Chronology is important today because current religious wars are being fought over it. The collision of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim chronologies is at an apex as each expects their messiah to come to rule the Earth.
The Christian Chronology
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Christian calendar, is the most widely used calendar today, and accepted by the UN. It uses the birth of Christ to divide its dates between B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini in Medieval Latin meaning “in the year of our Lord”). As modern cultures have largely become secularized by rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord, they have changed the names of the divisions to B.C.E. (before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era).
Christ’s First Coming
History and Prophecy
The land of Judah rebelled against Babylonian rule, so viceroy Nebuchadnezzar II came in 606 B.C. and looted Jerusalem’s Temple, and brought back sons of nobles to re-educate them. Daniel was one of those youths (Daniel 1:1-7). Nebuchadnezzar eventually besieged Jerusalem from 587 to 586 B.C. (II Kings 25:2, and Jeremiah 14 and 52:4-6), sent Jeremiah and more captives to Babylon, and destroyed Solomon’s Temple on the ninth day of the month of Av in summer of 586 B.C. About 560 BC, Jeremiah completed writing his scroll, and Daniel received a copy. When Cyrus conquered Babylon in 538 B.C. and left Darius the Mede in charge of the city, Daniel understood Jeremiah’s (25:11; 29:10) “seventy year” prophecy of exile from Judah began with his deportation (606-70=536 BC; see Daniel 9:1-4). After Cyrus, the Persian, returned from battle to rule Babylon, Jews showed him his name in the prophecy of Isaiah which predicted he would conquer the world (45:1) and would rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple’s foundation (44:28). Cyrus so decreed, and the Jews returned to Jerusalem in 536 B.C. under the leadership of Zerubbabel. Other groups of exiles returned with Ezra and Nehemiah during the reign of Artaxerxes (474-424 B.C., which includes a co-reign with Xerxes for nine years at the beginning).
As Daniel sought the LORD regarding Jeremiah’s “seventy year” prophecy, God revealed the “seventy sevens” prophecy of the coming of “Messiah the Prince:”
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured on the desolate.” (Daniel 9:25-27)
Nehemiah (2:4-9) records a decree to rebuild Jerusalem by Artaxerxes Longimanus in his 20th year (454 BC). (69 x 7) – 454 = 29 A.D. when Jesus was baptized and His Father declared from heaven “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus proclaimed the “new covenant” through faith in Him as the Son of God sent as Messiah/Christ, and He was “cut off” three and a half years later in the midst of a “one week” period of seven days. The other 3.5 year period of the Jewish-Roman War would end up destroying “the city and the sanctuary” within forty years in 70 A.D. as Jesus prophesied to His “generation”.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey (fulfilling Zechariah 9:9) on the day they were to select an unblemished lamb for Passover, He chided the Jews for not calculating and knowing Him to be the Messiah; and again foretold of their coming destruction.
“For the days shall come on you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side, And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone on another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44)
Jesus was crucified on Passover on April 3, 33 A.D., and He rose from the dead on the feast of First Fruits three days later “on the morrow after the Sabbath” (Lev. 23:11-12) and walked among them for forty days before He ascended back to heaven; and then He sent His Spirit on the Feast of Weeks, known as Pentecost. The next feast of the Lord (Lev. 23) to be fulfilled is the Feast of Blowing Trumpets, which many believe will be Christ’s second coming.
Christ’s Second Coming
According to the Christian calendar, the current year is 2014 A.D. Using Ussher’s biblically derived 4004 B.C. date for God’s creation of Adam and Eve on the “sixth day,” mankind has completed his sixth millennium on Earth; and Christians longingly look for Christ’s return to establish His millennial reign of “rest” akin to the “seventh day” on Earth.
The Jewish Chronology
The Jewish year is dated from the beginning of the world when YHWH terra-formed it, and is notated A.M. (anno mundi in Latin meaning “in the year of the world”). When adding 4004 to 2014 it comes to 6018 years, but 2014 is the Jewish year 5774; so why the difference?
The chronology of ancient Hebrews is recorded in the Tanakh (the Old Testament books in a unique order) which ends with II Chronicles and the decree of Cyrus for Jews to return to Jerusalem. The modern Jewish chronology, Seder Olam Rabbah, was written about 160 A.D. by Yose ben Halafta; who only attributed 18 years from the reign of Cyrus in Babylon to the end of the reign of Darius II, whereas 135 years actually transpired during the early Persian Empire. There are a few other discrepancies between it and the Christian chronology which account for the rest of the total 244 year difference.
Simon Bar Kokhba as Messiah
This early Persian period was shortened so that the prophesied (69 x 7) or 483 years between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the coming of “Messiah the Prince” would point to Simon Bar Kokhba instead of Jesus. [My thanks to Larry Pierce who wrote a wonderful appendix (G) to Ussher’s Annals of the World on this issue on pages 931-934.] Bar Kokhba led his revolt against the Romans from 132-135 A.D. when he died along with half a million other Jews. Afterwards Jews were banned from Jerusalem and persecuted throughout the Roman Empire.
The Jews also stopped celebrating the feast of First Fruits, since it so clearly pointed to Jesus’ resurrection day as the true Messiah. Though many Jews have since accepted Jesus as their Messiah, the Orthodox Jews are still waiting for their Messiah’s first coming which they expect will be in their year 6000 A.M. (6244 A.D.).
History of the Hebrews in their Land
The Hebrews have a long history with the land of Canaan. Abraham bought a field and a cave in Hebron for a burial place for Sarah. Isaac and Jacob and their wives are also buried there. People still visit the site today. At the exodus from Egypt, Joseph’s bones were carried through the wilderness and were buried in Shechem. His tomb has been vandalized in the last decade by Palestinians. Joshua began his conquest of Canaan in 1451 BC. After he died the land of Israel was overseen by judges and then kings. By 1021 B.C. king David had conquered all the land (from the Pelusiac to the Euphrates river) promised to Abraham in 1921 B.C. Though Solomon built a great Temple, he and other subsequent kings lost land to enemies, until Israelites and Jews were exiled themselves to other lands in the late seventh and early sixth centuries before Christ.
In 536 B.C. the exiles returned to Jerusalem and restored the altar of the Temple. Twenty years later, in 516 B.C., the second Temple was completed. In 467 B.C. Ezra returned with more exiles. In 454 B.C. Artaxerxes Longimanus sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem, and the Jews restored the wall in 52 days. Nehemiah likely remained governor in Jerusalem until the end of Artaxerxes Longimanus’ reign in 424 B.C. Artaxerxes was followed by Darius II in Persia. The Jewish chronology places Ezra and Nehemiah in the fourth century B.C. instead of the fifth.
The Muslim Chronology
Before Israel became a nation again in 1948, Muslims accepted the history of the Bible, and adopted the main men from Adam (Adham) to Jesus (Isa) as their prophets. They also accepted that the land of Israel was given to the people Moses brought through the wilderness. Today there are even some Muslim Zionists who believe the Koran prophesied the return of Jews to Israel.
The first year of the Islamic calendar is when Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina, the hejira, in 622 A.D. It is therefore the year 1392 A.H. (after hejira) on Muslim calendars. The Sunnis use a strictly lunar calendar of 354 days for religious dates. The Shias, mostly living in Iran (formerly Persia) and Iraq, use a solar hejira calendar which begins on the vernal equinox.
Muslim’s call their messiah the Mahdi. Isa (Jesus), just a Muslim prophet, will aid the Mahdi in the annihilation of all non-Muslims from the Earth. The antagonist of the Mahdi is called the Dajjal, who will defend the Jews and be accepted as the Jewish messiah. Many Muslims believe the Mahdi, a descendant of Muhammad, will only rise to power after a period of chaos and great suffering, and then he will establish his caliphate over the Muslim world from his capital in Jerusalem. Even though Jerusalem (Al-Quds) is not mentioned in the Koran, “the farthest mosque” (Masjid Al-Aqsa) in Sura 17:1 is located on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Muslims hold the Mahdi will distribute lots of money, have power over the weather, and will eradicate oppression by causing the whole world to practice Islam. This comes about after much warfare including extermination of all Jews, which has been the stated goal of Iran (Persia) since its Islamic revolution in 1979. It’s odd that Iran denies the holocaust as it prepares to cause another one.
The Persian (Achaemenid) Empire once ruled the world from 550 to 330 B.C. The Ottoman (Muslim Turk) Empire ruled a vast portion of the same territory from 1299 to 1923 A.D. I consider this period of Islamic rule to be the wounded head which is revived. In 2013 the Anatolian (Turkish) leopard, thought to be extinct, was spotted and killed.
“And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like to the beast? who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:1-4)
In biblical prophecy beasts represent empires, heads represent periods of rule, and horns represent kings. This beast is a conglomeration of Daniel’s (7) beasts which represented Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom in their attacks on Jews in the twentieth century. It is most like Germany in that it intends a holocaust for the Jews. The religion of Islam has made great strides in all three countries, and Islam is growing in satanic and military power. Sadly, America has only subdued some of the Al-Qaeda militants which will make it easier for Iran to take control of Afghanistan and Iraq when all U.S. troops leave. And Obama is demanding ease of sanctions on Iran, the major exporter of terrorism. Some would call that treason.
“And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given to him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leads into captivity shall go into captivity: he that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” (Revelation 13:5-10)
The “mouth” of the “little horn,” who many call the Antichrist, will blaspheme God, His Name, His Temple, and the saints and angels in heaven. Islam’s God, Allah, is not the Bible’s God, Elohim. Allah has no son (Sura 18:4-6). Elohim sent His Son, Yeshua (Jesus) to save people from condemnation (John 3:17). Muslims imprison or kill people who burn their Koran or blaspheme the name of their prophet Mohammad, but they have burned many Bibles (at army bases) and violently forbad non-Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount and other Jewish holy sites. Muslims deny there was ever a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, regardless of the supporting archaeological evidence.
The word “overcome” is nikao (from nike) in Greek, meaning conquest, success, and victory. Did the U.S. have victory in Iraq? – No, the Obama administration made certain of that. Will the U.S. have victory in Afghanistan? We will see after the pull-out later this year.
Both Daniel (7:25) and John agree that this “little horn,” will only rule for 42 months (3.5 years) before King Jesus returns and destroys him and his followers in fire, and the saints rule with Him on Earth. The difficulty is in ascertaining when those 42 months begin. Have they already started, or do they only begin after a new caliphate has formed with a Mahdi in charge?
This year, 2014, will see two blood moons on Passover and Tabernacles, which usually means war for Israel. Will this be the year that Muqtada al-Sadr revives his Mahdi army to march to Jerusalem? The nations do seem to be coming together against Israel. The saints must have faith and patience, and pray for God’s protection of His people. Possibly within our lifetime, the world will discover which chronology is correct.
(c) 2014 Eve Engelbrite