Calculating Dates Before the Birth of Christ
The calendar as we know it today is a relatively recent phenomenon: before the birth of Christ nations generally dated events according to the ruling year of the current monarch. This is seen in the dating of the Old Testament for example in Daniel 9:1-2 where Darius’ rule is used to determine the timing on Daniels discovery of the 70 years.
As one can safely assume, this greatly complicates efforts of historians to create realistic timelines before the birth of Christ. I use the work of Dr. Harold Hoehner as my primary reference and guide to Old Testament dates and the dates surrounding the birth and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. His book, “Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ” is one of the most dependable studies on the timing of several Biblical events and I recommend it highly.
I mentioned last time the starting and stopping points of the first 483 years of the last 490 years given to Israel were important as we try to relate these events to dates we can understand. Most Biblical chronologists agree on the dates to within two or three years; Dr. Hoehner has taken the position that the decree in question was made by Artaxerxes on March 5, 444 B.C. as recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8.
No Year Zero
Another important point is the length of the prophetic year which was 360 days, not 365 days; the prophetic months are 30 days in length. Converting the prophetic year to our calendar year is yet another challenge to the Biblical chronologist. An interesting detail is the absence of a year zero which means that BC 1 and AD 1 are the same year.
From the above one can see how slight variations between Biblical chronologists might develop; as I mentioned earlier I am comfortable with the scholarship of Dr. Hoehner.
Using March 5, 444 B.C. as a starting point where would 483 prophetic years take us? Figuring 483 years of 360 days each would make a total of 173,880 days which would, in turn, convert to 476 calendar years plus 25 days. This would then place the cutting off of the Anointed One on March 30, AD 33 which was Nissan 10 according to the Jewish calendar. Did anything noteworthy happen on that day one might ask? The answer is an emphatic yes; this was the day the Lord Jesus Christ made his formal entry into Jerusalem.
Contrary to what we customarily celebrate, the entry was on a Monday, not a Sunday and it was not triumphal for our Lord; it was a time of great sadness as evidenced by Luke 19:41-42 where it is written, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.”
The Entry into Jerusalem
The particular Greek word used for wept means a loud wracking sob; our Lord’s body was shaken by His sobs as He entered Jerusalem. He is likely the only one who understood the enormity of what was happening; the Jewish nation was being set aside, their final rejection of their Messiah was going to yield great suffering for centuries to come. Their judgment would be severe and is still in force today.
It is likely, in His omnipotence that Jesus saw the Jerusalem of 70 AD as destroyed by Titus and could also see the bodies of some of those welcoming Him as they lay silent in death. This was a momentous, tragic moment that was being recognized only by the Lord and the thought of what was going to befall Jerusalem and His people reduced Him to wracking sobs. I suspect His disciples were totally confused by His reaction to the sight of Jerusalem and the excited crowds.
There is another extremely touching aspect of our Lord’s entering Jerusalem on Nissan 10. If we examine Exodus 12:3 we read, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month (Nissan) each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” This was part of the instructions given to Israel on the occasion of the first Passover in Egypt. The family would select a perfect lamb and place it on display in front of their dwelling so all could see they were offering the Lord their very best.
God’s Passover Lamb Put on display
On March 30, AD33, the 10th of Nissan, the Father put His Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, on display for all Jerusalem to see that the Father was offering them His very best.
After the passing of that day Israel had been set aside for an undetermined number of years. Today we are at year 1,979 and still counting as Israel continues to suffer judgments until the return of the Lord they rejected.
The countdown clock on Israel’s last 7 years of their last 490 years will recommence when Israel signs a covenant agreement with the Antichrist; this event and not the rapture of the church will be the trigger that starts their final countdown.
Signs are blossoming all over the world that strongly suggests the countdown clock may be starting up very soon for those last 7 years. We may not have long to wait.