Monday, March 11, 2013

Moriah 7: Time


I don’t know about you, but I remember a lot of hype in the Christian world about the year 2000.  I think people expected Christ to return January 1, 2000.  I’ll admit I myself hoped for that to be the case. 

I spent many fall nights in 1999 passing out Gospel tracks on the sidewalks of Washington DC where I lived at the time.  I think I counted over 3000.

I remember the movies made about the rapture and the time of the tribulation.  A lot of people thought the end time had come.  Sometime in December 1999 I turned to a friend and said, “What’s going to happen to all of these preachers who are saying, ‘Get ready, get ready,’ if Christ doesn’t come back?”  I figured there would be disillusioned converts at some point.

To give the preachers credit, it made sense from a Western world view to set Christ’s return on the millennium change.  According to the Gregorian calendar it would have been 2000 years since the birth of Christ (though in truth the exact date of Christ’s birth was miscalculated by four or six years).  Nice round numbers do give themselves to fulfilling prophecy. 

I figure no harm was really done.  Any impetus for people to straighten out their lives is good.  Not to mention the fact that according to scripture we are to be ready for Christ’s return at any hour – like a thief in the night.

It did make a lot of people think, including myself.  I started thinking about the sermon I never preached.

As I said above, we live under the Gregorian calendar.  The Gregorian calendar is a solar based calendar that measures a year as one cycle of the Earth around the sun.  Other calendars measure the seasons based on the moon’s cycles around the Earth, these are lunar calendars.

The Hebrew calendar is a solar-lunar calendar.  It measures the year using the solar cycle and measures the months using the lunar cycle.  New years are proclaimed when the Mosaic Law determines it is time for a new year, though yearly cycles are roughly equivalent to Gregorian years.  One Hebrew year is the same in duration.

The Gregorian system starts with the Birth of Christ as the center of things.  The years Before Christ (BC) increment as you get further ‘back’ into history, and decrement as you get closer to the nativity.

The Hebrew system starts with the beginning of time and counts forward.  Year 1 Anno Mundi (AM) represents Genesis Chapter 1.  Year 1 of the Gregorian Calendar Anno Domini (AD), represent the year that Christ was born.

1 AD in Gregorian corresponds to 3761 AM in the Hebrew calendar.  This year, 20013, corresponds to AM 5772.  Year 2000 corresponded to 5760 AM.

If you approach time from a Western World view, two thousand years after the Birth of Christ seemed like a logical time for His return.  If you approach it from a more Eastern view or a strictly Hebrew view there really wasn’t anything special about the year 5760.  I would have gone for the year 6000 AM – basing it on a creation microcosm.  God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.  The millennial reign would be the seventh day of rest.

Have you ever asked the question, “Why did Christ come when He did?”  When I was in third grade I had a friend who asked me when the world was going to end.  I really didn’t have a clue, but I figured if Christ was the savior of the world, wouldn’t he be at the center of time?

I had a religion teacher in high school tell me Christ came to Earth when the Roman Empire was at its peak so there would be a system in place to spread the Gospel quickly.  I don’t know if I would word it quite like that.  

God used the Roman Empire to spread the Gospel, I can agree with that.  However, it is a kind of man-centric to assume God waited for the Roman Empire.  I’m of the opinion God brought the Roman Empire to its peak at the right time to fulfill His timing, not the other way around. 

So. Why then?  That question was asked again in one of our Sunday Morning Bible Studies.  I turned to my wife and said, “I have an idea.”

I showed her Genesis 1:16-19 “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.  And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.  And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”  It wasn’t until the fourth day that God made the sun and moon.  Do you think he followed that same pattern in history?  Maybe he waited till year 4000 before he brought the Light of the World to the Earth?

What is significant about the year 4000?  Well, nothing in particular, but if you look at creation as a microcosm of history, like an atom is a microcosm of a galaxy, you might look at it in this way.  Christ came to earth according to the Hebrew calendar around 3761 years after creation.  If you go with Peter’s adage in II Peter 3:8, “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,” in a microcosmic approach to history it would be the fourth ‘Day’ that the Light of the World came.

In Luke, the coming of Christ was described as such, “the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79)

Obviously, the only one who really knows why God waited until He did to bring Christ to Earth is God himself.  Or, it may be that God didn’t wait at all.  Perhaps Christ came early.  It does say time was shortened, Matthew 24:22 “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” 

The microcosm idea lends itself as an explanation, though there is little or no empirical proof.  At the very least, it gave me a better theory than the one about the Roman roads and the languages of the time.