God’s timing is best explained using what we view as a linear, or strait, one dimensional timeline. Of course God has a different view of time. He knows nothing but eternity and has the power to see future events, as well as having a perfect memory of the past. Since we do not possess those qualities to the same degree as God, He arranged the Bible in a manner we should find easy to understand. The fulfillment of a prophecy represents one point on that linear time line. As we study, using the basic rules of context, we find events and lessons intersecting that point. In one example, John’s conception and birth are intersected by the prophecy in Malachi chapter 4. Some fulfillments have a number of lines intersecting their point in time. Each intersecting line teaches a lesson. Each line travels on an angle based its associated time period. All of the intersecting lines are events in history containing lessons we should have learned from. But like someone once said, “when we fail to learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.”
God’s timeline may seem like one of the most difficult concepts to comprehend, but God’s timeline is not much different than any timeline we use here on earth. We often see people post warnings on the Internet. Some event happens and people get excited. Hundreds of people jump on line trying to be the first to comment on major events, sort them out, and explain them. Some people may actually do a little research before commenting. In some cases the author will point out past events in history that may or may not have a relationship to the current situation. What those people are doing is showing a parallel in history. That is where God’s timeline differs from earthy timelines. People here try to establish parallels in history and line them up with current events. God does things a little differently.
God can take events in history, past, present, or future to use as illustrations, warnings, or promises. People will sometimes try to use the Bible to establish some type of parallel to a current event. But God uses intersecting events.
Not many people will argue with the fact, the fall of Jerusalem is a type of symbol pointing to the end of this world. Does Jerusalem’s fall point to the final destruction of this world, Jesus’ return, or the rebirth of this world? There are many details that led to Jerusalem’s final destruction. After that, Israel’s history continued. Does the parallel end? To one degree it does. To another extent there are lessons following Jerusalem’s destruction that teach us what will happen after Jesus returns.
When we look at a straight timeline we use dates to turn a linear timeline into a measuring device. People often add parallel layers to a mock up of their timeline to illustrate a point. They may use color charts. Some people use curves or circles to create their impression of a timeline. If we were to use the widely accepted concept of a linear timeline and use that to explain God’s timeline, we would see a series of lines at different angles intersecting points or dates on that linear timeline.
The timeline shown is only an example for illustration purposes. It does not depict accurate timing nor a complete collection of events.
There can be any number of intersecting lines for any particular point in time. The Plan of Salvation, which has many stories scattered throughout the Bible, intersects and runs from before the beginning of time in this world and way beyond the recreated earth. The Plan of Salvation is not the only story or series of stories that intersect the Tabernacle. But the Plan of Salvation is an intricate part of the Tabernacle.
Symbols in the Tabernacle tell the story of Jesus’ ministry. So the Tabernacle would intersect Jesus’ ministry and include the Plan of Salvation. Other factors like the over three hundred prophecies written about Jesus would also intersect Jesus’ ministry on a timeline at precise moments. Timelines can get quite detailed.
As we progress down the timeline, Jesus’ ministry would intersect the disciples as well as the early church, and progress through the timeline up to His’ return.
The last seven plagues have references to the plagues in Egypt. We can learn lessons about the last seven plagues from the plagues in Egypt. But the references from the plagues in Egypt only cover a certain portion of earth’s history. Placing those examples in a precise moment in earth’s history may not be difficult. But to place the plagues in Egypt on a timeline still in the future is a task only God can accomplish.
Setting up a timeline to understand God’s timing is a careful blend of personal preference and inspired direction. The majority of inspired direction comes from the pages of the Bible. The Bible actually contains a series of directions, clues to locate intersecting stories in the Bible. Take for example Jesus’ ministry. Look at the Old Testament scripture Jesus quoted. Those stories intersect that particular point in Jesus’ ministry. It could be the miracle He performed that day or an answer to a question.
The example above is a rather rough draft of a illustration showing God’s timeline. That timeline covers way too much time to show a proper example. You could draft your own timeline based on what you are studying. A series of stories out of one of the Gospels will show a shorter, more detailed timeline with intersecting stories taken from the Gospels and found in the Old Testament.
Once you learn to understand how stories in the Bible add details and explain lessons on a spiritual level, portions of the Bible will open up like never before. You will learn things you never expected. Things no one has ever told you or preached about. Things you never read in a book or saw on a video. Once you learn how God puts together His timeline, you will know what it feels like to study at the feet of Jesus.