Note: This post assumes that our current BC/AD reckoning is accurate and also uses D&C 20:1 as an exact frame of reference.
The Meridian of Time is a 70-year span (the generation of the Lord) that began on 11 April 2 BC* and ended on 11 April 68 AD. It was initiated by the angel Gabriel when he appeared to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, in the temple on 11 April 2 BC. (See Luke chapter 1.) Nine months later, in January of 1 BC, John the Baptist was conceived. Six months later, in July of 1 BC, Jesus was conceived. Three months later, in October of 1 BC, John was born. Six months later, on April 6th, Jesus was born. 33 years and three days later, on Friday, 9 April 33 AD, Jesus died on the cross. Two days later, on Sunday, 11 April 33 AD, Jesus was rose from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the mid-point
Abinadi and Alma both give the mid-point of Earth’s existence as the resurrection of Jesus:
And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ—for so shall he be called. (Mosiah 15:21)
And behold, again it hath been spoken, that there is a first resurrection, a resurrection of all those who have been, or who are, or who shall be, down to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. (Alma 40:16)
Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but it meaneth the reuniting of the soul with the body, of those from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ.
Now, whether the souls and the bodies of those of whom has been spoken shall all be reunited at once, the wicked as well as the righteous, I do not say; let it suffice, that I say that they all come forth; or in other words, their resurrection cometh to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ.
Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven. (Alma 40:18-20)
Everything is divided in half—half before Christ’s resurrection and half after Christ’s resurrection. This means that there were 4000 years from the Fall of Adam to the resurrection of Jesus, and there will be 4000 years from the resurrection of Jesus to the end of the Earth.
Half and half
The first half of the Meridian of Time, occurring before the resurrection of Christ, is a 35-year period stretching from 11 April 2 BC to 11 April 33 AD. These first 35 years of the Meridian of Time make up the last 35 years of the 4th thousand years.
The second half of the Meridian of Time, occurring after the resurrection of Christ, is a 35-year period stretching from 11 April 33 AD to 11 April 68 AD. These last 35 years of the Meridian of Time make up the first 35 years of the 5th thousand years.
Jesus came multiple times during the Meridian of Time
First He came in the flesh with His birth. Then He came after His death with His resurrection. Then He appeared multiple times to the Jews, and also to the Nephites and the Lost Tribes of Israel. Thus, the Meridian of Time doesn’t constitute a single point of time, such as a single day, but a period of years in which the ministry of Christ among the tribes of Israel takes place. The mid-point of that ministry, though, is His resurrection from the dead.
Among the Nephites, the start of the Meridian of Time was also, as among the Jews, a notable occurrence, with more angels like Gabriel appearing. The 90th year of the reign of the judges corresponds to 2 BC in our yearly reckoning.
But it came to pass in the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges, there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled. And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled. (Hel. 16:13-14)
Our reckoning vs. God’s reckoning
We reckon from the birth of Christ, but God counts the years from the Fall of Adam, putting everything in thousand year divisions. As the resurrection of Christ occurred 4000 years after the Fall of Adam, we can use an AF (After Fall) system to reckon the years. So, on 11 April 1000 AF (2967 BC), the 1st thousand years ended. On 11 April 2000 AF (1967 BC), the 2nd thousand years ended. On 11 April 3000 AF (967 BC), the 3rd thousand years ended. On 11 April 3965 AF (2 BC), the Meridian of Time began. On 6 April 3966 AF, Jesus was born. On 9 April 3999 AF (33 AD), Jesus died on the cross. And two days later, on the Fall anniversary (the real new year), on 11 April 4000 AF (33 AD), Jesus rose from the dead. 35 years later, on 11 April 4035 AF (68 AD), the Meridian of Time ended.
On 11 April 5000 AF (1033 AD), the 5th thousand years ended. And on 11 April 6000 AF (2033 AD), the 6th thousand years will end.
The current date in AF
Today’s current date is 7 October 5983 AF (2016 AD.) There are about 16 ½ years left until 11 April 6000 AF.
The 7th thousand years
There are seven thousand years of the Earth’s temporal existence, but there are eight thousand years total. The Great Millennium is not counted as part of the temporal existence because there will be “time no longer” (Rev. 10:6 and D&C 88:110) and it will be like the endless, or eternal, state that existed before the Fall.
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. (2 Ne. 2:22)
So, the 7th thousand years begins on 11 April 6000 AF (2033 AD) but less than 50 years later the Millennium begins and goes on for 1000 years. After the Millennium the 7th thousand years resumes and goes on for “a little season” (Rev. 20:3 and D&C 29:22—a little more than 950 years) and then comes “the end of the earth” (D&C 38:5 and D&C 88:101.) This brings the total tally of years to exactly 8000 with the Fall beginning it, the resurrection of Christ as the mid-point and “the end of the earth” as, well, the end.
Hopefully with this post the mystery of the Meridian of Time has now been cleared up.
P.S. Today (7 October 5983 AF/2016 AD) is this blog’s 9th birthday. It was born on 7 October 5974 AF (2007 AD.) Happy birthday, LDS Anarchy!
*Footnote—This post was corrected on 12 October 2016 to reflect the understanding that Jesus lived 33 years and three days:
And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land. (3 Ne. 8:5)