,) to the 11th of Zedekiah, the destruction of the temple, and the end of the period of the kings.
What then do we make of the chronicles of the Kings of Israel? The answer is simple. There were different ways of marking time: One way was by the annual years. The other way was in actual length of time in which a person reigned.
To simplify, using our current calendar, if a king began to reign on December 15th, 1990, and died on January 5th, 1992, how long did he reign? Using the annual method, he reigned two years, in that he was in power on two New Years's day. But if we consider the time he actually reigned, it was only one year.
It is apparent that the kings of Judah are reckoned according to the calendar years, and the kings of Judah according to the length of time they actually reigned. Click here for a Chart of the Kings .
A Jewish friend of mine told me that when he was young, he once asked his mother, "I know we are God's chosen people. But just exactly what is it that we are chosen to do?" This question was asked half in jest, and half seriously, recognizing the suffering of the Jewish people for the past 2,600 years. She answered him, "We have been chosen by God to suffer for the sins of the world."
This is a common Jewish answer, but one that could not be farther from the truth. The Jews were called to be God's chosen people, and they yet will be. But the calling had conditions attached to it. If they behaved in a certain way, God would bless them. If they rebelled against divine principles, then God would curse them. The persecutions of the past 2,600 years have been the direct result of their disobedience. But more important to our discussion, the times of this persecution is an important factor in determining the age of the world.
A time is a specific prophetic measurement. It is the period of one Jewish year, or 360 days. The 360 day year is where the 360 degrees in our circle comes from, for those familiar with geometry. It is 12 periods of 30 days each. The Jewish year was 12--30 day months or 360 days.
Of course each year actually has 365.25 days. The difference in each year was made up with a second 12th month from time to time. The first day of the first month was the first new moon after the sun had crossed the vernal equinox. We would call it the first new moon of spring. If they counted 12 months, but the sun had not crossed the vernal equinox by the next new moon, they had a second twelfth month, and their calendar self corrected.
Leviticus says that the Jewish people were to be punished seven times for their sins. This means that they were to be punished 7 times 360, or 2,520 days for their sins. On the prophetic principle of a day for a year which we saw in Ezekiel, the Jews were to be punished for 2,520 years. They are not suffering for the sins of the world, as they flatter themselves. They are suffering for their own disobedience, and for which God brought the nations raging against them.
It is by using this prophesy that we can tie our current calendar into the ancient calendar. The ending date for the 2,520 appears fairly clear. We have two possible ending dates for the end of the Jewish persecution. They are November, 1917, when the British drove the Turks out of the Holy Land, or November 1947 when the United Nations declared Israel a nation. The 1947 date would result in the Diaspora (the dispersion of the Jews after the Babylonian exile) beginning in 573 BC, which is a date of no import relating to Israel and Jerusalem. The 1917 date, however, takes us back to 603 BC, and is within one year of the date given by Encyclopedia Britannica (the winter of 604 BC) for the first invasion of Babylon.
603 BC equates to 3299 AM. Adding 2520 years to this tells us that 1917 AD. was actually the 5,819th year since creation. To get a little bit ahead of ourselves, it is not necessary for the 6,000th year of God's plan to end in Y2K, or 2000 AD, but rather 181 years from 1917, or 2098 AD, 98 years from now.
That does not mean there are 98 years till the return of Christ. Students of Bible Prophesy know and understand that before the 6,000th year arrives, the Millennial Rule of Christ will already have begun. There are many events which must take place before the Millennial Rule of Christ can begin, such as will be discussed in the final period, period six. For a chronology of the Diaspora, please go to Chart of the Diaspora.
The sixth period makes up the years after 1917 through 2098. The purpose of this chronology was to demonstrate that the year 2000 is not necessarily the end of the 6000 year plan God has set out for the earth. Having shown that the Bible itself allows for at least 98 more years, in this last section, we will look at events which must take place before the Return of Christ, and within the 6,000 years that God has allotted to man.
The events for the sixth period are some in the past, and some yet future. Of those events which must yet take place, we start with the return of Christ to the earth, and the judgment of the dead and living. We are not told how long an event this will be, but it will take some time.
After Jesus is standing on Mt Zion in Jerusalem, a proclamation is made to the world to submit to the divine rule of Christ. Revelations calls this a proclamation into the midst of heaven. How long the world is given to heed this call is not specified, but again, a reasonable time must be given it.
Next comes a period of time that is specified; the war with the Beast (Catholic Europe) which will last for 30 years. This war ends with Christ in control of the whole earth. The period of 30 years falls within a more general period of 40 years prophesied by Micah.
Finally, the war must end before the end of the 6,000 years of man's rule. This is because Christ will rule in peace for 1000 years. But after his 1,000 years reign, there is a rebellion by some who rejected his millennial rule. This "little season" must occur before the start of the 8,000th year. Therefore, the start of Christ's 1000 years reign must actually predate the end of the 6000 years.
As I say, we only know the time period for one of these events. However, we may look at some types. For instance, Noah was 7 days in the Ark. Would that indicate that we will be shut up with Christ on Mt. Sion for 7 years before the judgments begin to pour out on the world? And after the judgment, will the Saints pour out their judgments on the world for 40 days, or 40 years? Or if not, will Christ and the Saints take 30 years to conquer the land as did Joshua?
Micah speaks of 40 terrible years of judgments. If that includes the 30 years war with the beast, does that leave 10 more years for proclaiming the truth to the world before the judgment on the Catholic Nations begins? Or, will everything be done in terms of Jubilees, or 50 year periods?
We don't know. What we do know is that God allows the nations to work in such a manner that everything appears quite natural to the scoffer, but very guided and deliberate to those looking at what He has written. Therefore, it would seem that the Scriptures allow for Christ's return to be as little as 40 years before the end of the 6,000 years, to as much as 100 years before.
For a detailed examination of the events for the time of the end, and my best guess for how long all of this will take, please see the article entitled The March of the Rainbowed Angel."