Before attempting the simple reckoning of years, as given in the two chronological tables of the 5th and 11th chapters of Genesis, we must observe the way the Spirit of God has presented the facts relating to our present creation, because of what lies concealed beneath the surface of the Scriptures.
The first picture that we are given of this earth in Genesis 1: 2 is that of a complete overthrow - an absolute desolation - and it is of little use for us to embark upon the exact measurement of time in the Bible unless we understand that God, in His Word, is describing for us a new beginning, after drawing the curtain of obscurity over a past which He intends to blot out completely from our view.
When we read in verse 2 that 'the earth was without form and void,' we can find the same Hebrew words used in Jeremiah 4: 23, where a scene of unmitigated judgment is described. Why has God had to judge the earth and make it 'waste' and 'desolate' (as the words translated 'without form and void' really imply)? Why was there 'darkness' and why has the whole planet been baptised in water, so that every trace of the former world has been submerged? We know that God had to do this a second time in the days of Noah, on account of the total corruption of the human race - the difference in that case being that 'eight souls were saved by water,' as we are told in 1 Peter 3: 20.
We have to refer to other parts of the Divine revelation for the answer. In Isaiah 45: 18 we find that God did not originally create the earth a waste (or 'in vain') for 'He formed it to be inhabited.' And if we study glimpses we are given in Isaiah 14: 12-14 and Ezekiel 28: 1-19, which describe the former office of Satan, we find that this greatest-of-all created intelligences once bore the name of 'Lucifer', which means 'Light-bringer.' Very clearly, this appointment was to a former creation, before this great angel fell through pride, for we are told that it was his very 'brightness' which was his undoing, as he drew attention to himself, and not to God.
In 2 Peter 3: 3-7 we are briefly informed that the 'scoffers' of 'the last days' of our age think in terms of an ordered progression of all things continuing 'as they were from the beginning of the creation.' This is, of course, a reference to evolutionary teaching, as it covers the earth today. But this they ignore, that 'by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.' After this we are told about the ultimate destruction by fire of 'the heavens and the earth which are now.'
From all this we see that when Satan fell he brought down a former creation which he had corrupted into darkness, judgment and death; and God would have the very memory of it blotted out before He commenced the new purpose with Adam and Eve. In other words, we have to think in terms of a baptism - followed by a new creation, as we read the account in Genesis 1. (There is little doubt that the origin of demons may be traced to the former creation, for these are earth-bound, disembodied spirits, under Satan, which are ever seeking to find an entry into the bodies of the inhabitants of this world.)
As we have said, God had in view a New Creation, and so He pictures what He has in view in the first seven days of the Bible's narrative. These days are, indeed, the ground plan, so to speak, of His actings in the following seven thousand years. The whole Bible witnesses to this fact and, once the Church of God has awakened to the reality that the great 'six days' (that is, the 6,000 years) are now at an end, and that 'the Kingdom' which millions have prayed for is just about to 'come' and transform this planet from being a shambles into a scene of blessing and enlightenment for the whole of our race, a vast transformation will take place in the lives of Christians the world over - if we may judge from the wording of Matthew 25: 1-13, which is one of several of our Lord's end-time parables now about to be fulfilled.
So in the first six days of the Bible we see God at work to prepare the earth for two persons (Adam and Eve) who prefigure Christ and the Church which is His Body, and revealing exactly what He intends to perform in six thousand years - and here we must carefully note that the six days of Genesis typify the 6,000 years of the Chronology of Redemption - the one measured by Jubilee cycles, and not the 6,000 solar years which terminated in 1933. [We have to accustom ourselves to seeing time in different aspects, as God does, and to realise that in the realm of Chronology, as in every other part of Holy Scripture, we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to 'guide us into all truth' (John 16:13)]
It is glorious to behold God's culminating work at the end of the six days in Eden, for it pictures so wonderfully the coming together of Christ and the Church. We find this all described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. It is the final 'work' of God which brings the Christian dispensation to an end; for, just as He made the body of Adam from 'the dust of the ground', so will God raise up from the dust every sleeping member of the Body of Christ. Yes, we believe God will take the actual 'dust' of those who have departed over these past two thousand years. We must see clearly that this precious 'Body' will not be complete until the Lord Jesus - 'the Head' - descends from Heaven to be united with His members, every one of them, before the translation of the whole Church into Heaven. When He descends and 'the dead in Christ ...rise first', then 'the last Adam' - God's 'second man ... the Lord from Heaven' will, for the first time, stand complete - Head and Members - on this earth.
This wonderful picture in Genesis 2:18 would be totally incomplete without a 'Bride' and so we see God has to make (or 'build') a woman, 'meet for him', from the very body of Adam, and His actual last 'work' of the six days is not accomplished until He has 'brought her unto the man' (Genesis 2:22). The name Eve in Hebrew means 'living' and who can doubt that she is a vivid type of those 'which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.' No wonder God has to portray the grand objective of the 6,000 years at the very beginning of the Bible, for it is an event which will stagger the universe by its sheer immensity when it does take place. In preparation for it we behold the Spirit of God already at work, all over the earth, 'bringing the woman to the Man' - in other words, leading those who are to form the Bride of Christ into a wondrous love-union with Himself, and separating them from everything else on the earth as they are, one by one, 'filled with the Holy Ghost'(Acts 2:4). Let all who are watching the speed of this final work of God remember that it is in preparation for the great marriage of Matthew 25, and that 'the time is at hand.'
There will be more to say about this swift work of the Spirit in later pages, but we mention it now as we survey the end of the great six 'days' of 1,000 years. We hear the closing petition of Jesus, as His eyes looked on beyond Gethsemane and Calvary, to the glorious union now so shortly to be consummated: 'The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou didst send me' This prayer of John 17 is the echo of Adam's words in the Garden: 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,' and the same Almighty Hand that fashioned Eve at the end of those six days is now committed to the task of which the creation of this first woman was typical. 'Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world' (Acts 15:18).
The more it is realised that God performs all His works according to a timetable, or 'purpose of the ages,' the more amazing a Book does the Bible become and the smaller dose man become and, the more is God glorified in all His works.
'Unto Adam ... and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them' (Genesis 3:21). As this work of Atonement (or 'covering') involved the shedding of blood, it marked the first step in the Plan of Redemption. This was in the evening of the day of Adam's fall. Death - the death of a clean animal - once again entered the Creation, and so it was at this point that the years of Adam were timed to begin, and the Chronology of Redemption began to run its course.
It is not now our purpose in this brief survey to go into the exact dating of events in this first part of the Bible's chronology - all of which, however, are possible for any to prove and check in due course, when the astronomical position has been laid bare. But it will be needful to mention certain time-patternings of God as we go forward from the Fall of Adam and Eve on our chronological journey to the birth of Abram.
After a careful computation of the years given in the two genealogical tables of Genesis chapters5 and 11, it was found that the years from Adam to the birth of Abram totalled 2,008. This showed that the excess above 4 times 490, or 1,960 years, was 48 years. Here was a place where it became necessary for light to be given 'from above', in order that we might know where, and why, God refused to reckon 48 years in the course of the Jubilee cycles.
In answer to prayer, this light came. It was, of course, between the death of Abel - when the first murder in history was committed - and the birth of Seth, when 'the seed' through whom the Redeemer was ultimately to come was restored, that these 48 years found their place. Now, although faith might accept and enter into the above fact, only the perfect and miraculous design of God in the chronology could demonstrate and prove it. Without going into too much detail, this is what the design brought to light.
The murder of Abel occurred some time during the course of Adam's first '130 years' (Genesis 4:1 - 5:3) but, unless our eyes are opened so that we see Who it is that is pictured and typified in this first 'good shepherd' of Bible history, we shall be unable to uncover the chronological plan which God has concealed in the period up to the birth of Seth. God has not made His time-keeping a subject of interest for the mind, however fascinating this might be - it is by exact chronology that He has taught vital truth and confirmed the accuracy of the Holy Scriptures, so that, in a day of apostasy and corruption such as the present, He might be able to face the world with proof, from within its own pages, that His 'Word is true from the beginning' seeing that it is by this same Word that the world is about to be judged (Psalm 119:160).
As most will agree, Abel is a wonderful type of Jesus, 'the Good Shepherd' (John 10:11). Put to death by His own brethren the Jews, as Abel was slain by his own brother Cain, the Lord Jesus, as the Lamb of God, also became the anti-type of Abel's offering of the firstlings of his flock. After what God Himself did at the fall of Adam and Eve, the sacrifice and death of Abel is thus the first representation of the Sacrifice of Christ we find in the Bible.
When light was given on the timing of it, it was wonderful to see the dates and measurements confirm that Abel was born at the first Jubilee- that is, at the end of 49 years from the Fall of Adam - and that his life was to the day identical in length to that of Jesus up to His death on Calvary. The 48 years which then elapsed and which are unreckoned in the Redemption Chronology up to the day of Seth's birth, were an expression of the 48 hours, or two days, between the day of Christ's death and the opening of 'the third day' when He was raised up. It was very clear that if Abel was a type of Christ slain, then Seth - 'another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew' (Genesis 4:25) - was a beautiful type of Christ restored, or risen from the dead.
When the whole plan was drawn up, there were even more striking features standing out plainly to prove that the truth had come to light, but it would not be fair to mention them now until it becomes possible to go into the Calendar and astronomical details in full, enabling everything to be checked and measured with both solar and lunar years. The 48 years have had to be mentioned, however, because they form an unreckoned excess over the first 1,960 years from Adam to Abram.
It was also found that the five months during which the waters of the Flood prevailed above the earth in Noah's day were not reckoned in the Chronology of Redemption, because this was a period of universal judgment (see Genesis 7: 11 and 8: 14).
With this discovery - that is, that between Adam and Abram the Redemption Chronology recorded exactly 1,960 years - the importance of the Bible's hidden Time programme at last began to dawn. As we have seen above, God, Who counts the 'fiftieth' or Jubilee years in His reckoning, looks upon these 1,960 years with their 40 years of Jubilee as making up a total of 2,000. This meant that from Adam to the Death of Jesus at Calvary was a period which, with God,was precisely four thousand years in His concealed Chronology of Redemption. This was what a multitude of chronologers had been waiting to see - for the following reason.
The fact at last explained why at the Exodus God gave instruction that the lambs for the Passover were to be chosen and set apart on 'the tenth day of the first month', to wait four days before they were sacrificed in the evening of the fourteenth day. This keeping of the lambs four days before each Passover was to typify the great four 'days' of a thousand years that Jesus Himself would wait before, exactly at the appointed time, He would offer Himself up as 'the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world' (John 1:29) (see Exodus 12:3-6).
It was no wonder that Almighty God required time in the Bible to be searched out and calculated with absolute precision, if it was going to be by this means that He would glorify His Son, Jesus; causing both sun and moon to bow down before Him and fulfil their primary purpose, which was to be 'for signs' (Genesis 1:14) in relation to the Person and the Work of Him by Whom, and for Whom, all things were created. And we must not forget that the light of a perfected knowledge of time, as it shines out from the Sacred Record to illuminate the mighty work of Redemption, would have been revealed to no purpose nineteen hundred years ago, when Israel was being cast off as a nation, but has obviously been reserved for now when she is being nationally restored and is yet destined to be God's light-bearer to the farthest corners of the earth. (Romans 11:15 and 30-33 make it abundantly clear that, as we Gentiles have received mercy through the defection of Israel, this 'mercy' must now be restored to that people. In other words, they gave us the truth concerning their Messiah and now it is our turn to return the truth to them).
So that we may see at a glance the simple time-pattern of God's purposes for Israel, since they committed the terrible offence of rejecting their Messiah at His first Advent, let us turn to Hosea 5: 15 where we hear the Lord say:
'I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face; in their affliction they will seek Me early.'
Then in chapter 6:1, we get the response of Israel:
'Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.'
What we learn from this passage is that, after the four days, or four thousand years from Adam to the Crucifixion of Christ, there would be a further waiting period of 'two days' or two thousand years, before 'the third day' or 'the thousand years', of our Lord's glorious Kingdom would come - in which He would raise Israel up, that they might 'live in His sight.'
So we can plainly see that seven 'days' or seven thousand years, are accounted for in the Bible, no more and no less. And if, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are among those who 'love His appearing' (2 Timothy 4:8) we shall be obeying His command to 'watch'- which means to show a real interest in the time of His return; for we are warned not to 'sleep, as do others, but to watch and be sober' (1 Thessalonians 5:6). This was because 'the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night,' as we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 4 - 'The day of the Lord' could hardly 'come' until the 'two days' of Hosea 6:2 had reached their close; hence the need to 'watch' and not be 'in darkness' lest that day should overtake us 'as a thief.'
It is because this command of Christ to 'watch' was not taken seriously by
His Church that, as we have had to record earlier, 'the day of
the Lord' did 'come as a thief in the
night'on June 12th 1933, when 6,000 years of human sin and failure ended
with a universal demonstration of man's complete disregard for His Creator.