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6,000 years for mankind as understood
by Churches of God still valid
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6,000 years for mankind as understood
by Churches of God still valid
By Steven M. Collins

Mr. Collins is a Church of God member, researcher and author. He has written several books about the lost tribes of Israel.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.--In an issue of this newspaper a while back, Frank Nelte opines that God periodically changes His overall timetable for mankind due to mankind's own actions.

(See "What Is God's Timetable for Mankind and Christ's Return?," The Journal, Oct. 31, 2006.)

Mr. Nelte's claim is accompanied by the assumption that the biblical "6,000 year" timetable has already elapsed since creation and that it is no longer useful in considering when Christ's return will occur.

I disagree on both counts.

The 7,000-year plan

I believe Mr. Nelte has too quickly rejected the validity of the 6,000-year period in prophetic calculations. If the 6,000 years since creation has not yet ended, then his assumptions about God modifying His divine timetable become moot.

As many readers of The Journal realize, there is a belief (valid, in my view) that the seven-day week reveals a 7,000-year divine plan for mankind, with 6,000 years for mankind to "labor" under the rule of Satan and sin's penalties and a 1,000-year period of "rest" under the rule of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 20:1-5 clearly prophesies that there will be a 1,000-year (millennial) period in which Jesus and the saints will reign.


Since 2 Peter 3:3-8 records that the 1,000-years-for-a-day principle is valid in considering prophetic timetables regarding the return of Christ, I believe the 7,000-year plan of God is still scripturally valid.

Mr. Nelte correctly calculates that if the 6,000 years of mankind's labor began in 4004 B.C. (Archbishop Ussher's date for creation week), then there is a problem with the timetable because the 6,000 years has already expired and Jesus has not returned to establish the Millennium.

Keep in mind that Archbishop Ussher's calculations are not gospel, and his calculations could be flawed.

However, let us assume for the sake of discussion that Mr. Ussher got it right. How is the 6,000-year period of labor still valid?

There is an easy answer.

Let me count the years

The key point in determining the validity of the 6,000 years of mankind's labor is determining when in human history that period began.

I see no basis for starting that period at the creation of Adam and Eve. Until they sinned, the entire physical world was perfect, and so were they. There was no sin, corruption, aging or death until they sinned.

If the 6,000 years pictures mankind's labor under sin, then labor can begin only once sin has entered the physical world.

The question then becomes: How long did Adam and Eve dwell in Eden in a sinless state before the fall?

The Bible doesn't tell us, so we are left without a scriptural benchmark from which to begin the calculation.

However, several possibilities are worth considering.

The 3rd chapter of the Book of Jubilees records that Adam and Eve remained sinless for more than seven years. If true, this factor alone would not validate the 6,000-year prophetic period because a creation date of 4004 B.C. followed by more than seven sinless years would still have the 6,000 years expiring around A.D. 2003.

Obviously, we have already passed that date.

Remember that we are so far assuming that Ussher's chronology is correct. If his calculation was off by a number of years, then the 6,000 years could still be accurate based simply on the extra seven years mentioned in the Book of Jubilees.

There are still more possibilities.

Sinless time too short?

The Bible implies that seven years of "sinless" time may be too short. It is worthwhile noting that Jubilees records that the sinless period in Eden should be measured in years, not merely days or months.

This makes sense. Even if Adam and Eve were created with mature physical bodies and adult language skills, their minds were as new as those of newborn babies. Like any human being, they needed time to mature before a confrontation with the serpent could possibly serve as a reasonable test in God's eyes.

If God allowed the tempter access to Adam and Eve before our initial parents attained a reasonable level of maturity, this would hardly have been a test of their character because Satan's effort would be as easy as taking candy from a baby.

Let's consider: How mature are most children at 7 years of age (the sinless period recorded in Jubilees)?

Adam-and-Christ parallels

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul repeatedly asserts direct parallels between Adam and Jesus.

In verse 45 he refers to "the first man Adam" who was made "a living soul" and "the last Adam" who became a "quickening spirit."

In verse 22 Paul states: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

In verse 47 he refers to them as "the first man" and "the second man." Paul three times asserts a direct linkage between the lives of Adam and Jesus ("the last Adam" or "second man").

We do have a biblical answer to the question of how old Jesus was before God allowed Satan to seriously test Him to see if He would "fall" like Adam and Eve did.

Just before the account of Satan being allowed to severely test and tempt Jesus in Luke 4, Luke 3:23 states that Christ was "about 30 years of age."

If even Jesus were allowed by God the Father to develop 30 years of human maturity before experiencing severe temptation from Satan, might the "first Adam" (and Eve) have had the same period in Eden before God allowed Satan to test them as well?

Not for sure

I want to stress that we do not know for sure how long their period of sinless development was, but, given Paul's tripled assertion of direct parallels between Adam's life and Jesus' life, this has to be seriously considered.

An Old Testament requirement supports this viewpoint. In Numbers 4 God gives the requirements for men being allowed to function in a priestly capacity. Seven times in that chapter God states that no man was eligible to serve in priestly functions until he reached the age of 30.

Hebrews 4:14 calls Jesus our "high priest." Acts 10:34 adds that God is no "respecter of persons"; that is, that He shows no partiality.

Given that even Jesus was required to reach the age of 30 before God allowed Satan to severely test and tempt Him for His priestly role, did God allow the first Adam also to reach that age before Adam and Eve were likewise tested by the serpent?

If this is the case and Archbishop Ussher's calculations are correct, then the end of this age could come as late as about A.D. 2026 (utilizing the 6,000-year calculation method).

Modern scientific studies have confirmed that the frontal cortex of human brains, the location of judgment, does not fully develop until after the teen years.

If this has been a normal development pattern for all human beings since creation, it makes sense that God would allow both the first Adam and the second Adam to get past the stage where their physical brains were still forming before allowing Satan to confront them with severe testing requiring the full use of their senses and mature judgment.

This brings up another possibility.

Other possible counting methods

God also recognized that a higher level of maturity was not reached until after one's teenage years were over.

In Exodus 38:26 God did not allow males to be considered as countable in an assessment for the tabernacle until they reached 20 years of age.

In Number 1:3 males were also not counted in a census of Israel's males eligible for military service until they reached age 20.

Could Adam and Eve have been tempted at age 20? If so, Ussher's chronology would indicate the end of this age would be due in about A.D. 2016.

Age of capability

Consider another possibility. Jesus was tested by the temple elders at age 12 in matters of the law and doctrine, and they were "astonished at His understanding and answers."

Jesus was capable of mature argumentation about the law at age 12, so was the first Adam also similarly mature?

One needs to consider that Adam and Eve were both taught by God Himself while they still had sinless and receptive minds. One could argue that age 12 would likely be the earliest that Adam and Eve were tested by Satan, given biblical precedent and scientific evidence about the maturation level of the human mind at various ages.

However, John 3:34 states Jesus had the Holy Spirit in unlimited amounts, and that would mature him far more quickly than regular human beings such as Adam and Eve.

Nevertheless, Jesus was still allowed to develop for 30 years before Satan was allowed to severely test Him. Applying a period of 12 sinless years to Archbishop Ussher's chronology would result in the end of this age arriving in about A.D. 2008.

If Ussher's chronology were off by a few years and a projected date of 2008 were to be extended for a few years, this alternative would indicate the Second Coming is due rather soon.

Not before 2010

At this juncture I'll state that I agree with Mr. Nelte that Christ's return should not be expected before 2010. We are already in 2007, and the prophesied three and one-half year ministry of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3) has not yet begun, so it appears that the end of this age will not occur until 2011 or later.

I urge readers to realize that the above calculations about timetables assume Archbishop Ussher correctly dated the creation.

We do not know if his chronology is correct, but his chronology seems to be at least close to the truth, given the progression of modern world events.

This author does not set dates, and the purpose of this article is not to predict the year of Christ's return. The above discussion of biblical timetables is intended solely to demonstrate that ample biblical evidence exists that the 6,000 years of man's labor under sin has not yet expired.

Sooner than expected

Even if we knew the exact date of Adam's and Eve's fall and therefore knew exactly when the 6,000 years would expire, Jesus Himself gave us a caveat about setting dates.

In Matthew 24:22 Jesus prophesied that the days at the end of our age will be "shortened" in order to stop human extinction.

While Mr. Nelte's article assumes that God has periodically lengthened the divine timetable for Jesus' return, Christ's own words in Matthew 24 reveal that the divinely appointed timetable will be shortened, not lengthened.

Indeed, in Matthew 24:45-51 and 25:1-13 Jesus offered two parables that also made the point that believers at the end of the age will be surprised that Jesus returns sooner, not later, than they expected.

It is noteworthy that three times in Matthew 24-25 Jesus warns that believers at the end of this age will have less time to prepare for his coming than they expected.

God implements His timetables

Mr. Nelte's article assumes that God is willing to alter his divinely appointed timetables to accommodate mankind's actions.

I think that the reverse is true. The Bible repeatedly records that God intervenes in human events to ensure that His appointed timetables are implemented.

One example is after the Deluge when mankind was rapidly rebuilding the pre-Flood society and its technologies. God intervened powerfully in human affairs to stop mankind's progress in order to keep His divine timetable in effect.

Genesis 11:1-9 records that God altered the language of all mankind in order to stop man from rebuilding the pre-Flood technologies and culture. By confusing everyone's language, God made it impossible for humanity to either pool its knowledge or read any pre-Flood manuscripts.

Matthew 24:37 reveals why God took such drastic action. In this verse Jesus revealed an insight into God's overall plan and timetable: that only the latter days of our age were intended by God to mirror the pre-Flood world of Noah because such a development would indicate that Jesus' return was imminent.

Noah and high technology

Daniel 12:4 prophesied that there would be a knowledge explosion at the end of this age, and, combining this prophecy with Jesus' statement in Matthew 24:37 that the latter days will mirror the pre-Flood world of Noah, we can conclude that the pre-Flood world was also a high-tech culture like our own.

Since God's timetable did not allow for another high-tech age with sophisticated knowledge levels until just before the Second Coming, God intervened in Genesis 11 to keep mankind's development in harmony with His timetable.

Since Genesis 11:6 states that mankind had already reached a technological level at Babel such that "nothing" that human beings imagined would be "restrained from them," God drastically altered mankind's development to make sure that the divine timetable took precedence over mankind's actions or decisions.

In so doing, God made it clear that when presented with a choice between (1) changing human conditions to make human events conform to His timetables and (2) changing the divine timetables because of mankind's actions, God unquestionably chooses No. 1.

That's God story and He's sticking to it

"Known to God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18).

This sounds like God makes a plan and sticks to it.

Many examples exist in the Bible that show that God does things by the numbers in implementing the divine plan. Many Christians believe Christ's birth occurred when it occurred because it was due according to the Seventy Weeks Prophecy in Daniel 9.

The return of the Jews to Judea in Ezra's and Nehemiah's time occurred when it did because God fulfilled His prophecy that Judah would remain in exile from the Promised Land for exactly 70 years (2 Chronicles 36:21; Daniel 9:2; Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10).

In Isaiah 44:28 God had prophesied that a king named Cyrus would issue a decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and God "stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, King of Persia" (Ezra 1:1) to do exactly what God had prophesied and do it exactly on God's timetable.

1 Kings 13:2 records a prophecy that a king from David's bloodline would be named Josiah and that he would burn the bones of false priests upon King Jeroboam's altar.

2 Kings 23:16 records that this very event was implemented by Judah's King Josiah about three centuries later.

Influencing leaders

Proverbs 21:1 states: "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord . . . He turns it whithersoever he will."

The above biblical accounts confirm that God intervenes in human affairs by influencing national leaders to make whatever decisions must be made to ensure that the divine prophecies and timetables remain in effect.

Many biblical prophecies foretell specific timetables (or specific sequences) for events that will occur in human history. In Isaiah 41:21-26 God specifically points to His ability to implement His prophecies as a proof of His divinity and His authorship of the Bible!

Biblical prophecies include many specific, numerical timetables, so God's (and the Bible's) credibility depends on whether prophesied events and timetables are fulfilled on schedule.

God challenged all other "gods" in Isaiah 41:21-26 to show whether they could foretell the future and make events come to pass.

Since God stated that His divinity could be proven by His ability to implement prophesied events and timetables, God will not fail to fulfill all His prophecies, including any prophesies with specific numeric timetables.

Affirmations of the 7,000 years

Peter directly linked the timing of Jesus Christ's return to a one-day-equals-1,000-years timetable.

In 2 Peter 3:4 the apostle foretold that "scoffers" in the latter days would say, "Where is the promise of His [Jesus'] coming?"

Today's secular society, deceived by evolutionary fables, has fulfilled that prophecy. In verses 4-8 Peter states that such latter-day scoffers are "willingly ignorant" of pertinent information.

Peter mentions the creation and Deluge and then discusses a time that is "reserved unto . . . the day of judgment."

The word reserved sounds to me like Peter knew God had a specific timetable in mind, and in verse 8 Peter responds to the question about when Jesus would return by directly citing the one-day-equals-1,000-years formula as the answer.

Applying this principle to the seven-day week, we can see that Peter affirmed that the 7,000-year plan of God would still be valid in the latter days.

Too many variables

Even if we understand and accept that the 6,000 years is the key factor in determining when Jesus will return, there are simply too many variables to calculate exactly when that period began.

The Bible doesn't tell us (a) the date of creation week and (b) how long Adam and Eve lived in Eden before their fall. God likely hid that information so humans could not precisely calculate the year of Christ's return.

We also do not know if Archbishop Ussher was correct in his calculation about the year of creation week.

However, the angels know what year Adam and Eve fell because they saw it happen.

Revelation 12:12 prophesies that, as the end of this age draws near, the devil will have "great wrath because he knows that he has but a short time."

This account confirms Satan knows that the end of this age and the return of Christ are fixed to a specific timetable that dictates that he is running out of time to do his deceptive work.

This affirms that Satan is keenly aware that there is a divinely appointed timetable for him to influence mankind and that this timetable is a nonnegotiable, godly deadline that is about to expire.

This timetable has to be the 6,000-year period for mankind to "labor" under the rule of Satan and sinfulness.

Not the day and hour

In Matthew 24:36 Christ stated that neither He nor the angels knew the day and hour of His return. This makes sense because in verse 22 He prophesied that the end of this age will be "shortened" by an unspecified number of "days."

Christ's language confirms that our age has a divine timetable that will be slightly "shortened," but Christ's words do not allow for this age to be "lengthened" as Mr. Nelte argues.

It is important to note that Jesus never said the angels did not know the year of His return. Since the angels all know the year of Adam's and Eve's fall, and they can surely do simple arithmetic, they can calculate the exact year that the 6,000-year period will end.

The fallen angels' comments in Matthew 8:29 also indicate that they knew there was a fixed timetable for them to be free because they asked Jesus if He would "torment [them] before the time."

Revelation 20:2 shows the future period of restraint for Satan and his angels is based on the same one-day-equals-1,000-years principle that governs the length of the Millennium.

Importance of readiness

Jesus did say in Matthew 24:36 that God has reserved to Himself some flexibility regarding the hour and day when this age will end.

However, Jesus said that that flexibility would result in our age being shortened by a few days, not lengthened by years or decades as Mr. Nelte opined.

Rather than being preoccupied with calculating the date (or year) of Jesus' return, Christians are better served by being spiritually ready for our Lord's return (Matthew 24:45-46).

Enough prophecies have been fulfilled in modern times to assure us that we are living in the latter days of our age.

  • Zephaniah 2:1-7's prophecy about the founding of a Jewish state in the old Promised Land before the Day of the Lord was fulfilled in 1948.
  • Jesus prophesied that it will become literally possible for "all flesh" to perish at the end of our age, and the nuclear weaponry to make that literally possible was unleashed in 1945.
  • Daniel 12:4 prophesied that a knowledge explosion would occur in the latter days.

Exponential increase

The Hebrew word describing how knowledge would "increase" in the latter days (Daniel 12:4) is the same Hebrew word that states how much the waters "increased" in the Deluge to cover the entire earth! (Genesis 7:17).

This means that Daniel 11's prophecy requires an exponential increase in mankind's level of knowledge in the latter days even as the waters increased exponentially on the earth during the Deluge.

In Matthew 24:34 Jesus said the generation that began to see His end-time prophecies occur "shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled."

The evidence indicates that our generation is the one seeing these fulfillments, and it confirms that the end of our age is near.

Let us be mindful of that fact and work to be sure we are ready to meet our Maker when He returns.

Our Creator keeps His promises and implements His prophecies. God challenged people in Isaiah 41 to admit His divinity by seeing His ability to make His prophecies come to pass in human history. Those prophecies include not only events but timetables.

The Bible records instances in which God has intervened in human affairs to make sure His prophecies are implemented according to His Word and on the schedule He prophesied.

God says in Malachi 3:6 that He doesn't change. You can count on God to implement both His prophecies and timetables in the years ahead of us.

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