We can divide the time of man on this earth into three basic ages: Each age lasts one half the time of the previous age. The first age is 4,000 years, the second age is 2,000 years and the last age is 1,000 years. These ages correspond to the triune nature of man (Body, Soul, and Spirit) and the way God deals with man as if he were a single living organism during these three ages. As Christians or Jews we are familiar with the idea that both of these belief systems emphasize the individual over the collective, and anytime man comes up with a system that emphasizes the collective over the individual you have the great killing machines of government unleashed in the earth, so I am not abrogating that viewpoint, but in dealing with the realm of spirit, individuality is de-emphasized, and unity is brought more into focus.
Many mystics have a common experience in that they transcend something of the fractured existence we experience as human beings and they all try to explain a realm of wholeness, of oneness, of somehow seeing everything at once, of a universal understanding, a knowing. When God first created man he breathed his spirit into a physical body and it was said of Adam he became a living soul. Now Adam disobeyed and we have fallen man, not even much of a soulish being, but a physical being. The first 4,000 years of man emphasized the physical aspect of man.
You can see this in how man confronted evil. These were physical battles, sometimes you had to battle physical giants, such as David versus Goliath. Greek mythology talks of half god, half man beings such as Hercules, Orion, Bellerophon, the Norse have Siegfreid and Beowulf, the Romans had their mythology, as did the Persians, Babylonians, Hindus and just about every civilization. We will delve into that aspect in a later post. The Bible gives us the true basis of these myths in Genesis 6:1-7
1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. 5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." NIV
The book of Enoch which was barely rejected as a canonical book of the Bible by the Christian Councils of the 4th and 5th centuries talks of a certain order of angels that had the ability to appear as human beings and then enter into sexual relations with women, their offspring were these Nephelim, giants and men of renown. The oral traditions of various racial groups pervert and embellish the Biblical account with fantastical deeds and mix up the relationship of man and so called “Gods.” Not Gods, but angels that fell with Satan in rebellion, and the book of Jude alludes to these angels as having a greater judgment and they are currently imprisoned waiting for that judgment.
So evil in primitive times manifests as gigantism and fame, especially in battle. It is during this era of human history that the great empires that Daniel envisions come and go...with the exception of Rome, which is the human empire that is in the earth at the time when God begins to deal with man in his soul. It is interesting to note that the trigger for this new focus of God’s dealing is the first coming of Christ. Indeed the trigger for God to begin dealing with the aspect of man in his spirit is the second coming of Christ.
To finish this first part, think of the Edenic creation of man as establishing the physical life of man. We are busy conquering the earth (and each other) finding the mountain passes, building empires and civilizations; discovering how to build, to farm the land, to domesticate animals, to devise first order physical weapons, primarily physical functions. It is not until we are well into the soulish age of man that we begin to discover the intellectual, scientific, artistic and even the religious side of man (the soul part of man).
I think all can agree that human history seems radically different from Christ onward. Something fundamental has changed. The drive for great physical empires seems to sputter and die, arising once in a while, but nothing of the accomplishments of ancient Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece or Rome. If there are great empire type movements they are primarily the raiding sweeping devastations of barbarians and Mongol hordes. We now witness Religious based Kingdoms, first the Christian kingdoms of Rome and Constantinople, then the rise of Islam. The key to all of the changes and growth of man is Christ.
Man is a complex creation, far more complex than the creation of angels, and requiring a far more intimate relationship and touch from God. Imagine man is a physical being, then Christ comes and breathes upon THAT creation and man becomes a soulish being. Now imagine Christ coming again and breathing on THAT creation and man then becomes a Spiritual being. We will get into the soul aspect of man in the next post, and try to delinate what has changed from the physical age to the soul age, and what we might expect in the transition from the soul age to the spirit age...something that has already begun.