Chronology is “the study of time.” Biblical chronology is the backbone for understanding the Bible. MEMORIZE these 12 Dates to Make the Bible Flow and watch your Bible comprehension grow.
The Creation of Adam
I’ll let people fall all over themselves attempting to prove the age of the earth, but I will politely bow out. Whether you believe the earth and universe are “billions and billions” of years old or relatively young (e.g., “thousands of years”), knock yourself out proving it. I only point out the creation of Adam, the first man, on this date. Scientists recently finished tracing the human genome and “discovered” that all humans descend from one man and one woman. Science only confirms what the Bible reveals. Since nobody was around when the first man and woman appeared on earth, it seems to me it takes greater faith to believe all humans evolved from amoebas and apes than to believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image (see Genesis 1:27).
The Flood of Noah
Some believe Noah’s flood is global and catastrophic; others believe this biblical flood is local and hyperbolic (exaggerated). As for me, since every nation in the world has a flood legend in her history, I lean toward a worldwide cataclysmic flood. God caused the earth’s population to perish because “man was evil.” The re-population of the earth began again with Noah’s sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and their descendants, from whom all the people groups of the world can be traced. The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 is a stunning study of the world’s population growth and a key that unlocks the door to different cultures that cover the globe. The world’s population today can only be what it is if you begin populating the world with people from scratch in 2500 B.C. Otherwise, if people have been on the earth “millions of years,” the world’s population by the scientific rate of growth (a doubling of the population every 74 years) would make our world population today in the trillions (instead of 8 billion).
The Birth of Abram
At age 75, Abram left “Ur of the Chaldees” (an ancient city in modern Iraq) when God told him to leave his country, his people, and his father’s family to go “to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). This call of God to Abram (1925 BC) is KEY to understanding the Bible. The Creator of the world is calling Abram to Himself “to make of him a great nation” (Genesis 12:2), through whom “all the peoples of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
This call of Abram is the beginning of the nation of Israel, through whom the Messiah would come. It is this Messiah who would bless all peoples of the earth.
Abram had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, whose name God changed to “Israel.” Israel had twelve sons, from whom the 12 Tribes of Israel find their origin. Thus, in the Old Testament, God identifies Himself as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Exodus 3:6).
The Call of Moses
Though this date is approximate, I believe it is very close to accurate. We know that Israel and his family went down to Egypt during a great famine and stayed because of Joseph’s influence in Egypt. Joseph was one of Israel’s sons. Over the next three centuries, the Israelites “multiplied greatly” (Exodus 1:7) and grew into a mighty nation. The United States has been a nation for not quite 250 years, less time than the families of Israel lived in Egypt. The United States has grown from 100 early settlers to 355,000,000 people. It’s not hard to understand how Israel became a “great nation” while in Egypt
A Pharaoh (king) of Egypt came to power who grew afraid of the Israelites, so he enslaved them. God called an Israelite named Moses to lead His people out of their bondage in Egypt. When God called Moses at the burning bush, He said, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Exodus 3:6).
Moses led God’s people out of Egypt back to the land that God initially gave to Abraham, the land of Canaan. When the Israelites left Egypt in the early 15th century BC (est. 1495 BC), God made a covenant with them at Mt. Sinai. This conditional covenant of Law promised that IF Israel obeyed God, THEN God would bless Israel. But IF Israel violated their covenant conditions, THEN Israel would experience the wrath of God. We call this covenant “The Mosaic Covenant” or “The Old Covenant.” Israel called it “The Law.” The Law included everything about Israeli life in their new land – the calendar, the festivals, the taxes, the sacrifices, Temple worship, Sabbath days, dietary laws, and civil laws. Everything about Israel revolved around God’s Law. Why? The Law pointed to the Messiah. He would “bless all the peoples of the earth” (Genesis 12:3). Jesus is the true and faithful Israel.
After leaving Egypt, the people of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years. Finally, the young nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River at Beth-Abara (where Jesus was baptized), and the people of Israel began conquering the Canaanites. For the next 400 years (from the Battle of Jericho to the anointing of Saul as King), Israel was ruled by various judges (see the books of Joshua, Judges, and I and II Samuel). Under the judges, the Hebrews “did that which was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). They looked around at the nations that surrounded them and decided they wanted a king just like those nations.
The Kingdom of Israel
God had led Covenant Israel to the land of Canaan and empowered them to defeat the Canaanites and subdue the land (read Joshua and Judges). For the next four hundred years, however, God’s people began to forget they were “a special, called out people” from among the nations, in covenant with the Creator. The Israelites looked at their neighboring countries with kings and wanted “a king” for themselves.
They asked their prophet Samuel for God to give them a king over Israel “like other nations” (I Samuel 8). When God allowed Israel to have a king, it was the beginning of a decline that eventually led to a complete divorce of God from national Israel because Israel “broke the covenant with God” (Jeremiah 3:8). Of course, this was all part of the providential plan of God.
God’s Law was intended to reveal the depths of man’s sin (Romans 3:7-25) and the beauty of mankind’s Savior. Jesus fulfills the Law and gives perfect righteousness and corresponding blessings from God to all those who trust Him (Philippians 3:7-11). A kingdom is “a king’s dominion.
The Kingdom of Israel had Jerusalem as its capital and three kings in its history, with each king reigning for 40 years.
Saul (1051-1011 B.C.)
David (1001 – 971 B.C.)
Solomon (971 – 931 B.C.).
The Division of the Kingdom of Israel
931 BC is the most important date in biblical chronology, but it is also THE DATE that few Christians know or understand. In 931 BC, the 12 Tribes of the United Kingdom of Israel were divided into TWO KINGDOMS – THE NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL (10 tribes) and THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH (two tribes).
When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam wished to continue the heavy taxes his father had imposed on building the Temple. Ten tribes of Israel rebelled and started their own kingdom with another man named Jeroboam as their king. This split in Israel led to two nations or two KINGDOMS. The ten tribes formed a northern kingdom they called Israel, and they moved their capital to a city they called Samaria. In the books of Kings and Chronicles, the northern Kingdom is sometimes called Israel, sometimes Ephraim (after its most dominant tribe), or Samaria (after its capital). The Israelites of the north built their own temple for themselves and began worshipping pagan gods.
However, two tribes of Israel – Judah and Benjamin – remained in the south and formed the southern kingdom called Judah. The southern kingdom kept Jerusalem as their capital, continued to worship at the Temple, and tried to keep their covenant with God.
Of the nineteen kings that would eventually rule the northern kingdom of Israel, not one was a good king in the sight of God. About half of the twenty kings that would eventually rule the southern kingdom of Judah were good, and the other half were evil. You will never understand the Old Testament until you know that the prophetical books of the Old Testament are words of warning to either the northern kingdom or the southern kingdom to repent of their violations of their covenant with God and return to Him. The books of the Old Testament look like this:
Historical books (17 – Genesis to Esther)
Poetical books (5 – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)
Prophetical books (17 – Isaiah to Malachi)
You will only comprehend the books of KINGS and CHRONICLES and the last seventeen books of the Old Testament (e.g., the prophetical books) when you understand that the kings and prophets mentioned are either from Israel or Judah.
The Fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel
The northern kingdom of Israel never followed God in a covenant relationship. Their nineteen kings were all evil. Stories like that of King Ahab and Jezebel reveal how lost the people of Israel, and their leaders were. Prophets like Elijah, Hosea, and others came to northern Israel and spoke to the people and kings on behalf of God. Their message was “repent” or “perish.” The people of Israel closed their ears to the warnings of God through the prophets; God then raised the Assyrians, the world’s first empire, to bring the northern kingdom of Israel to an end. In 722 B.C. Assyria conquered the northern kingdom, took the Israeli men into captivity (Nineveh was Assyria’s capital), brought in pagan men they’d captured in other nations, and forced them to intermarry with the Israeli women. The descendants of these “mixed marriages” were the Samaritans, considered “half-breeds” by the Jews of Jesus’ day.
The Jews (Jew is an abbreviation for Judah, the people of the southern kingdom) would go to great lengths to avoid the Samaritans and the land in which they lived (Samaria). But not Jesus. “He must go through Samaria” (John 4:4) because Jesus is interested in giving life to the least, the lost and the littlest – those the world rejects. Jesus met the woman at the well in the land of Samaria and gave her the water of life. Though the descendants of the mixed marriages were called “Samaritans,” after the fall of the northern kingdom, the ten northern tribes of Israel were forever lost – thus, they are called the “Lost Tribes.” The Mormons wrongly teach that these lost tribes became the Native Americans. In reality, the tribal identity of northern Israel was lost because they broke the covenant with God, and God divorced Himself from them as a nation.
Only after the fall of Samaria and the northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC do the prophets and writers of the Hebrew Scriptures begin calling the southern Kingdom of Judah by the name ISRAEL once again.
The Fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah
After the fall of the northern kingdom, the southern kingdom (Judah) took in remnants of the ten tribes of the north who had escaped the Assyrian assault to take refuge within the walls of Jerusalem. The southern Kingdom, composed predominately of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, would withstand the attack of the Assyrians in 701 BC. King Hezekiah of Judah fell prostrate before the LORD and begged for mercy. In one night, 185,000 Assyrian mighty warriors were wiped out by a pandemic.
The prophets had all predicted that “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Jesus) was to come from Judah and that the Messiah would “reign over the house of David forever.” it was “Judah” alone that continued as “the nation of Israel” after 722 BC. The abbreviation “Jew” is a shortened euphemism for “Judahites.” Before 722 BC and the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel, God’s people were called Hebrews. Only after the destruction of the northern Kingdom does the phrase “jew” come into existence.
King David was from the tribe of Judah. So the promise God originally made to Abraham that through him “all the nations of the earth would be blessed” was still in effect. However, the people of Judah began to go the way of their northern brothers. Prophets to the south like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others, began to warn Judah that they, just like their northern brothers, would perish if they did not repent and return to God.
The world’s second empire, the Babylonians, conquered the Assyrians. In a series of three increasingly severe attacks on Jerusalem (605, 597, and 586 B.C.), Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, eventually destroyed the Temple and the city of Jerusalem and took the Jews (the abbreviation for the people of Judah) into captivity. This captivity into Babylon (modern Iraq and Iran) is called The Babylonian Exile.
It is possible to date the 70 years of Babylonian Exile for the Jews one of three ways:
- From 609 BC and the Battle of Megiddo (when Judah’s good king Josiah was killed by an arrow and the year Babylon became an empire (defeating Egypt) to Babylon’s collapse as an empire in October 539 BC when the Persian army overtook Babylon and killed Babylon’s king and its warriors in one night (see the story in Daniel 5).
- From the capture of Daniel and his three buddies in 605 BC by Nebuchadnezzar to the release of all Hebrew captives by Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, in 535 BC as recorded on Cyrus’ Cylinder (see Cyrus’ Cylinder in the British Museum, London, England).
- From 586 BC and the Temple’s destruction in Jerusalem to 516 BC and the dedication of the rebuilt Temple when “old men wept” as they remembered the glory of the former Temple in Jerusalem.
The “magi’ from the East who came looking for “He who has been born king of the Jews” came because they knew Daniel’s scroll. Daniel was the most revered magi of all Magi and had started “A School of the Magi” in Babylon. Daniel, a Jew, never went back to Jerusalem. He stayed in Babylon and is now buried in Iran.
The Close of the Old Testament
When the Jews returned from Israel after their Babylonian captivity, they were led by men like Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and they rebuilt the walls and the city of Jerusalem. The Jews rebuilt the Temple itself and re-dedicated it in 516 B.C. They tried to get back to their everyday lives in the land of Israel. Esther, a Jew born in Babylonian captivity, would remain in Babylon and eventually marry a Persian king named Xerxes. Her story is the last historical book of the Old Testament. Many people read the Old Testament and get confused because they don’t realize that if you wish to read the Bible chronologically, you must stop at the 17th book (Esther). The middle five books of poetry in the Old Testament and the last seventeen books of the Old Testament (the books of the prophets) fit within the first seventeen books of the Old Testament according to the history of Israel.
After the Jews picked up their worship of God at the re-dedication of the rebuilt Temple in 516 B.C., God was not present. During this period (from the close of the Old Testament to the coming of Christ), there was the rise of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. When there is the worship of God without the Spirit of God, you will either have the rise of legalism (Pharisees) or the rise of liberalism (Sadducees). From the close of the Old Testament to the birth of Christ, there is a period of history where the Greeks defeat the Persians. The Romans then defeat the Greeks. And during the Roman rule of the world, the Messiah appears (see Daniel 11). Daniel prophesied all these events so precisely that skeptics assumed Daniel couldn’t have written the scroll of Daniel because a man can’t tell the future. These skeptics were silenced at the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, which contained the complete book of Daniel. It was written before all the events that occurred “Between the Testaments” (from 400 BC to 4 BC and the birth of Christ) had happened. A man may not know the future, but God knows the future. He has the whole world in His hands.
The Birth of Christ
I won’t get into the reasons why the scholars in the middle ages made a four-year error when they started B.C. and A.D. dating (Clue: It has to do with leap years), but it will help you understand the span and scope of the Old Testament if you remember the numbers 4 and 0.
4000 B.C. – The Creation of Adam.
Take away a zero.
400 B.C. – The Close of the Old Testament.
Take away two zeroes.
4 B.C. – The Coming of Christ.
Jesus Christ came “to fulfill the Law” and make a New Agreement with the world. The Old Covenant was a conditional agreement whereby God perfectly blessed those who perfectly obeyed God. In the New Agreement (Covenant), all those who trust Jesus the Messiah, the One who came to fulfill the Law, are perfectly blessed by God’s grace through faith. The life of Jesus Christ is a life that actively fulfilled the Law through His obedience. Jesus passively fulfilled the Law through His death in place of sinners. The coming of God in Christ to this world is the center point of history. History is His story. I find it absolutely without excuse that Christians are very excited and talk to others more about Christ’s second coming than we do His first coming. His coming in 4 B.C. changes everything.
The Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ
The death of Jesus Christ is God’s mercy for sinners. God forsook the Son He loved that He might never forsake those who love His Son.
The demons of hell will leave alone anyone who talks generically about God. But when someone begins telling others that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” the demons go crazy. For those who have a hard time understanding how God can come to earth as a Man, it usually revolves around how the immortal, invisible, and immutable Creator could ever be “limited” to a
Man. The answer is beautiful. We worship and serve only one God. But this God who created us so transcends our ability to understand Him that we could never know Him except, for the fact in His love for us, God condescends to our level and reveals Himself to us. Christ came so that we might know God. He is Emmanuel – God with us. When you understand that God conquered sin and death for those who will trust Christ, the same power that raised Christ from the dead goes to work within you. Jesus came that we might have life, and this life is for those who trust Him.
The Destruction of the Jewish Temple
The time between the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (A.D. 30) to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans (A.D. 70) is what the Bible calls “the last days.” It’s the Old Covenant’s last days, not the world’s last days. In fact, during this time of transition (40 years), the good news of what Christ came to do went to “the Jews first, then the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).
Daniel prophesied the end of the nation of Israel (Daniel 9:24-27), and just like God gives a period of mercy during transitions in His dealings with His people (40 days of the flood; 40 years in the wilderness; 40 days of temptation, etc.), God gave His people 40 years before He brought the worship of the Jews at the Temple to an end. “The last days” of the Old Covenant begin a New Agreement between God and the world. The people of Israel were scattered throughout the world until May `14, 1948, when the modern nation of Israel was birthed after nearly 1900 years of absence.
I would like to know if this blog or PDF pamphlet on 12 Dates helped you understand the Bible. Please email Wade Burleson at firstname.lastname@example.org. The material in this pamphlet may be printed and used freely (with credit) for educational or non-profit purposes. All material is subject to copyright when used for commercial distribution. ©istoriaministries