And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)
More than ever it seems that Christians are “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Given all that is taking place in the all over the world today, I am not surprised when I get questions like the following:
I was wondering if it is possible, according to the information we have in the Bible, to calculate how many years have elapsed since the very beginning of the world, so that we know approximately how close we are to the end of this present age of man’s self-rule of 6,000 years, and the return of Jesus Christ?
Also, are we the last generation, and how many years is a Biblical generation?
Generally speaking, the 6000 years people try to associate with Christ’s return is based more on inference and speculation rather than clear Bible teaching. The Bible does not teach that Jesus will return 6000 years after creation. Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13, emphasis mine).
God created in six 24-hour days, not in six 1000-year periods. The Apostle Peter says, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8, emphasis mine). Notice that Peter says “as a thousand years.” Grammatically, that phrase is a simile, i.e. comparing two different but “similar” things to each other. For example, a cat is “like” (or “as”) a dog. They are different animals, but they do have similarities: fur, four legs, a tail, etc. What Peter really says is that time makes no difference to God; He is ageless/timeless. God is not constrained by time.
Many who study eschatology (the study of end times) take what Peter says in 2 Peter 3:8 and associate it with the Creation Week, i.e. one day of creation compares to 1000 years of history. They infer that God has determined 7000 years to complete history: 6000 years of “work” plus 1000 years of “rest” during the millennial reign of Christ. That is a logical assumption, and it makes sense; however, it takes a lot of liberty with Scripture to make that jump. That said, I personally agree with that view, but we should not be dogmatic about it. We certainly should not try to predict the return of Christ based on such skimpy evidence. Remember what Jesus said, “ye know neither the day nor the hour.”
The problem with trying to determine when we arrive at the 6000-year mark is that we have lost track of time. God has not lost track of time, but man has. From Scripture, we can measure time from Creation fairly accurately. However, following Israel’s entry into Egypt, the biblical chronology becomes a little hazy. Reconciling biblical chronology with our modern chronology becomes pretty much a guessing game, especially when secular historians attempt to justify 100,000 years of human history based on evolutionary thinking.
According to Chinese chronology, 2016 is the Chinese year 4713. When we consider the biblical chronology given in Genesis 5, the Flood took place around 1656 years after Creation. If we take that time and add the Chinese account of 4713 years, we come up with 6369 years. If we expect Jesus to return 6000 years after Creation, He is 369 years late by that account, either that or Chinese civilization started some 300 years before the Flood, which makes no sense considering that all of earth’s population was destroyed except for the eight on the Ark. It is interesting to note that the Chinese account places the beginning of their history near the time of the Tower of Babel – 100-150 years after the Flood.
For the Jews, 2016 is year 5776. (It will be 5777 this coming September.) Supposedly, the Jewish calendar begins at Creation. If we expect Jesus to return 6000 years after Creation, we have to wait another 224 years.
I hope you can see why trying to determine Christ’s return by calculating the number of years from Creation is a fruitless endeavor. I believe He will return exactly 6000 years from Creation, but we do not know exactly when Creation took place. We can say it has been “about” 6000 years, but we cannot tell with certainty. However, we can trust that God knows exactly how much time has passed, and Jesus will return precisely when that time is accomplished.
Rather than counting days and years, Jesus said to “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42). It has been “about” 6000 years since Creation, and it is about time for history to take a shâbath (rest). God gave us some signs to watch for. Israel is back in the land, and we are the generation that witnessed it happen (Matthew 24:32-34). Wars and rumors of wars abound around the nation of Israel (Matthew 24:6). There is rampant persecution of Christians in the world, particularly in the Middle East and in all Muslim nations. The world is on the verge of economic collapse. World leaders cry out for a one-world government. Wickedness increases rapidly (2 Timothy 3:1-7). The “signs,” rather than chronology, tell us that the Lord’s return is very near. So, look up! We are almost there!
 Genesis 10:25 informs us that the earth was “divided” in the days of Peleg. Some think this refers to the dividing of the continents, but the dividing of the continents more likely resulted from the catastrophic Global Flood. The division of Peleg’s day makes better sense if understood as the division of languages, and, by implication, nations described in Genesis 11:1-9. Peleg was born to Eber about 100 years after the Flood (Genesis 11:16). His son, Reu was born 30 years later (Genesis 11:18). Peleg lived a total of 239 years (Genesis 11:19) – 209 years after the birth of Reu. The division of “people groups” could have happened anytime within his lifespan; 100-150 years for the Tower of Babel seems like a reasonable timeframe.
 Determining the length of a generation is irrelevant at this point; anyone living now is part of “that generation.” Generally speaking, a generation is from father to son. From Adam to Seth was 130 years (Genesis 5:3); from Abraham to Isaac was 100 years (Genesis 21:5). Some of the O.T. kings begat sons in their twenties; so, a generation can be anywhere from 20 to perhaps 140 years. The nation of Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948. That was almost 70 years ago. Surely, anyone born since that time is in that generation that will see the Lord’s return.