THE TIMELINE OF GOD
Excerpt ~ Copyright © Steve Thornton
The End Is Near
We are all familiar with this statement made by zealots who fear the impending destruction of the Planet Earth on God’s Judgment Day. We are also familiar with the response, “People have been saying that for hundreds of years!” That statement is actually false, for people have been saying the end is near for thousands of years. Two thousand years to be exact. Prior to that time, the religious Jews were making a similar statement. Their statement was, “The Messiah is coming!” and the scoffers replied, “People have been saying that for hundreds of years!”. So you see, history does repeat itself.
There are those who believe that time is short, and there are many people who believe that end time events will never occur in their lifetime. The fact is that most people in either group can’t supply a valid argument for their opinion. That doesn’t have to be the case. People of this day and age have an extreme advantage over any prior generation, especially in modern cultures. This generation can review the Bible in comparison to historical events and place them in a general timeline that is very logical and simple to understand. The Bible provides enough detail about future events that we can outline the remainder of time that God has allocated for man. By examining the complete timeline, we can develop a pattern of beginnings and endings. This will help us grasp where we are in relation to the beginning and ending of our current segment of the timeline. It will also show how close or distant the next segment’s beginning is.
We will be taking a logical view of events and their impact on the future of mankind. Does this sound unlikely? Just read on and see how this book progresses. Now I want to place a teaser for you to discover later in this book. I will share Scripture verses that reveal the answer to a question that has been asked for thousands of years: When will the Messiah return? It is not even a hidden message. It is very plainly written in God’s Word. I can’t give the day or the hour that it will happen, but I can provide an identifiable event that ushers the Messiah’s return based on what the Bible tells us. Now for you Bible scholars that think you know the answer, it isn’t in the book of Revelation. Know this: When the event that is clearly written occurs, God the Father will send His Son to establish His Kingdom on this Earth. Time is short. The end is near.
Why Are We Here?
That is the question that has been asked since the beginning of time. Mankind has always pursued an understanding of God, who He is, what He does, and what He wants from us. The answers to these questions have been provided by God through His messengers and in His Holy Word that has been and is being revealed as the timeline of God’s plan grows nearer and nearer to His great judgments (the Tribulation period written about primarily in the books of Daniel and Revelation). We, living in this age, have the greatest amount of information available for this understanding than any generation that has ever lived. For those who understand the next great event that is on the near horizon, it is an exhilarating time to be alive. This is a time of excitement and anticipation for those who are prepared. To reach that level of assurance you must come to the understanding that the whole plan was prepared before Adam took his first breath. In order to do that properly we must start at the beginning and work our way to the ending, which is really not an ending but the beginning of a timeless existence. Confusing? It won’t be if you follow along this perfect plan laid out by our supreme God and revealed throughout His written word. Enough of these riddles; let’s get started with the Timeline of God!
What Is the Time of Man?
All things pertaining to us began with Adam, the beginning, the creation, the Genesis. Adam lived 930 years, almost half of the time that existed until Noah’s life. He saw the consequences his sin brought about.
But where does the Timeline of God really start? First of all, it is impossible for us to grasp the concept of God and His eternal being. Everything that we know, other than space, has limits. Everything can be defined or measured. Almost everything that we relate to has a beginning and an ending. So, does God really have a timeline? While there may not be a timeline of God’s existence, there most certainly is one pertaining to His plan for His creation. This brings us again to the question of where the timeline begins.
It seems much more confusing than it really is. There has been much discussion about the age of our planet and the surrounding universes that go on into infinity. To fundamentalists it is clear that the Bible records the years that can be calculated with relative accuracy, showing the time of creation to be 6,000 years ago. I have no problem believing that God created Earth, all of the planets, stars, and infinite celestial elements with such things as fossil fuel and prehistorical evidence in place 6,000 years ago. To those with a more scientific viewpoint, it has been proven that Earth was previously inhabited by prehistoric beings and dinosaurs during the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras. They believe that the created worlds are billions of years old. I have no problem believing that this is an accurate dating of the planet. God is sovereign, which means that He is in total control and can do (and does) anything that pleases Him. So, if 6,000 years ago God wanted to create the world and place fossils and fossil fuels in it to make us seek answers, I’m okay with that. If God created the world untold years ago and 6,000 years ago created man as we know him, I’m okay with that. I believe that God is God and that He is mighty and awesome and able to do things outside of our imagination. Nothing is beyond His ability.
I believe in the written word of God, and here is a quote to that effect from the Creator Himself.
27 But he said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
The impossible being possible with God is evidenced throughout the entire Bible. Just to review a few of these miracles, remember:
The great flood. (Genesis 7, 8)
The ten plagues of Egypt. (Exodus 7:20–12:30)
The parting of the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:21–31)
Balaam’s donkey speaks. (Numbers 22:21–35)
The sun and the moon stopped. (Joshua 10:12–14)
The widow’s meal and oil increased. (1 Kings 17:14–16)
The widow’s son raised from the dead. (1 Kings 17:17–24)
The shadow of the sun goes back 10 degrees. (2 Kings 20:9–11)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego delivered from the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3, 10, 27)
Daniel saved in the lions’ den. (Daniel 6:16–23)
Man born blind cured. (John 9:1–7)
Lazarus raised from the dead. (John 11:38–44)
Four thousand fed. (Mark 8:1)
Jesus walks on water. (John 6:15)
So, with Christianity being based upon faith in an unlimited God, there should be no question that God could have made His creation in any fashion He desired. It obviously isn’t something we should worry ourselves over. If it were a matter of great importance, God would have shared it with us in His word. What is clear in His word is the overall period of time that I will call the “Time of Man.” This is the overall time frame from the Genesis to the End of the Ages. It is a definite, measurable period of time that has a defined beginning and ending. It is something that we can know and understand. It is measurable. It is definable. We will discuss the Time of Man, break it down into segments, and see how God has a different relationship with man in each of these periods of time. We will also see what type of relationship God desires with man and how He progresses toward that desired relationship as time goes by.
We, as humans, fear the unknown. What I have found is that most Christians don’t have a good grasp of God’s timeline for man. They don’t comprehend the number of years that transpire in certain periods and are confused by the differences in how God has dealt with man during these historic periods. They don’t fully grasp that they are living in a specific measurable period of time and that there is a knowable future period in which God is going to deal with man in a totally new way. This lack of understanding is a gray area that is sometimes mentioned but not talked about in-depth, mainly due to the fear of being questioned about something most can’t fully explain. Without an understanding of this timeline, I believe it is difficult to understand God and His overall plan for our individual lives. We each have a destiny, and without this understanding, it is difficult to find God’s specific plan for our lives. When broken down, God’s overall timeline and plan isn’t a difficult thing to grasp. It is a string of events that have occurred, are occurring, and have yet to occur. That being said, the complexity of the combination of lives and situations that have been, are being, and will be required to accomplish this plan could only be accomplished by an all-knowing, sovereign, and almighty God. Since we are all part of this great plan, and because we are nearing the end of one of the segments of the timeline, wouldn’t it be beneficial to have an understanding of what has happened and what awaits us in the near future? Certainly it would. With a good understanding, people living in this time can look at the events of this world with complete security, knowing that a certain future awaits despite our uncertain world. We can then live our lives without fear and live with the power that God has given His believers as is written in this scripture.
2 Timothy 1:7
7 For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.
That is God’s desire for us. Live fearlessly with faith that God has our future best interests in mind as is shown in this passage.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.
Now let’s begin our review of the first segment of the Timeline of God.
The Time of Adam
To date, two-thirds of the Time of Man occurred in the Old Testament. Sixty-seven percent of the events that have happened up to this point in time were not of the New Testament period in which we are now living. We will need to review specific events and people in the Bible to understand how it all interrelates. When we understand that events in one period of the timeline occurred to fulfill events in succeeding periods, we can see how each and every event was part of a master design. The first third of the Time of Man encompasses creation through the Great Flood: The Time of Adam. Let us investigate a portion of that time to see why we are the way we are.
According to the creation account in the Bible, God created everything that we know and see. The Sun, Moon, stars, night, day, and He said it was good. He created the oceans, fish, birds, plants, all animal life, and He said it was good. Then He created man in His own image. He commanded him to reign over His creation, and after this, God said it was very good. This is important. It wasn’t written this way by accident. There aren’t any accidents in God’s Word. There are things that aren’t fully comprehendible, but those who study the Bible can testify that every verse is written with purpose and the human mind will never cease to discover the continuing revelations that are hidden in the plain sight of God’s holy Word.
So, when God said it was very good, He placed an emphasis on the importance of the creation of man. Don’t get me wrong—God values all of creation, but man is special in His eyes. He is created in the image of God. This is recorded in the first chapter of the Bible.
27 God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.
Now, God created all of creation for His pleasure. He enjoyed being with His creation. He would spend time with Adam and Eve. It seems that God had been in the habit of walking and talking with Adam in the cool of the day, as we see evidenced on the day that they committed the first sin.
8 They heard Yahweh God’s voice walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God among the trees of the garden.
We will see as we progress through the Timeline of Man that since this event, God has been steadily working toward restoring His relationship with man so He can once again spend time with His most beloved created beings.
In the beginning, God placed Adam in a paradise.
15 Yahweh God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.
God also gave Adam a commandment. He was not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. It bore what has become known as “the forbidden fruit.” Over the years there has been much discussion as to who committed the first sin—Adam or Eve. If we read Genesis chapter 3, we see that Eve ate of the fruit and then gave some to Adam to eat, after which both their eyes were opened. In order to understand this sequence of events, it helps to remind ourselves what sin really is. It is disobedience to God. This is what separates us from God. In Genesis 2:16–17 we see that even in the beginning, man is told what the result of sin would be:
16 Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but you shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.”
God told Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve was created after this commandment had been given to Adam.
20 The man gave names to all livestock, and to the birds of the sky, and to every animal of the field; but for man there was not found a helper comparable to him. 21 Yahweh God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. As the man slept, he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Yahweh God made a woman from the rib which had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
So, we can gather from Scripture that Adam was given the commandment directly from God, thus sin came upon all mankind because of Adam’s disobedience to God.
The next event that isn’t recorded (other than by reference) was the first sacrifice. When asked, “What was the first recorded sacrifice?” most people will point to the sacrifices of Cain and Abel.
4 The man knew Eve his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Cain, and said, “I have gotten a man with Yahweh’s help.” 2 Again she gave birth, to Cain’s brother Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 As time passed, Cain brought an offering to Yahweh from the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel also brought some of the firstborn of his flock and of its fat. Yahweh respected Abel and his offering, 5 but he didn’t respect Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and the expression on his face fell.
However, that wasn’t the first sacrifice we are told about in the Bible. God provided the first sacrifice, just as God provided the last required sacrifice.
Keep in mind that the first sin of man required a sacrifice and the sin of the last man will too. Another thing to think about is that the first sacrifice was provided by God and it, like all the Old Testament animal sacrifices, was a sacrifice for covering man’s sins. Now let’s go back to the subject of the first sacrifice. It is referenced in the next scripture.
21 Yahweh God made coats of animal skins for Adam and for his wife, and clothed them.
I have thought about this single verse many times, realizing that Adam and Eve walked and communicated with the animals in the Garden of Eden. They had fellowship and had developed relationships with the animals. This is evidenced when Eve communicated with the serpent as shown here in Genesis.
3 Now the serpent was more subtle than any animal of the field which Yahweh God had made. He said to the woman, “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden.
Now take note that Adam named every animal, which means he knew each one well.
20 The man gave names to all livestock, and to the birds of the sky, and to every animal of the field; but for man there was not found a helper comparable to him.
So, the first animal sacrifice came at a high price, it had cost a life. No death had occurred up to this point in time. This was not just a death of an animal—this was a loved one that had to die. And this animal did not just die—it was killed. I have tried to imagine how this transpired. It is unknown, but a scene similar to the following must have unfolded.
The details in this story are purely fictional, but the events must have happened in some similar fashion. We will pick up After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and God had confronted Adam with his sin. Now visualize this, God called for an assembly of all of the animals great and small. (Keep in mind that the animals were still able to communicate directly with God and man at this point.) God began by saying, “I have brought you all together here to tell what has happened. On this day, Adam has disobeyed me. He has been deceived. He now has opened his mind to the things that are evil. No longer will you animals be his friend or he yours. You will no longer speak and play with man and his kind. You will fear him; you will run and hide when you hear his footsteps. When you so much as hear his voice, fear will strike your hearts. You will do this for you own safety; you will do this for your survival. For you see, he and his offspring will seek you out. They will hunt you and your offspring down to kill you. They will take your skin from your bodies and place them on their own bodies for clothing. They will cut the flesh from your bones to roast in fire and eat it for food. Because of their sin, Adam and Eve are no longer your friends, they are now your enemies.” Adam, Eve, and all of the animals could barely see each other through their tears. Adam, this man, who with great joy had given each animal their name was to become their enemy. They had walked, laughed, and played together for untold days. They had shared with each other, loved each other dearly, and now all of this was coming to an end. After these realizations sank in, God spoke again. “Because of their sin, man knows of his nakedness. Because of this, one of you must die to provide clothing for Adam and Eve.” The crying became a wail. Sadness and fear had never been felt before in this perfect world. After what seemed like an endless time, God said, “Stop your crying and look upon me, for one must be chosen.” God looked at these animals, so lovingly and uniquely created. As He made eye contact with each animal, they trembled and lowered their head in fear, unable to look upon His face for fear of being chosen. He looked at one then passed on to the next. Just as the last animal lowered its gaze, a small, gentle, trembling voice rose from their midst. “I will do it. I will give my life for Adam.” As all eyes turned, a perfect little lamb stepped out. He stumbled in his weakness as he approached God. Just when the lamb reached God, Adam rushed forward and threw his arms around the little animal’s neck. The uncontrollable crying began again. God reached down and gently touched Adam on his shoulder. Adam looked up at God through his tears then looked back at the lamb who said, “Adam, I love you.” Adam replied, “Little lamb, I love you.” Then the lamb looked to God and said, “Father, is there no other way?” God sadly and slowly shook His head and said, “There is no other way. This is the day I spoke to you of.” The lamb nodded and replied, “So be it. Your will be done” God separated Adam from the lamb, and as the lamb’s and Adam’s eyes met, God made the sacrifice.
I hope this fictional story helps illustrate the cost and pain that was likely present in this sacrifice made by God. We should keep in mind that there is always a great cost associated with any sacrifice. These costs are often combinations of physical, financial, and emotional losses.
As stated before, Adam lived for a period of 930 years. It must have been difficult to watch mankind become more and more wicked as time went by. The first murder was committed by Adam’s son, killing his own brother out of envy and jealousy. The pain and loss caused by sin must have weighed heavily upon Adam’s heart.