Prophecy Article
Expanded Internet Edition - September 1, 1990 

Chronology: The Key to
Prophetic Understanding - Part 1

By Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1990

 

 

Listen to the Byte Show Interview on this article:

The Key to Prophetic Understanding Part 1 - ListenDownloadMP3

More Byte Show Interviews...

One of the most neglected subjects among prophetic interpreters is in fact one of the most important in comprehending the real meaning of the biblical prophecies. That is the teaching of Biblical Chronology itself. When the interpreters begin to apply chronological factors in the determination of prophetical time periods, almost all of them assume that the chronological canons provided to us by the establishment historians are precisely accurate. This is especially true of historical dates during the Babylonian and Persian periods (from the sixth to the fourth centuries before Christ). Most people do not even think it is necessary to question the chronology of these periods simply because most historians accept the dates as though they are engraved in stone, as if the dates are so accurate that there can be no possibility of an error. Most accept the dates because they have been told they are basically secured through astronomical observations and this factor makes the dates to be seemingly infallible. In this Prophetic Report, however, it will be shown that the dates of the Babylonian and Persian periods are not as certain as some may imagine. It is time to re-examine these crucial periods because so much prophetical understanding is founded upon a comprehension of proper chronological indications.

The first thing that must be understood is the fact that the Bible has a consistent and harmonious chronology within itself all the way from the First Adam to the Second Adam (Jesus Christ). If we had nothing but the Bible to give us the chronology of the past from the time of Christ back to Adam, we would find a very simple and precise chronology that even a child could fathom. The only problems that might arise would concern the Neo-Babylonian period (at the time of King Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century before Christ) and within the Persian period of the fifth and fourth centuries before Christ. These difficulties would only be encountered if one tries to equate biblical chronology with the secular. In fact, trying to fit biblical chronology into a secular framework during those periods is like trying to fit a square box into a circular one and to make them fit like a hand in a glove. It cannot be done in a harmonious way.

But before we discuss the difficulties of the two problem periods of time (that of the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods), let us rehearse briefly the chronological indications within the biblical revelation from the creation of Adam down to the Neo-Babylonian period and then on down to the arrival of Christ Jesus on earth. What we will find is that the period of time between the creation of our first parent Adam as recorded in Genesis unto the advent of the Creator of this world (the Second Adam -- Christ Jesus) is precisely 4000 years in length -- and I mean to the very day! We will see how this is indicated as we proceed in this Prophetic Report.

What I will do first is to give a thumbnail's sketch of what the Bible shows in its chronological indications, and in succeeding pages I will give some details to substantiate the matter.

Look at Table A below.
TABLE A
From Adam's year "one" to the 99th year of
Abraham
2107 years.
From Abraham's year 99 to the first year of the
Exodus
430 years
From the year of the Exodus to year 4 of
Solomon's reign
480 years
Add the remainder of Solomon's 40 years' reign 36 years.
Summation of the years for the 19 kings of Judah
and their reigns from Jerusalem
393 years
Then add a "one" year period for harvest after the
temple's destruction
1 year
Then add the prophetic period which comprised
the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews when the
Land of Judah observed its Sabbatical years of
rest
70 years
Finally, add the 69 Weeks of Sabbatical Periods
that reach to a Messiah (which should properly
begin with the year called Cyrus "one")
483
years
Total number of completed years from Adam to
the Messiah of Daniel
precisely 4000 vears

The Chronological Apparatus Itself

Scriptural chronology is easy to understand if certain principles are adhered to. For the Old Testament there are five significant sections or manner of describing chronological indications. If one will master these sections, chronology can become a simple and understandable part of our growing in grace and knowledge (II Pet.3:18).

Chronological Section Number One. The first manner of indicating chronological time in the Bible is the length of the lives of the early patriarchs. The Scripture records exactly 23 generations from Adam to the end of Joseph's life. It is the easiest thing in the world to add up the number of years between Adam and Joseph's last year (who died at 110 years of age). There is only one snag in the entire period of time (and it is an important one to recognize). It has to do with the time of Abraham's birth.

The Snag: When one reads Genesis 11:26 the impression might first be thought to indicate that Abraham was the firstborn of Terah, when Terah was 70 years old. But the New Testament informs us differently (and only the New Testament gives the "key" to understand this chronological fact). Note that Genesis 11:32 tells us that Abraham's father (Terah) was 205 years old when he died. But we are told by Stephen (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) that Abraham (then called Abram) was only 75 years old at Terah's death (Acts 7:4). Thus, Terah was actually 130 years of age at Abraham's birth. This means (when one adds up the lengths of the patriarchs' lives and making Terah 130 years old when Abraham was born) that there were 2107 years from the first year of Adam unto year 99 of Abraham's life (Genesis 17).

In chronological matters, the 99th year of Abraham's life (when his name was changed from Abram to Abraham) is most important. This will be explained a little later in this Prophetic Report.

Note Well: Another standard of scriptural chronology that must always be observed is the fact that all years in the Bible for the length of a patriarch's life, the years for the reign of a king of Judah, or even in prophetic indications regarding the passage of time, the years are reckoned as WHOLE YEARS (parts of years are not counted). Example: If a baby were born in the middle of a given year, the baby was reckoned in biblical chronology as having commenced his first legal year at the previous New Year's day (in this case, the first day of the month Tishri -- that is, on the Day of Trumpets). For chronological purposes, the New Year must always be acknowledged as being that of Rosh Ha-Shanah (the Day of Trumpets) which is near the Autumn time on our modern calendars. Interestingly, this is the exact day on which Jesus was born and I have demonstrated this fact in my book "The Birth of Christ Recalculated" [updated in my newer book: "The Star that Astonished the World"]. And though the Jews had four different types of New Year days (based on religious and agricultural factors), the New Year for chronological purposes was always that of Tishri One -- the Day of Trumpets. Any baby born within a given year would automatically start his or her "year two" (in a legal sense) with the next Day of Trumpets. This must always be remembered and accounted for if one hopes to understand the basic principles of biblical chronology and to maintain consistency.

Also, all indications pertaining to "years" in biblical chronology employ the cardinal use of numbers (like, one, two, three, four, etc.) and not ordinal numbers (such as, first, second, third, fourth, etc.). It also means that when a person died, the whole of the year in which he died was reckoned as a part of the length of his life and that his son's life who succeeds him (or length of reign) was not counted as being his own until the following New Year's day. The fact that cardinal numbers are always used and that whole years are the standard is an indispensable rule that must always be held to if anyone hopes to understand the simple and consistent manner of scriptural chronology.

Chronological Section Number Two: In the first chronological section, it was shown that the years of the patriarchs' lives is the manner of describing the passage of time in the Bible. But with the death of Joseph at 110 years of age, there is no way to tell in Scripture the number of years that elapsed between his death and the advent of Moses and the time of the Exodus. There are no further indications showing how long the intervening patriarchs lived. But the biblical revelation gives us two time indications that will bridge the chronological gap from the time of Joseph's death to the Exodus period.

There is a statement given in the vision of Genesis 15:12-16 which provides the summation of years which transpired from Abraham's death until the New Year's day of year 5 after the conquering of the land of Canaan under Joshua (Josh. 14:7-10). We are told that the exact number of years occupying this span of time was 400 in number (Gen.15:13).

The number 400 in the vision is not a round number. Note that Abraham was told he would die in a good old age -- he died at 175 -- but after his death this "seed" would be afflicted as strangers for 400 years until the sins of the Amorites were full. It is most interesting that there were exactly 400 years from the very year of Abraham's death -- and I emphasize that it was 400 years to the very year -- to the time when Joshua divided among the "seed of Abraham" the land of the Amorites (when their sins had become full) (Josh.14:7-10). Thus, the "gap" in the chronological reckoning from Joseph's year 110 to the time of Joshua (year 5 inside the land of Canaan) is precisely bridged by this reference to 400 years in Abraham's vision as recorded in Genesis 15. I will explain how to figure this in a moment. But, there is also a second point that must be mentioned, and it helps in explaining the "400 years" indication.

A Corollary Evidence: There is a further chronological factor that provides a precise number of years from Joseph's death to the year of the Exodus. Moses mentioned that the Exodus of Israel commenced on the very day of the conclusion of a 430 year period (Exo.12:40,41). The apostle Paul stated that this 430 year passage of time began with Abraham (at a time when a special covenant was made with him -- see Galatians 3:14-19). The only time that a covenant was made with Abraham (after his name was changed from Abram) to which the apostle Paul could have had reference and one that can be dated in the Bible, was that of Abraham's year 99 as recorded in Genesis 17.

This means that the apostle Paul reckoned 430 years from Abraham's year 99 to the exact year of the Exodus -- and Moses said the Exodus started on that very day (the exact anniversary) of the end of that 430 years (Exo.12:40,41). Thus, all one needs to do is to add 430 years to year 2107 from Adam (Abraham's year 99) and one reaches year 2537 from Adam as the year of the Exodus.

A Comparison of the 400 and the 430 Years' Indications

The 400 years are explained in this manner. Abraham died at the age of 175, and this amounts to 76 years from his year 99. Thus, the 400 years commenced 76 years after Abraham's 99th year and ended, obviously, 476 years later. Now note that Joshua was 40 years old in the second year of the Exodus (Joshua 14:7) and this would be 431 years away from Abraham's 99th year (using the 430 years' indication). But precisely 45 years after the second year of the Exodus (Joshua 14:10) was when Joshua began to divide the Land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel. Add those 45 years to the 431 from Abraham's 99th year, and one also witnesses a span of 476 years when the punishment upon the Amorites became full. Thus we see that there is recorded a 476 year span of time whether one uses the 400 years' indication of Genesis 15 or the 430 years' indication found in Exodus 12:40,41 and in Paul's reference in Galatians 3:14-19. These indications show a complete chronological harmony and consistency from Abraham's year 99 to the end of Joshua's life (who died at 110 years of age).

Chronological Section Number Three: With the death of Joshua there is no way to tell in Scripture how many years there were between Joshua and the birth of David. But God does not leave us without a precise number of years. In First Kings 6:1 is a statement that fills in the "gap" in a simple way. We are told that there were exactly 480 years from the first year of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt (to the very day, as a matter of fact) to year 4 of King Solomon's reign.

Note Well: This 480 year period mentioned in First Kings 6:1 is a most important chronological reference. It means exactly 480 years and it is not a round number. But wait a moment! Did not the apostle Paul say that the period of the Judges alone was 450 years (Acts 13:20)? That's right, Paul did state this fact. So if one couples the years of the pre-Judges' period (the 40 years of the Exodus period plus that of Joshua's rule) as well as adding the reigns of Saul and David along with this "450 years' indication" of Paul for the period of the Judges, it could well mean that the actual elapsed time from the Exodus to year 4 of Solomon's reign was more like 580 years (not the 480 years that First Kings says it was).

Yes indeed, this would be the case if Paul were referring to those 450 years as occurring consecutively to one another. But Paul did not have such a concept in mind. He used words which in Greek can make the matter clear concerning his intention. Paul used the words: "as if' (or, "after a manner of speaking"). Paul really meant that his account of the 450 years was "one way of reckoning it." The fact is, Paul's reference to those 450 years of the Judges' period was a type of aggregate sum in which he included both the years of servitude by the various Gentile nations over Israel as well as the periods of the judgeships of the Israelite rulers. Some of those "times of servitudes" and "periods of judgeships" were actually contemporaneous with one another and Paul full well knew this to be the case. Let us notice Paul's manner of reckoning those years.

The Aggregate Years of the Judges' Period Equal Exactly 450 Years (Acts 13:20)
TABLE B
Cushan of Mesopotamia
8 years (Judges 3:8)
Othniel's rest  40 years (3:11)
Eglon of Moab  18 years (3:14)
Ehud's rest  80 years (3:30)
Jabin of Canaan  20 years (4:3)
   
Barak and Deborah 40 years (5:31)
Midianites  7 years (6:1)
Gideon's rest  40 years (8:28)
Abimelch  3 years (9:22)
Tola  23 years (10:2)
Jair  22 years (10:3)
Ammon/Philistia  18 years (10:8)
Jephthah  6 years (12:7)
Thzan  7 years (12:7)
Elon  10 years (12:11)
Abdon  8 years (12:14)
Philistines  40 years (13:1)
Samson  20 years (15:20)
Eli  40 years (I Samuel 4:18)
Total aggregate years =  exactly 450 years

 

It is truly astonishing that this simple answer to Paul's 450 years for the period of the Judges cannot be found in any commentary that I have consulted, but it represents a veritable "key" to help sort out the chronology of the Judges' period and it confirms the accuracy of the Hebrew chronological indications for this confusing period of history. Thus, Paul's 450 years of the Judges' Period has no hearing on the overall chronological sequence of events between the Exodus and year 4 of Solomon's reign. The 480 years of First Kings 6:1 are proved to be correct in bridging the gap from the first year of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt to year 4 of King Solomon's reign.

Chronological Section Number Four: Once a person arrives at a proper date from Adam to year 4 of Solomon's reign (I Kings 6:1), it is easy to continue on through the reigns of the Judaic kings (those who ruled in Jerusalem). There were 19 kings who followed Solomon. Simply add up the years of reign of those 19 Judaic kings (in the Book of Kings and in the Book of Chronicles -- both books give the identical number of years), and one is shown a total of 393 years.

There is another way to demonstrate that 393 years is absolutely accurate for this period of time. The prophet Ezekiel gave a prophecy that the House of Israel (the northern ten tribes) had been in an iniquitous relationship with God for 390 years (Ezekiel 4:1-8). Ezekiel put Him at the end of the 390 years at the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar's year 19 which happened to be the last year of King Zedekiah's reign. But why 390 years and not 393 years (which is the exact period of time after the death of Solomon)? This is simple to explain. We are told in II Chronicles 11:17 that for three years the northern Israelites after the death of Solomon continued to walk in the righteous ways of God. But after three years, Jeroboam set up the calf worship in Bethel and Dan (I Kings 12:26-33). This is the precise time that Ezekiel's prophecy of the 390 days (which answered to "years") began to be counted. Thus we see that the prophet Ezekiel clearly confirms the 393 years' period for the 19 Judaic (Davidic) kings to have ruled in Jerusalem.

In spite of the problems that many chronologists believe they have found to show what they consider to be contemporaneous reigns or "gaps" in rulerships in the period of the 19 Judaic kings, the Bible is abundantly clear that the 429 year period from year 4 of Solomon's reign to the last year of Zedekiah (the 429 years are reached by adding the 36 years left for Solomon 5 reign plus the 393 years for the 19 Judaic kings), we are given biblical proof that there were no "gaps" or contemporaneous rules among the Davidic line of kings who reigned at Jerusalem. Thus, biblical chronology from the creation of Adam down to the last year of King Zedekiah of Judah is completely consistent and harmonious. There is not a problem in the world with it.

This means that Solomon's year 4 was year 3017 from Adam. One must then add the 36 years left for Solomon's rule and the 393 years for the other 19 Judaic kings (which amounts to 429 years), then one comes to year 3446 from Adam for the last year of Zedekiah when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in year 19 of King Nebuchadnezzar's reign. This is the very year in which biblical chronology is first able to link up with Babylonian (or Gentile) chronological indications, and the Bible shows that year was precisely year 3446 from the creation of Adam. (I will have more to say on this matter a little later in this Prophetic Report.)

Note Well: There are some important points that must always be kept in mind in dealing with chronological matters of the period of these Israelite and Judaic kings (those from Solomon to Zedekiah). For one, it is essential to remain with the tally of years provided by the Davidic kings at Jerusalem and not utilize (as a standard) the rule of the northern kings of Israel or any other Gentile kingdom. The standard in the Bible is always Judah and those kings reigning in Jerusalem (the descendants of King David).

Secondly, all the years of rule for the Judaic kings must be reckoned as "whole years" and not parts of years. There was in Judah what was known as the accession method of counting the years of a king. It worked like this. If a king died during a part of the year of his reign, for technical reasons the whole of the year was still awarded to the king (though dead), while his son who took over the rule would not have his reign reckoned in the over-all scheme of chronology until New Year's day (the Day of Trumpets) after the death of his father.

With this procedure it is possible to follow in a consistent way a proper consecutive chronology of years. As a matter of fact, if a king ruled only three months or so and his rule did not extend beyond New Year's day (the First of Tishri -- the Day of Trumpets), then his short reign was not even counted in the 429 years from Solomon s year 4 to the last year of Zedekiah's reign. This is an important principle which one must always keep in mind when applying the dating system of chronology as employed by the Holy Scriptures.

Chronological Section Number Five: With the death of King Zedekiah of Jerusalem in year 3446 from Adam, we are no longer able to count the number of years of the Judaic kings because no Davidic children continued to reign in Jerusalem. The people of Judah (in the year 3446 from Adam) were taken to Babylon and Jerusalem and the temple were then destroyed.

During the next 70 years (actually, 71 years, as we will soon see), scriptural chronology makes a radical departure from the normal procedure for counting the years of elapsed time from Adam's creation. For the first time, the Bible begins to use a prophetic chronological scheme very different from what it employed in previous times. It now provides a prophetic manner of giving chronological data. It adopts a Sabbatical Years' scenario which is dependent solely upon a prophetic theme. From the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in year 19 of Nebuchadnezzar, we have to look at Sabbatical Years for the recording of the passage of time in the Bible. (See Leviticus chapters 25 and 26 for a description of how to count Sabbatical Years.)

The fact that God goes over to a prophetic manner of interpreting chronological matters irritates most secular historians. It is at this very time that most scholars begin to revolt against the chronological statements of the Bible. But to those who believe that the biblical revelation is a divine testament of the actual facts as revealed by Yahweh himself, there should be no difficulty in accepting this prophetic chronological scheme. If we will embrace the prophetic chronology provided by God the Father at this time, we will discover some wonderful chronological clues that most historians (and theologians) of this world fail to recognize.

Note Well: Jeremiah the prophet stated that there would be a prophetic period of 70 years in which the Jews would be in exile away from their homeland in the Land of Canaan. This teaching of the 70 years of exile has not been accepted (with the simple chronological parameters given in Jeremiah) by the majority of biblical interpreters. There have been major disputes among scholars regarding the time for the beginning and the ending of this period of 70 years. But the simple truth is (when all is analyzed in a pragmatic way of reading the text of Jeremiah and Chronicles), we can see that Jeremiah prophesied that this 70 years of punishment were to begin from a particular New Year's day (or perhaps ten days later on the Day of Atonement when all Sabbatical Periods are denoted to begin). The 70 years were to be a time of exile from the Land.

With this information we are given scriptural indications that will bridge the "gap" between the close of the Davidic dynasty at Jerusalem and the beginning of the significant year one of Cyrus when he began to rule over Babylon (II Chronicles 36:22).

A Significant Point to Consider

I must now present an important prophetic indication that I only came to realize about 3 years ago. A close reading of Jeremiah shows that there are 3 years (note I said 71 years) to be reckoned from the last year of Zedekiah's rule in Jerusalem until year "one" of Cyrus' rule over Babylon. But why is it 71 years, and not the 70 years that was mentioned by Jeremiah and the other prophets?

This is such an important point and I must take time to explain it. And though it only involves a single year of time, it is a significant chronological indication that helps us comprehend the overall scheme of biblical chronology that has hitherto not been recognized. Understanding this point will make it clear why there are, in fact, exactly 4000 years between the creation of the First Adam and the advent of the Second Adam (Christ Jesus) into the world. And I mean exactly 4000 years to the very day! It is remarkable that this remarkable (and precise) number is reached.

The fact is, Jeremiah said that the land of Judah would enjoy 70 years of Sabbatical rest (empty of its people) for their lack of keeping the seventh year Sabbatical rest of the land in the previous 490 years. But, in the year after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (after Zedekiah's rule came to an end), Jeremiah commanded the Jews to remain in the Land of Judah and continue to farm the land (even to harvest the grapes, etc.). See Jeremiah 40:9-12; 42:10. Thus, the year following the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was NOT a year of Sabbatical rest for the Land of Judah as the 70 years prophecy of Jeremiah said would occur.

The truth is, the next year following the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was not a part of the 70 years' punishment on the people of Judah for their rebellion to God. Only when the Jews with Jeremiah refused to obey Jeremiah and decided to go to Egypt did the 70 years punishment begin to take effect. The year following the destruction of Jerusalem was not a part of the 70 years' period of punishment. This means that the time from the last year of Zedekiah to year "one" of Cyrus' rule over Babylon was 71 years, not 70 years as one at first might expect. This is a most important point to realize in a chronological sense.

This signifies that from the dedication of the temple in Solomon's year 4, there were 36 years left to Solomon's reign, then there were 393 years for the 19 Judaean kings, and then one remaining year after the temple's destruction before the 70 Sabbatical Years of Jeremiah's prophecy could began.

Now note this. One can now add 36, plus 393, plus the one year of harvest after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the total time for this significant period in Israel's history is exactly 430 years. It answers in parallel to a similar period of 430 years from Abraham's 99th year to the beginning year of the Exodus given by Moses in Exodus 12:40,41 and referred to by the apostle Paul in Galatians 3:14-19.

These two periods of 430 years grant to us a happy symbolic circumstance (a symmetry of chronological comparisons in the history of Israel) that makes the period from Solomon's year 4 to the last year of Zedekiah fit into a systematic and harmonious chronological design echoed by a former historical period similarly related to God's people Israel.

Thus, we find that the beginning of the 70 Sabbatical Years of Jeremiah commenced with year 3448 from the creation of Adam. This also means that year "one" of Cyrus' rule over Babylon answers to year 3518 from Adam's creation. Chronological Section Number Six: This now presents us with the task of procuring a consistent chronology from year "one" of Cyrus unto the time that Daniel in his Seventy Weeks' Prophecy said that a Messiah would appear on earth. And note this carefully. If one wishes to remain thoroughly with the Scripture itself (and not go outside its boundaries for chronological matters) then one will have to pay attention to this Seventy Weeks' Prophecy to discover the interval of time that elapsed from Cyrus "one" to the coming of the Messiah. Let us look at this important prophecy.

Daniel gave us some major chronological indications in the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy, and they must be properly understood if a chronological application in a historical sense can be demonstrated from the time of the First Adam to that of the Second Adam (Christ Jesus).

What did Daniel mean when he gave us the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (or Heptads – the word "heptad" means "seven"). He equated the whole of this prophecy with a period of 490 years divided into four sections. The first division represents 7 heptads ("sevens") of 49 years. The second has sixty-two heptads which answers to 434 years. Then there is one remaining heptad of 7 years, and it is divided into two periods of 3 and 1/2 years each. This significant teaching is found in Daniel 9:24-27 and it is a central messianic prophecy.

What must be understood is the fact that this prophecy has a Sabbatical Years' theme associated with it. The Sabbatical theme is apparent because the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy was given to Daniel to inform him that the full restoration of the Davidic kingdom in Jerusalem (that he expected to emerge at the end of Jeremiah's prophecy of the 70 years) would not actually come on the scene until a further (and greater) Seventy Weeks' span of time would elapse. At the conclusion of 69 of those Seventy Weeks, the promised Messiah would emerge and after the last "Week" complete righteousness would be established over all the earth.

Note Well: The Seventy Weeks' Prophecy provides a bridging of the remaining chronological "gap" between the First Adam and the Second Adam, the Messiah. It is this prophecy that is the most difficult to figure out in relation to recorded chronological events as given to us by the secular historians. In fact, one could say that there is no real association with what secular historians have presented to us to believe.

This does not mean that the prophecy is invalid. The truth is, it could well mean that it is the secular chronological accounts that are the ones in error and that this prophecy in Daniel is the "key" to unlock the real chronology of the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods. There are some factors of interpretation concerning the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy, however, that must be kept in mind if one hopes to comprehend just what the meaning of this prophecy of Daniel is all about. Notice some of the questions that must be answered before a right result can be obtained.

An Outline of the Difficulties within the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy

A. When does the counting of the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy begin? There are five possible dates that are contenders. 

B. There is also another difficulty in interpreting the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy. We need to know the days of the year-lengths of the prophecy that Daniel had in mind.

C. There is even a further difficulty in the interpretation of this prophecy. Are there any "gaps" to be reckoned between the four divisions of the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy since the Hebrew says that each section has been "cut out" of the course of history? This may mean that the chronological segments of the prophecy are not intended to be understood consecutively. If there are "gaps," when do they start and when do they terminate? And how long are the lengths of time between the supposed gaps if there are any?

D. And equally important in understanding the prophecy, when does the Seventy Weeks have their conclusion (or conclusions)? Especially is it important to know about the chronological benchmarks of the 69 weeks' portion that lead up to the advent of a Messiah, a Prince of Israel. 

The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel gives us no certain clues as to what parameters (of the above ones given) that God has placed in action to fulfill the prophecy. This does not mean that it will not be fulfilled precisely as Daniel intended, but it leaves each of us with some unknown factors that make the prophecy unsure in its precise interpretation.

In my own view, I feel that God has deliberately made the various points of the prophecy problematic in order to keep us from setting "certain" and "secure" dates for the fulfillment of prophetic events. Men and women have set dates over the past and have been dead wrong. Is this not a warning to us not to do the same thing in a dogmatic sense? I think so.

But let us not forget one important fact. The prophecy is exact and precise. It will be fulfilled to the dotting of an "i" and the crossing of a "t." God will indeed fulfill his prophecies right on time (and precisely in accord with his divinely inspired statements in the Holy Scriptures), but they will be accomplished in accordance with his interpretations (which are always right), not in accordance with the suppositions and reasonings of man. Thankfully, however, we are discovering more and more the time schedules that God has placed in his power, and God has prophesied that we will be able to understand his prophecies even more clearly as time progresses towards the end of the age (Daniel 12:4,9).

Chronological Section Number Seven: Whatever may be the difficulties shown in the previous section, a most interesting characteristic is seen in Old Testament chronology if one adopts the use of the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy as a scriptural chronological indication. The number of years from the First Adam to the Second Adam (the Messiah) comes out to be exactly 4000 years. This is a highly significant number of years and it makes one think that the prophecies of Jeremiah and Daniel may be the "key" to properly comprehend all chronological past time that elapsed between the two "Adams.

A Summation of Biblical Chronology

The most important point in understanding a proper biblical chronology is to determine the commencement of the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy. The simple scriptural indication leads us directly to year "one" of Cyrus' rule over the city of Babylon (and this is clearly indicated if one will compare II Chronicles 36:22,23 with Ezra 1:1-3). Beginning with this year, there were to be Sixty-Nine of those Weeks (483 years) up to some point in the Messiah's life that would introduce him to the world. By attaching those 483 years to year 3518 from Adam (including Cyrus' year "one"), the remarkable sum of 4000 years will have elapsed between year "one" of the First Adam and year "one" of the Second Adam (Christ Jesus).

This would mean that the Messiah would commence the role that Daniel prophesied for him exactly (and to the very day -a New Years' day -- Tishri One -- the Day of Trumpets) at the very beginning of year 4001 from the first day of creation as recorded in Genesis One! Note again the tally of years to show this.

Again Notice Table A
From Adam's year "one" to the 99th year of
Abraham
2107 years.
From Abraham's year 99 to the first year of the
Exodus
430 years
From the year of the Exodus to year 4 of
Solomon's reign
480 years
Add the remainder of Solomon's 40 years' reign 36 years.
Summation of the years for the 19 kings of Judah
and their reigns from Jerusalem
393 years
Then add a "one" year period for harvest after the
temple's destruction
1 year
Then add the prophetic period which comprised
the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews when the
Land of Judah observed its Sabbatical years of
rest
70 years
Finally, add the 69 Weeks of Sabbatical Periods
that reach to a Messiah (which should properly
begin with the year called Cyrus "one")
483
years
Total number of completed years from Adam to
the Messiah of Daniel
precisely 4000 vears

Note Well: The fact that this accumulated time is exactly 4000 years in length is important. This figure of 4000 years fits in well with other prophetical indications in the Bible. There are strong scriptural reasons that the plan of Yahweh for the redemption of the human race occupies a span of 6000 years in which mankind has predominance and which will be followed by a 1000 year sabbatical type of reign of the Messiah called the Millennium.

This 7000 year plan of God for mankind's experience is found in early Jewish sources. In a first century work called Pseudo-Philo we read: 'There will be a foundation for men, and they will dwell between them for 7000 years" (28:8,9). The apostle Peter said, referring to events dealing with the creation account in Genesis, "that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8). This same principle is found in a Jewish work published some 150 years before the birth of Christ (Jubilees 4:30), and supposedly was a reflection of the teaching of Moses recorded in Psalm 90:4 -- "a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday."

It was also felt by the early Jews that the seven days of creation were each to be reckoned as one thousand years each in prophetic time or, 7000 years for mankind's existence on earth. The last 1000 years was to be a time for God to rule on earth and for the earth itself to have a "Sabbath rest." In the Book of Hebrews we find this very teaching shown. "There remains therefore a sabbath-keeping to the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9 Greek). This was a reference to the Millennium or the final 1000 years -a seventh millennial "sabbath" which occupies the last 1000 years of what appears to be God's 7000 year plan.

What is interesting is the fact that the chronology of the Old Testament makes the passage of time from the First Adam to the coming of the Messiah (the Second or Last Adam) as being exactly 4000 years in length. This exact period of 4000 years leads directly to the Messiah of Israel as beginning his prophesied role precisely at the start of the year 4001 from the First Adam. And following the 7000 year prophetic plan as indicated above (6000 years for man and 1000 for a millennial "sabbath"), then there would remain exactly 2000 years from the first advent of the Messiah to his second advent and the beginning of the Millennium. This means that the exact 4000 years' period is important.

While all of this may be true, when does the 4000 years (determined through Old Testament chronological indications and including Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks) have their termination? If one reckons the first 69 Weeks of Daniel to end with Messiah's birth in 3 B.C., then adding 2000 years shows the Millennium would logically start in AD. 1998 (a short 8 years from this writing). But if one takes Christ's baptism in A.D.27 as the terminus of the 4000 years of Old Testament chronology, then one should add a further 30 years (to reach A.D.2027) before Christ will begin to rule on earth.

This latter date is most interesting because the last time a command was given to rebuild Jerusalem (with its walls) as Daniel said would occur in the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy was in A.D.1537 when the Turkish ruler Suleimon gave such an order. If one can see an end-time fulfillment of the complete Seventy Weeks' Prophecy in this historical event, it is obvious that 490 years from A.D.1537 is indeed A.D.2027 (exactly 2000 years from the time of Christ's baptism). The coincidences of these time indications should give us much to think about.

Can the Seventy Weeks' Prophecy Correct Secular Chronology?

The Old Testament makes it clear that biblical chronology allows precisely 4000 years between the creation of the First Adam and the emergence of the Second [or Last] Adam -- Christ Jesus. Yet secular chronology accepted by the world today (and dominated by most historians since the second century after Christ) will not allow this figure to prevail. What we need to ask is this: Is secular chronology right and the Bible wrong, or is the Bible right and secular chronology (as accepted by the world today) in error? This is an important point that must be considered by all students of the Bible and especially by prophetic interpreters. Let us see the problem.

It is commonly believed by secular historians that the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year (which answers to the last year of Zedekiah and the year when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed) was either 586 or 587 B.C. Secular scholars then tell us that some 44 to 48 years later in either 538 or 539 B.C., the first year of Cyrus (the Persian king who began to rule over Babylon) became a reality. Now 44 to 48 years is not the 70 (or the 71) that Jeremiah prophesied. This is the first major discrepancy between biblical and secular chronology and it is a formidable one that causes many theologians to blush at the prophecy of Daniel.

The second problem is this. It is pretty clear that the 483 years corresponding to the 69 weeks of Daniel's Seventy Weeks' Prophecy commenced with the first year of Cyrus. If that date was in 538 or 539 B.C. as most secular chronologists after the second century have stated, then 69 weeks (or 483 years) from that date brings us to 55 or 56 B.C. for the advent of the Messiah prophesied by Daniel. That date is at least two generations before Christ Jesus was born. This is a problem for Christian theologians.

So what is the solution to this dilemma? Is it that secular chronology is right and the Bible is wrong, or could it be that it is secular chronology is in error and the Bible is correct?

Let us look at the problem a little closer. Since Old Testament chronology does in fact link up with secular chronology at Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year (and also with the first year of Cyrus over Babylon), it is commonly stated by some biblical chronologists that these two "certain" dates in history should cause us to abandon the chronology of the Bible and go over to the date-settings provided to us from secular sources that illustrate the "certain" dates of the kings of the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods. Thus, it is the normal practice for historians and theologians to jettison biblical chronology (given to us primarily by prophetical sources) and that we must go exclusively to Babylonian and Persian chronological sources from this time onward.

But at the very time that the world historians tell us we must go to Babylon for its chronology, we have God telling his people: "Flee out of the midst of Babylon" (Jeremiah 50:8), and "My people, go ye out of the midst of her" (Jeremiah 51:45). This same theme is reflected in the Book of Revelation that quotes these very verses of Jeremiah. The apostle John has Christ Jesus telling his people: "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins" (Revelation 18:4). Is Babylon a reliable guide?

That doesn't end God's appraisal of Babylonian standards of conduct or the reckonings promoted by her. Isaiah said: "Depart ye:, depart ye [from Babylon], go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go out of the midst of her: be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord" (Isaiah 52:11). And well should the people of God come out of her. "By thy sorceries were all nations deceived" (Revelation 18:23). "He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornications" (Revelation 19:2).

Yet at the exact time that God tells his people to flee out of Babylon (and to desist from having any connection with her or her ways), this is the very time that the majority of Christian theologians trot right over to her with hat in hand to accept her chronological teachings without the slightest objection to her reckonings and demands. They not only flirt with Babylon and her standards, they have accepted her wholesale in all her important chronological reckonings.

The majority of our Christian theologians (who claim to love the Bible and its teachings) link up with Babylon and her dating system at this crucial time in history (the time of the Neo-Babylonian Empire dominated by Nebuchadnezzar). They even consider the Gentile dating system of this period not only to be superior to the Bible, but they think it is perfect, infallible, and without corruption or error. Paul, however, had another appraisal of such things. He said: "And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? Wherefore come come out from among them and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you" (II Corinthians 6:15-17).

The Bible tells us to seek the counsel of God, but there is no Scripture commanding us to seek the wisdom and understanding of the Babylonians and their astrological appraisals. Is it right to counsel with the "great Babyonian Mother" about the meaning of the "times" when we have the Bible with a very different story?

But we are told by most modern historians and even Christian theologians that it is the Babylonians who should be in charge of the "times" from the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar onward. This may appear right, but one wonders if that system has the proper credentials? At the very time most people want to link up with Babylonian chronology -- to go over to her in an infallible sense -- Yahweh charges that Gentile system with "changing the times and laws" established by him (Daniel 7:25). And it is clear that the Babylonians are not faithful to Yahweh.

Both Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar (the Babylonian kings) asked their "astrologers, Chaldeans and soothsayers" to inform them of the times in which they were living as well as the future, but they both had to turn to God's prophet Daniel to give them the truth. Even Nebuchadnezzar was wise enough to admit that his Chaldean priests had "prepared lying and corrupt words before me" (Daniel 2:9).

Yet Christians have turned their chronological attention to those very "astrologers, Chaldeans, soothsayers and monthly prognosticators" for what they call an "infallible" chronology during the Babylonian and Persian periods. The Bible, however, as we have shown in this Prophetic Report, has its own clear-cut and plainly understandable chronology for the beginning of the Babylonian period -- indeed, it has a perfect chronology all the way from Adam to the time of Christ. Why should we resort to Babylon when Yahweh has his own chronology which is so easy to understand that a child can grasp its meaning?

Yet most historians and theologians are willing to rely absolutely on the Assyrians and Babylonians for their "certain" chronological indications. Professor S. A. Mitchell in his publication "Eclipses of the Sun" (page 29) states: "The dates herewith given in Babylonian and Assyrian history admit of no uncertainty since they are determined by eclipses. As a consequence, the dates appearing in the Bible must be altered to fit those of verified history." In another instance he states: "As a result of the Babylonian eclipses, it has been necessary to alter the chronology of the Bible by lowering the dates to the extent of twenty-five years" (page 19).

As we will see, however, the several eclipse records of the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians are not the accurate guide to the chronology of the past that some people may think. In Part Two of this Prophetic Report I will show that their interpretation is subject to error. I will also show that the astronomical records (while proper and good of themselves) are only as valuable as the astronomers who interpret them -- and especially the judgments of the historians who wish to appraise the astronomical records. You will be surprised to find out that there is much to be desired regarding the astronomical accounts in the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods in providing us with data to establish the chronology of this crucial time in world history.

Read the rest of this story...

Ernest L. Martin

Go to ASK Home Page •  Print Page

© 1976-2014 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge - ASK is supported by freewill contributions