Does God work out His Master Plan for Man according to a pre-determined time table?


Perhaps no other single event captures the focus of religionists
more than that of the return of Jesus Christ. From the first generation
of the Church of God until now, people have been utterly convinced that
Christ would return in their own lifetime. That has led some into
bitter disappointment and even an absolute abandonment and rejection of
their faith!

In spite of what people concoct in their own
imaginations, is God actually working out His plan according to a
pre-determined time line?

Let’s see what God reveals in His
written Word, and in doing so, let the Bible teach us a true
understanding and a balanced perspective on this important question.

have examined the make-up of this universe, and in their quests, they
have gained remarkable insight about the physical creation of God. One
extraordinary discovery is the approximate age of the universe—about 14
billion years!

With that perspective in mind, consider that the
Bible introduces God’s creation of mankind, and this event is but a
tiny moment in time from the galactic standpoint.

In this
beginning period for the creation that God accomplished that is
associated with man, we find that the earth, the solar system and the
heavens were already in existence! That record is found in Genesis 1,
verses 1 and 2. What follows is the account of God re-establishing life
on the planet (Compare Genesis 1:3-31; 2:1-25).

The earth, as
most scientists will attest, is unique! No other planet in our own
solar system, or any thus far discovered in distant regions is
compatible to life, as we know it. God even states that the earth holds
a special purpose in His creation: “For thus says the LORD, Who created
the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has
established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be
INHABITED…” (Isaiah 45:18).

We find in the first two chapters
of Genesis that God made the earth habitable in a period of six days.
Consider, as well, that the geologic record reveals previous creations
that far pre-date that of man. The fossil record shows physical
creations of a very different nature and purpose; although, there were
similarities in terms of the earth’s environment as well as the
biological aspects of the plant and animal life.

We know very
little about what God did in these earlier times, but we know that
these records found in the earth represent another age of God’s
creative work. Speaking of Jesus Christ, John reveals this staggering
truth: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was
made that was made” (John 1:3).

In the very beginning of
creation, Jesus Christ was there, and it has been His role, as the
Son—the Word of God—to bring about God’s purpose. Just how
comprehensive this creative work is can be understood in something
stated by Paul in regard to God’s elect, who live “in hope of eternal
life which God, who cannot lie, promised BEFORE TIME BEGAN” (Titus 1:2;
Also, compare 2 Timothy 1:8-10).

This brings us to a very
significant fact—God has His plan in place for the salvation of
mankind, and it was established before the creation of the universe!

Bible reveals that God created life anew on the earth. Six days God
created, and on the seventh day, He rested. Along with the account as
found in Genesis 1 and 2, this creative work of God stands as a
reminder for us in the commandments of God:

“‘Remember the
Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your
work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it
you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your
male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your
stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the
heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the
seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed
it’” (Exodus 20:8-11).

The Hebrew word for “made” is “asah”—a
root word meaning “to do” or “make,” but a word with broad application
in the Bible (Strong’s #6213). “Asah” can also mean “bring forth” and
“prepare,” among other definitions. From the perspective we gain in the
first two chapters of Genesis, we learn that God did not create the
universe at the same time of man’s creation. The Hebrew word used in
Genesis 1:1 for “created” is “bara,” [Strong’s #1254), a different word
than used in Exodus 20, where it is said that God “made the heavens and
the earth…”. Rather, He PREPARED the earth and created new life on
it—accomplishing all of this during a period of six days!

in our own solar system, we see that the moon and planets have suffered
a long history of devastation. However, this was not their state in the
beginning of creation—our booklets, “Angels, Demons And The Spirit World” and “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults”—explain in more detail HOW the earth BECAME “without form and void” as mentioned in Genesis 1, verse 2.

day, defined by the rotation of the earth, consists of darkness and
light. In Genesis 1:5, we find that God specifically created and named
this delineation of time: “God called the light day, and the darkness
He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one
day” (NASB). This more literal translation points to the defining
relationship of the sun’s light and the relative position of the earth
to mark out the measurement of a day—both the dark and light periods.

week, consisting of seven days, is a designated measure of time that
God has established. In leading Israel out of Egypt, God again revealed
the Sabbath Day to His people (Compare Exodus 16). In addition, God
also showed Israel how to observe months and years (Compare Exodus
12:2). What God revealed was WHEN the year was to begin. It is evident
that calendars were kept based on months and years—all then being
determined by the rotation of earth, moon and sun along with various
celestial observations. However, God specifically re-established the
correct way to measure time for His nation.

In dealing with
Israel, God also revealed feasts of the Lord—holy convocations. In
Leviticus 23, these feast days are presented. Importantly, God also
revealed that they were to be observed at specific times throughout the
year: “‘These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you
shall proclaim AT THEIR APPOINTED TIMES’” (Leviticus 23:4).

understood properly, these feast days are an outline of God’s plan for
mankind. They picture key events that fulfill what God has planned and
is bringing to pass. Oftentimes, a particular feast will have a type of
fulfillment that is preparatory to an even greater occurrence. A case
in point is the Passover that took place when Israel was still in
Egypt, and the Passover that Jesus Christ fulfilled by His sacrificial
death on behalf of all of mankind. Christians participate in the annual
Passover celebration in memory of His death.

By this and many
other examples, then, we see that God DOES HAVE HIS PLAN–which is
being carried out according to pre-determined and appointed times and
seasons. God is accomplishing His Will over the vast expanse of
time—His purpose has remained unchanged since the beginning.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a troubling dream, God revealed
both the dream and its meaning through the prophet Daniel. In this
instance, God let Nebuchadnezzar “see” into the future—here is how
Daniel introduced this revelation: “‘But there is a God in heaven who
reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will
be in the LATTER DAYS…’” (Daniel 2:28).

Besides the detailed
prophecies already fulfilled in God’s plan, the Bible also foretells
many events that will happen in the future. Of particular focus is that
period of time surrounding the return of Jesus Christ to this
earth—called “day of the LORD” and similar terms (For a detailed study
of this topic, please refer to our Q&A in Update #269, November 24, 2006).

in the Biblical record, another powerful national leader, a Pharaoh in
Egypt, had a dream he did not understand. In this case, God showed
Joseph—who then explained the true meaning: “‘And the dream was
repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and
God will shortly BRING IT TO PASS’” (Genesis 41:32).

Once again,
we see a clear example of God working out His plan–according to an
allotted time (compare verses 29-30, announcing that seven years of
great plenty and seven years of famine would arise).

We are
challenged to consider the record already written to understand that
God fulfills His Will. Carefully note what God states:

“‘…For I
am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things
that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do
all My pleasure… Indeed I have spoken it; I WILL ALSO BRING IT TO
PASS. I have purposed it; I WILL ALSO DO IT’” (Isaiah 46:9-11).

we must understand that God does not reveal everything beforehand! He
reserves certain aspects of His actions in order to assure the
completion of His plan. Jesus spoke of the time of His return: “‘But of
that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My
Father ONLY’” (Matthew 24:36).

Peter understood that God is
revealing things in a progressive way and that even the prophets, as
well as angels, did not always understand what they prophesied: “To
them [the prophets of old] it was revealed that, not to themselves, but
to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to
you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy
Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into” (1
Peter 1:12).

A very striking example of this is found in the Book
of Daniel: “Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, ‘My
lord, what shall be the end of these things?’ And he said, ‘Go your
way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of
the end’” (Daniel 12:8-9. Compare, also, Jeremiah 23:20; 30:24;
Habakkuk 2:3; and Revelation 10:4-7).

With these statements in mind, what, then, can we know about God’s plan?

answer is that we can understand much, and if we are faithfully obeying
God, we will not be caught by surprise! Let’s now examine some very
import keys that God has given to us so that we can comprehend what God
IS revealing.

Is there really any evidence for a 6,000-year plan?
Here is an important Scripture for us to consider in this regard: “But,
beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as
a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). This
verse provides a basis for believing that God is working out certain
parts of His plan in the context of 6,000 years.

Another part of
the puzzle is addressed in the period of time in which Jesus will rule
on the earth—a time lasting for 1,000 years (Compare Revelation
20:4-6). This millennial reign is compared to a Sabbath for the people
of God: “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest…”
(Hebrews 4:1). This verse is speaking of a future fulfillment. The
comparison becomes even more firmly established by this statement in
verse 4: “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in
this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.’”

we find in the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles another
fulfillment, in type, of the “rest” that God will bring (Compare
Leviticus 23:33-44).

Consider this additional fact concerning the
length of time that has transpired leading up to the time of Jesus
Christ’s birth: “So all the generations from Abraham to David are
fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are
fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the
Christ are fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:17).

Before Abraham
and before the Flood, the Bible records life spans of certain
individuals, and from these, a general idea of the number of years of
that period can be derived. However, even with this information,
experts vary when it comes to exact numbers. We are cautioned to not
overly focus on things of this nature—here is Paul’s warning to Timothy
in this regard: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in
Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor
give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes
rather than godly edification which is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:3-4).

the account in Daniel, God reveals a long period of time that was to
begin with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and end with the return of Jesus
Christ (Compare Daniel 2:37-45).

For those who accept the
Biblical record, it is apparent that we are now living in what can
generally be understood as the period of time that is now about 6,000
years since God first created Adam and Eve. The most poignant
conclusion for us is that we are now living in the generation that will
witness the establishment of God’s Kingdom on the earth.

But a word of caution is in order! To quote from our booklet, “Are You Predestined to Be Saved?”:

Bible, as well as Hebrew tradition, convey the concept that God has
allotted to man about 6,000 years to govern himself, followed by 1,000
years of Godly rule here on earth, under Jesus Christ. Since God
created man on the sixth day, followed by the weekly Sabbath, He has
allotted 6,000 years of self-rule to mankind, followed by God’s
Millennial Sabbath rule of 1,000 years of peace and tranquillity
(compare Hebrews 4:4, 9, and 11).

“Some have pointed to 2 Peter
3:8, claiming that God allotted man exactly 6,000 years to rule this
earth, and that after exactly 6,000 years, Christ will return. However,
that is not what 2 Peter 3:8 conveys. The Scripture reads: ‘… with
the Lord one day is AS a thousand years, and a thousand years AS one

“This Scripture does not provide us with a fixed date. The
Greek word for ‘as’ is ‘hos,’ and it can also be translated as ‘about.’
(Compare Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, under ‘about.’)
In fact, the Authorized Version translates this word 14 times as
‘about.’ For instance, the word ‘hos’ is correctly translated as
‘about’ in passages such as Mark 8:9; Luke 2:37; 8:42; and John 1:39.

points out, under #5613, that the Greek word ‘hos’ is ‘… very
variously used, as follows: about, … (according) as (it had been, it
were)… even as (like)…’

“From this we can know that 2 Peter
3:8 conveys the principle that in the eyes of God one day is ABOUT
1,000 years—not necessarily exactly so.”

Although Jesus plainly
taught that we would not know the exact day of His return, He,
nonetheless, did reveal that we could know the generational time frame:

learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already
become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So
you also, when you see all these things, know that it is NEAR—AT THE
DOORS! Assuredly, I say to you, THIS GENERATION will by no means pass
away till all these things take place’” (Matthew 24:32-34).

Jesus also tells His followers to WATCH and be READY (Compare Matthew 24:42-44; 25:10, 13; Revelation 16:15).

the very beginning of mankind’s creation, God has taken the actual six
days in which He re-established the earth and life upon it and He has
shown that man was also to work for six days (Compare Exodus 20:9). He
has also revealed the seventh day as a Holy time—the Sabbath—a type of
the 1,000-year reign of Christ and His saints in the Kingdom of God.
This clear type and antitype for the Sabbath find their counterpart in
the weekly labor of man and the period of man’s self-rule under Satan’s

We may conclude that there is strong evidence to
support the fact that God is working out a set time for His great
master plan. In addition, it appears that man will have his portion of
the week to fulfill—a period of about 6,000 years.

consider this assurance from God—an absolute promise when it comes to
understanding what God is doing: “Surely the Lord God does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link

©2024 Church of the Eternal God