Does the Bible Really Present a Six-Millennia-Old Earth? – Dr. Jack L. Burton

by / March 13, 2016

Overview

It has been my experience that many Christians today do not fully appreciate the importance of understanding why the Book of Genesis, the Creation account, and the biblical age of the earth are so critical to their Christian walk and witness. In this article we will examine three (3) means by which we can clearly and easily conclude that the Bible teaches us of a young earth by its very record.

 

The Literal Creation Account

In Genesis 1 we read six times the expression “the evening and the morning” coupled with the word “day”, clearly denoting six specific 24-hour time periods – not unknown periods of indefinite lengths.

Regarding the use of the word ‘day’ (‘yom’ in Hebrew), Dr. Tin Wang, Hebrew Scholar and Lecturer in Biblical Hebrew at Stanford University writes:

‘In Genesis 1, yôm comes with “evening” and “morning”, and is modified by a number. So it’s obvious that the Hebrew text is describing a 24-hour day—the exegetical burden of proof rests crushingly upon those who view otherwise (notice too that in Jeremiah 33:17–22, God’s covenant with the day and the night, so that both will come at the appointed time, is as unalterable as the promise that a son of David will reign). But no amount of evidence will convince those who are persuaded to play devil’s advocate—just like the serpent in Genesis 3, they must ask, “Did God really say?”’1

Furthermore, when a Christian questions the order of the entry of sin and death into the world (i.e. siding with the evolutionary view that millions of years of death occurred before man first sinned), that person is demonstrating a lack of understanding of the Scriptures which clearly teach that it was ONE MAN’S SIN that first brought DEATH into a world without death (Romans 5:12). Likewise, the purpose for the atoning work of Christ then was to offer eternal life to all of mankind who, since that FIRST SIN by the ONE MAN, Adam, has ever since been born under the curse of sin (Romans 5:17-19).

Therefore, the accuracy and efficacy of the Literal Creation Account is tied inseparably to mankind’s need for Salvation and the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ who was prepared as the Lamb slain for our sins BEFORE Creation (Revelation 13:8).

 

Luke’s Genealogy & a Broad Estimate

In Luke 3:23-38 we find the unbroken genealogy of Jesus from His birth back to the Creation of Adam by God – a total of 77 generations. A thorough study of the books of history found in the Bible demonstrates that there are no omissions or ‘skipped’ generations in this record for all of the generations which are found therein. Furthermore, a careful examination of the historical texts in Scripture reveal that the lineage from Abram through Zarubbabel during the time of the Babylonian Captivity (Matthew 1:1-13).

While we do not have specific names and sequences for genealogies in the historical books of the Bible during the ‘intertestimental’ period, as we shall see later in this article we do have more than enough evidence to conclude that this period consisted of a span of approximately 400 years.

Using the genealogy provided in the Gospel According to Luke and applying an approximate ‘average age per generation’ to each of three significant time periods represented in Scripture, we can arrive at a reasonable estimate of the age of the earth presented in the Bible. Since we are using rough estimates rather than actual ages and time periods provided, we will call this estimation a ‘broad estimate’; however, it will still be reasonably accurate.

Since we have already established that the Creation events took place according to Scripture in a literal six-day time period, there is no need to account for this time period on a scale measured in millennia.

Furthermore, since all reliable historical data agree on the dating of the time of the life of Christ upon the earth, the final 2000+ years (depending upon the year in which you are reading this article) will be considered an established fact and will not be addressed in the scope of this article.

The three time periods presented in Scripture which we will examine in this section are as follows:

  • The Pre-flood Period
  • The Post-flood Period (until about the time of David)
  • The Kingdom Period (until the time of Christ)During each of these periods mankind had an average lifespan which reduced significantly by the time the following period had been established.

With the reduction in lifespan, there was also a reduction in the length of the generation during each period as well. It is important that we understand the importance of a generation in this context – a generation is the average length of time from when one set of parents is born until they begin to have their own children.

LENGTH OF PERIOD =
AVG. GENERATION LENGTH x # OF GENERATIONS

By examining the historical data provided in Scripture we can roughly estimate the age of the earth using the following table and generation length estimates:

 

Biblical Age of Earth – Broad Estimate
Period Name Generation (yrs.) # of Generations Period Length (yrs.)
Pre-Flood 200 10 2000
Post-Flood 50 25 1250
Kingdom 30 41 1230
Years A.D. 2000
  Total Est’d Yrs: 6480

 

If we determine the average length of a generation for a particular period, and if we know how many generations existed during that period, then we can estimate how many years that period lasted.

A generation is the average length of time from when one set of parents is born until they begin to have their own children.

So we can readily see from using just a rough estimating method and the values found in Scripture that the Bible presents an Earth that is roughly 6500 years old. Even with this most rudimentary method we find that the Bible is quite clear on the fact that we live on a very young earth indeed.

However, we can refine this value quite a bit further by examining the time periods presented in the Scriptures in even greater detail.

 

Books of History & a Refined Estimate

To further refine our estimate of the age of the earth according to the historical books of the Bible we can examine the actual ages and time spans given in each of the following periods:

  • Creation to the Flood
  • Post-flood to Abraham
  • Abraham to Entry into Egypt
  • Entry into Egypt to Death of Joshua
  • Death of Joshua to Samuel
  • Samuel to Death of Solomon (Division of the Kingdom)
  • Division of the Kingdom to the Babylonian Captivity
  • Return from the Babylonian Captivity

The table below lists each of these time periods along with the approximate time span of each based on the actual ages and dates found in Scripture (time spans have been converted from 360-day biblical years to 365-day years including leap years):

Biblical Age of Earth – Refined Estimate up to Captivity
Period Period Length (yrs.) Comments
Creation – Flood 1632
Post-flood – Abraham 288
Abraham – Entry into Egypt 286
Entry into Egypt – Death of Joshua 493 (1)
Death of Joshua – Samuel 444 (2)
Samuel – Death of Solomon

DIVISION OF KINGDOM

118 (3)
Division of Kingdom –

Babylonian Captivity

388 (4)
Return From Babylonian Captivity 70 (5)
Total Est’d Yrs: 3719

Comments:
(1) This time period begins with the entry of Jacob and his family into Egypt during the famine in the region as recorded in Genesis Chapter 47.
(2) This time period is corroborated by the Apostle Paul in Acts 13:20 where he states that the time the Judges is 450 years (444 modern calendar years).(3) The Northern Kingdom (Israel) began at this time in Samaria under Jeroboam; while, the Southern Kingdom (Judah) continued from Jerusalem under Rehoboam – son of Solomon.
(4) King Zedekiah was the last king of Judah during the Divided Kingdom period.
(5) The return from Babylonian Captivity as cited in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 took place in approximately 538 B.C. during the reign of King Cyrus of Persia.2,3

 

This brings the refined estimate of the age of the earth according to scriptural dating to an approximation of no more than 6350 years
(see table below).

The above figure is arrived at by adding the 2000+ yrs. since Christ’s birth, the 538 yrs. from Israel’s return from Captivity until the Birth of Christ, the approx. 3720 yrs. from Creation until Israel’s return from Captivity, and a liberal positive error margin per date or age given in Scripture of one year for every time period recorded over one year in length (a total of 66 years).

Since most of the ages and time period given in the Bible are recorded in whole years, we do not have exact ‘day and date’ records of these various time spans. However, using the most liberal means of estimation, that is that each time span listed may represent a period up to but not including the next subsequent year, we can actually add one year for every time period given in order to determine the longest possible estimate.

By the application of the above defined rule, we are essentially using the same method as we do when we speak of the ‘age’ of a person or object in modern terms. For instance, if a person is 52 years old, we begin to refer to that person as being 52 from the date of his/her 52nd birthday until the day of his/her 53rd birthday. We do not distinguish their age in years at any point during each year.

In the timeline used for this study there were a total of 66 ages and time periods listed greater than one year. Therefore, we can include an additional 66 years to our refined estimate.

 

Biblical Age of Earth – Refined Estimate
Period Name Period Length (yrs.)
Creation-Captivity 3720
Captivity-Birth of Christ 538
Years A.D. 2016
Positive Error Years 66
Total Est’d Yrs: 6340

 

As we shall see next, there is at least one time period for which we have verification from a congruence of sources so that we know the time span AND the end dates to the exact DAY!!!

 

The Order of King Artaxerxes & an Exact ‘Anchor’ Date

There is at least one prophecy which links two specific events found in Scripture for which the exact end dates can be both determined and verified using modern historical and astronomical data. This event is the Order to Rebuild the Wall in Jerusalem by King Artaxerxes I of Persia in 445 BC.

First, let us look at the determination of the year in which King Artaxerxes I gave the order to rebuild the Wall in Jerusalem:

According to Nehemiah 2:1-6, the Order was given to rebuild Jerusalem in the Hebrew month Nisan during the 20th year of the king’s reign in Persia. The Encyclopedia Britannica records that the duration of the reign of King Artaxerxes I was from 465-425 B.C. in modern calendar years.4 Since the difference between a modern calendar year and a Bible year is approximately 5.24 days per year (including leap years) this means that the difference over a span of 20 years would be 105 days, or about 1/3 of a year. Therefore, even accounting for the difference in Bible years and modern calendar years, this still presents a high likelihood of the Order of King Artaxerxes being given some time during the year 445 B.C. As we shall see shortly, this date can be refined much further.

In Daniel 9:25-26 we read that there will be 69 ‘weeks’ of years (483 years or 173,880 days) between the Order to rebuild Jerusalem and the return of Messiah. We next read that “Messiah shall be cut off”. From numerous other contexts we know that the expression ‘cut off’ means ‘put to death’ so that Daniel’s prophecy is clearly speaking of the Crucifixion of Jesus.

One of the ways in which we may affix a date to the time of Jesus’ Crucifixion is by determining the time period of His Birth. While a wide range of dates have been assigned to the Birth of Jesus, due to a number of factors ranging from assumed dates of the reign of King Herod the Great (the first of four ‘Herods’ mentioned in the New Testament) to various methods used to identify the first year AD, there is a single celestial event mentioned in Matthew 2:2 that clearly coincides with a significant event on record that can be traced back to the fall season of 2 BC. This event is the conjunction of the two brightest planets in the night sky – Jupiter and Venus.

No other natural celestial event took place during this time period which even comes close to both the brilliance and duration of the conjunction of these two planets in the night sky. Furthermore, this event took place not once, but TWICE during that same year – first for about 3 hours after sunset on June 17, 2 BC; and again for about 3 hours before sunrise on October 13, 2 BC. The first event appeared in the WESTERN sky in the Middle East and the second event appeared in the EASTERN sky.

Additionally, there was also a conjunction of the planets Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars on August 26, 2 BC in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

The duration of the first two events above was only about 1-2 nights each – the first in the West, and the second in the East. However, the THIRD event on October 13, 2 BC was quite significant in that beginning on this night the planet Venus, which is a very bright object in the night sky, remained virtually locked in position in the EASTERN SKY until its conjunction with Mars on December 5th of that same year. This clearly coincides with the star ‘in the east’ that ‘stood over where the young child was’ as recorded in Matthew 2:9-10.

Since there is no ‘Year 0’ on the calendar (it goes from 1 BC directly to 1 AD), the time span from 2 BC when the ‘star’ would have heralded the Birth of Messiah to 32 AD would be 33 years, making the year of Jesus’ Crucifixion 32 AD.

Now having established the likelihood that Jesus was, in fact, born in 2 BC and crucified in 32 AD we can begin to look for the day that He actually ENTERED into Jerusalem as prophesied in Daniel 9:25-26.

In the Old Testament book of Leviticus we learn that the first day of Passover is on “the fourteenth day of the first month at even” (Lev. 23:5). This is the month Nisan. Based on the lunar calendar for 32 AD (the first day of each Hebrew month begins the day following a new moon), 14 Nisan, 32 AD began on the evening of Friday, April 11, at sunset and continued through Saturday, April 12, until sunset.

According to John 12:1 Jesus entered into Bethany “six days before the” Passover, or on Saturday, April 5, 32 AD. Then, on the “next day” (John 1:12) He entered into Jerusalem – making the date of His entry into Jerusalem April 6, 32 AD.

If we now subtract 173,880 days (the EXACT number of days prophesied by for the Return of Messiah to Jerusalem in Daniel 9:25) we arrive at a date for the Order by King Artaxerxes I to rebuild Jerusalem of March 14, 445 BC.

When we compare the above date to the lunar calendar for 445 BC, not only does the date fall within the month of Nisan; but, it actually falls on the
VERY FIRST DAY of NISAN!!!

Had Jesus not stopped in Bethany one day earlier, the prophecy could not have been fulfilled to the day. Furthermore, the beginning of the prophecy falling on the very first day of Nisan and culminating on the final Sabbath day before the Passover evening of the day in which Jesus was crucified demonstrates the incredible forethought of planning on the part of God in this series of events.

We have a time period of 476 yrs. which is COMPLETELY accounted for by this fulfilled prophecy.

As of the time of the writing of this article there have been 1984 years since the Crucifixion of Jesus. Using our previous dating information we arrive at a near estimate of 3812 years. Adding to that the exact passage of 476 years between these two periods as demonstrated in the current section of this article we arrive at 6272 years. Thus, by this third estimate method the age of the earth is clearly no more than 6300 years according to the record of Scripture.

 

Summary

In response to the question posed in the title of the article, the answer is a resounding YES! However, you also may be asking yourself, “Why is this important?”

The answer is as simple as it is profound.

The ‘3 W’s’ of the Christian life on earth (Walk, Work, & Witness) are evermore under attack, and this attack is now, more than ever, focused upon the foundations of God’s Word.

The Bible exhorts all believers to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Those answers must come, not from the fallible, changing, and errant philosophies of man’s construction; but, from the time-tested, unchanging, infallible Word of God.

 

In His Love,
Dr. Jack L. Burton
-Hebrews 11:1-3

 

End Notes

1 ‘Hebrew scholar affirms that Genesis means what it says! Interview with Dr. Ting Wang, lecturer in biblical Hebrew’.
http://creation.com/hebrew-scholar-affirms-that-genesis-means-what-it-says-ting-wang

2 ‘Babylonian Exile’. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
http://www.britannica.com/event/Babylonian-Exile

3 ‘CAPTIVITY, or EXILE, BABYLONIAN’. Jewish Encyclopedia.com.
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4012-captivity

4 ‘Artaxerxes I – King of Persia’. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
http://www.britannica.com/biography/Artaxerxes-I

 

References

(1) Video: ‘Proof that the Bible is the Word of God’.
https://youtu.be/6SwznaybfKc?list=PLnHqUAOAselba06EX0ACcm1mAMFf5jOq_

(2) ‘A DEFENSE OF LITERAL DAYS IN THE CREATION WEEK’ by, Robert McCabe.
https://www.dbts.edu/journals/2000/mccabe.pdf

(3) ‘Theologian: Genesis means what it says! Jonathan Sarfati interviews Old Testament scholar Dr. Robert McCabe’.
http://creation.com/robert-mccabe-old-testament-scholar-genesis

 

Additional Reading

(1) A Critique of David Montgomery’s GSA-Today Attack on Creationist Geology’ by, Dr. Tas Walker
http://thecreationclub.com/its-time-for-evolutionist-geologists-to-face-the-evidence-a-critique-of-david-montgomerys-gsa-today-attack-on-creationist-geology-tas-walker-2/

(2) ‘Logical Layering’ by, Sara J. Bruegel
http://thecreationclub.com/logical-layering/

(3) Video: ‘Can Geological Processes Happen Rapidly?’
http://www.icr.org/creation-geology

 

Notes

1. All Bible quotes in this article are taken from the KJV.

2. Bible passages in double quotes (“) appear exactly as found in the KJV.

3. Bible passages in single quotes (‘) have been modified for emphasis or ease of reading only (such as capitalization of pronouns referring to God, bolded text, or modernized punctuation, etc.) without altering the actual wording of the text.

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