Bible Chronology and Prophecy!

Is the chronology of Ussher correct? What about the new
computer chronology recently put forth by E. W. Faulstich??
What about E. Martin's chronology? What effect did the Flood
have on the year? What about the chronology of the Persian
period? What were Jeremiah's "70 years"? Did God substitute
prophecy for chronology after the destruction of the Temple?
What is the BEST Bible chronology, today? In this article we
discuss the pratfalls and pitfalls of Biblical chronological
systems of men, and their shortcomings! It is time you knew the
plain TRUTH about Bible chronology!

William F. Dankenbring

A friend recently sent me some chronological material which calls into question the conclusions reached by Archbishop James Ussher in his famous Bible chronology which is found in the margins of many Bibles. How reliable are these new chronological systems?

One such system is put forth by E. W. Faulstich who claims to have conquered the mysteries of Bible chronology by using a computerized system based on the Jewish calendar, and programming the computer to take the data and compute back to the creation of Adam and Eve.

How reliable are the dates of E. W. Faulstich?

The Faulstich Computer Chronology

It is significant that Faulstich comes relatively close to Ussher in his computerized chronology. His date for Adam, for example, is 4001 B.C. He would put the end of man's 6,000 years at the year 2000 A.D. But is Faulstich right?

History itself is the greatest arbiter to evaluate chronology. If a chronological system doesn't fit the facts, then it must be corrected. The essential idea may be sound, but errors in data throw off the results. Then again, the essential idea sometimes may need reworking. Faulstich is off on the date of the Passover during the Exodus and the death of Christ as well as the year for both. He places the Exodus in 1461 B.C., thirty years later than the received chronology, and the birth of Christ in 6 B.C., two years before His actual birth. He also erroneously places the crucifixion on the 15th of Nisan, instead of the 14th, and says it was a Friday, instead of Thursday. These errors prove his program is faulty.

A greater difficulty occurs relative to the Flood. Faulstich ignores the statement in Genesis that says the Flood began on the 17th day of the second month (Gen.7:11), lasted till the 17th day of the seventh month (Gen.8:4), a total period of time of 150 days (Gen.8:3; 7:24). Thus the waters covered the earth for exactly five months or 150 days. This comes out to exactly 30 days per month! Yet today the lunar month is about 29.5 days in length. The present Jewish calendar adjusts for this by alternating months of 29 and 30 days, for the most part. How then do we square the plain and obvious statement of Moses that five months equalled 150 days?

There is more to this verse than meets the eye. Could it be that the original year, before the Flood, was actually a literal 360 day year? Remember, the world was quite different then, in many respects, not the least of which was the longevity of man. Where did the tradition of a "prophetic 360 day year" come from? Many Scriptures in Isaiah indicate the earth will be moved out of its orbit during the "Day of the Lord," with great heat from the sun scorching men. Will the year once again be altered, the original year of 360 days being one of those things to be "restored"? (Acts 3:19-21).

The Jewish year as it presently stands only goes back to the time of Moses. God told his servant, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year" (Exo.12:1). However, the Jewish calendar is supposed to go back to 5750 years ago, or 3761 B.C. What occurred on that date? Nobody seems to know. It may be that in some form the Jewish calendar does date back to some 240 years this side of Adam and Eve's creation. Maybe that was the original date when mankind first devised a true "calendar," as such, from observing the movements of the astral bodies in the heavens. Whatever the case may be, God told Moses that Nisan was to be the first month of the year, and that particular calendar goes back to the Exodus, in 1492 B.C.

Nevertheless, the events of the Flood of Noah's time, indicate that very likely the earth travelled in a different orbit prior to the Flood, necessitating if not a different calendar, at least modification in the calendar at that time.

If there were an astronomically-related change in the earth's orbit prior to that time, calendar computations based on a computerized model such as Faulstich's model, which don't account for such an event, would be thrown off, roughly 5.25 days per year. From the flood to Adam that would account for 1656 years X 5.25 days, or 8,694 days, or 24.15 years difference between a calendar based on "observation," and a computer calendar analog, such as that of Faulstich.

Ingenious as Faulstich's chronology may appear, at first glance, part of the problem is that we become "wedded" to an idea or mathematical formula, which simply isn't always applicable in a given situation, or in a historical context. This fact is very evident in the area of economics. Economists are always devising new "computer models" of macro-economic theory, and they have been a big "bust". In the end, by using computer programs in areas where there are too few knowns and reliable data, we inadvertently create "monsters" which are harder to kill than weeds!

Further problems come from Faulstich putting Abraham's call at the year 1976 B.C. If we use this as the starting point to begin counting the 430 years till the Exodus (Exo.12:40), the Exodus would be in 1546 B.C. If we count from the covenant God made with Abraham, we come to 1521 B.C. Neither date squares with history, or even with Faulstich's own chronological date for the Exodus of 1461 B.C.! Thus Faulstich's chronology ignores the Biblical data -- the clear 430 years mentioned in Exodus 12:40! He ignores the fact that Moses wrote there were 430 years that "Israel" sojoumed in Egypt! -- no more, no less. Since Abraham himself sojoumed in Egypt twenty five years prior to the date of the covenant (Gen.12:10), this would indicate, as Ussher shows, that the 430 must be counted from the call of Abraham that same year (Gen.12:1). But any chronological framework which says there were 515 years from Abraham's calling till the Exodus, or 490 years from the birth of Isaac till the Exodus, is off by at least 60 years!

Faulstich also gets far off the historical mark when he puts the decree of Cyrus in 551 B.C. Reputable scholars, who are historians, not just "computer whizzes," put the date at 539 B.C. We will see why later. Thus Faulstich is by this time 12 years off in his "chronology" based on a computer program. As the old saying goes, "Garbage in, garbage out".

In spite of his errors, however, Faulstich made an uncanny connection of the Greek conquest of Persia in 334 B.C. with the beginning of the 2300 years of Daniel's prophecy in Daniel 8, and was amazingly correct in tying it in with the "Six Day War" in 1967. Although this discovery had nothing to do with his chronology, per se, I do give him credit for that independent discovery, although I also came to the same conclusion several years ago, based on Bible and historical research.

All in all, I would say that Faulstich may have something to offer, but he needs to tighten up, revise, and improve his programming and input data. Many of his conclusions do not square with history, and therefore must be rejected. If he can correlate his program more accurately with proven historical data, and not require so many "changes," his contribution would be much more valuable. Until then, I must reject his computerized "chronology" as experimental and not yet reliable or trustworthy.

Yet Faulstich's work is impressive compared to another treatise I recently reviewed. Earnest Martin's Principles of Biblical Chronology, is the most bizarre and unscholarly work on Bible chronology I have ever read. His work is more on the order of the "Moon is made of Swiss Cheese" category, or the "Hollow Earth theory." It ranks right up there with the Piltdown Man forgery, the South Sea Bubble, the Tulip Craze, and the "Compendium"!

The Martin Madness

Earnest Martin has a style which sounds superficially intellectual. No doubt he is an accomplished communicator, and has a store of knowledge. However, somewhere along the line he went far, far astray. His Bible chronology places creation at 3973 B.C., and the end of the 6,000 years at 2028 A.D. According to him, therefore, we still have 30 years to go till the probable return of the Messiah -- another generation away!

Martin claims Scriptural chronology is "ideal." That is, he claims scriptural chronology "is a special type of chronological scheme that is quite DIFFERENT from that which is used by secular societies today or in the past." He claims it is not based on the exact motions of the heavenly bodies (or therefore the calendar, which is based on those very motions). He calls it a "secret" type of system. Otherwise, he asserts, we would be able to "date" the second coming of Christ "rather closely." Martin rejects that idea as untenable, although he does claim he can "date" Creation in 3973 B.C. But if he can do that, contrary to his own reasoning, then, he has given a benchmark "date" from which the second coming of Christ could be calculated. It would be 6,000 years later, or 2028 A.D. But is his reasoning necessarily true? Even if people could "calculate" the second coming of Christ, WOULD ANYBODY BELIEVE THEM? Think about it!

Even if the second advent is "datable" by chronology, who would believe it? Martin's argument is unsound and meaningless. Whether a chronological system is "open" or "secret" is not the issue, or even relevant. I would not call Bible chronology "secret" or "hidden." Generally speaking, it is very clear, based on acceptable chronological and historical principles, and methods, and fascinating to study. It is not a self-evident chronology, but God put various "keys" in His Word to make it reliable, trustworthy, and "complete," without resorting to Martin's "secret" theory of esoteric numeric mysticism.

Martin's scheme supposes creation in 3973 B.C., and has Christ beginning His ministry 4,000 years later, in 28 A.D. Isn't he "fudging" his figures here to make it come out? Christ's ministry began in 27 A.D., as Daniel's seventieth week prophecy shows, not 28 A.D.!

Martin makes much of the 400 years of Genesis 15:13, as the time Abraham's descendents would be "afflicted." He ARBITRARILY figures this from the death of Abraham till the conquest under Joshua (Josh.14:7-10). Read Genesis 15:12-16 carefully and you will see no connection of this 400 years with either the death of Abraham, or the conquest of Canaan! It was instead a general figure for the time of "affliction" by the EGYPTIANS, while the Israelites were in EGYPT! (Gen.15:13-14). This "affliction" began when Abraham went to Egypt due to drought and ended when Israel passed through the Red Sea -- not some 46 years later, as Martin claims!

Again, Martin errs when he concludes that the 430 years of Exodus 12:40-41 begin when Abraham was 99 years old, with the confirmation of the covenant God made with him. Martin asserts that, "The only time that a covenant was made with Abraham ... and that can be precisely dated was Abraham's year 99 recorded in Genesis 17." Nonsense! God made His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4 25 years earlier! See also Genesis 13:14-17 and 15:4-12, especially verse 18. In Genesis 17 God did not make an entirely new covenant but said He would "ESTABLISH" the covenant He already made with him for an "EVERLASTING" covenant (Gen. 17:4,7). He did add the feature of circumcision at that time.

Martin places the Exodus from Egypt in 1436 B.C. Here his chronology is off by 56 years already. Rather than stumble around with Martin's alledged "gaps" which he claims are "bridged' by his reasons, a straightforward chronology is presented by Archbishop James Ussher and others utilizing the 430 years from Abraham to the Exodus, and the 480 years from the Exodus to Solomon's 4th year (I Kings 6:1). From that time on it is more or less a matter of counting the regnal lengths of kings of Israel and Judah till the first year of Nebuchadnezzar in 607 B.C., allowing for co-regencies. Solomon's fourth year, then, was 1012, not 956 as Martin says. Here he is still off track by 56 years. Some 25 of those years could be accounted for in his error concerning the covenant made with Abraham. What about the other 31 years? They constitute the number of years he is off in the date of Creation itself.

Putting New Wine in Old Bottles

Now we come to the major "faux pas" of Earnest Martin. He comes down to the reign of the last Jewish king in Jerusalem, and then announces, "For the next 70 years scriptural chronology makes a radical departure from the normal procedure for counting the years of elapsed time. For the first time a PROPHETIC CHRONOLOGICAL SCHEME IS ADOPTED . . ." He claims this scheme is "quite ideal [ie., inaccurate?] but nevertheless important and significant. It is the use of Sabbatical years to record the passage of time."

But why would God do such a thing?

Why resort to vague and nebulous and controversial PROPHECIES in order to teach the chronological record of history?

The very idea is preposterous on its face!

Martin assumes that the prophesied 70 years of punishment on Judah mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet began with the burning of Gods Temple. He places this in 526 B.C. Since accredited historians claim the Temple was burned in 586 B.C., Martin is 60 years off track! Evidently, then, he places the first year of King Nebuchadnezzar at 557 B.C. Yet this date is well attested to in ancient history as 604 B.C.!

When history disagrees with Martin, Martin jettisons history. Nothing must conflict with his cherished THEORY!

Do you see why I call Martin's theory the "Swiss cheese theory" of chronology? It is simply FULL OF HOLES, and is beyond redemption or patch-work! No amount of band-aids can save it from utter destruction!

Martin claims the 70 years of punishment on Judah brings us to the first year of Cyrus, in 456 B.C. Yet, history reveals plainly that Cyrus assumed the throne of Babylon in 539 B.C. Now, at this point Martin has gone off the historical track by 83 years! Astounding -- but true!

The Story from Hell!

How does Martin accomplish this rare feat of twisting history into a pretzel? Notice his own words. Says Martin:

"We must now procure a consistent chronology that will reach to the Second Adam (Christ Jesus). 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 a PURELY PROPHETIC TIME INDICATION which is found in the book of Daniel" (p.21).

Read that again!

According to Earnest Martin, there is supposed to be some "value" in trying to treat prophecy as "chronology." But why? Why would God suddenly resort to such clandestine methods to recount the simple flow of historical time? What's wrong with going outside the Bible to study historical facts and archaeological records? Such records time and time again prove the accuracy of the Scriptures!

Notice exactly what Martin is up to.

Martin counts the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 of the "seventy weeks till Messiah" as a day for a year; thus 70 weeks is 70 X 7 or 490 years. But only 483 years were to pass till the advent of the Messiah, or 69 weeks. So Martin claims we must count this number of years from his date for Cyrus' decree, which he puts at 456 B.C. If we subtract 483 years from this date, we come to 28 A.D. This, he says, is the year Jesus began His ministry, and is exactly 4,000 years from creation in 3973 B.C.

But what is wrong with this clever-sounding idea? Does it hold water? Does history support it?

Not at all!

The problem with this strange idea is twofold: First, Martin ASSUMES the decree we are to count from was that of Cyrus. But Artaxerxes also issued a decree. According to conventional chronology, he issued his decree in 457 B.C. This date would bring the end of the 483 years, till Messiah, to 27 A.D. for the beginning of the ministry of Jesus Christ! Which date is correct? Since Luke records that Jesus was "about 30" when He began His ministry, and He was bom in 4 B.C., the date He would have begun His ministry would have been thirty years from 4 B.C. -- or the year 27 A.D. (Luke 3:23). Remember, there was no year zero, so you have to add one year in crossing from B.C. to A.D. (4 B.C. - 30 = 26 A.D.; 26 A.D. + I = 27 A.D.).

However, what happens when we compress all the history of the Greek and Persian periods into 483 years? Can we treat the history of the Persian Empire in such a cavalier, high-handed manner? Martin admits, rather lamely, that this section of his chronology is "the most difficult to figure out in relation to recorded historical events." That admission is putting the problem mildly. It is IMPOSSIBLE! Martin goes on, "one could say that there is NO ASSOCIATION AT ALL." Then why claim there is? Why try to contort prophecy and make it conform with personal theories of chronology? Martin claims this does not mean the prophecy is invalid, just that there are "secret" factors that "one must discover before this chronological segment can be understood within the mainstream of historical evidence given to us in secular sources."

Bushwah! Balderdash! Nonsense!

If Martin's theory is so full of holes that even he says "there is NO ASSOCIATION AT ALL" between his chronology and the truth of the historical record, then WHY PUSH IT? Why propound it as truth? Why teach it?

This kind of subterfuge is why I call Martin's proposed "chronology" the "theory from hell." It reminds me of a recent Chevrolet pickup truck advertisement on television featuring the "truck from hell." Martin's scheme, however, is truly "hellacious." Notice what kind of conundrum it puts us in, if we accept it!

Crack-pot Chronology

Why doesn't Earnest Martin just come out and admit the whole idea is PREPOSTEROUS? The whole scheme is totally false. It is a crack-pot idea to begin with. Just because Martin's scheme makes the beginning of Christ's ministry exactly 4,000 years from his date for Adam's creation proves nothing; it is just another fillip to seize the attention of the unwary and confuse the minds of the simple. "Oh, so there must be something to it" some might conclude. But the truth is, accidental chronological "coincidences" occur often in history, but have no other significance. A coincidence proves nothing.

The reason Martin's scheme for stretching a mysterious prophecy, and contorting it to calculate HISTORY, is crack-pot and is revealed in the fact that his chronology (it might better be called theology) squeezes the years of the Persian Empire arbitrarily into a space of time which history simply will not allow.

Those like Earnest Martin who insist that 456 B.C. is the first year of Cyrus create an insurmountable problem for themselves. They are constrained to remove forcibly about 80 years from Persian history! They have to "compress" the record of Persian history by 80 years, since the dates of the Greek period are not in question -- no easy task!

The lengths some people will go to "prove" or support their wacky, weird theories is truly awesome to behold!

To support a 456 B.C. date for Cyrus, some 80-year gap theorists claim that the reigns of Darius II (19 years) and Artaxerxes II (46 years) and Artaxerxes III (21 years) should be cut out of the historical record as "FABRICATIONS." This would account for 86 years. But there is a slight problem with this suggestion. Archaeology disproves this idea, because the ROYAL TOMBS of these kings which supposedly "never existed" HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED!

"...in 1931 the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago began excavation of Persepolis ... Cut into the hill behind the platform on which Persepolis was built are the TOMBS OF ARTAXERXES II, ARTAXERXES III AND DARIUS 111. At NaqshiRustam, only three miles from Persepolis, the end of a steep, narrow ridge of rock comes to an abrupt end in the plain. High up in the face of the cliff are the rock cut tombs of Darius I, Xerxes 1, Artaxerxes I and DARIUS II" (Collier's Encyclopedia, vol.15, p.567-568, article 'Persian Architecture: Achaemenid Period 553-330 B.C.').

Further archaeological evidence proves these kings existed. The remains of a palace of Artaxerxes III have been discovered at Persepolis. An inscription of Artaxerxes III himself on the walls of that palace reads:

"Says Artaxerxes the great king, king of kings, king of countries, king of this earth: I (am) the son of Artaxerxes (II) the king; Artaxerxes (was) the son of Darius (II) the king; Darius (was) the son of Artaxerxes (I) the king; Artaxerxes (was) the son of Xerxes the king; Xerxes (was) the son of Darius (I) the king: Darius was the son of Hystaspes by name. Hystaspes (was) the son of Arsames by name, the Achaemenid."

This list of Persian kings agrees perfectly with the Canon of Ptolemy. Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer who lived at Alexandria, Egypt and wrote the Almagest, a very complicated treatise of mathematics and astronomy. His Guide to Geography was the most comprehensive work of its kind in antiquity. Ptolemy was a first class astronomer and geographer of his day. There is no reason to reject his list of Persians kings, and since that list has been independently corroborated by archaeology, the issue stands closed. It is useless to argue about it.

But Martin, apparently, would "reduce" the lengths of reign of the Persian kings, without omitting any of them. Would this be possible? Notice the answer!

We would have to leave 9 years for Cyrus and 8 for Cambyses, because these dates are corroborated by archaeology -- by Babylonian cuneiform records. These were business and legal records dated by the year of the king. Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes 1, Darius II, are also corroborated by other records totally independent of Ptolemy's Canon. During the years between 1898 and 1908 papyri records of an ancient Jewish colony living at Elephantine in Egypt were uncovered by the archaeologists spade. They covered almost all of the fifty century B.C., from 494 to about 400 B.C. These records of that very time mention the kings Darius I, Xerxes, Artaxerxes I, Darius II and Artaxerxes II, and are in agreement with Ptolemy's Canon in every way (see Aramaic Papyri of First Century B. C, edited by A. Cowley).

In these papyri, the 27th year of Darius is mentioned; the 21st year of Xerxes I; the 37th of Artaxerxes I; the 17th of Darius II. If we simply add all these years together, we have at least 119 years figured independently from Ptolemy. This brings us down to Alexander's time, leaving only 7 years for the last 4 Persian kings! Olin Grabbe writes:

'Yet these last 4 kings, in only 7 years, apparently had plenty of time to cut out rock tombs for themselves, make inscriptions, build palaces, etc. They undoubtedly worked in great haste to build historical monuments for posterity when they heard Alexander was coming!' (The New Chronology, 1971, an unpublished manuscript).

Four powerful kings would have had to build palaces, roads, fight wars, carve out rock tombs, and build historical monuments -- all in the space of seven short years! Does this really sound credible? This would give each king only 1.75 years to reign. Such an idea is absurd on its very face.

The 70 Years of Jeremiah

Martin assumes that there were 70 years between the fall of the Temple and the first year of king Cyrus. However, the Bible nowhere says that. It is merely a human idea or speculation. It has no basis in Scripture, or in history. What were the 70 years of Jeremiah?

Notice the truth! Jeremiah wrote, "Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about ... And this whole land shall serve the king of Babylon SEVENTY YEARS. And it shall come to pass when the seventy years are accomplished that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation ." (Jer.25;9-12).

Jeremiah also wrote, "For thus saith the Lord, That after SEVENTY YEARS be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place" (Jer.29:10-14).

What is this 70 years?

The Babylonian Chronicle (B.M. 21901) says it was the 17th year of Nabopolasser when the Babylonian king chased the Assyrian monarch Assur-ballit II and his army from Harran and conquered the whole land to the border of Annenia. The Assyrian king disappears from the record. Only Babylon remains in control. The 17 year of Nabopolasser was August/September 609 B.C.

The fall of Babylon itself is recorded in a cuneiform document called the Nabonides Chronicle. The Persian army took Sippar on Tahrita 14 (Oct.10) 539 B.C. Babylon fell on Tashritu 16 (Oct.l2), and Cyrus entered the city itself on Arahsamnu 3 (Oct.29).

How long was this period of time? From 609 to 539 was exactly SEVENTY YEARS!

Thus the prophecy that all the surrounding nations would serve Babylon for seventy years was fulfilled -- to the exact year!

But what about the 70 years God said His people would spend in Babylon? (Jer.29:10-14). This refers to a different 70 year period. The first captives carried away by Nebuchadnezzar from Judah were those taken in the third year of Jehoiakim (Dan.1:1). That was 604 B.C., the first year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer.25:1).

Cyrus published his decree allowing the Jewish exiles to return to Judea and Jerusalem during his first year (II Chron.36:22; Ezr.l:l; 6:3). What was the first year of Cyrus? He captured Babylon in 539 B.C. That was his "ascension year." His first year as Medo-Persian Emperor was 538/537 B.C., the following year. But at that time, as the book of Daniel shows, Darius the Mede was put in charge of Babylon (Dan.5:31; 6:1; 9:1), although Cyrus was the supreme king over all.

In the Babylonian contract tablets, Cyrus is called "king of countries" for only two years after the capture of Babylon. After that, he is called "king of Babylon" as well. This shows us that Darius the Mede ruled for two years. So the first year that Cyrus was "king of Babylon" was the third year of his reign -- that is, 536/535 B.C. Thus, we see that the decree of Cyrus, permitting the Jews to return to their homeland, was actually issued in 536/535 B.C. The time required for the decree to be actually published and posted, and for the Jews to gather together (Ezra 1:5), and the goods and beasts to be collected for the journey to Jerusalem (v.6), and for the Jews to actually return "every one to his city" (Ezra 2:1), and resettle the land -- as Jeremiah foretold -- required at least another year.

Since they could not travel the direct route across the desert, but had to go northward via Carchemish, it took them many months to make the journey. This brings us to 534 B.C. -- exactly 70 years from the year, 604, when they were carried away into captivity!

Babylonian History

The Babylonian Chronicle (B.M. 21901) reveals that the destruction of Harran, occurred in the 16th year of Nabopolasser's reign. He died in his 21st year, and Nebuchadnezzar took the throne. Since the final blow against the Assyrians occurred in 609 B.C., during Nabopolasser's 17th year, his 16th year would have been 610 B.C.

In the Stele of Nabonides, Nabonides himself tells us the destruction of Harran took place 54 years before the year of his accession. The Nabonides Chronicle (B.M. 35382) records the 17 years of Nabonides from his accession to the taking of Babylon by king Cyrus. So, lets add these years together. From the destruction of Haran to the fall of Babylon were 54 + 17 = 71 years. From 610 B.C. to 539 B.C. are 71 years. Assyria's king was fmally defeated the year after the fall of Harran, so there was an exact period of 70 years, from the fall of Assyria till the first year of Cyrus.

Another 70 Years

But Jerusalem fell in Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year (II Kings 25:8). Since his first year was 604, his 19th year would have been 586 B.C., when the Temple was burned. From 586 B.C. till Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. was only 47 years -- not the 70 years dreamed of by Earnest Martin!

However, there were 70 years of desolation, after the burning of the Temple. But that seventy years involved the desolation of the Temple, not the city of Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the Temple was not completed until the sixth year of Darius (Ezra 6:15). Here's how this 70 years is figured:

47 years desolation from 586 to 539 B.C.
9 years reign of Cyrus
8 years reign for Cambyses
6 years of Darius
70 years from 586 to 516 B.C.!

So once again we see that the chronological surmisings of Earnest Martin leave much to be desired. They are in truth not worth the time spent trying to unravel their knotty threads. They remind me of the many times when as a youth I used to go fishing in Curlew Lake, in eastern Washington. How many times did my fishing line get snarled and tangled up -- just like a birds nest! Often the only solution was to cut off the entire tangle, and begin again with a new line!

We must be very careful when we read the chronological ideas of men who claim to be scholars or educators. Remember, we still have men around today who subscribe to the "flat earth society"!

What Value Is Chronology?

Another chronological "expert" who has been widely believed in the past few decades by some, is Herman L. Hoeh. In the 1950's he placed the creation of Adam in 4026 B.C. He thought Jesus Christ would return in 1975! His theory of chronology was largely responsible for Herbert Armstrong insisting for years that Jesus Christ would return in 1975!

Needless to say, Hoeh's crack-pot chronology went the way of the dodo bird and dinosaur. When 1975 came and went, with nary a whimper, rather than publicly admit he had egg all over his face, Hoeh went back to the chronological drawing boards. Although he has published nothing for the record since that time (a hiatus of over 20 years), I understand he has a "new" chronology which would be very similar to Earnest Martin's in that it places creation much later and postpones the second advent of the Messiah well into the twenty first century -- at least another generation from now! Apparently Hoeh goes from one extreme to the other. But since the overt criticism he received after publication of his speculations in the Compendium concerning Egyptian dynasties and dates, and other areas, he has clammed up and refuses to publish any present theories he may have. Nevertheless, he still darkly hints that his chronological revisions would place the second coming of Christ off another 30 or 40 years.

Given the strong tendency for men to go off on tangents, and fall into the quicksand, when it comes to Bible chronology, does that mean the study of chronology has not value at all? Should we just "forget it" and get on with Christian living?

Not at all!

There is much chronology in the Bible, and God Almighty put it there to instruct us, and to teach us valuable lessons of history and prophecy. Time is very important to God. He Himself created the great chronological clock of the heavens, and the cycles of the day, the week, the month, and the year, as well as the 50-year Jubilee cycles (Lev.25).

God gives chronological clues and dates in His Word for us to study and learn from. They help us to understand history, and point to the second coming of the Messiah after 6,000 years of human history.

The apostle Paul wrote, "ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Tim. 3:16-17).

Paul also wrote, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15).

Jesus Christ said, "It is written, 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God!" (Matt. 4:4). Since chronology is PART of the Word of God, it obviously is important to study. It is not something we should ignore, despise, or neglect. There is a REASON God put dates and times in the Bible, and we should not just ignore them or take them for granted.

Chronology is certainly an interesting and challenging study. However, people can be easily misled by chronological theories and ideas of men. The apostle Paul was wise to warn us to beware of men who love to argue over endless genealogies and disputes over words and figures.

Misuse of Chronology

Paul wrote to Timothy, "Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:14-15).

Paul also wrote, "If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to FINANCIAL GAIN" (I Tim.6:3-5).

These words of the apostle Paul seem so perfectly appropriate! Remember them, when you come across the fantasies and foolish nonsense of self-proclaimed "scholars" and self-styled "educators" who love to teach and prattle about the Word of God!

Paul also described such when he wrote to Timothy, "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to MYTHS and ENDLESS GENEALOGIES. These promote controversies rather than Gods work -- which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have WANDERED AWAY from these and turned to MEANINGLESS TALK. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm" (I Tim.1:3-7).

Paul also warned Titus, "But avoid foolish controversies and genealolgies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is WARPED and sinful; he is self-condemned" (Titus 3:9-11).

The Most Important Thing

Chronology is only one of the tools God has given us to better understand His Word. It is, however, not the most important thing. As Paul wrote to the Romans, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17).

Paul warned against getting side-tracked into areas that do not profit or distract us from the real purpose of Christian living. He wrote: "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing..."

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast it is not proud.

"It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

"It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

"For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (I Cor. 13:1-13).