Everyone loves a party, a reason to celebrate, to be happy. So here comes the New Year! Everyone, stay up late! Cheer for a new year! More than ever, cheer, because it is 2000! But who really knows why we're celebrating? Is the year 2000 significant? Doesn't it mean that 2000 years have passed since something? 2000 years since what? What a simple question... but what an astonishing answer follows...
The way we calculate our calendar hinges upon a single day... a single date... the date when the Savior of the world was born. So, now, tell me, how did religion get into this party?
Evidently, somehow someone somewhere thought the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem was so earthshaking that he decided to stop the recording of dates the old way and start all over again. It was as if the flow of time had been ripped in two. From this high point, all recorded history flows backwards to the beginning (the past), and forwards to the Last Day (our future). All this is due to the obscure birth of a peasant boy in a barn, with a feed trough for His crib! The pivotal point of all recorded human history stems from this event. If we could only get past the traditions that blind us to what is really going on, maybe it would dawn on us how utterly amazing this is!
You may not consider the birth of Yahshua1 to be so important, but most everyone on earth today commemorates the event each time they write down the date on their various papers! Since this birth is evidently so significant, let's find out how men were able to pinpoint the exact time it happened, and learn whether their calculations are accurate.
The calendars we currently use have been altered and mixed up so many times that many people question their accuracy. Down through the centuries men have tried to figure out a way to calculate the calendar. They have had to add days and subtract days; sometimes they used the sun for their guide in figuring the passage of time, and at other times the moon. But since the dawn of the atomic age, time can be accurately measured by atomic clocks. Scholars can safely say that a big error has been made in counting the years back to the eventful birth of the one called Jesus Christ. Instead of being born in the year 0, He most likely was born somewhere between 4 and 7 BC. Scholars base their calculations on historic events occurring at that time and also on astronomical records of an exceptionally bright star that was reported in the sky at the time of His birth.
The main responsibility for this error lies at the door of the Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus. He lived in Rome, and in the year 533 AD was instructed to figure out the beginning of the new era based on the birth of the Messiah. So, by working backwards, Dionysius calculated the best he could with the tools available in that day. But he forgot the year zero which should have been inserted between 1 BC and 1 AD. He also overlooked the four years when the Roman Emperor Augustus had reigned under his own name, Octavian.
The Bible gives us another clear historical indication as well. "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the days of Herod the king..." ( Matthew 2:1). We know from numerous contemporary sources who Herod was and when he lived and reigned. In 40 BC Herod was designated king of Judea by the Romans. His reign ended with his death in 4 BC. The Messiah must therefore have been born before 4 BC.
Aside from historical mistakes the mere figuring of how to calculate the timing of the rotating earth, and the exact length of a year, was confounding to early scholars. Mistakes in this area caused the calendar to shift drastically. Several times in history it was so far off that days and even whole months needed to be dropped or added. In the year 46 BC (which was called the Year of Confusion), Caesar added 80 days to the year. In the year 1582, the fifth through the fourteenth of October were whisked away from the calendar by the order of the Pope.
Another interesting fact to note is that between the years 672-735 there lived a British monk named Bede. He carefully studied what he considered the relevant passages in the Bible and came up with a specific day that he believed God began forming the sky, earth, and water -- 18 March, 3952 BC. He wanted to calculate what he thought would be the most accurate calendar based on this date. If Europeans had decided to use Bede's calculation of the calendar instead of others, the coming year 2000 would be the year 5951 after the Creation.
In actuality, if counted by the more accurate date of the birth of the Messiah in the year 6 or 7 BC, the year 2000 would have happened in the early 90's (if allowance is made for the addition of the year 0).
The calendar in common use today is called the Gregorian Calendar. It was instituted by the Pope in 1582. It was the most accurate system that scholars had come up with thus far, and with additions like leap year, etc., has fairly accurately figured the turning of the years. But not all the nations of the world even recognize this calendar, at least, not until the first of October, 1949. The great world religions all use different calendars -- the year 2000 according to the Jewish calendar will be the year 5760. According to the Muslim calendar it will be the year 1420. According to the Buddhist calendar it will be the year 2544. It will be the year 5119 in the current Mayan great cycle.
So, you can have a New Year's Eve party.... Cheer and shout for the turning of a millennium, but a wise man will know the times... and recognize what is really significant in this life!