Day of Beginning

TimeWatch Editorial
October 24, 2016

According to the Free Encyclopedia, James Ussher was born January 4, 1581. He was the Protestant Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656, the year that he passed away. Ussher was born in Dublin to a well-to-do family. He entered Dublin Free School and then the newly founded (1591) Trinity College, Dublin on 9 January 1594, at the age of thirteen (not an unusual age at the time). He had received his Bachelor of Arts degree by 1598, and was a fellow and received his Masters by the year 1600-1601. In May 1602, he was ordained in the Trinity College Chapel in the Protestant, established, Church of Ireland by his uncle Henry Ussher, the then Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. Ussher went on to become Chancellor of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin in 1605 Professor of Theological Controversies at Trinity College and Doctor of Divinity in 1612.

Ussher is well known to those who are students of Biblical History, but what he is by far most famous for is his Chronology of Biblical History. One of his publications, “The Annals of the World” printed in London by E. Tyler, for F. Crook, and G. Bedell in the year 1658, is the result of his intense Biblical chronological study. Professor Douglas Linder, Professor in Constitutional Law at the University Of Missouri Kansas City School Of Law described Ussher’s motivations in an article he wrote in the year 2004.

“As a Protestant bishop in a Catholic land, Ussher’s obsession with providing an accurate Biblical history stemmed from a desire to establish the superiority of the scholarship practiced by the clergy of his reformed faith over that of the Jesuits, the resolutely intellectual Roman Catholic order.  (Ussher had absolutely nothing good to say about “papists” and their “superstitious” faith and “erroneous” doctrine.)  Ussher committed himself to establishing a date for Creation that could withstand any challenge.  He located and studied thousands of ancient books and manuscripts, written in many different languages.  By the time of his death, he had amassed a library of over 10,000 volumes.” Professor Douglas Linder, “Bishop James Ussher Sets the Date for Creation,” 2004

So what date did Ussher arrive at? The year 4004! But this was not all; he was even more specific than just the year. In the opening passage of his book “The Annals of the World” he says this:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 This beginning of time, according to our chronology, happened at the start of the evening preceding the 23rd day of October in the year 4004 B.C.” Bishop James Ussher, “The Annals of the World” page 12.

Ussher continues to detail the act of creation.

“On the first day Genesis 1:1-5 of the world, on Sunday, October 23rd, God created the highest heaven and the angels. When he finished, as it were, the roof of this building, he started with the foundation of this wonderful fabric of the world. He fashioned this lower most globe, consisting of the deep and of the earth. Therefore all the choir of angels sang together and magnified his name. Job 38:7. When the earth was without form and void and darkness covered the face of the deep, God created light on the very middle of the first day. God divided this from the darkness and called the one "day" and the other "night". Bishop James Ussher, “The Annals of the World” page 12.

What is most amazing is that this Protestant bishop in a Catholic land in the year 1650, the year on which his book was published on July 13, describes the creation as occurring on the very day and month that begins the judgment in the Most Holy Place 5848 years later on October 23rd, 1844. The point is even more clearly defined as he continues on page 13.

“Now on the seventh day, (Saturday, October 29th) when God had finished his work which he intended, he then rested from all labor. He blessed the seventh day and ordained and consecrated the sabbath Genesis 2:2, 3 because he rested on it Ex 31:17 and refreshed himself. Nor as yet (for ought appears) had sin entered into the world. Hence is was, that this day was set forth for a sign, as well as for our sanctification in this world Exodus 31:13 of that eternal sabbath, to be enjoyed in the world to come. In it we expect a full deliverance from sin and its dregs and all its punishments. Heb 4:4, 9, 10” Bishop James Ussher, “The Annals of the World” page 13

It is necessary that I remind you of the year that this was written, 1650. Bishop Ussher was a Protestant in a Catholic country. Long after the Popes had claimed the power to change the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday, 133 years after Luther had nailed his thieses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg with hammer strokes which echoed throughout all of Europe, this man James Ussher describes with accuracy, not just the creation but the concluding act of that creation. Truth is always available. For God has so ordained it. Notice what Professor Douglas Linder has to say about that.

“Although Ussher brought stunning precision to his chronology, Christians for centuries had assumed a history roughly corresponding to his.  The Bible itself provides all the information necessary to conclude that Creation occurred less than 5,000 years before the birth of Christ. 
Shakespeare, in As You Like It, (published in 1623) has his character Rosalind say, “The poor world is almost six thousand years old.”  Martin Luther, the great reformer, favored (liking the round number) 4000 B.C. as a date for creation.  Astronomer Johannes Kepler concluded that 3992 B.C. was the probable date.” Professor Douglas Linder, “Bishop James Ussher Sets the Date for Creation,” 2004

So yesterday was indeed a special day. How we prepare for the future will depend upon our consciousness regarding the event that took place October 22, 1844. That date marks the beginning of the assessment of our character in light of all that has been made available to us, through the working of the Holy Spirit within and without. Add to that the significance of the beginning of the Creation on the same date 5848 years before, and we see the precision of God’s plan for our lives.

Let us therefore be ready.

Cameron A. Bowen

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