The 7000 Year Plan is Alive and Well

God's 7000 Year Plan has been a cherished "anchor of the soul" providing hope and peace to Bible students. However, in the year 2004, there is perhaps a reluctance to speak of it, or to do so only apologetically. Some reasons for this include the passing of the years since eagerly anticipated 'prophetic' dates such as 1988, 1992, 1995/1996, and the dawning of the new millennium on our calendar. Is the 7000 Year Plan still alive and well? The answer put forth in this article is a definite "Yes".

Two fundamental questions must be asked: Did the Creator have a plan for this creation from the beginning? If so, has He communicated this plan to man? Let us consider some relevant Scriptural passages:

"For we which have believed do enter into rest...although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." (Heb. 4:3)

"Known to God are all His works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18). The margin in the NKJV has "...the Lord, who makes these things known from eternity (of old)."

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

"God that made the world and all things therein...hath made of one blood all nations... and hath determined the times before appointed...hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained." (Acts 17:24-31)

There was a plan from the beginning. That plan was also communicated at the beginning. We read in Genesis 1 that on the fourth day, God said "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven...and let them be for signs, and seasons, and for days and years...God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night." So it is today, we still have these wonderful and faithful arrangements of Yahweh. These two natural signs in the heavens mark out, in the case of the sun, the time cycle of the day and the year, as well as the seasons, while the moon marks out the lunar monthly cycle. These arrangements give order and predictability to our lives.

Notwithstanding this, the creation account reveals that an additional time cycle was established. In Genesis 2, upon completion of the six days of creation, it is recorded that God "rested on the seventh day ...and God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work...". (Gen. 2:1-3).

By this action, the Almighty did two things. He declared the importance of the seventh day and declared it a day of rest. Further, by setting apart and marking out this day, God, in effect, established a new time cycle consisting of seven days, which we call a week. However, it is important to note that there is no sign in the heavens that mark out a seven-day cycle. What are we to make of this?

A natural sign to designate time does therefore not govern the weekly cycle, but rather it is a spiritual sign designed to teach man that God has pre-ordained a period of time for this creation, which will culminate in a "rest". Just as there were six days of Creation followed by a seventh day of rest, so the Scriptures are indicating that there will be six days for this Creation followed also by a seventh day of rest. The purpose of God for this Creation therefore revolves around a seven-day plan known and communicated from the beginning.

This day of rest concept has been a great blessing for man and for all of God's creation, for which we should be very thankful. How much more thankful should we be for His provision for, and promise of, a greater "seventh day of rest"?

The inspired record (2Peter 3:8) tells us that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." The anti-type of the six days of creation followed by a day of rest is a period of 6000 years of labor and oppression under the rule of man, subject to the curse pronounced in the Garden of Eden, followed by a special 1000-year period of blessing, good works and true rest. This special "last day" is the millennial Kingdom of God.

The continued existence today of the seven-day weekly cycle is mute testimony to the fact that God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, that He is the author of life, and that He has ordained a Sabbath age of peace and blessing. The seven-day weekly cycle represents a Divine purpose, a Divine promise, and a Divine prophecy.

Just as the continued existence of the Jewish people is a great witness to the existence and omnipotence of God, so the continued existence of the seven-day weekly cycle is a witness to God's 7000 Year Plan. Just as man has tried to eliminate the witness of the Jewish people, so man has also tried unsuccessfully to do away with the witness of the seven-day week. Napoleon wanted to digitize the week (10 day cycle), and the leaders of the Russian Revolution tried to do away with the concept of the seventh day and the resulting weekly cycle.

It is important to recognize that as vital and as central as Sabbath-keeping was under the law for Israel, that this was ultimately a temporary observance pointing forward to Christ Jesus, and the greater seventh day rest under his rule. This is confirmed by the fact that of the Ten Commandments, the keeping of the Sabbath is the only one not carried forward into the New Covenant and New Testament. Further, the conclusions of the Jerusalem Conference in Acts 15, determined that the keeping of the Sabbath was not one of the "necessary things" required of the Gentiles.

This ultimate seventh day of rest concept is taught throughout the Bible, directly and by type and symbol. Consider:

1. The predominance of the number seven, and multiples of the number seven, throughout the Bible from Genesis through Revelation, the latter book being structured around the concept of sevens.

2. In addition to the weekly Sabbath, Israel was required to observe a Sabbath of years, and the Sabbath of Sabbath years (the Jubilee).

3. The Transfiguration account witnessing to the future majesty of Jesus in the Kingdom age took place, according to the Matthew and the Mark accounts, "after six days" (Luke says "after about eight days"-based on the complicated Roman calculation)

4. The type of Israel entering the land under Joshua with the land being at rest after the conquest. (Psalm 95 and Hebrews 4)

5. The repeated references to "the last day" with respect to judgment and the Kingdom age.

6. The 70 year Babylonian Captivity.

7. The Flood: the initial seven day wait for separation and salvation, the ark coming to rest in the seventh month, the second and third sending forth of the dove after seven days;

8. Enoch-the seventh from Adam, "walked with God" "by faith was translated that he should not see death"

9. The use of the Sabbath by the Lord Jesus Christ for many of his acts of healing.

Early believers were convinced of the 7000-Year Plan. The historian, Edward Gibbon, in the well known "The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire" states:

The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the Second Coming of Christ. As the works of creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state...was fixed to 6000 years. By the same analogy, it was inferred that this long period of labour and contention...would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years. Early writers such as Irenaeus, and later reformers such as Robert Fleming, also confirm this, as does the early but non-canonical "Epistle of Barnabas"

All of the types and symbols of the seventh day of rest, or the 7000 Year Plan are conclusively brought together in the epistle to the Hebrews-specifically, the record from Chapter 3, verse 7 through Chapter 4, verse 13. These verses contain strong exhortations to believers to be faithful and diligent so as to enter the coming age of rest. There are many references to the coming rest (the word itself appears 11 times and is continually referred to), to the seventh day, "a certain day" and "another day". The key verse is Hebrews 4:9: "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."

The Greek word translated "rest" in this verse is different than the two other Greek words translated "rest" in this portion of Scripture. In fact, this is the only time this word is used in the New Testament. The word is "sabbathimos" (Strong's #4520).

The meaning of this word is "Sabbath-keeping", and many versions (e.g. BBE, DBY, LIT, YLT, NKJV, WEY, ASV) translate it accordingly.

Yes, there is coming a seventh day of Sabbath-keeping in fulfillment of the 7000-Year Plan. However, some may say "If this is the case, why are we now in the year 2004?"

The Gregorian calendar in use today was established in 1582, replacing the Julian calendar first set up in 45 B.C. It is a solar-based calendar reflecting the annual seasons. The dating from the beginning of the Christian era is generally considered reasonably accurate, although most scholars would date the birth of the Christ to 4 B.C.

Bible students generally rely upon Bishop Usher's calculations for the period of time from the creation to Christ. Circa 1650, he arrived at a date for the beginning of Creation, using Old Testament chronology and other evidence, which was 4004 B.C.

He believed that this Creation would last 7000 years.

While Usher's work represented a very good effort, it has limitations with respect to being used to calculate either the starting or end date of the 6000-year period.

Even if his calculations were accurate, does the 6000-year period begin with the birth of Adam, or with his fall, or with some other period in his life?

Of vital importance is the acknowledgement of the Divine prerogative with respect to recognition of time. There may be times He does not count in His arrangements. For example, in the genealogy of the Christ given in Matthew 1, through the royal line of the kings (the line of Joseph), we find that four rulers of Judah, representing 75 years, are omitted. Also they are not counted in the "generations". There may be other such times.

There are challenges in the use of Old Testament chronology for establishing extended dating periods. One is the issue of overlapping periods of ruler ship, either with a king and his successor, or with the judges of Israel and the Philistines (the 480 year period in 1Kings 6 doesn't appear to be sufficient to cover all the various periods included). Further there is uncertainty as to whether Terah was 131 years of age, or 75 years of age, when Abraham was born. (A good analysis of these, and other Biblical chronological issues, is covered in the article by Brother Ralph Green in the April 2001 edition of The Testimony Magazine).

Does the 6000-year period end with the return of Christ, or some later period after the judgment process, and the subduing of the nations, before that wonderful day of "rest" begins? If man were able to calculate these events exactly, Jesus would not have said, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power." (Acts 1:7)

However, there are enough signs (such as the return of the Jews to a reborn State of Israel) for us to know that we are today positioned somewhere in the closing days of the 6000 period, and most likely even closer to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Israel today, the Jewish people greet close associates in the hours before the commencement of the weekly Sabbath with "Shabbat Shalom"-expressing the hope that the recipient might enjoy a wonderful and peaceful Sabbath.

This should be our greeting to one another now as we stand on the eve of that Great Sabbath to which all the others pointed- the seventh 1000 year millennium.

Yes, God's 7000 plan is alive and well! "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest". (Heb. 4:11) Shabbat Shalom!

Ron Waye

Burlington, ON