One of the greatest comparisons of God’s plan of the ages can be seen in the life of every human being. Believe it or not, you are a prophecy. Your life can actually be compared to the history of the human race. There is an uncanny relationship between the 70-year lifespan of a human being and the 7,000 years of world history which, according to the Bible, has been predetermined for the great human adventure — a sacred journey. It is stranger than fiction.
Let me put it this way — the lifespan of an individual literally represents a prophecy of the collective human adventure from creation to the consummation. A seventy-year life span is comparable to 7,000 years in the human adventure.
Briefly, it could be described like this: A child is born — a picture of creation. He or she grows up, gets a job, goes into business, reaches the pinnacle of their career, and retires at the age of 60 to spend the next 10 years or so taking it easy — enjoying the fruits of labor, and letting the children take over the family business. Then this person dies around the age of 70, moving on to a greater adventure.
Comparing retirement at the age of 60 to world history, the Bible teaches that the Son of God will come back to the Earth at the end of 6,000 years to take over His Father’s business, while the human race enjoys a thousand years of rest — comparable to retirement.
Now let’s go back to the beginning and get the details. We will see an uncanny relationship between the individual human adventure and the greater adventure for humanity as a whole.
The Dispensation of Innocence
First, let us begin with the birth of a child. That can be compared to the dispensation of Innocence when Adam and Eve were created and placed in a beautiful garden under the watchful care of the Heavenly Father. There is nothing quite so beautiful as a little baby. “Who does she look like?” “Well, she looks like Daddy,” or, “She looks like Mommy.” At least you have to admit she’s been made in the image of her parents. In like manner, we were made in the image of God.
Ah, the newborn baby! — so innocent — placed in her own little Garden of Eden. So helpless, yet so perfect. But it doesn’t take long for the little rascal to get into trouble. It’s kind of hard to say just when that moment comes. But it doesn’t take them long to learn that they can wrap you around their little finger just by crying in the middle of the night.
The real test comes when the little darling pulls up to the coffee table and reaches for something she is not supposed to have. “No,” you say, as you swat her cute little hand. That’s when the little rascal is determined to have it in spite of all that you can do.
The Dispensation of Conscience
She is now removed from the dispensation of Innocence to the dispensation of Conscience. She has fallen and oh, the guilt she feels! She cries. Over the years, the child has to learn responsibility. “Adam, Eve, you must learn to till the soil. You must learn to eat by the sweat of your brow.” “All right, Junior, make up your bed.” “Wash your hands, Roger.”
The years come and go until the child is approaching ten, and you can see that your little baby is growing up. She’s losing her childishness. The Adam-image is fading away.
Adam died at the age of 930, slightly less than 1,000 years — just as a child around the age of nine or ten begins to grow like a weed, lose her identity as the “baby of the family,” and suddenly you realize you have a young lady on your hands.
The “Abel characteristic” can also be seen during those early years when a child loves freely and enjoys the delightfulness of her new adventure. She loves everybody. Adam named the animals and, in like manner, the child enjoys a similar adventure. Animals seem to take on an almost human characteristic — Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Teddy the Bear, and so on.
She hates no one and believes that everybody is good. Such was Abel, the son of Adam. But it doesn’t take long in a young child’s life for the likes of Cain to raise his ugly head. Thus develops the conflict between good and evil in the life of a child.
By the age of 13 the young teenager begins to face the problem of allegiance in her life. Up until then she has owed her allegiance only to father and mother, but she begins to look around her — to develop what we might call “idolatry.” It might be Superman or Ringo Starr, for we have reached the age of the teen idol.
Thus it was — during the age of adolescent humanity when the world was 1,300 years old, 1,400, 1,500, and so on. That was the age for the development of idolatry. When the world was 1,600 years old, the heavenly Father had to bring on a flood to wash away the ungodliness of the human race that He might preserve the righteous.
“The imagination of the heart is only evil continually!” Well, for boys, maybe, but, hopefully, not for girls.
The Dispensation of Human Government
It is during those teenage years, somewhere around the age of 16, that a parent has to really come to grips with the evil direction of their adolescent — so that they might be able to preserve and develop the good. Those are the flood years when evil is contemplated — perhaps even practiced — but, hopefully, purged. Suddenly, the boy finds himself submerged in the discipline of the dispensation of Human Government — he falls under the despotic rule of father and mother. But it’s for his own good.
During those years, every problem is overwhelming for the teenager. “My nose is too big! My ears stick out! My arms are too long! Nobody likes me.” Every problem seems like a flood. But if the teenager will only try, he will find grace in the eyes of his father.
When he comes out of those years of turmoil, he’ll end up on the mountaintop just like Noah — provided, of course, he stays in the safety of the family unit and doesn’t jump out of the boat.
It is during those flood years that the Garden of Eden environment of the home is washed away, and the teenager sees a new and unfriendly world awaiting him.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. So it is with the teenager. But just because he has found grace in the eyes of his father doesn’t mean the teenager is now perfect, for those are the experimental years. For instance, one of the first things Noah did in his new world was to experiment with wine — and, oh, what a catastrophe it brought in his life! So it is with many young people today.
Many begin to experiment with drugs, liquid or otherwise, which could have a disastrous influence on their future. Man is a trinity — made up of body, soul, and spirit. During the teenage years, it is so easy for a young person to become enslaved to sin by yielding to its temptation. Just as the curse was put upon Ham and his offspring causing them to become a servant in the tents of his brethren; in like manner, the spirit can become enslaved to the body and its appetites.
Ham made light of his father’s drunkenness and fell under a curse. In like manner, there are many young people who take sin far too lightly — and are in great danger of becoming enslaved. It could put a mark upon one’s character — comparable to that of Ham.
The Dispensation of Promise
Around the age of 20, a young person feels the need to leave home. “Go west, young man, go west. It’s time to find your own promised land.” That brings us near the age of 2,000 years in the great human adventure. God reached down to a man named Abraham and said, “It’s time to leave home. Leave your family and go west, young man, go west — into a land that I shall show thee of; which afterward I shall give you for an inheritance.” It’s almost uncanny, isn’t it?
When a young man leaves home, he does not become an overnight success in business. In like manner, Abraham did not immediately possess his Promised Land. He went to it and even lived in it, but he really didn’t possess it. It wasn’t his. It was there as a goal before him to be reached, but it remained only a promised land; it was not yet possessed.
So it is in the life of a young person. A young man may know what he wants to do, but the goal remains just beyond his grasp. He is going to have to attend the “university of hard knocks” before he can obtain his goal. Thus we enter upon the dispensation of Promise, which lasted in human history from Abraham to Moses.
During the years from 20 to 25, a young person is tempted to live a pretty worldly life. He may rebel against those around him as the sons of Jacob rebelled against Joseph — and eventually may end up in the proverbial “Egyptian bondage!”
The Dispensation of Law
At the age of 2,500 years, mankind entered into a new dispensation, which was to last for the next 1,500 years. It is called in the Bible the dispensation of Law. In like manner, around the age of 25, a young man begins to settle down in life.
He establishes some basic moral values — comparable to the Ten Commandments. This is when he realizes that if he is going to get anywhere in life, he is going to have to go to work. The college student can no longer play around. He has to get down to business. The hippie finally puts on a suit and tie and joins the real world.
It is also around the age of 25 when a young man finds the girl of his choice and marries her. Thus, the dispensation of Law begins. God the Father in heaven reached down and pulled the girl of His dreams out of Egyptian bondage and married her, for, you see, the Chosen People were called “the wife” of Jehovah.
There was a covenant of Law established between Jehovah and Israel when the human race was 2,500 years old and in like manner, a groom and his bride establish a marriage covenant. Yes, many a young man between the ages of 20 and 25 finds himself in a proverbial Egyptian bondage, but he makes his exodus and wanders for a while through the wilderness of this life while he establishes his covenant with a “chosen” person — the girl of his dreams and establishes some moral concepts which will govern him for the rest of his life.
For the next 15 years (between the ages of 25 and 40) those moral concepts are really law. They are written on tables of stone. They are not yet made a part of the personality. But a man usually follows them — his wife will see to that! Those are the years when a man produces his firstborn son. We can see that in the great human adventure when God said to Moses, “Go, tell Pharaoh, Israel is My son, even My firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22).
And so a man around the age of 25 produces his firstborn son, and the cycle seems to start all over again — except from a different perspective. He who once viewed life through the eyes of a son, now sees life from the viewpoint of a father.
For the next five years (from 25 to 30) a man may conquer his Promised Land. But it is a struggle. During those years, it is hard to get a business loan from the bank. Few bankers are willing to make big loans until his client reaches the age of 30. Oh, he may be able to finance an automobile or even a house, but there aren’t very many people in their twenties who can borrow $50,000 or $100,000 for a business venture.
Around the age of 30 a man becomes mature — and wise, like Solomon who appeared on the stage of human history at the 3,000-year point. This is the time when the Solomon characteristic is developed — a time of wisdom and maturity. And it was a time when Solomon built the house of God. So it is in the life of a man around the age of 30 when he gets his children in Sunday School and church, for he wants that little four, five, or six-year-old to learn the Bible. He doesn’t want his child making the same mistakes he made.
For the next few years (between the ages of 30 and 35) a man will reach a measure of success, but will see some failures, as well. Sometimes, during those years a man’s kingdom may be divided — as it was in Israel after the death of Solomon.
It may be that a man will experience an “Assyrian” captivity and never recover — or a “Babylonian” captivity that will only last a little while. Around the 3,300-year point the Chosen People went into Assyrian captivity, and 100 years later the rest of them went into Babylonian captivity.
So it is in the life of a man in his mid-30s. If his kingdom is divided, he is going to be under a lot of pressure. During these years, a family might suffer divorce, something from which they may never recover. The Assyrian captivity was a sort of divorce between God and the northern tribes.
Not all of his business decisions will be good ones. He may suffer a financial “captivity,” but, at least there can be a measure of recovery. The Babylonian captivity only lasted 70 years and God’s people came back to rebuild their land.
The Dispensation of Grace
Around the age of 40, a man reaches a turning point in his life. It either becomes a “mid-life crisis” — or we could say, “life begins at 40.” It all depends on how a man copes with those special problems unique to that time in his life. That brings us to the 4,000-year point in world history.
The choice was theirs — Israel could either reject the Messiah and compound the problems of life or receive Him and enjoy the glories of the kingdom. Which shall it be?
At 40, a man has been married somewhere between 15 to 20 years (give or take a few). His firstborn son has reached the age of adolescence. The father expects a lot out of his son — just like Israel was expecting their Messiah. But when Jesus came, He didn’t seem to measure up to Israel’s concept of a Savior. They wanted a Messiah who could overthrow the Roman government and set up the kingdom.
But Jesus had come for quite another reason. He came looking for a bride of his own — New Testament Christianity. And, you know, in like manner, a young man at that stage in life begins looking for the girl of his dreams — his own chosen person.
Furthermore, when a son becomes a teenager, his dad wants him to be about the father’s business. Perhaps he enters as an apprentice — preparing for that day when he will become a full partner, but the young messiah doesn’t quite measure up to expectations, and there are some things in his life the father would like to crucify. For the son it may seem like a flood experience, but for the father, it is a crucifixion. Besides, the father doesn’t want that young whippersnapper running things around his household. He’ll not have the son rule over him!
Business-wise, those are the greatest years of opportunity in a man’s life. He reaches the top of his career between the ages of 40 and 60. The potential is unlimited. If a man has not found himself to be successful by the age of 40, he usually changes his direction.
At least he opens his vision — and his business begins to spread out. Some men turn their local business into a nationwide chain and, for some, the scope may be worldwide.
Well, that’s what the Father did 2,000 years ago. He expanded His work of redemption and made the Gospel available on a worldwide scale. He took the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. It became like an international franchise.
The years between 40 and 60 represent the dispensation of Grace. That’s when the dispensation of Law, which began around the age of 25, turns into grace (around the age of 40). A man’s heart of stone finally becomes a heart of flesh. It is when one no longer has to make himself do what is right. It finally becomes an automatic part of a man’s character.
The Dispensation of the Kingdom Rest
When a man reaches the age of 60, it’s time to think of retirement. It’s time to turn the family business over to the children and let them have it on their own — while the father sits back and relaxes to enjoy the next 10 years of his life, for he has worked enough.
He should be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. So it is in the great worldwide human adventure. This is the time when the dispensation of Grace will turn into the dispensation of the Kingdom Rest.
The kingdom has come. Remember, when you were a baby, you lived under the dispensation of Innocence. But then you learned “right from wrong” and fell under the dispensation of Conscience.
During your teen years you found yourself under the dispensation of Human Government — the rule of father and mother. But around the age of 20 you entered upon the dispensation of Promise, looking forward to a bright future.
However, somewhere between 20 and 25 you ended up in bondage. But you didn’t stay. You made your exodus out of that volatile life-style to settle down and enter upon your own dispensation of Law. You got married and established some guidelines for life.
But, by the age of 40, you entered your dispensation of Grace. The things you did, you wanted to do. And at the age of 60 you entered upon the seventh dispensation of your life, the Kingdom Rest, when you turned the family business over to your children.
And it all represents a prophecy of 7,000 years for the great human adventure. Today, this old world has reached the age of 60 — or perhaps we should say 6,000. It’s time to turn the family business over to the heavenly Father’s Son and retire.
That is why I sincerely believe Jesus Christ will soon make His appearance to take over the Father’s business. He will establish the golden age of world history. Say, I wonder if that’s why we call those years after 60 the “golden” years? Well, I believe they are going to be wonderful years. The Son will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. My, how successful He is going to be! He’s going to conquer the problems of a wayward world.
And the last enemy to be conquered is death. For you see, around 70 a man leaves this old house of clay and enters upon a new and eternal adventure. Likewise, at the age of 7,000 this old world is going to be renovated. God will make a new heaven and a new Earth “wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
The parallels are uncanny. They could not possibly be coincidental. It is obvious to see the grand design — 70 years for the individual human adventure and 7,000 years for the great worldwide human adventure. In this sacred journey, you are a prophecy!