I recently read an article by a rabbi who stated that the Messiah would return within about the next two-hundred years. Part of his reasoning is based upon the Jewish calendar which states that we are in the 5776th year of the world’s existence. For millennia rabbis believed that the Lord would strive with Satan and sinful man for 6,000 years and then rest from these labors in the seventh millennium. Early Christians also had this same belief. Possibly, this is because it coincides with the Millennium of peace described in the Revelation.
Based on Scripture and history, it is clear that human history has already passed the 6,000 year mark. Bishop Ussher, a great scholar, compiled a history showing that the world began in 4004 B.C. Using Bishop Ussher’s chronology, we are now in the year 6019 A.D. (Anno Domini – the Year of Our Lord). Various Bible scholars have differed from the timeline of Bishop Ussher, but only by a maximum of decade or so.
So why is the Jewish calendar off by more than 240 years? That great student of the Word of God and minister from Texas, Dr. J. R. Church, explained the difference in his book Daniel Reveals the Bloodline of the Anti-Christ.
Brother Church believes the difference was caused by the rabbis that compiled the Seder Olam Rabbah (The Book of the Order of the World) shortly after the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135 A.D. Brother Church thinks that the rabbis involved in writing that work believed that Simon Bar Kochba was the Messiah and wanted to cause the Seventy Weeks of Daniel chapter nine to point to this man. In order to do that, they had to eliminate some years.
As an example, he notes that some of the difference came from human error, such as dating the birth of Abraham. The rabbis used the age of seventy years for Terah, Abraham’s father, for the date of his birth. (Genesis 11:26) However, Terah died at age 205 (Genesis 11:32) and then Abraham moved at age 75 (Genesis 12:4). Therefore, Abraham was born when Terah was 130 years old, a difference of sixty years. There are other minor differences.
Some of the differences between the Seder Olam Rabbah and reality are more blatant. The rabbis omitted eight Persian kings and 154 years in their chronology. This assisted them in stating that Simon Bar Kochba was the Messiah. This man was killed in battle with the Romans, and he does not fit any of the prophecies regarding the Messiah.
Many of the rabbis are expecting the Messiah at or near the conclusion of 6,000 years of human history. So are many Christians, but for Christians the time is very near. Whether by design or error the Hebrew calendar is short several years. Personally, my hope is that Bishop Ussher and other scholars are correct. I look forward to the coming of Messiah Jesus. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!