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Clarence Larkin projects a 7,000 year timeline of human history with each 1,000 years tied to a day of creation.

The Seven Thousand Years of Human History

What is the doctrinal or biblical basis for this theory?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Since you don't have any other answers at this point, I'll go ahead and throw out the ideas that I'm seeing play into this graph:

  • Young Earth Creationism

    It would be hard to look at this chart written in 1919 and not start out with the realization that the author undeniably believes in Young Earth Creationism.

    Young Earth Creationism is (essentially) the doctrine that states that the earth was (a) created and that it is (b) quite a young Earth (6,000 years old, or so).

    See also: What is Young-Earth Creationism?

  • Anagogical interpretation of Genesis 1

    This is a clearly less mainstream viewpoint. The idea with anagogical interpretation is that we take events in the Bible and apply them towards eternity.

    See also: What is anagogical interpretation and when should it be considered?

    In this graph, Genesis 1 (the creation of the world in seven days) is being interpreted anagogically. This interpretation is applying these seven days to seven millennia in human history. (The six thousand years that Young Earth Creationism says the Earth has already seen and the millennium found in Revelations 21.)

  • Millennialism (compared to amillennialism)

    This doctrine states that the one thousand years in Revelations 20 is a literal millennia (1,000 earthly years), rather than a metaphor or allusion to a time.

  • Dispensational Premillennialism

    This is the idea that (1) Christians will be raptured (2) a seven year tribulation will occur (3) Jesus and the saints will return to Earth after the tribulation and (4) the literal one thousand year reign of Jesus on Earth will begin. In that order and with those exact lengths of time.

Well, there are definitely many, many more doctrines at play in this. For example:

  • Bible is the word of God and should be taken literally
  • Revelations should be taken literally and all timeframes found in it are actual, earthly timeframes
  • Jesus was resurrected
  • Jesus ascended into heaven

et cetera.

However, those above are the "big ticket" items that are not necessarily common or are potentially debatable.

Closing thoughts

Many of these doctrines were popular at the turn of the 20th century and many are popular now as well. The one that stood out to me as somewhat surprising was the anagogical interpretation of Genesis 1. Outside of that, this really seems to be a pretty straight-forward conglomeration of many prominent doctrines.

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Very thoughtful and reasoned response. Thanks. –  Narnian Oct 19 '11 at 13:39
    
There are probably some things I'm missing in there, but those are the big ones I notice. –  Richard Oct 19 '11 at 13:41
    
Yeah... I'll leave it up for a few days to encourage other input, but this is a really good answer. –  Narnian Oct 19 '11 at 13:44

To supplement the existing answer, perhaps the earliest Christian exposition on the idea of a 7000-year history corresponding to the seven days of the creation week is found in the Epistle of Barnabas, written in the early- to mid-second century AD.

In chapter 15, the author reinterprets the first six days of Genesis 1 as an allegory for six-thousand years of history (with the author believing he was living near the end of that sixth millennium).

Listen, children, what this means: "He finished in six days." He means this, that in six-thousand years the Lord shall finish all things. For a day with him is like a thousand years, and he testifies to this, saying: "Behold, the day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years." Therefore, children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end.

He then anticipates these six 'days' to be followed by a seventh 'day' Sabbath rest, i.e. a thousand years of rest brought on by the second coming of Jesus:

"And he rested on the seventh day." By this he means, when his son comes, and abolishes the time of the lawless one, and judges the ungodly, and changes the sun and the moon and the stars, then shall he truly rest on the seventh day.

At first the author seems to describe this seventh 'day' Sabbath as lasting forever, using ideas that typically are reserved for the new creation (e.g. describing this seventh millennium as the time 'when iniquity is no more and all things have been made new by the Lord'). Sticking strictly to the creation week of Genesis 1-2, this would seem appropriate. But then the author alters the formula by adding in an eighth millennium, basing the idea on Jesus' resurrection on the the 'eighth day' of the week (i.e. Sunday, the day after the seventh day Sabbath).

Finally he says to them: "Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot endure." You see his meaning: Your present Sabbaths are unacceptable to me, but in the Sabbath I have made, when I have set all things to rest, I will make the beginning of the eighth day, that is, the beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day when Jesus rose again from the dead too.

(Textually, there is no evidence Barnabas was relying on Revelation 20 in his anticipation of a future thousand-year rule of Jesus.)

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