Prophetic Times: The 7000 Year Plan

There has been a plan from the beginning: Yahweh has had a plan for this earth from the beginning, even before the creative work began. The Almighty's plan has a definite purpose and is being worked out according to a precise timetable. It is certain and should be an anchor of our faith. The vision of His plan is painted throughout the pages of Scripture and it is a beautiful picture that begins in Genesis where we read that on the fourth day, God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven...and let them be for signs, and for 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, we have these wonderful and faithful arrangements of Yahweh. The two natural signs of the sun and moon are still with us today and give order and predictability to our lives.

The importance of the weekly time cycle and the 7th day of rest: In addition to days and years, the creation account reveals that an additional time cycle was established - the seven day or weekly cycle. After the six literal days of creative work, we are told that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made (Genesis 2:2-3). Yahweh thereby demonstrated the importance of the weekly time cycle and declared the seventh day as a day of rest.

However, it is important to note that there is something unique about this seven day cycle - that is, there is no natural sign in the heavens that marks it out like the daily and yearly cycles. Is it not, therefore, a spiritual sign designed to teach man that God has pre-ordained a period of time for this creation, which will culminate in a period of "rest"? Just as there were six days of creative work followed by a seventh day of rest, so the Scriptures teach that there will be six "days" of this creation's existence followed also by a seventh "day of rest." This is exactly what is revealed in Hebrews chapter 4 where the critical connecting link is made back to Genesis:

For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest on 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 (Hebrews 4:4, 9-10).

The literal six days of Creation then form a microcosm of the overall plan of God with His revealed purpose revolving around a pre-determined plan known and communicated from the beginning. The seven-day weekly cycle then represents a Divine purpose, a Divine promise, and a Divine prophecy.

The "day as a 1000 years" concept is the key to our understanding of the overall duration of the anti-typical time periods and the parable of Creation. It is revealed by the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:8-9: 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 usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The antitype of the six days of creation followed by a day of rest is then a period of 6000 years of labor and oppression under the kingdoms of men and subjection to the curse pronounced in the Garden of Eden. The 6000 years will be followed by a special 1000-year period of blessing, redemption and true rest. The millennium age or future "day of rest" for Yahweh's people is the time period when the Kingdom of God will be established and His elect will reign with His Son as revealed in the Apocalypse - they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).

Yahweh's 7000 Year Plan: The total period of 7000 years then comprises the plan of God as revealed to man. It is based on the natural weekly time period as mentioned, along with the seventh day or Sabbath rest. And so, Yahweh's plan of salvation has been unfolding precisely according to His timetable. Many prophecies of old have been fulfilled; most notably, the first advent of the Messiah. Other specific milestones have been declared through the words of the prophets. Time periods revealed principally unto Daniel and the Apostle John have proven to be an accurate basis for predicting interim dates of the rise and fall of world empires. The prediction of end-dates and particularly the time of our Lord's return have invigorated the searching minds of prophecy students for many years. Yet, the fact is that Christ himself declared that of that day and hour, knoweth no man (Matthew 24:36).

So, where does that leave us today in the year A.D. 2011? By most calculations and calendars of man's creation, the 6000 years or period of labor has passed. For some, there is perhaps a reluctance even to speak of God's 7000 year plan, or to do so only apologetically. Eagerly anticipated "prophetic" time period end-dates that many hoped would bring our Master's return (e.g., 1917, 1972, 1988, 1992 and 1996) have come and gone. And now, time has marched eleven years past the dawning of the seventh millennia according to our modern calendars.

Uncertainties in man's calculation of time and calendars: 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. Based on Usher's calculations, the 6000 years would have culminated somewhere around 1997 or 1998, depending upon how the transition between BC and AD is dealt with. While Usher's work represented a worthy 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? There are also challenges in the use of Old Testament chronology for establishing extended dating periods. One is the issue of overlapping periods of rulership, with a king and his successor and with the judges of Israel and the Philistines. Further, there is uncertainty as to whether Terah was 131 years of age, or 75 years of age, when Abraham was born.

Also, can we rely on the calendars of man's creation? The Gregorian calendar in use today was established in 1582 and replaced the Julian calendar first set up in 45 B.C. The Gregorian calendar is solar-based while the Jewish calendar is lunar-based. 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 be 4 B.C and not A.D. 0).

Yahweh's accounting of time is certain: For the children of faith, what is of most vital importance is the acknowledgement of God's prerogative with respect to the recognition of time. Yahweh is the supreme authority in terms of the fulfillment of prophetic times and the accounting of the years comprising the six "day" or 6000 year existence of His creation. In fact, there may be times He chooses to discount altogether. For example, in the genealogy of the Christ given in Matthew 1 (through the royal line of the kings in the line of Joseph), we find that four rulers of Judah, representing a total of 75 years, are omitted. They are also not counted in the total "generations" of Matthew's account of Christ's lineage. There may be other such times that are not counted according to Yahweh's reckoning.

Finally, we ask - what is the termination point of the 6000-year period when that wonderful day of "rest" begins? Does it end with the return of Christ, or some later period after the judgment process and the subduing of the nations? If man were able to calculate the elapsed time and predict the exact timing of these events, 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).

The fulfillment of the 7000-Year Plan is also certain: There are more than enough signs for us to know that we are living in the closing days of the 6000 year period, and that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is imminent. Certainly, the return of the Jews to a reborn Nation of Israel is the greatest among the signs witnessed in these Gentile times in which we live.

The day of rest and concept of the Sabbath has been and will be 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"? Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest. The day of rest is surely near.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry (Habakkuk 2:3).

Ken Wood, Brattleboro, VT

Thus a population will have been provided for the earth, which, instead of being destroyed, will be renovated, and all things belonging to it made new. The earth with its inhabitants will be incorruptible, undefiled and unfading. God, according to His word, will have made "a full end of all nations" except that of Israel; which will be the sole occupant of the globe, and every Israelite "an Israelite indeed," "equal to the Elohim," and crowned with glory and honour throughout all ages. During the thousand years the nation will consist of three classes,

Christ and the saints, righteous Israelites in the flesh and those who die "accursed;" but when perfection comes there will be but one class, and all will be immortal. The purpose of God, in the formation of the earth, will be accomplished; and "the headstone of the creation will be brought forth with shoutings, crying Grace, grace unto it."

John Thomas, Elpis Israel, Part III, Chapter 6, "The End"