When God created the earth and placed man on it, He did it with a very definite plan. It was His intention to have the entire earth inhabited by people that would glorify Him. "But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD." (Numbers 14:21)
He also had a timetable for the completion of His plan to fill the earth with glory. Throughout the Bible, we are provided with a number of clues about the times and seasons for this plan. The chart on the front page shows a summary of the overall outline of God's 7000 year plan, presented without reference to any actual dates.
The work of the Creation took 6 days, after which we are told, "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." (Genesis 2:2-3)
The writer to the Hebrews, in chapter 4, helps us to appreciate the intended link between the seven days of Creation and the overall plan of God. "For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works...There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Hebrews 4:4, 9-11)
To complete our understanding of this picture, we must add another clue from the writings of Peter. "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3: 8-9)
God has instituted a 7000 year plan. There will be 6000 years of labor and toil, under the sentence of sin and death, followed by a 1000 year "day" of rest for the people of God.
This time of rest is also described as the Kingdom of God on the earth. Those who are found worthy and granted eternal life when Christ returns, "shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20: 4-6)
The Bible provides us with a general outline of God's 7000 year plan for this earth. The 7th day (7th 1000 year period) will be a day of rest in God's restored Kingdom on earth. (Matthew 6:10, Revelation 20:4-6)
Jesus told us, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matthew 24: 36) Consequently, we are unable to determine the exact day of the return of Christ or the establishment of the Kingdom of God. However, we still are instructed to "watch and pray" so that that day does not come on us unaware. (See Luke 21: 34-36)
We should be watching the signs of the times for indicators that the return of Christ is near. We do not know the exact time of his coming, but we certainly have been given enough clues in the Bible to convince us that we are living in the "last days."
There are both signs and times revealed in the Bible. By analyzing recorded Bible chronology it is generally understood that the Creation occurred in about 4004 BC. It is simply a matter of addition to see that the end of a 6000 year period would be somewhere near 2000 AD. The only unknown in this discussion is when did Adam sin and the sentencing begin? (Or, how long after the Creation did the 6 days of labor actually start?) It has been suggested that since Christ (symbolically the second Adam) was around thirty years old when he began his ministry of salvation, that the first Adam may have lived in Eden for no more than 30 years before the sin and the sentence. If this were the case, the time of labor would have started no later than around 3974 BC. (6000 years after that date would be no later than 2026 AD.)
Even thought there are other time periods that suggest similar dates, we must not speculate on the "day and the hour". It would be very foolish to assume that we have plenty of time to get ready. We must maintain a state of readiness at all times. Our own life can be taken away in an instant, and if we have accepted the hope of salvation in Christ, our next waking moment will be at his judgment seat. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor 5:10)
We are told to "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods." (Matthew 24: 42-47)
When we have a general knowledge of Bible times and we realize that these are the final days for the kingdoms of men, we gain even more confidence in the Lord's near return by looking at the signs of his coming. Luke 21 contains one of the many Bible prophecies that reveal a number of important characteristics to look for in the "last days".
Luke speaks about signs in the heavens, distress among the nations on the earth, and a condition of fear in the heart's of men. The prophet Daniel used similar language in describing this same end-time period as a "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time:" (Daniel 12:1) Paul also told Timothy, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come." (See 2 Timothy 3:1-5 for many additional characteristics of the last days.)
When we take a good look at the things that are going on in our present world we are confronted with the dramatic realization that these are the very days that the Bible has described as the "last days". We are living in perilous times. People are living in fear of terrorism and no nation has any assurance of peace and security. We are surrounded by wickedness and immorality at every level of society; the American idols, the sport hero's, and the government leaders are leading the way to moral depravity. Lifestyles that once were considered unspeakable are now being legalized in the courts and encouraged by the entertainment industry.
One of the most significant positive signs for this last generation is the budding of the fig tree and the other tree nations, as mentioned also in Luke 21: 30-31.The fig tree represents the Nation of Israel, which has been resurrected from being scattered throughout all nations and restored into her own land. (See Ezekiel 37:11-12, 21-22.) Modern Israel is a miracle that has restored our hope, fulfilling many Old Testament prophecies; Israel is our sign in the political heavens that the Kingdom of God and the day of rest is very near. Jesus told us, "...when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand." (Luke 21: 28-31)