For some of my readers, this commentary may seem strange. But weigh carefully what is reported before forming an opinion.
In the 1650s, an Anglican bishop named James Ussher published his “Annals of the World,” subtitled, “The Origin of Time, and Continued to the Beginning of the Emperor Vespasian’s Reign and the Total Destruction and Abolition of the Temple and Commonwealth of the Jews.”
It was a ponderous title, but Ussher’s work was a ponderous book. First published in Latin, it consisted of more than 1,600 pages.
Bishop Ussher was no ordinary man, but one who was unmistakably blessed with incredible intelligence and insight that he devoted entirely to the study of God’s Word. (By age 26, Ussher was chairman of the Divinity Department at Dublin University.)
While that in and of itself would be worthy of a lifetime achievement award, Ussher went on to full professorship, served as vice-chancellor of Trinity College twice, and, by age 44, was elevated to the rank of archbishop of Armagh, the highest position in the Irish Anglican Church.
The point is that Bishop Ussher was not just a smart man. He was an intellectual giant who used his God-given gifts to advance the understanding of God’s Word.
Bishop Ussher’s “Annals of the World” begins at the point of creation, which he determined was Oct. 23, 4004 B.C.
Ussher’s arrival at the date of Oct. 23 was determined based on the fact that most peoples of antiquity, especially the Jews, started their calendar at harvest time.
Ussher concluded there must be good reason for this, so he chose the first Sunday following autumnal equinox.
Although the autumnal equinox is Sept. 21 today, that is only because of historical calendar-juggling to make the years come out right.
In September 1752, 11 days were dropped to bring the calendar back in line with the seasons. Another day was dropped at the beginning of the 19th and 20th century for the same reason.
Amazingly, Ussher’s calculations, made centuries before these adjustments, are vindicated by them. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy working by candlelight centuries before the advent of a calculator.
The reason Ussher’s work is so accurate was because he relied solely on Scripture as his source of information.
Ussher arrived at the date of 4004 B.C. by taking known dates in history, and calculating backward by using the chronologies of Genesis Chapters 5 and 11 and working backward. The calculations themselves were so complicated that, in the original documents, they covered more than 100 pages.
Notes Larry Pierce of the “Online Bible”:
Astrogeophysicist Dr John Eddy, who was at the time solar astronomer at the High Altitude Observatory at Boulder, Colorado, made some revealing comments at a symposium in 1978, as reported in Geotimes, Vol. 23, September 1978, p. 18.
There is no evidence based solely on solar observations, Eddy stated, that the Sun is 4.5-5 x 109 years old. “I suspect,” he said, “that the Sun is 4.5-billion years old. However, given some new and unexpected results to the contrary, and some time for frantic recalculation and theoretical readjustment, I suspect that we could live with Bishop Ussher’s value for the age of the Earth and Sun. I don’t think we have much in the way of observational evidence in astronomy to conflict with that.”
We’re all watching our planet and human culture heading into what looks, for all intents and purposes, the early stages of impending demise.
There are daily, breathless reports about the disintegrating environment, global warming, strange weather patterns, unusual solar activity, together with constant revisions of previously accepted scientific “facts” about the universe and how it works.
The global social structure upon which civilization is built – the family – is under attack from every direction. The war on terror is, in reality, a clash of cultures – both natural and spiritual – with the forces of Islam squaring off against Judeo-Christian culture.
The very fabric of human civilization is being rent and torn before our eyes. It is difficult, at this juncture in history, to foresee how it will survive the onslaught. No nation, seemingly, is exempt from the threat.
Recently, a Senate committee calculated a 70 percent probability, for example, of an attack against the United States with a weapon of mass destruction within the next 10 years. Given our own nuclear capability, any retaliatory response by the United States could destroy civilization as we know it.
Using Bishop Ussher’s calculations, the Prophet Hosea lived from 3197 to 3246, or, 808 to 759 B.C. Ussher’s dating is expressed in standard years, although he worked from the perspective of the ancient calendar of 12 months of 30 days each. At the end of each year, the ancients tacked on five days, and every four years they added six days.
The prophet Hosea wrote, “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight” (Hosea 6:1-2).
Further on, the prophet predicted; “Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people” (6:11).
The Jews of the tribe of Judah were “revived” on May 15, 1948, the day the world officially recognized the existence of the state of Israel. Since then, little pockets of Jews, members of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, have been discovered in various places and repatriated to their ancient cultures and homeland.
Hosea began with the promise of God that “He will heal us and bind us up” – a promise that was fulfilled with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah Jesus.
With the extension of the Perfect Sacrifice for sins that washed away the sins of all men (“by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life,” Romans 5:18).
We date our own calendar counting forward from Christ. So does God, which brings us back to Hosea’s prophecy. “After two days will He revive us, and in the third day, raise us up,” writes the prophet.
Twice in Scripture, God reveals His own reckoning of time. “For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalms 90:4).
“But, 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” (2nd Peter 3:8).
Our calendar dates the birth of Christ as Year One. It doesn’t much matter if Jesus was born somewhere between 6 BC and 6 AD, given the subsequent manipulation of the various calendars to make them come out right.
Based entirely in Scripture, Ussher’s calculation of creation as being 4,004 years before Christ isn’t based on the year of Christ’s birth. Hosea’s prophecy is.
Ussher took the known date of Nebuchadnezzar’s death as the benchmark from which he launched his backward journey through time, using scriptural chronology to move both forward and backward in his calculations.
I hope I haven’t lost you with all the numbers – it makes me a bit dizzy as I work through them myself. (Bishop Ussher was certainly an intelligent man. Even with a calculator, I have trouble going through all this.)
According to Bishop Ussher, the last time Israel marked its God-mandated Jubilee Year was the Year 4030 from the date of Creation, which would correspond to our A.D. 26. Using Ussher’s calculations, therefore, the Year 2005 dates 6,009 years forward from the date of creation.
And there is a 12-year gap of uncertainty between the Anno Domini calendar and the literal date of His First Advent.
Jesus said that “ye know not what hour your Lord doth come,” and I believe Him. So I am not setting a date for either the rapture or His second coming. But Hosea said that Israel’s revival would come after two days.
It was restored politically in 1948, just before the conclusion of the ‘two days’ since the birth of Christ, but Ezekiel’s chronology says that the political revival is only the first stage of Israel’s “revival.”
“And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them.” (Ezekiel 37:8, NKJ) The Hebrew word translated “breath” is “ruwach,” a word that primarily means “spirit,” particularly in this context about “spiritual animation.”
Israel is physically alive, but, to this moment, it is corporately spiritually dead. That “quickening” of the spirit is accomplished by faith in Christ (“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1, NKJ).
So, to return to Hosea, we find the prophecy that after two days, Israel will be revived, but in the third day, they will be “quickened” so that Israel might “live in His sight.”
Israel’s physical revival has been an ongoing process for 58 years as the world’s Jews, including members of the Ten Lost Tribes, are being re-gathered to the land of Israel. Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s redemption process is almost complete.
No matter how one approaches it, either by accepting Ussher’s calculations from creation, or accepting our calendar reckoning of time since the birth of Christ, the conclusion is inescapable.
Hosea said of the Jews, “after two days will He revive us, and in the third day … we will live in His sight.”
Peter says that “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
It is clear that God is extending His “grace period” (the Church Age of Grace) to give all men one last chance to accept the gift of pardon that He extends to them, but it is equally clear that His patience is being rapidly exhausted.
How much longer will He wait before returning for His Church and effecting Israel’s national redemption at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period?
Given the 12-year gap, we are somewhere between four years before and eight years into Hosea’s Third Day.
I don’t believe we can calculate the Jesus’ sudden coming for His Church, because Jesus said no man could know the day or the hour.
But He did say, “So, you too, when you see all these things [the predicted signs], recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33). He is very near, indeed!