TIME IS AT HAND
Chronology Necessary to an Understanding of Prophecy--Indispensable
Data Furnished in the Bible--From the Creation of Adam to A.D.
1873 was Six Thousand Years--A Statement of Bible Chronology
in Great Periods--Its Examination in Detail--From Creation to
the Day the Flood was Dried Up--To the Abrahamic Covenant--To
the Giving of the Law--To the Division of Canaan among the Tribes--The
Period of the Judges--The Period of the Kings--The Period of
the Desolation --To A.D. 1873--Wherein this Chronology Differs
from that of Bishop Usher, Noted in our English Bibles--The
True Date of our Lord's Birth.
this chapter we present the Bible evidence which indicates that
six thousand years from the creation of Adam were complete with
A.D. 1872; and hence that, since 1872 A.D., we are chronologically
entered upon the seventh thousand or the Millennium--the forepart
of which, the "Day of the Lord," the "day of trouble,"
is to witness the breaking into pieces of the kingdoms of this
world and the establishment of the Kingdom of God under the whole
is necessary, too, as a basis for the examination of the prophetic
periods. We must ascertain first of all where we are on the stream
of time; and to do this, we must have reliable dates for the calculation;
hence we take up the subject of chronology first in order. And
a complete chronology of human history must of necessity begin
with the creation of man.
length of time since the creation of man is variously estimated.
Among those who accept the Bible record, there can be but little
difference of opinion; but among those who reject it, the differences
are enormous, varying all the
<PAGE 34> way from ten thousand to hundreds
of thousands of years. These suppositions are based upon facts
which afford but slight ground for such extravagant and reckless
conclusions. For instance, the finding of flint arrowheads in
the peat bogs of Switzerland and Ireland, at a considerable depth
below the surface, is taken as a proof that their level
was once the surface, and that the peat mosses gradually grew
up around and above them; and the time necessary for such a growth
is calculated from the present rate of growth per century, which
is very slight. If their premises were true, of course it would
prove that man had lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. But
other geologists will show, and with good reason, that these peat
bogs were once so soft that a flint arrowhead might easily sink
to a great depth gradually, during a few centuries.
instance we quote: "In making soundings in the slimy soil
of the Nile valley two baked bricks were discovered, one at a
depth of twenty, the other of twenty-four yards. If we estimate
the thickness of the annual deposit formed by the river at eight
inches a century, we must assign to the first of these bricks
an age of 12,000 years and to the second that of 14,000. By
means of analogous calculations, Burmeister [a celebrated
geologist] supposes seventy-two thousand years to have elapsed
since the first appearance of man upon the soil of Egypt; and
Draper [another noted geologist] attributes to the European man
who witnessed the last glacial epoch an antiquity of more than
course "if we estimate" just as these great
men do, we should reach the same great conclusions. But
some of us are unscientific enough to inquire, whether it is not
more than probable that the slime deposits of the Nile river have
<PAGE 35> very irregular, as of other rivers,
which sometimes shift their beds and wash away their banks wonderfully
in a single freshet. Again, we remember the Flood of Noah's day,
not only particularly mentioned in the Bible, but preserved in
the oldest traditions of the heathen nations, and we wonder how
much slime and debris that caused, over and above the eight inches
a century. We wonder, too, why it has not occurred to these great
minds, as it naturally does to some not too great, that
two bricks thrown into that "slimy soil," at
a time when it was covered with water and very soft, would sink
quite a distance by their own weight, being so much more dense
than the slimy soil. As for the difference in depth of the two
bricks, it would seem to an unscientific mind much more
reasonable to suppose that the one fell into the slime edge-wise,
or end-wise, while the other, falling flat, would sink more slowly,
than to suppose that men living two thousand years apart made
two bricks exactly alike.
is not many years since the skeleton of a man was found in a former
bed of the Mississippi river, and some geologists began to calculate
how many thousands of years might be indicated by the many
feet of silt, slime, etc., covering the skeleton, and fancied
they had a very valuable sample of prehistoric man. But finding
later, several feet below the skeleton, parts of a "flat
boat," such as was in use on the Mississippi less than fifty
years ago, it completely upset the calculations, and relieved
mankind of "another proof" that the world is
hundreds of thousands of years older than the Bible teaches.
the discordant and wholly unreliable guessing of some geologists
on this subject of chronology, we appeal to human history for
information. And what do we find? The history of the oldest of
the Gentile nations can be traced back clearly and distinctly
less than three thousand years. Back of that all is dark, uncertain,
<PAGE 36> and untrustworthy tradition. Roman
history does not extend so far back, as it is only twenty-seven
hundred years since Rome was founded, and then its first centuries
are wrapped in uncertain tradition. Three thousand years back
in the Babylonian, Syrian, and Egyptian histories bring us to
a period where their records are fragmentary and involved in great
obscurity. In the history of China, it brings us to the Tchou
dynasty, where the events of Chinese history "begin
to be more trustworthy." In Greece, noted for its scholarship
in the past three thousand years, with whom above all nations
we might expect to find accurate history, what do we find? We
find its dates accurate for the last twenty-six hundred years,
but no farther back. Back of that, we come to what is known as
the "fabulous, mythical or prehistoric age" of Greece.
The only reasonable and connected account of the first three thousand
years of man on the earth is found in the Bible; and this fact
is surely in harmony with its claim to divine origin, direction
with history, so with dates: the world has, aside from the Bible,
no means of tracing its chronology farther back than B.C. 776.
On this subject we quote Prof. Fisher, of Yale College. He says:
"An exact method of establishing dates was slowly reached.
The invention of eras was indispensable to this end. The earliest
definite time for the dating of events was established in
Babylon--the era of Nabonassar, 747 B.C. The Greeks (from about
300 B.C.) dated events from the first recorded victory at the
Olympic games, 776 B.C. These games occurred every fourth year.
Each Olympiad was thus a period of four years. The Romans, though
not for some centuries after the founding of Rome, dated from
that event; i.e., from 753 B.C."
further evidence that the many so-called histories of the remote
past so abound with vagaries and mythical traditions
<PAGE 37> as to make them valueless as to
chronological data, and wholly unworthy of consideration, we quote
as follows from the American Cyclopedia, under the caption, Chronology:
history of ancient nations, unless we make an exception in the
case of the Hebrews, goes back into mythical periods of thousands
or millions of years; and even after the records begin to assume
a historical aspect, the discrepancies are very great....The Assyrian,
Babylonian and Egyptian inscriptions are in extinct languages,
and in characters long obsolete....Greek and Roman dates are generally
well authenticated to the first Olympiad, B.C. 776, and the establishment
of the Consulate, B.C. 510, previous to which they are mainly
traditional or legendary. Herodotus is valuable only as to events
of his own time, about 450 B.C., and those of a century or two
in his work on Grecian Chronology (page 283) says, "The history
contained in the Hebrew Scriptures presents a remarkable and pleasing
contrast to the early accounts of the Greeks. In the latter we
trace with difficulty a few obscure facts preserved to us by the
poets, who transmitted, with all the embellishments of poetry
and fable, what they had received from oral tradition. In the
annals of the Hebrew nation, we have authentic narratives written
by contemporaries under the guidance of inspiration. What they
have delivered to us comes accordingly under a double sanction.
They were aided by divine inspiration, in recording facts upon
which, as mere human witnesses, their evidence would be valid."
Bible, our God-provided history of the first three thousand years,
is the only work in the world which--beginning with Adam, the
first man mentioned in history, monument or inscription, whose
name, the time of his creation and death are recorded, and from
whom his descendants
<PAGE 38> can be traced by name and age in
successive links for nearly four thousand years--furnishes us
a clear and connected history down to a period where secular history
is well authenticated. As we shall see, the Bible record extends
to the first year of Cyrus, B.C. 536, a well established and generally
accepted date. There the thread of Bible chronology is dropped--at
a point where secular history is reliable. God has thus provided
for his children a clear and connected record down to the present
time. The Bible by its prophecies even supplements history, down
to the consummation of "the restitution of all things,"
in the end of the seventh millennium, whence the new era of eternal
blessedness will begin to date. The Bible is therefore the only
record in the world which furnishes a view of human history as
a whole. It carries us from the lost paradise of Genesis to the
restored paradise of Revelation, tracing the pathway of humanity
into eternity. Taken together, the history and prophecy of the
Bible afford a panoramic view of the whole course of events from
the creation and fall of man to his reconciliation and restitution.
The Bible, therefore, is the chart of all history. Without it,
as has been truly said, history would be "like rivers flowing
from unknown sources to unknown seas"; but under its guidance
we may trace these rivers to their springs, yea, and see their
glorious ending in the ocean of eternity.
the Bible alone, therefore, we may expect to find a record which
will order aright the inharmonious periods and chronological irregularities
which the annals of human history at first sight present--into
harmony with each other and with the periods of nature.
starting with the question, How long is it since man's creation?
we should and do feel confident that he who gave the prophecies,
and said that in the time of the end they should be understood,
has provided in his Word the data necessary to enable us accurately
to locate those prophecies.
<PAGE 39> However, any who expect to find
these matters so plainly stated as to be convincing to the mere
surface reader, or the insincere skeptic, will be disappointed.
God's times and seasons are given in such a way as to be convincing,
at this time, only to those who, by acquaintance with God, are
able to recognize his characteristic methods. The evidence is
given "that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished."
(`2 Tim. 3:17`) These well know that
in all the paths by which their Father leads they must walk by
faith and not by sight. To all who are prepared to walk thus,
we expect to be able to point out, at every step, solid statements
of God's Word--a sure foundation for reasonable faith.
will not here discuss the merits of the Septuagint and Hebrew
versions of the Old Testament Scriptures, their difference in
chronological data, etc., but will satisfy ourselves, and we trust
the reader, with the statement that the former was a translation
by Egyptians, while the latter is the original Hebrew record;
which facts, taken in connection with the almost superstitious
veneration with which the Hebrews guarded every jot and tittle
of those sacred writings, is strong evidence of the reliability
of the Hebrew version. Its acceptance by scholars is quite general,
and in this volume we follow its dates, etc.
we furnish the evidence that from the creation of Adam to
A.D. 1873 was six thousand years. And though the Bible contains
no direct statement that the seventh thousand will be the epoch
of Christ's reign, the great Sabbath Day of restitution to the
world, yet the venerable tradition is not without a reasonable
foundation. The law given to Israel, the typical people, appointing
that six days of labor and weariness should be followed by one
of refreshment and rest from their own works, seems fitly to illustrate
<PAGE 40> six thousand years in which the
whole creation labors and groans under the bondage of sin and
death (`Rom. 8:22`) in a vain endeavor
to extricate itself, and the grand Millennial Day in which the
weary and heavy laden may come to Christ Jesus, the shepherd and
bishop of their souls, and through him find rest, refreshment
and restitution--in which, through the merits of his precious
blood, they may find repentance and remission of sins. On the
typical seventh day he inquired of the impotent man, "Wilt
thou be made whole?" and in answer to his faith and obedience
gave him strength to take up his bed and walk. (See
`John 5:6-9`; also `Matt. 12:10,13`;
`John 7:23`; `Luke 13:11-16; 14:1-5`.)
So, during the antitypical Sabbath, the Millennium, it will be
declared to all the world that "whosoever will"
may have life and health eternal if he will take the steps of
faith and obedience.
must not overlook the fact already noted (Vol. I, Chap. VIII),
that the term day is indefinite, and signifies merely a
period of time, whether of long or of short duration. The Apostle
Peter intimated that the seventh thousand-year period of the world's
history would be the seventh day in God's reckoning, saying, "Beloved,
be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord
as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day....The day
of the Lord will come," etc. `2 Pet.
then, the seventh thousand-year period of earth's history be an
epoch specially noted as the period of Christ's reign, we shall,
by showing that it began in A.D. 1873, be proving that we are
already in it. This calls to mind what we have already
noted in the preceding volume, that the Scriptures indicate that
the dawn of the Millennium, or Day of the Lord, will be dark and
stormy, and full of trouble upon the world and upon the nominal
church, though its earliest dawning light will be full of comfort
and cheer to the saints,
<PAGE 41> who draw their comfort and peace
from the hope set before them in the gospel, which, as an anchor,
enters beyond the time of trouble, and fastens in the precious
promises of the Millennial sunrise and glory: they see, beyond
the time of trouble, the glorious reign and blessings promised.
general condition of the world today, and the rapid development
since 1873 of Socialism, Nihilism and Communism, whose avowed
object is the overturning of the powers that be, and the redistribution
of the wealth of the world, are certainly not out of harmony with
what we should expect, however much, in some respects, these things
may be deprecated by those who love law and order and peace. Only
those who see that the coming anarchy and trouble are God's agencies
for the establishment of a yet more complete law and order, and
a more lasting peace, will be relieved from overwhelming fear
as they pass through it.
is this pointing out of the seventh epoch, or Millennium, the
only value of chronology; for while we shall present several lines
of prophecy entirely independent of chronology, it is the measure
by which several lines of prophecy are established. The perfect
agreement between these two classes of prophetic teaching, some
dependent on, and some independent of, chronology, is very strong
proof, not only of the correctness of those applications, but
also of the correctness of the chronology which shows this harmony;
on the same principle that a key which will unlock a treasure-casket
difficult to open is evidently the true key. The chronology given
below harmonizes the various prophetic statements relating to
Christ's Kingdom and its establishment, by showing their relative
order and time. Chronology is the stem or handle by which all
the prophetic time-proofs, as notches or wards of the key, are
held together and operated.
A CONDENSED STATEMENT OF
CHRONOLOGY TO THE YEAR A.M. 6000
following condensed statement of chronological periods may properly
be termed Bible chronology, because the Bible record alone is
followed down to the first year of Cyrus, B.C. 536, a date well
authenticated and generally accepted by scholars. Here the thread
of Bible chronology ends--a little beyond the period where secular
history begins to be reliable. This, in itself, is a marked evidence
of divine direction and oversight, in helping us only where we
are unable to help ourselves.
From the Creation of Adam
| To the end of the flood
|Thence to the covenant with Abraham
|Thence to the Exodus and the giving of the Law
|Thence to the division of Canaan
|The period of the Judges
|The period of the Kings
|The period of the desolation
|Thence to A.D.
|Thence to A.D. 1873
we consider particularly each of these periods, let the reader
figure it out for himself, and see how firm a foundation for our
faith is laid in God's Word. Two breaks in the historic narrative
of the Old Testament we shall find, yet when we discover that
in the New Testament God has provided bridges to span these two
chasms, it should increase our confidence that God so arranged
the record as to hide his times and seasons, until his due time
for revealing them
<PAGE 43> had come--just as he has done with
other truths already noticed.
will now examine the foregoing periods separately, and in their
order as named above, down to the reign of Cyrus. Have your Bible
at hand and verify every quotation, that you may receive this
as God's Word and not as man's.
Chronology of the Period from the Creation
of Adam to the Day the Flood was Dried Up
|"Adam lived 130 years and begat a son and
called his name Seth" `Gen. 5:3`
|"Seth lived 105 years and begat Enos."
|"Enos lived 90 years and begat Cainan."
|"Cainan lived 70 years and begat Mahalaleel."
|"Mahalaleel lived 65 years and begat Jared."
| "Jared lived 162 years and begat Enoch."
|"Enoch lived 65 years and begat Methuselah."
|"Methuselah lived 187 years and begat Lamech."
|"Lamech lived 182 years and begat a son
and called his name Noah." `Gen. 5:28`
|"Noah was 600 years old when the flood
of waters was upon the earth."
|Total from the creation of Adam to the day
the flood was dried up. `Gen. 8:13`
more simple and exact to a day than this could be asked. Let us
now examine the next period.
The Period from the
Flood to the Covenant with
Abraham, at the Death of Terah, his Father
|"Shem--begat Arphaxad 2 years after the flood."
|"Arphaxad lived 35 years and begat Salah."
|"Salah lived 30 years and begat Eber."
|"Eber lived 34 years and begat Peleg."
|"Peleg lived 30 years and begat Reu."
|"Reu lived 32 years and begat Serug."
|"Serug lived 30 years and begat Nahor."
|"Nahor lived 29 years and begat Terah."
|"The days of Terah were 205 years and he died."
too, is very simple and exact. But the next period is not so easily
traced; for the direct line of chronology is broken, until after
the exodus of Israel from Egypt. Hence we would be quite unable
to proceed, were it not that Paul and Stephen, as the mouthpieces
of the Spirit, furnish the connecting link.
The Period from the Covenant with Abraham
to the Giving of the Law
declares that the length of this period was four hundred and thirty
years. (`Gal. 3:17`) The Covenant
<PAGE 45> the promise of the land of Canaan
for an everlasting possession, and though several times reaffirmed,
to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, it was always the same covenant.
(See `Gen. 12:7,8; 13:14-18; 26:3,4; 35:9-12;
46:2-4; 50:24`.) As shown by a comparison of
`Gen. 12:1-5,7` and `Acts 7:2-5`,
the covenant was made (according to previous promise) as soon
as Abraham had fully complied with the conditions on which he
was to receive it: that was, as soon as he had entered Canaan,
which he did immediately after the decease of his father, who
died in Haran, on the way to Canaan. Having the date of the covenant--just
after Terah's death--thus established by Stephen's statement,
and having Paul's statement, that the Law was four hundred and
thirty years after the covenant, the break in the Old Testament
chronology is thus bridged by the New. But let us read the account
carefully, and mark the particularity with which the bridge is
the Lord had [previously, before he left Mesopotamia, or
Ur of the Chaldees] said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country,
and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house [brethren, etc.]
unto a land that I will show thee; and [if you do so] I will make
of thee a great nation," etc. (`Gen.
12:1,2`. Compare `Acts 7:2`.)
This indicates that God had proposed the covenant to Abraham
before Terah, his father, died, and before he came to dwell in
Haran or Charran. But there was a stipulation which demanded Abraham's
faith and obedience before the covenant should be actually made.
This stipulation was that he must manifest faith in the promise
that such a covenant would be made with him, by leaving his native
country and kindred and going to the land to which he was directed.
This Abraham did, and as his wife, his nephew Lot and his aged
father shared his faith and desired to share his fortunes with
him, they were permitted to do so, and the four started for
<PAGE 46> the land of promise. His father
Terah died on the way, in Haran, after which Abraham passed over
into Canaan, that there he might secure and bind the covenant.
As Stephen declared to Israel: "When his father was dead,
he removed him into this land wherein ye now dwell." "So
Abraham departed [out of Haran] as the Lord had spoken unto
him." (`Acts 7:4`;
`Gen. 12:4`) And the covenant was made just after he entered
the land. (See `Gen. 12:5-7`.) Thus
we have the date of the covenant, and the beginning of the four
hundred and thirty years, fixed as immediately following Terah's
death, and the chain of chronology complete to the giving of the
Law. The first feature of the Law was the Passover, which was
instituted the same day that Israel left Egypt.
harmony with this we read: "Now the sojourning of the children
of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years;
and it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty
years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all
the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt."
may suppose that the statements of Moses and Paul (`Exod.
12:40-42` and `Gal. 3:17`)
are not in harmony, the one affirming that the sojourning of Israel
was four hundred and thirty years, and the other, that from the
covenant with Abraham to the giving of the Law was four hundred
and thirty years, reasoning that if only four hundred and thirty
years elapsed between Abraham's coming into Canaan and the giving
of the Law, the sojourn of the children of Israel in Egypt must
have been much less. But it should be observed that the statement
is not that Israel sojourned in Egypt four hundred and thirty
years, but that the whole length of the sojourning of that people
who for some time lived in Egypt lasted four hundred and thirty
<PAGE 47> years: "Now the sojourning
of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four hundred
and thirty years." The sojourning referred to began when
Abraham first came into Canaan. (`Heb. 11:8,9`)
Israel sojourned in Abraham and in Isaac and in Jacob, even as
Levi paid tithes to Melchizedec, while yet in the loins of
his father. `Heb. 7:9,10`
covenant with Abraham took effect from the time that, leaving
Haran or Charran, he set foot in Canaan, the land of promise.
From that time, he and all Israel in him, yet unborn, became heirs
of the things promised, and sojourners, or pilgrims, waiting
on God for the fulfilment of the promise. This sojourning had
lasted four hundred and thirty years, to a day, when Israel left
Egypt, and received that first feature of the Law, the institution
of the Passover. The statements of Moses and Paul, therefore,
refer to precisely the same period, thus giving most positive
evidence that from the covenant with Abraham to the giving of
the Law was four hundred and thirty years. Paul gave special emphasis
to the fact that the Passover must be regarded as the beginning
of the Law (which Moses also shows, `Exod.
12:42,43,47,50`), and Moses gave special emphasis to the
exactness of the period, to a day.
we have our third period clearly established. And when we mark
the Lord's particularity to a day, in furnishing this link in
the chain of chronology, it gives us strong confidence, especially
when we consider that such particularity was probably of no special
interest to the Church of the past, and was given for no other
than the present use.
Period from the Exodus to the Division
of Canaan among the Tribes
forty years, or "day of temptation in the wilderness"
`Psa. 95:8-10`; `Heb. 3:8,9`),
was followed by
<PAGE 48> six years of war in Canaan, and
the dividing of the land among the tribes. One year, one month
and five days elapsed from their going out of Egypt to their leaving
Sinai for Paran. (`Num. 33:3; 10:11-13`)
And it was then, from Kadesh-barnea in the wilderness of Paran,
that the spies were sent. (`Num. 13:3-26;
32:8-13`) One of these, Caleb, when applying for his portion
at the division of the land (`Joshua 11:23;
10:42`), said, "Forty years old was I when Moses the
servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the
land, and I brought him word again....And now, behold, the Lord
hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five
years, even since the Lord spake this word...while Israel
wandered in the wilderness; and now, lo, I am this day
fourscore and five years old." (`Joshua
14:7,10`) Thus it will be seen that it was forty-five years
from the spying of the land to its division among the tribes,
as affirmed by Joshua, and a little over a year from the exodus
to the sending of the spies, making forty-six full years and a
fraction* from the exodus to the division of the land. As the
first forty years of this period were passed in the wilderness,
as shown by many scriptures, notably `Acts
7:36` and `Heb. 3:9`, the
remaining six to the division of the land were spent in Canaan,
conquering and taking possession of the land of promise.
*We take account of only the complete
years, more accurate account being impossible. Sometimes, as above,
the years are fractionally long. And again some are short, as
in the case of Zedekiah's reign. Zedekiah is said to have reigned
eleven years (`2 Chron. 36:11`;
`Jer. 52:1`); yet, from `verses
3 to 7` of the latter chapter, it is clear that his actual
reign was ten years four months and nine days. We believe that
these fractional parts of years counterbalance themselves; and
that the Lord has thus overruled and arranged the matter is our
confidence, supported by the outcome and the results deducible
from it, and the accuracy to a day, even in large periods, already
noticed. As illustrating God's care and particularity in this
matter, see `Gen. 7:11,13`;
The Period of the Judges
come now to the most difficult portion of chronology, the period
from the division of the land to the anointing of Saul as king.
It is usually termed the period of the Judges, though the Judges
did not fill the office continuously. The record given in the
books of Judges and 1 Samuel mentions nineteen periods, approximating
a total of four hundred and fifty years; but they are disconnected,
broken, lapped and tangled so much that we could arrive at no
definite conclusion from them, and should be obliged to conclude
as others have done, that nothing positive could be known on the
subject, were it not that the New Testament supplies the deficiency.
Paul states that after God divided their land to them by lot,
"He gave unto them Judges about [during] the space of four
hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the Prophet. Afterward they
desired a king, and God gave unto them Saul."
Greek word rendered about in the common version is hos,
and has the significance of during, or while. The
same writer uses the word in three other places where the common
version translates it while, viz.:
`Acts 1:10; 10:17`; `Luke 24:32`.
This passage would be better translated, "He gave
unto them Judges during the space of four hundred and fifty
years." The Syriac reads thus--"And for four hundred
and fifty years he gave them Judges, until Samuel the prophet"--the
last of the "Judges."
statement of the length of this period of the Judges, by the Apostle,
we accept as a specially designed solution of the problem. In
only two instances--the four hundred and thirty years from the
Covenant to the Law, and this period of the Judges--is there any
reasonable uncertainty about the Old Testament chronology, and
both are clearly stated in the New. Can we suppose that this merely
<PAGE 50> It is more reasonable to suppose
that God first hid the matter, by leaving the Old Testament record
incomplete, and later supplied the deficiency in the New Testament,
so that in due time, when attention should be called to it, those
having sufficient interest to compare the accounts might find
the missing links supplied in a manner calculated to teach dependence
upon the Great Time-Keeper.
The Period of the Kings
reign was in or during the space of forty years following the
last Judge, until David was anointed king, as shown above; and
following him, the periods of the kings in the line of David are
easily traced in Chronicles, thus:
||`1 Chron. 29:27`
||`2 Chron. 9:30`
||`2 Chron. 12:13`
||`2 Chron. 13:2`
||`2 Chron. 16:13`
||`2 Chron. 20:31`
||`2 Chron. 21:20`
||`2 Chron. 22:2`
||`2 Chron. 22:12`
||`2 Chron. 24:1`
||`2 Chron. 25:1`
||`2 Chron. 26:3`
||`2 Chron. 27:1`
||`2 Chron. 28:1`
||`2 Chron. 29:1`
|| `2 Chron. 33:1`
|| `2 Chron. 33:21`
||`2 Chron. 34:1`
||`2 Chron. 36:5`
||`2 Chron. 36:11`
The Seventy Years of Desolation
brings us to the period of the desolation of the land, which lasted
seventy years, and was ended by the restoration of its people
from Babylon, in the first year of Cyrus, B.C. 536 (See
`2 Chron. 36:20,23`), a date well established in secular
history, and beyond which the line of Bible chronology does not
Period from the Restoration to A.D. 1873
period from the time of the restoration of the Jews from Babylon,
at the close of the seventy years desolation of their land, in
the first year of Cyrus, down to the date known as A.D. 1, is
not covered by Bible history. But, as before stated, it is well
established by secular history as a period of 536 years. Ptolemy,
a learned Greek-Egyptian, a geometer and astronomer, has well
established these figures. They are generally accepted by scholars,
and known as Ptolemy's Canon.
we have found a clear and connected line of chronology from creation
to the beginning of the Christian era (A.D.)--in all, a period
of four thousand one hundred and twenty-eight (4128) years, which,
together with eighteen hundred and seventy-two years of the Christian
era, make six thousand years from creation to the year
This and Usher's Chronology Compared
will be interesting to some to know wherein the above chronology
differs from that inserted in the margin of the common version
of the Bible, known as Usher's Chronology. The difference between
the two, down to the time of the seventy years of desolation,
is one hundred and twenty-four (124) years. This difference is
made up of four periods of 18,4,2 and 100 years--as follows:
dates the seventy years desolation eighteen years earlier
than shown above--i.e., before the dethronement of Zedekiah, Judah's
last king--because he figured the king of Babylon took many of
the people captive at that time.* (`2 Chron.
36:9,10,17`; `2 Kings 24:8-16`)
He evidently makes the not uncommon mistake of regarding those
seventy years as the period of captivity, whereas the Lord
expressly declares them to be seventy years of desolation
of the land, that the land should lie "desolate, without
an inhabitant." Such was not the case prior to Zedekiah's
dethronement. (`2 Kings 24:14`) But
the desolation which followed Zedekiah's overthrow was complete;
for, though some of the poor of the land were left to be vine-dressers
and husbandmen (`2 Kings 25:12`),
shortly even these--"all people, both small and great"--fled
to Egypt for fear of the Chaldees. (`Verse
26`) There can be no doubt here: and therefore in reckoning
the time to the desolation of the land, all periods up
to the close of Zedekiah's reign should be counted in, as we have
four years difference is in the reign of Jehoram. Usher
gives it as a reign of four years, while the Bible says it was
eight years. `2 Chron. 21:5`;
`2 Kings 8:17`
the two years difference, one year is found in the term
of the reign of Ahaz, which Usher gives as fifteen, while the
Bible says it was sixteen years. (`2 Chron.
28:1`; `2 Kings 16:2`) And
the other is in the term of Jehoash, which Usher reckons as thirty-nine,
while the Bible gives it as forty years.
`2 Kings 12:1`; `2 Chron. 24:1`
differences can be accounted for only by supposing that Usher
followed, or attempted to follow, Josephus, a Jewish historian
whose chronological dates are now generally recognized as reckless
and faulty. We rely on the Bible alone, believing that God is
his own interpreter.
from these twenty-four years difference in the period
*Note, however, this partial captivity occurred eleven,
not eighteen, years before the dethronement of King Zedekiah.
of the Kings, there is another variance between the above Bible
chronology and that of Usher, namely, one hundred years
in the period of the Judges. Here Usher is misled by the evident
error of `1 Kings 6:1`, which says
that the fourth year of Solomon's reign was the four-hundred-and-eightieth
year from the coming out of Egypt. It evidently should read the
five-hundred-and-eightieth year, and was possibly an error in
transcribing; for if to Solomon's four years we add David's forty,
and Saul's space of forty, and the forty-six years from leaving
Egypt to the division of the land, we have one hundred and thirty
years, which deducted from four hundred and eighty would leave
only three hundred and fifty years for the period of the Judges,
instead of the four hundred and fifty years mentioned in
the Book of Judges, and by Paul, as heretofore shown. The Hebrew
character "daleth" (4) very much resembles the
character "hay" (5), and it is supposed that
in this way the error has occurred, possibly the mistake of a
transcriber. `1 Kings 6:1`, then,
should read five hundred and eighty, and thus be in perfect
harmony with the other statements.
the Word of God corrects the few slight errors which have crept
into it by any means.* And remember that those breaks occur in
the period bridged effectually by the inspired testimony of the
then, whereas Usher dates A.D. 1 as the year 4005 from the creation
of Adam, it really was, as we have shown,
*A similar discrepancy will be noticed in comparing
`2 Chron. 36:9` with `2 Kings 24:8`,
the one giving eighteen years and the other, evidently incorrect,
giving eight years as the age of Jehoiachin, who reigned three
months, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, and was punished
by captivity, etc. Such a mistake could easily occur, but God
has so guarded his Word that the few trivial errors of copyists
are made very manifest, and the full harmony of his Word gives
ample foundation for faith.
the year 4129, according to the Bible record, thus showing the
year 1872 A.D. to be the year of the world 6000, and 1873 A.D.
the commencement of the seventh thousand-year period, the seventh
millennium, or thousand-year day of earth's history.
chronology as gathered from the Bible alone, from creation down
to well authenticated secular history, is clear and strong, bearing
evidence, too, of the peculiar methods of divine providence in
its record, in its concealing and in its gradual unfolding in
due time. And this, together with the reliable dates of the Christian
era and the several centuries before it at hand, enables us to
locate ourselves accurately on the stream of time. And we begin
hopefully to lift up our heads and rejoice, as we realize that
we are actually sweeping into the glorious age of the seventh
millennium-- even though we recognize that its beginning is to
be dark and full of trouble, as foretold by the prophets, and
that the storm-clouds are already gathering and growing darker.
THE DATE OF OUR LORD'S BIRTH
the sixth century the Church began to reckon time from the birth
of our Lord, and fixed the date A.D. as it now stands; namely,
536 years after the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia.* Whether
they placed it correctly or not does not affect the chronology
as just given, which shows that the six thousand years from the
creation of Adam ended with A.D. 1872; because it is eighteen
hundred and seventy-two years since the year designated A.D.,
and the first
*The year A.D. was fixed upon as early as the sixth century by
Dionysius Exiguus, and other scholars of that period, though it
did not come into general use until two centuries later.
year of Cyrus was five hundred and thirty-six years before that
year (A.D.), whether it was the year of our Lord's birth or not.
cannot, perhaps, explain this better than by the time-worn illustration
of a line with a star upon it--thus: B.C._____________________*____________________A.D.
Let the line represent the six thousand years of earth's history
from the creation of Adam to 1873 A.D.; and let the star represent
the turning point between B.C. and A.D. To move that point either
way would not alter the length of the entire period, though it
would alter the names of the years. To move the A.D. point backward
one year would make the B.C. period one year less, and the A.D.
period one year more, but the sum of the B.C. and A.D.
years would still be the same; for the amount taken from the one
is always an addition to the other. Nevertheless, let us briefly
examine the date of our Lord's birth, as it will be found useful
in our subsequent studies.
has become customary among scholars to concede that our commonly
accepted A.D. is incorrect to the amount of four years--that our
Lord was born four years previous to the year designated A.D.,
that is, in the year B.C. 4. And this theory has been followed
by the publishers of the common version of the Bible. We cannot
agree that B.C. 4 was the true date of our Lord's birth. On the
contrary, we find that he was born only one year and three months
before our common era, A.D., namely, in October of B.C. 2.
general reason with most of those who claim that A.D. should have
been placed four years earlier to correctly mark the Savior's
birth, is a desire to harmonize it with certain statements of
the Jewish historian Josephus, relative to the length of the reign
of Herod the Great. According to one of his statements, it would
appear that Herod died three years before the year reckoned A.D.
If this were true,
<PAGE 56> it would certainly prove that our
Lord was born in the year B.C. 4; for it was this Herod, that
issued the decree for the slaying of the babes of Bethlehem, from
whom the infant Jesus was delivered. (`Matt.
2:14-16`) But is this statement of Josephus reliable? Is
it true that Herod died four years before the year A.D.? No, we
answer: Josephus alone is not sufficient authority for such a
decision, as he is known and admitted to be inaccurate in his
record of dates.
this notion has prevailed: the date B.C. 4 has been generally
accepted, and historical events and dates have been somewhat bent
to fit and support this theory. Among other supposed proofs that
B.C. 4 was the proper date, was an eclipse of the moon, said by
Josephus to have occurred a short time before the death of Herod.
All that is known of that eclipse is as follows: Herod had placed
a large golden eagle over the gate of the Temple. Two notable
Jews, named Matthias and Judas, persuaded some young men to pull
it down. They did so, were arrested and executed. To make the
matter clear, Josephus relates that there was at that time another
Matthias, a high priest, who was not concerned in the sedition.
He then adds: "But Herod deprived this Matthias of his high
priesthood, and burnt the other Matthias who had raised the sedition,
with his companions, alive, and that very night there was an eclipse
of the moon." This is recorded as one of the last prominent
acts of Herod, and is given a date which might correspond with
B.C. 4 by Josephus, who marks the date by the eclipse mentioned.
since at times as many as four eclipses of the moon occur in one
year, it is evident that except under very peculiar circumstances
the record of such an occurrence proves nothing. Where the time
of the night, the time of the year and the amount of obscuration
are all given, as has been done in several instances, the record
is of great value in fixing dates; but in the case under consideration,
there is nothing
<PAGE 57> of the kind; hence absolutely nothing
is proved by the record, so far as chronology is concerned. Josephus
does mention a fast, as having been kept before the event, but
what fast, or how long before, is not stated.
it happens, there was only one eclipse of the moon in B.C. 4,
while in B.C. 1 there were three. The eclipse of B.C. 4 was only
partial (six digits, or only one-half of the moon being obscured),
while all three in B.C. 1 were total eclipses--the entire moon
was obscured, and of course for a longer time causing the event
to be much more noticeable. Hence if the eclipse theory has any
weight it certainly is not in favor of the earlier date, B.C.
the time of Herod's death is not given by a reliable historian.
Josephus gives some important periods in his history and the dates
of some events, but these dates are not trustworthy. Some of them
would teach that Herod died B.C. 4, but others cannot be reconciled
with that date. For instance, his death is said to have been at
the age of seventy. He was made governor of Galilee B.C. 47, at
which time Josephus says he was twenty-five years of age. (Ant.
14:9:2) This would date his birth B.C. 72 (47 plus 25). His death
at seventy would then be B.C. 2 instead of B.C. 4.
this connection it may be well to note the conflict of opinion
among learned men, relative to the exact date of Herod's death,
that thus it may be apparent to all that there is no well founded
reason for accepting B.C. 4 as the only date in harmony with
`Matt. 2:14-16`. Faussett's Bible Encyclopedia gives Herod's
age when made governor at about twenty years. This would make
his death, at seventy years, A.D. 2. Chambers' Cyclopedia and
Smith's Bible Dictionary give his age at that time as fifteen
years, which would place his death A.D. 7. Appleton's Cyclopedia,
article Chronology, says: "Josephus also gives dates, but
he is altogether too careless to be taken into account."
now proceed to offer the Scriptural evidence relating to this
subject, which more nearly agrees with the common era, and shows
that our Lord's birth occurred only one year and three months
prior to January, A.D. 1. It is as follows:
Lord's ministry lasted three and a half years. The sixty-nine
symbolic weeks of years (`Dan. 9:24-27`)
reached to his baptism and anointing as Messiah, and there the
last or seventieth week (seven years) of Israel's favor began.
He was cut off [in death] in the middle of that seventieth
week-- three and a half years from the beginning of his ministry.
He was crucified, we know, at the time of the Passover, about
April 1st, whatever the year. The three and a half years
of his ministry, which ended in April, must consequently have
begun about October, whatever the year. And October of some year
must have been the true month of his birth, because he delayed
not to begin his ministry as soon as he was thirty, and could
not, according to the Law (under which he was born and which he
obeyed), begin before he was thirty. As we read, "Now when
Jesus began to be about thirty years of age he cometh"
the Baptist was six months older than our Lord (`Luke
1:26,36`), hence he was of age (thirty years, according
to the Law--`Num. 4:3`; `Luke 3:23`,
etc.) and began to preach six months before our Lord became of
age and began his ministry. The date of the beginning of John's
ministry is clearly stated to have been the "fifteenth year
of the reign of Tiberius Caesar," the third emperor of Rome.
(`Luke 3:1`) This is a clearly fixed
date of which there can be no reasonable doubt. Tiberius became
emperor at the death of Augustus Caesar, in the year of Rome 767,
which was the year A.D. 14.
those misled by the inaccurate statements of Josephus relative
to Herod, and who place the birth of Jesus
<PAGE 59> at B.C. 4, in order to harmonize
with him, run across a difficulty in this clearly stated date
given by Luke, and endeavor to make it also harmonize with their
B.C. 4 theory. To accomplish this end they make the claim that
Tiberius began to exercise authority some three or four years
before Augustus died, and before he was fully constituted emperor.
They claim that possibly his rule might have been reckoned from
such suppositions will be found baseless, by any who will investigate
the matter on the pages of history. It is true that Tiberius was
exalted to a very important position by Augustus, but it was not
four years before Augustus' death, as their theory would
demand, but ten years before, in A.D. 4. But the power
then conferred upon him was only such as had been enjoyed by others
before his day. It was in no sense of the word imperial power,
and in no sense of the word can his "reign" be
said to have begun there: he was only the heir-apparent. Even
in the most exaggerated use of language, his "reign"
could not be said to have commenced before Augustus' death and
his own investiture in office at the hands of the Roman Senate,
says, "The Emperor, whose declining age needed an associate,
adopted Tiberius A.D. 4, renewing his tribunian power."
Article TIBERIUS, Rees' Cyclopedia.
[Augustus] determined accordingly to devolve upon him [Tiberius]
a share in the government....This formal investiture placed him
on the same footing as that enjoyed by the veteran Agrippa during
his later years, and there can be no doubt that it was universally
regarded as an introduction to the first place in the empire....The
programme for the succession was significantly shadowed
out: Tiberius had been ordered to assume his place at the head
of the Senate, the people, and the army....The adoption,
which took place at the same time, is dated June 27
<PAGE 60> (A.U.C. 757)--A.D. 4." Merivale's
History of the Romans (Appleton's), Vol. IV, pp. 220,221
there is conclusive proof that the first year of the reign of
Tiberius Caesar was not three or four years before Augustus died;
and that the honors referred to as conferred during Augustus'
reign were conferred ten, and not four, years before Augustus'
death, and then were in no sense imperial honors.
may, therefore, consider the date of `Luke
3:1` not merely the only one furnished in the New Testament,
but an unequivocal one. There can be no doubt about it in the
minds of any who have investigated it. Tiberius began to reign
in A.D. 14. The fifteenth year of his reign, would therefore be
the year A.D. 29, in which year, Luke states (`3:1-3`),
John began his ministry. Since our Lord's thirtieth birthday and
the beginning of his ministry were in October, and since John's
birthday and the beginning of his ministry were just six months
earlier, it follows that John began his ministry in the spring,
about April first--just as soon as he was of age; for God's plans
are always carried out on exact time. So, then, John was thirty
years old in A.D. 29, about April first, consequently he was born
B.C. 2*, about April first. And Jesus' birth, six months later,
must have been B.C. 2, about October first.
there is clear, strong evidence that Jesus was crucified on Friday,
April 3rd, A.D. 33. The fact that his crucifixion occurred at
the close of the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, and that this
date rarely falls on Friday, but did so in the year A.D. 33, substantiates
that date so thoroughly
*For the benefit of readers not much accustomed to calculating
dates, we call attention to the fact that in the beginning of
the year A.D. 29, only 28 full years had elapsed: the twenty-ninth
was only beginning.
that even Usher, who adopted B.C. 4 as the
date of Jesus' birth was forced to admit that his crucifixion
was A.D. 33. Compare Usher's dates in the margin of the common
version Bible at `Luke 2:21` and
`Matt. 2:1` with those at `Matthew
27` and `Luke 23`. The date
of the crucifixion being A.D. 33, it follows that if Jesus had
been born B.C. 4, he would have been 36 years old when he died;
and his ministry from his thirtieth to his thirty-sixth year would
have been six years. But it is clear that our Lord's ministry
was three and a half years only. And this generally conceded fact
is proved by Daniel's prophecy concerning Messiah's cutting off
in the middle of the seventieth week of Israel's favor.
it is again proven that Jesus' birth was about one year and three
months before our common era, A.D. 1; for, his ministry ending
when he was thirty-three and a half years old, April 3rd, A.D.
33, the date of his birth may be readily found by measuring backward
to a date thirty-three and a half years prior to April 3rd, A.D.
33. Thirty-two years and three months before April A.D. 33 would
be January 3rd, A.D. 1, and one year and three months further
back would bring us to October 3rd, B.C. 2, as the date of our
Lord's birth at Bethlehem. The difference between lunar time,
used by the Jews, and solar time, now in common use, would be
a few days, so that we could not be certain that the exact day
might not be in September about the 27th, but October 1st, B.C.
2, is about correct. Nine months back of that date would
bring us to about Christmas time, B.C. 3, as the date at which
our Lord laid aside the glory which he had with the Father before
the world was [made] and the taking of or changing to human nature
began. It seems probable that this was the origin of the celebration
of December 25th as Christmas Day. Some writers on Church history
claim, even, that Christmas Day was originally celebrated as the
date of the annunciation by Gabriel
<PAGE 62> to the virgin Mary. (`Luke
1:26`) Certain it is that a midwinter date does not well
agree with the declaration of Scripture, that at the time of our
Lord's birth the shepherds were in the fields with their flocks.
"Lift up your heads, desponding pilgrims;
Give to the winds your needless fears;
He who has died on Calvary's mountain
Soon is to reign a thousand years.
"A thousand years! earth's coming glory--
'Tis the glad day so long foretold:
'Tis the bright morn of Zion's glory,
Prophets foresaw in times of old.
"Tell the whole world these blessed tidings;
Speak of the time of rest that nears;
Tell the oppressed of every nation,
Jubilee lasts a thousand years.
"What if the clouds do for a moment
Hide the blue sky where morn appears?
Soon the glad sun of promise given
Rises to shine a thousand years."
Time is at Hand