David M. Raley
Laurel Hill, NC 28351
copyright 1998 - 2001
David M. Raley
Laurel Hill, NC 28351
copyright 1998 - 2001
As the year 2,000 grew closer a lot of those who had ignored the loonies began to get a little edgy themselves. Would the universe collapse? Would a lot of software cease to function? Would it bring in a new era, an age of wisdom and understanding? Would Our Savior return? If He did would He do it on January first or December twenty fifth. (and, by the way), Why didn't He come soon like He said?
Only the second and last of these questions could be answered with any degree of satisfaction at the time. The last one first: He never said that He would come soon, He said He would come quickly, in the twinkling of an eye. Now you see Him now you don't. That's backwards of course but "now you don't see Him, now you do" is clumsy construction, even for a Sand Mountain Hybrid like me. One could answer the second question by telling one's computer that it was already some date in 2,000 and seeing what still worked. I tried it with mine and if it thought anything strange about it, kept it to itself. I also checked out the computers of several of my clients and told them that they need make no upgrade for the applications they were running. Most upgraded anyway.
One reason why we even asked the rest of the questions, and others like them, is the desire to find order in the world. Another is our longing to make things come out even. If you firmly believe that Jesus the Christ was born on the 25th of December and that if He were still in the flesh He was 2,000 years old in the year we call 2000, and if your faith in Him depends upon those dates, turn the page. This mindless screed will at best rile you up and at worst shake your faith. If you believe that A.D. means "after death" and cannot be convinced that it really means Anno Domini, "in the year of our Lord," the rest of this essay will make no sense to you at all. Turn the page. If you know that there was no year zero and can't make up your mind if the year before 1 A.D. was 1 B.C. or 2 B.C. this was written for you, although that question will not be actually addressed.
I wrote the first version of this in 1995 A.D.. This corresponds with the Jewish year 5755 and the Julian year 6707. The latest update, changing will be's to was'es etc was 2001. Let us turn our attention to March 13th in the Julian year 4710; 4 B.C.. There was an eclipse of the Moon on that date and Herod the Great, who was already well into his terminal illness, became sicker. The connection is not that the eclipse affected his health but that it is an undeniable chronological marker. It was shortly thereafter that worms were discovered to be eating his privy member. Herod was ill tempered at best and it is doubtful that this predicament did a great deal to improve his disposition. Josephus mentions the events as taking place about the same time, (1). Herod the Great died not long after, if you know exactly when please share. The point here is that if Jesus was born before Herod died, and the Bible says He was, then He must have been born no later than the year we call 4 B.C.. There is a good case for 6 B.C. but I won't make it here, I personally lean towards 5 B.C. with doubts and reservations.
Anyhowsomever you can see that the year we call 2000 A.D. couldn't possibly be Jesus'es 2,000th birthday and if it were His intention to return when He would have been 2,000 He would have already have come. At the latest, even if you accept the argument that what we call 4 B.C. was really 5 B.C. on March 13th, because the year changed on a different day back then, His 2,000th birthday is at least three years before the year we call 2,000. You and I know that He never gave any indication that He would be back in 2,000 years. He said He didn't even know the Big Day Himself.
This will cheer you up. It is much more likely that you will die in any particular year than it is that you will witness the Second Coming before dying. I had to add the words "before dying" because the dead will be raised during the process and all will bear witness. Something that I have never been able to figure out is why anyone should fear the Second Coming. If you are a believer you will be taken up and miss the Tribulations, if you are not a believer why in the world would you be concerned about something that you don't believe is going to happen in the first place?
A further argument that The Son of Man was born in 4 B.C. is that John the Baptist is said to have been born in 5 B.C. and Jesus was about 20 weeks younger than He, (2). (but) There are those who will fight you at a funeral if you don't agree that John was born in early February. Hardly anyone who has studied the subject enough to be entitled to an opinion will argue. When we wheel back to the eclipse we call it 4710 or 4 B.C. because we use January 1 as the turn of the year. In Herod's time the year changed on or about March 21st. It was still 4709 to him. Did the historian who fixed John the Baptist at 5 B.C. consider the year to have changed in March? Let's say he did to give the most benefit of the doubt to Jesus being born as late as possible. Early February for J.B.? Let's give him Candlemas a.k.a. Groundhog Day. Twenty weeks from Candlemas is the Summer Solstice. The 21st of June. That's about as far away as you can get in the year from December 25th and that sounds just about right. The Winter Solstice was a time to celebrate the attributes of various of the Angels of Satan, isn't it natural that God would get His Son as far from that as possible? It was the Emperor Constantine who over 300 years later mixed Our Savior in with the pagans. Someone is sure to ask: "What about the shepherds abiding in the fields with their sheep?" Easy answer: The sheep were always in the fields in the spring and summer, never in the winter.
How did the year get out of step? Blame a fifth-century monk named Dionysius Exiguus. In his day they used yet another reckoning of the years known as Annus Mundi. He had roughed out the calendar we now use but the Church would not accept it. Not until years after his death with the year 6000 A.M. drawing nigh and the Christian World in panic did the Synod of Whitby agree to the switch. So how did Brother Exiguus make an error of 3 to 6 years? The most logical guess that I can make is that he, as I have above, had Jesus born sometime before Herod's death but he got the appointed years of Herod's reign mixed up with his actual years. Herod had to fight for some of the territory that Caesar had appointed him to rule and it took him three or four years to get it done.
What's left for the person who firmly believed that Our Savior was scheduled to return on His 2,000th birthday? Not a lot. If He did come at that time, He not only came quickly, He went quickly, and those He took with him are yet to be missed. That does not square with the Bible at all.
1. The Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus; Ch.2:4
2. Luke 1:44