As we approach the New Year, we are also approaching the close of both this century and this millennium. It should not surprise us that this will be accompanied by all kinds of eschatological speculations. They will "come out of the woodwork." We need to realize that there will be all kinds of theories, "discoveries," and foolishness clamoring for our attention.
When, in His confidential briefing to his disciples, Jesus answered their questions concerning His Second Coming,1 He opened His presentation with the admonition, "Take heed that no man deceive you."2 We do need to be on our guard. And we are also specifically admonished to avoid any kind of "date setting."3 Yet the Scripture also indicates that the "Children of the Day" will not be caught by surprise.4
Let's examine one of the earliest perspectives on the climax of all history.
The Heptadic Calendar
Everyone is, of course, aware of the institution of the "Sabbath for man" in Genesis, which is also embodied in the Ten Commandments.5 A week of days consists of six days for labor, followed by a day of rest. It is interesting that this pattern is again replicated in several other ways.
There also is a "Week of Weeks," the "Counting of the Omer," between the Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks, in Hebrew, Hag HaShavuot. This turns out to also be the interval between our First Fruits (the Resurrection) and the birth of the church, on what we call (from the Greek) the Feast of Pentecost.
We also observe that there is a "Week of Months," in the institution of the religious calendar at the Passover in the Exodus,6 between the month of Nisan, and the civil calendar which begins in Tishri, at Rosh Hashannah.7
Just as there is a Sabbath for man-a day of rest in seven-God also ordained a Sabbath for the land, in which, after six years of cultivation, they were to allow it to lie fallow for a year of rest: a Sabbatical year.8 It was their failure to observe this ordinance that resulted in the 70 years of captivity in Babylon.9
A Sabbatical Millennium?
If there are "weeks" (groups of seven) of days, weeks, months, and years, what about millennia? The inference that perhaps all of history will also be patterned after this heptadic structure is recorded in the earliest rabbinical speculations.10 As early as Nachmonides (1194-1270) we find the conjecture of a Sabbatical Millennium: 6,000 years of man's attempts to govern himself, followed by 1,000 years of God's perfect rule, for a total of 7,000.
The early church also regarded this possibility. We find it highlighted in the Epistle of Barnabas and subsequently embraced by Augustine and others. And, of course, these notions endure to the present day. This is, of course, also suggested by the events in Revelation 20.
A Calendar Error?
It is interesting to note that the current Hebrew calendar may have an error: the year 2000 might really be 6000 on the corrected Hebrew calendar!
The traditional Jewish calendar implies that we are
approaching 5761 years since the creation of Adam. Yet they may be really
closer to the year 6000. Some scholars have suggested that two principal
errors appear to have occurred from the Hebrew sages of the past.11
1) From a misunderstanding of Daniel 9, their erroneous assumption that there were 490 years between the destruction of the First and Second Temples, rather than 656, introduced a 166-year error.
2) A copyist error in the Septua-gint text of the genealogies of Genesis 5 appears to have introduced another 73 years.
These errors would imply a total discrepancy of 239 years. Therefore, the year 5761 should possibly be rendered the year 6000. The Jewish year of 5761 begins on Sept. 30, 2000.
Will this prove to be prophetically relevant? I personally doubt it. (I suspect that we have at least seven years which must intervene before the ultimate Millennium.)
But it is interesting that the United Nations is scheduled to "redefine itself" in September 2000. There are many other reasons to suggest that 2000 will prove to be a very interesting year.12
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your
heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
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