"But no one knows the date and hour when the end will be ...."
Matthew 24:36 (TLB)
We have reached a point, the writer suggests, where we know roughly how long the End-Time is supposed to last. Knowing when it began, we therefore have a fair idea of when it could be over. Dare we go further and focus on the exact timing of Christ's Return? We understand that His Coming will bring us into a Glorious New Age, closing down the Old; but we hesitate to ask - when?
The Scripture quoted above appears to shut off discussion of this controversial subject. However, Scripture also contains other Truths to be set against this verse, not in contradiction, but to provide additional Light. Let us examine these together. After this we may agree on a rather exciting idea. Namely that the world of today is being shown, not so much when the end absolutely will be, but perhaps just as valuably, when it should be. This writer believes our Lord has given us the evidence; all we have to do is have the courage to look at it.
Is there any Scriptural basis for taking this bold step? If we are willing to receive it, Yes. There are two Bible Hints which may encourage us. In the 12th and last chapter of Daniel (subject of that chapter - the End-Time) verse 10 tells us: "... the wise shall understand." (KJV). And in Hebrews 10:25 (KJV) we read: "... exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
Let's consider this subject under four headings:
1. Numbers in the Bible.
2. Anointed Numbers.
3. The Mystery Surrounding His Rising.
^ 1. Numbers in the Bible: One clue is that the Bible seems to give honor to certain numbers. For example, the number seven is given the property of holiness (and completeness). How can we say this? Well, the first two chapters in Genesis establish it - we have six "days" given over to the Works of Creation, and then the seventh:
Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.Later, God confirmed the special nature of this seventh day of the week; it became the Sabbath (Exodus 16:21-30). The Israelites were to observe this as a day of rest, sacred to the Lord (Exodus 31:12-17). The theme of this holy number can be traced right through the Books of the Bible - Genesis through Revelation. Indeed, this final Book is full of references to the number seven. Please note especially Revelation 1:4 (TLB):
Genesis 2:2-3 (NAB)
May you have grace and peace from God who is, and was, and is to come! and from the seven-fold Spirit before his throne ...Similarly, the numbers five and two appear to be more "blessed" than some others. For example, it was five loaves and two fish - miraculously multiplied - that fed the crowd numbered at five thousand (families) in Matthew 14:15-21.
By contrast, the numbers three and six seem to be linked with disaster and error. As an example, when Ahab and his queen Jezebel ruled, their Northern kingdom of Israel was led into idolatry. Elijah prayed earnestly, and the resulting drought was three years and six months in duration. (Please see I Kings 16:29-18:1, Luke 4:25, and James 5:17.)
Having said that the numbers seven, five, and two have Bible significance should not lead us into wrong thinking. Some people believe that the study of numbers in their personal lives (their birthdates, etc), tells them what is going to happen to them in the future. This practice is called numerology, and is akin to fortune-telling. All such activities are banned according to the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:9-13), which upholds God as being the Lord of our future.
Next, in item 2, a reason is put forward as to why weight is given in Scripture to the numbers seven, five and two. Namely that together they form a clue as to when our Lord should return.
2. Anointed Numbers: Can we relate these anointed numbers - seven, five, and two - to Bible Chronology? First, why should we want to? Well, because faith tells us that events take place just when they should. (Even disasters - for instance the year that Britain was hit with the Great Fire of London was 1666 - please see Revelation 13:18.) And if Divine Order is built into the Timing of key, landmark events in the Bible, then surely we want to be aware of this.
^ Since they are God's Creative Works that are described in Genesis chapter 1, we may be able to say something else about its timescale. Let us remind ourselves of the words quoted in the previous chapter:
For a thousand years in thy sightWhich means doesn't it, that 1,000 years seems to God as one day seems to us? This could surely have a bearing on the Creation Week. Suppose the Creation "Week" in Genesis 1-2 is presented in terms of Days-to-God, rather than 24 hour days? Then we would be looking at a total, not of seven of our days, but of seven millennia - 7,000 years. Let us pursue this idea at more length.
are but as yesterday when it is past ...
Psalms 90:4 (KJV)
(Note: Thanks to the scientific insights God has given us, we now know that billions of years were needed to create our Earth. [By no means all Christians accept this, but a substantial proportion do.] Therefore, it is possible that another interpretation applies to the whole Creation work of our planet. In this reading, does the account of the Creation "Week" in Genesis 1:1-2:3 actually mean seven billion years? Maybe. However, we are focusing here on a small, latter part of that time, and so need to see how the total timescale can have an additional, narrower viewpoint - more closely related to "days.")
The second chapter of Genesis goes on to retell the Creation Events - giving a different emphasis. Adam and Eve are introduced to us, and so is the Garden of Eden, the idyllic setting God made for them.
Taking these first two chapters of Genesis together then, is God showing us how long it took to create a Paradise? In other words, is God signaling that the Garden of Eden was made in seven of God's "Days," or seven millennia? And since that Paradise seemed to be quickly lost, is it not reasonable for us to hope that a more enduring Paradise would be established later on? And what better point in time than after a further seven millennia have passed?
The new Paradise will begin when Christ returns. So if seven millennia are required before Paradise lost can be turned into Paradise regained, then aren't we also saying that seven millennia must elapse between the "days of Adam" and the Reign of Christ in Glory?
This is a pretty sweeping statement: 7,000 years is the laid-down period of time that should elapse between Adam and Christ's reign. Is there any way of confirming it? Well it's not there in plain words in the Bible. However, long ago, the students of the Hebrew Bible saw that beyond the plain reading of the Judaic Scriptures in the Old Testament, other rules may be applied. The first of these is "remez" - a Hebrew word meaning hints.
We can then ask, Are there any hints pointing to the 7,000 year period in question? And indeed there are. The hints in Scripture can be grouped into four main categories:
a. The primary hint we've already looked at: in the first Bible chapters, God sketches an outline of a seven day structure. As we saw in Genesis 1:1-2:3 seven "days" are given for God's Creation, with six "days" assigned to work, and one "day" given over to sanctified rest. And again in the light of Psalms 90:4 (above), it may be that these key seven days can be translated into seven thousand years.
From the Seven Days of Genesis to the Seven Seals of Revelation, Scripture is saturated with the Number Seven(1).And in a notable example of scriptural influence in general life,
It is the origin of the seven-day week now common to the entire world (1).
c. There are many instances in the Old Testament of seven days of waiting. For example, in preparing the priesthood to minister in the Tabernacle:
... Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them.The main purpose behind these waiting periods: the completion of purification. Which theme is hinted at again in Psalms 12:6 (KJV):
Exodus 29:35 (KJV)
The words of the LORD are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
d. This key Bible number: seven, is found in the last Bible Book - Revelation - 54 times (KJV). And this Book is about the "last days" - Acts 2:17(2). These scriptures therefore depict the culmination of those events that are foretold in the Bible. And the Book's 22 chapters are uniquely identified as being the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" (ch.1 vs.1). So it seems that here we're being encouraged to take our attention away from this "worldly world" - which will fade away. In order that we may focus, and build up an eager expectation of that moment when He returns in Glory. Seven then, is very much wrapped up with this wonderful outcome.
One number that we can be even clearer about (because it belongs to the period of recorded history) is the number of millennia since Jesus of Nazareth walked the Earth. We may debate the exact year of His Birth, but we do know that two millennia have now passed since that wonderful day when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. And almost two millennia have elapsed since He showed His Power by triumphing over the Cross.
Further, because we are in the End-Time now, we are trusting that the expected culmination is at hand - the signal event being His glorious Return.
So, accepting for the moment the idea above, that the anointed timespan from Adam to Christ's Return is seven millennia, we have now assigned two of the significant numbers - seven and two. (Seven millennia = Eden's Paradise to the new Paradise, and two millennia = Christ's Cross to His Return.)
That leaves five for the number of millennia between Adam and the rising of Christ from the grave. Is this possible? Could the span of time between the start of the Old Testament chronicle and that of the New Kingdom be as long as five millennia?
At first blush we would seem to be on a loser here. Because if we ask the question, "How long before Jesus was Adam created?" we get lots of differing opinions, but most estimates are under 5,000 years.
This difficulty is well illustrated in the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, which puts the timespan concerned at 4,000 years(3). The date of the Fall (Genesis 3) is put at 4004 BCE, with a cautionary note: "The dates given are according to Ussher, but they are used only as a working basis, and are not regarded as accurate."
A similar answer - 4,060 years - is obtained when we attempt to discover what answer is given in the Bible itself, about the timespan. This is using the list of generations given in Luke 3. (Please see Appendix C for notes on the calculation details.)
Similarly, the Jewish calendar places the Creation at 3,761 BCE(4).
Why don't we just settle, in round figures, for 4,000 years then? Because that would make Christ's Return much less likely to be imminent. The basis for this opinion is easy to see. With 2,000 years going forward from Christ's Crucifixion until 2033), and 4,000 years going backward from His Cross to Adam, we have only 6,000 years. Therefore we would not fulfill God's "Week" - a Week lasting for 7 x 1,000 years - until another 1,000 years had elapsed. So we could not really expect Jesus before the year 3033 CE, in that case. (For an example of a "week" associated with two seven year periods, as was the case with Jacob please see Genesis 29:27.)
^ So if five millennia passed from Adam to Christ, this would be a much more favorable outcome for us, but do we have any evidence that this was what actually happened? Yes we do. There are two witnesses to this timescale. The first is written, the second cut in stone.
Among the pseudepygrapha(6), there is a writing - Adam and Eve - which runs to two books. The authenticity of this work is endorsed by parts of it being quoted in the Talmud (the official record of Jewish oral law plus rabbinic commentary). This work gives us the following Prophecy:
"Yea, the Word that will again save thee when the five days and a half are fulfilled."Here we have 5 millennia - plus 500 years. What are we to make of these extra 500 years, tacked on as they are to the end of the 5,000? Perhaps this further half of a "great Day" of waiting for Jesus signifies that He came to turn our spiritual night (the "Fall") into day (the Kingdom)?
But when Adam heard these words from God, and of the great five days and a half, he did not understand the meaning of them ... And Adam wept and prayed God to explain it to him.
Then God in His mercy ... explained to him that these were 5,000 and 500 years; and how One would then come and save him and his seed.
Adam and Eve, Book I, 3:2-6
A further witness to a period of five millennia (plus) is that of the Great Pyramid (the Wonderful Sign introduced in chapter 5). Precision cut in rigid stone, the Pyramid pinpoints a year for Adam's being in Eden - 5407 BCE(7).
What about the discrepancy between 5407 BCE and the 5,500 years prophesied above? The short answer is that the writer doesn't know. But if we accept both figures as reliably ending at the same point, namely the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, then this leaves only one conclusion: The two timescales have different starting-points.
The Great Pyramid definitely points to Adam in Eden. However, the Bible details the sequence of events as follows (Genesis 2:7-9): Adam was created, then the Garden of Eden planted, Adam was then placed in the Garden, and then God did further Creation Works in the Garden of Eden. Now it could be that the Prophecy in Adam and Eve is measuring the time from Adam's Creation to the Birth of Christ; in which case we would have agreement - if 95 years elapsed between Adam's Creation and the completion of the Garden:
Adam and Eve timescale: 2 BCE - 5500 years = 5502 BCELet us leave this last point as a mystery for now, and simply accept the following result. That the above two witnesses not only point to 5 millennia as against 4 millennia for the period - Eden to Bethlehem - they even state that in excess of five millennia will be required.
Great Pyramid timescale: 2 BCE - 5405 years = 5407 BCE
Difference = 95 years
^ It seems to the writer that the evidence for five millennia (and even a margin of time beyond that), for the period from Adam to Christ is more substantial than that quoted for four millennia. Consider the following Bible verse, casting doubt on the validity of the genealogies:
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogiesShall we therefore proceed on the basis of five millennia and see what results we get? (Putting aside the issue of the four or five centuries that are left over, until someone receives further Light from the Spirit showing exactly what this period, up to half a "great day" of God, means.)
and arguments and quarrels about the law,
because these are unprofitable and useless.
Titus 3:9 (NIV)
To summarize, the anointed numbers are set out as follows:
5 millennia from Adam to the Birth of Christ
+ 2 millennia from Jesus' First Coming to His Return
= 7 millennia from the initial Promise of the Kingdom
to its Realization.
(Note: Please see Genesis 3:15 for the initial Promise.)
The above Fulfillment of God's "Week" of seven millennia means that the Return of Christ is able to take place as we enter the new, and eighth, millennium after Adam. And now that we have seen this evidence, we shall find other confirmations of this.
3. The Mystery Surrounding His Rising: If we look closely at the Bible record, then the timing of the Lord's Rising from among the dead is very puzzling! How long was it, from the Crucifixion to His Rising, and does this time-period fit in with prophecy?
The first part of this question is easily answered from Scripture. We read that Jesus yielded up His Spirit at about 3pm on that first Good Friday: "... and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour ... And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit,' " - Luke 23:44-46 (NAS 1975). And we know that it was indeed Friday because the Bible says: "And it was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin," - Luke 23:54 (NAS 1975). Remember that the Jewish day begins in the evening, so that just after 6pm the day of preparation for Passover would end, and the Sabbath would begin.
On the Saturday, guards were posted at the tomb, and kept a watch through the day and night. But on the Sunday morning:
NOW after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.^ And continuing to read, we learn that the Angel of the Lord was there and told them the marvelous News:
Matthew 28:1 (NAS 1975)
"He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said."
Friday, Saturday, Sunday - certainly He rose on the third day. In this way He fulfilled the Prophecy He Himself gave:
... Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:
And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.
Matthew 17:22-23 (KJV)
(The following other Bible references agree that He would rise on the third day: Matthew 16:21 and 20:19, Luke 9:22 and 18:33.)
But was every prediction fulfilled? What about this one?
And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer ... and be killed, and after three days rise again.When He rose on "the third day" was this the same as rising after three days? The following chart assumes that He rose at about 6am on the Sunday:
Mark 8:31 (KJV)
The span of time between 3pm on Good Friday and 6am on the first Easter Day is 39 hours - just over a day and a half. We must conclude that rising on "the third day" means rising after two days (to the nearest whole day). The prediction that three days (72 hours) would elapse was clearly not met. (In chapter 10 we shall consider a possible reason for the verses that predict a three day span of time before His Rising.)
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,This present hour is one of expectant waiting for a great Event:
even so God will also bring with Him through Jesus
those who have fallen asleep [in death].
I Thessalonians 4:14 (Amp.)
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.^ Is there not a parallel then, between this time when believers wait - for this great "Awakening," and the waiting that Jesus put in - from Good Friday to Easter Sunday?
Mark 13:33 (KJV)
And since His Rising came after two days, can we not scale up these two days (by the method we saw in Psalms 90:4), to give two "God-Days" or 2 x 1,000 years? The justification for this step would be that Jesus as one Man waited two days for His Rising; for us to wait two "God-Days" signifies the Son of God, patiently preparing multitudes of men, women and children for the great Renewal!
Going forward two millennia from the "Year of our Lord" as given in the calendar brings us, in round figures, to the year 2000. (If we want to be precise, it actually gets us to 2001, because there was no year 0. But we saw from the Great Pyramid timeline - chapter 6 - that the real Birthdate of Jesus in Bethlehem is inscribed there as 29 September 2 BCE. And if we include within our two millennia an extra year from the 15 months this gives us, then we get to the year 2000.)
However, our Lord Jesus received the Wonderful Power to save us all as a result of His enduring the Cross (please see I Corinthians 1:18). Prior to the breakthrough on the Cross, His Ministry was principally to the Jews. As He made clear in this Statement:
Then Jesus said to the woman, "I was sent only to help God's lost sheep--the people of Israel."
Matthew 15:24 (NLT)
This Power was clearly shown on the day of His Rising, at that first Easter, in 33 CE. So this Saving Power was not available immediately at His Birth in 2 BCE. Nor would we expect it to be. Rather, the world waits with Christ for Him to come in His Power - for that Day of the Lord when it is fitting for Him to return in Glory. The waiting period of two millennia therefore begins in 33 CE. And going ahead 2,000 years from 33 CE brings us to the year 2033. So 2033 is the year when that period of waiting would have run out completely.
4. Revelation! The Book of Revelation is generally felt to be no easy read. Its Message however, is well worth pursuing. Why? Because this Book, as mentioned above, is styled "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" and so it has unique Authority. Its chapter 20 describes the result of Jesus' Victory over Satan:
Then I saw an angel coming down from Heaven with the key of the pit and a huge chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, the serpent of ancient days, who is both the devil and Satan, and bound him fast for a thousand years.What this translates into, from our point of view, is a thousand years of Blessing - because Satan's purpose is to be our enemy. With Satan contained, life feels very much better. What follows the 1,000 years? We are told in verse 3:
Revelation 20:1-2 (PME)
But then he must be set free for a little while.What if this "little while" were also 1,000 years? For we would consider a day as a little while, and we now know that 1,000 years equates to a Great Day. In that case we would have 1,000 years of peace (with Satan bound) followed by 1,000 years of difficulty (Satan loosed). Looking at this in more detail, we can see the following:
The first 1,000 years after Jesus walked the Earth was a period of growth - the Church flourished. In addition, at least from the outside if not always from the inside, there was unity - one Church.
Whereas once the 1,000 years were up - trouble. In 1054 CE - the Church split down the middle - into a Roman Catholic part and an Eastern Orthodox part. Another 500 years and there was the rise of the Protestant movement. It must be said that this process of division has carried on; with the result that today the Church comprises hundreds of denominations, plus a great number of independent congregations.
^ The theme is taken up again in Revelation, further on in chapter 20, where we may discern a Day and Night scenario:
And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,Jesus beat the devil at the Cross (as verses 1 and 2 of Revelation 20 point out). That took care of the next 1,000 years. Being a time of comparative Light - we could call this Day. Then we began a slide that culminated in the End-Time. During this second 1,000 years Satan has been freer to bring about disorder - leading ultimately to the End-Time wars we have been discussing. So this period has seen a descent into darkness - Night has fallen.
and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war ...
Revelation 20:7-8 (NAS 1975)
Now we are in the year 2016 - the time of Day is over and the Night is almost over. And Jesus is not yet returned. Does this shake our faith? The writer has after all had to issue an apology for misleading folks into thinking that the Messiah would be here already. Where do we stand?
It is helpful to recall that the Bible is full of suggestions about how good it is to wait patiently for the Lord. This would seem to be one of those times! Hopefully, the writer has learned his lesson, and will make no more emphatic statements that predict exactly when the Return will be. (He was rash enough to suggest that October 4, 2005 was a possible date. He has had to withdraw that one as well as the earlier 2000 date.)
The writer (and all of us) can reflect on the following Scripture, and realize that this verse means exactly what it says:
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.After having had a number of dates in mind for His Return, the writer did finally accept that this date is not knowable. (Sorry to be slower than others in this matter!) We should simply be prepared, for the Messiah will come just when He said He would:
Mark 13:32 (KJV)
(This is the Mark version of Matthew’s verse quoted at the head of this chapter.)
"So be ready all the time. For I, the Messiah, will come when least expected."And that’s that! He could come at any time.
Luke 12:40 (TLB)
Then in this chapter we discussed some important Signs which, independently of the End-Time Signs, also converge on the millennium we are now in. These are Signs that herald the Coming of God's Kingdom on Earth. Now it would be a rash person who would state categorically - God must come, in the Person of Jesus, in such and such a year. But when God cares enough to signpost this present millennium so beautifully, wouldn't it be churlish of us to ignore all these carefully-placed Signs?
He said He was coming "soon" - Revelation 22:20 (TLB, etc). A Return on or before 2033 would be a Return after only two Days on God's Scale of 1,000 years = 1 Day. Praise the Lord - this is soon!
|The writer is at:|