The Periods in Providential History – Part 1
The Periods in Providential History
and the Determination of Their Lengths
Parallel Providential Periods
Examining the course of human history, we often find cases where the various circumstances of a period in history are repeated in similar form during a later age. Some historians are impressed by these phenomena and point out that history progresses in a spiral movement. Yet they do not understand the underlying cause. When a period of history repeats the events of a previous period, albeit with differences in scope and degree, the two periods are called parallel providential periods. As will be explained below, the reason for using this terminology is because the principal cause behind these parallels lies in God’s providence of restoration.
How do parallel providential periods come about? The course of history has been shaped by various events in the providence of restoration, which drives history toward a fixed goal. When a central figure in the providence fails his responsibility to restore the foundation for the Messiah, the providential period centering on that person comes to a close. Yet, since God has predestined the absolute and eventual fulfillment of His Will,1(cf. Predestination 1) He chooses another person to carry on the mission and opens another historical period in the providence to restore through indemnity the foundation for the Messiah. Since this new period restores through indemnity the previous period, a course with similar events will be repeated. This is how the periods come to be parallel to one another.
However, parallel periods do not have exactly the same form and content, because the central figure in a particular period must restore in his time (horizontally) the unfulfilled indemnity conditions of the previous periods (vertically). The more the providence of restoration is prolonged and past indemnity conditions accumulate, the heavier will be the conditions of indemnity which the new central figure must fulfill. Consequently, the new parallel period will differ from the previous parallel period in content and scale.
The three stages of the growing period may be classified according to different degrees of manifestation: the formation stage is a manifestation in symbol, the growth stage in image, and the completion stage in substance. Likewise, in the development of history, the parallel periods in the providence of restoration have repeated similar events according to this pattern. Thus, the entire history of the providence of restoration may be divided according to the form of the parallels: the Age of the Providence to Lay the Foundation for Restoration is the age of symbolic parallels, the Age of the Providence of Restoration is the age of image parallels, and the Age of the Prolongation of the Providence of Restoration is the age of substantial parallels.
Next, let us examine the main factors which determine the formation of parallel providential periods. Parallel providential periods recur because of repeated dispensations to restore the foundation for the Messiah. Accordingly, the factors which determine the formation of parallel providential periods are: first, the three conditions necessary for the foundation of faith (the central figure, the object for the condition and the numerical period of indemnity) and second, the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature, which is necessary to restore the foundation of substance.
Based on these factors, two characteristics of parallel providential periods stand out. First, the lengths of the parallel providential periods are determined based on a fixed number of generations or years of the indemnity period necessary for restoring the foundation of faith. In the providence of restoration, when a central figure has failed to complete his responsibility and caused the prolongation of the Will, God repeats His work through other central figures until the final restoration of the lost foundation of faith is achieved. In each dispensation, the numerical period of indemnity for restoring this foundation must be repeated in some form. For this reason, the parallel periods in history have similar lengths, each representing the same fixed number of years or generations. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss this matter in detail.
Second, the parallels in history are shaped by the other three providential factors: the central figure and the object for the condition offered for the foundation of faith, and the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature for the foundation of substance. The goal of the providence of restoration is ultimately to restore the foundation for the Messiah. Accordingly, when the providence is prolonged, the various dispensations involved in restoring this foundation are also repeated. Since the foundation for the Messiah can be established only by first laying the foundation of faith through the symbolic offering and then laying the foundation of substance through the substantial offering, providential history has been repeating dispensations to restore these two offerings. These dispensations have shaped the parallels between providential periods. We will elaborate on this matter in the next chapter.
The Number of Generations or Years in the Periods
of the Age of the Providence
to Lay the Foundation for Restoration
God’s providence for humankind to lay the foundation for the Messiah, receive the Messiah, and attain the ultimate goal of restoration was prolonged from Adam’s day through the days of Noah, Abraham, Moses and finally to Jesus’ day. When Jesus was killed without accomplishing his ultimate purpose due to the people’s disbelief, the providence of restoration was prolonged again until the time of the Second Coming.
Why has the providence of restoration been prolonged? This question can only be answered with an understanding of the principle of predestination. According to this principle, since God absolutely predestines His Will, He surely will realize it one day. However, whether God’s Will is fulfilled through any particular individual is conditional upon the fulfillment of his portion of responsibility, which is in addition to God’s portion of responsibility. Accordingly, when the Will is not fulfilled because the responsible person fails, God will choose another person in a different era to take his place. God will continue His work until its complete fulfillment, prolonging the providence in the process.
Let us next examine how the providence of restoration has been prolonged. According to the Principle of Creation, God is a being of the number three. All things created in His likeness manifest themselves through a three-stage process with respect to their mode of existence, movement and growth. For any entity to fulfill the purpose of creation by establishing the four position foundation with its spherical motion, it must go through the three stages of origin-division-union action and engage in interaction with three object partners to achieve the three object purpose. The providence to restore the purpose of creation is one of re-creation based on the Word. Therefore, whenever the providence of restoration is prolonged, it may extend to as many as three stages. On the basis of the Principle of Creation, up to three attempts are allowed.
For example, when in Adam’s family Cain and Abel failed to make the substantial offering, the dispensation was repeated in the families of Noah and Abraham, and fulfilled on the third attempt. When Abraham made his mistake in the symbolic offering, the dispensation was prolonged through Isaac and fulfilled by Jacob. The courses to restore Canaan under the leadership of Moses and Jesus each were extended to three courses. When King Saul failed to build the Temple, this dispensation was prolonged through two more kings: David and Solomon. God’s ideal of creation, which was not realized with Adam, has awaited a second and a third providence for its realization: through Jesus, the second Adam, and then through Christ at the Second Advent. Common proverbs, such as the Korean saying “If not accomplished at the first attempt, it surely will be done at the third,” exemplify this aspect of the Principle expressed as everyday wisdom.
To inherit and complete the missions of his predecessors in providential history, a central figure responsible for the providence of restoration must fulfill, in a short time, all the indemnity conditions which his predecessors tried to fulfill. If this central figure also fails in his mission, all the indemnity conditions he tried to fulfill are passed down to the next person entrusted with the same responsibility. The conditions which accumulate in the course of providential history due to central figures’ failures to complete their responsibility are calledvertical indemnity conditions. The task of the central figure to fulfill all these conditions in a short time is called horizontal restoration through indemnity.
For example, Abraham had to restore horizontally through indemnity all the vertical indemnity conditions which Adam’s family and Noah’s family before him had tried to fulfill. In offering the three sacrifices at one time on the same altar, Abraham was to restore horizontally through indemnity the vertical indemnity conditions accumulated during the three dispensations of the prolonged providence. The three offerings represented all the conditions which Adam and Noah could not fulfill, as well as those which Abraham had to fulfill as the new central figure.
Jacob, in his course, had to fulfill in a short time a condition to horizontally restore through indemnity the vertical indemnity conditions accumulated through the twelve generations since Noah. For this purpose, he was given twelve sons from whom descended the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus employed this method to restore horizontally through indemnity all the accumulated vertical indemnity conditions left unfulfilled by the forefathers, prophets and kings who had led the providence during the four thousand years of biblical history until his time. For instance, Jesus chose twelve disciples and seventy followers in order to restore in a short time the vertical indemnity conditions which had accumulated from Jacob’s course, in which God had worked with Jacob’s twelve sons and seventy kinsmen, and from Moses’ course, in which God had worked with the twelve tribes of Israel and seventy elders. Moreover, Jesus fasted for forty days to restore horizontally all the vertical indemnity conditions in the form of dispensations of forty for the separation of Satan, which were required for the foundation of faith. In this sense, we can understand that each central figure in the providence of restoration stands not only for himself as an individual, but represents all the forefathers, prophets and sages who had the same mission in the past. He bears within him the fruits of their labors in history.
Sometimes horizontal restoration is achieved through a vertical dispensation which may span several generations. This was the case with the providence of restoration in Abraham’s family. By making an acceptable symbolic offering, Abraham was supposed to restore horizontally through indemnity all the vertical indemnity conditions which had accumulated due to the mistakes of Adam’s family and Noah’s family. His mistake in the offering caused yet another failure and delay in the providence. As was explained above, since this was the third attempt in the providence to restore the family foundation for the Messiah, the Principle required that his family accomplish God’s Will without fail. Therefore, in spite of his failure, God sought a way to regard Abraham as if he had not made the mistake, but had restored horizontally the vertical indemnity conditions without any prolongation. To this end, God set up a special dispensation: He had Abraham, Isaac and Jacob fulfill the necessary indemnity conditions while regarding these three individuals as one person with respect to His Will. Therefore, despite this vertical prolongation through three generations, Jacob’s victory and Isaac’s victory became Abraham’s own victory, as if achieved in his generation without any delay.2(cf. Foundation 22.214.171.124, Foundation 3.3) The oneness of these three generations is signified by God’s appellation of Himself as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”3(Exod. 3:6)CEV|KJ|NI
Thus, God could credit Abraham with having fulfilled, in his own generation, the horizontal indemnity conditions which he had failed to complete, by completing them vertically through the generations of Isaac and Jacob. This type of restoration is called horizontal restoration through indemnity carried out vertically.
A central figure has to fulfill one or more numerical indemnity periods in order to restore the foundation of faith.4(cf. Restoration 1.2.1) Let us examine the reasons for this. God exists upon His Principle, which has a numerical aspect. The universe, with human beings at its center, was created based on numerical principles to be the unfolding of the dual characteristics of the invisible God as His substantial object partner. This is the reason science, which seeks to discover the external laws governing the universe, progresses through research conducted with the aid of mathematics. The first human ancestors were to become complete by passing through a growing period characterized by certain numbers, thus laying the foundation of faith. In their perfection, they were to embody the quality of these numbers. We must investigate these matters because restoration of the foundation of faith requires not only that we offer an object for the condition, symbolizing the universe in bondage to Satan, but also that we pass through a numerical period of indemnity to restore the numbers defiled by Satan.
Based upon what numbers were the first human ancestors, prior to the Fall, to lay the foundation of faith? What numbers were they to have embodied in their perfection? We learned in the Principle of Creation that no entity can exist or thrive without first forming a four position foundation. Accordingly, Adam and Eve in their immaturity had to each form a four position foundation for their existence. Each position in the four position foundation is to pass through the three stages of the growing period, making a total of twelve. Furthermore, each position in the four position foundation accomplishes the three object purpose by taking three object partners, making a total of twelve object partners and fulfilling the twelve object purpose. Hence, the growing period during which Adam was to establish the foundation of faith was a period for fulfilling the number twelve. While in their immaturity, the first human ancestors were to lay the foundation of faith based on the number twelve, and in perfection they were to attain the twelve object purpose and thus embody the quality of the number twelve. Due to their fall, Satan defiled this number. Therefore, a central figure in the providence of restoration must pass through a period of indemnity to restore the number twelve in laying the foundation of faith. Only on that basis can he lay the foundation of substance for the restoration of the perfect embodiment of the quality of the number twelve.
Some examples of the indemnity period to restore the number twelve are: the 120 years it took Noah to build the ark, the 120 years of the providence to restore Canaan under Moses’ leadership, and the 120 years from when Abraham was called by God until Jacob purchased the birthright from Esau for some bread and lentils. As we will discuss below, this last period was to be restored by the 120-year period of the united kingdom in the Old Testament Age, and in the New Testament Age by the corresponding 120-year period of the Christian empire under Charlemagne and his sons.
The maturation process during which Adam and Eve were laying the foundation of faith also required a period to fulfill the number four. They were to pass through the three stages of the growing period and enter the realm of God’s direct dominion, which is the fourth stage. At that point, they would have completed the four position foundation. By thus fulfilling the number four, the first human ancestors were to become its perfect embodiments. Due to the Fall, this number was defiled by Satan. Therefore, central figures in the providence must complete an indemnity period to restore the number four in laying the foundation of faith. Only on that basis can they lay the foundation of substance for the restoration of the perfect embodiment of the quality of the number four.
It was already explained that indemnity periods to restore the number four are necessary to restore the foundation of faith.5(cf. Foundation 2.1.2) Examples include: Noah’s forty-day flood judgment, Moses’ forty-day fasts, the forty-day mission to spy out the land of Canaan, Jesus’ forty-day fast, and the forty days of the ministry of the resurrected Jesus.
The growing period is also the period to fulfill the number twenty-one. The first human ancestors were to have become the perfect embodiments of the number twenty-one by laying the foundation of faith through a period based on the number twenty-one and then realizing the purpose of creation. However, due to the Fall, this number was defiled by Satan. Hence, central figures in history must complete an indemnity period to restore the number twenty-one in laying the foundation of faith. Only on that basis can they lay the foundation of substance for the restoration of the perfect embodiment of the quality of the number twenty-one.
To understand the significance of the number twenty-one, we should first understand the significance of the numbers three, four and seven in the Principle. God, whose dual characteristics exist in harmonious oneness, is a Being of the number three. The creation is perfected when it attains oneness with God in the four position foundation. Thus, for an individual to become perfect, he must form within himself a four position foundation in which the mind and body form a trinity, the center of which is God. For a man and a woman to become a perfect husband and wife, they must build a four position foundation in which they form a trinity with God as their center. For the universe to reach its perfection, it must form a four position foundation in which human beings and the natural world form a trinity with God as their center. Furthermore, for created beings to realize a four position foundation by becoming one centered on God, they must first pass through the three stages of the growing period and complete the three object purpose. For these reasons, the number three is the number of Heaven, or the number of perfection.
When a subject partner and an object partner form a trinity by becoming one centering on God, the resulting union is an individual embodiment of truth which completes the four position foundation. Having thus secured the status of God’s creation, it comes to have position and extension in the four directions: north, south, east and west. In this sense, the number four is the number of the earth.
When a created being passes through the three stages of the growing period and builds the four position foundation, it becomes perfectly established in the qualitative dimensions of time and space, respectively. Thus, every creation becomes the perfect embodiment of the number seven, which is the sum of the number of Heaven and the number of earth. This is the reason why the Bible recounts the creation of heaven and earth as having taken seven days. Just as the period of creation fulfills the number seven, any period for attaining completion may be regarded as a period to fulfill the number seven. Looking at the three stages of the growing period in this manner, the period to complete the formation stage, the period to complete the growth stage, and the period to complete the completion stage are each periods which fulfill the number seven. In total, the entire growing period may be regarded as a period to fulfill the number twenty-one.
Examples of indemnity periods of the number twenty-one include the following: After the flood, God had Noah send out a dove three times to foreshadow His providence, which was to be carried out in three stages. The dove was sent out in seven-day intervals; hence the entire period adds up to twenty-one days.6(Gen. 7:4)CEV|KJ|NI; (Gen. 8:10, 12)CEV|KJ|NI When Jacob walked the family course to restore Canaan, he labored in exile in Haran before returning home to Canaan, enduring three seven-year periods which add up to twenty-one years. In the Old Testament Age, there was the 210-year period of the Israelites’ exile in Babylon and their return to Israel, which was to restore through indemnity this twenty-one-year course of Jacob. In the New Testament Age, there was the 210-year period from the papal captivity in Avignon to the eve of the Reformation, which was also to restore through indemnity the twenty-one-year course of Jacob.
The growing period is also the period to fulfill the number forty. The first human ancestors were to perfectly embody the quality of the number forty by laying the foundation of faith based on the number forty and then realizing the purpose of creation. Satan’s attack at the Fall defiled this number. Hence, the central figures in the providence must fulfill an indemnity period to restore the number forty in laying the foundation of faith. Only on that basis can they lay the foundation of substance for the restoration of the perfect embodiment of the quality of the number forty.
To understand how the number forty is fulfilled in the growing period, we must first study the significance of the number ten. If we divide each of the three stages of the growing period into three sub-stages, we arrive at a total of nine levels. Herein lies the significance of the number nine in the Principle. As a numerical unfolding of the dual characteristics of the invisible God, each of God’s creations passes through the nine levels of the growing period. Each then fulfills its purpose of creation when it becomes one with God in the realm of His direct dominion, which constitutes the tenth level. For this reason, we call the number ten the number of unity. God set up the ten generations after Adam to fulfill the indemnity period to restore the number ten before he called upon Noah. By this condition, God wanted to have Noah complete the Will which Adam had left unfinished, and then have him become one with God.
In the four position foundation which Adam and Eve should have established, each position was to pass through the ten levels in their course to maturity, fulfilling in total the number forty. Thus, the course of their maturation was a period to fulfill the number forty, and their four position foundation would have become the perfect embodiment of the number forty. Some examples of indemnity periods of the number forty set up to restore this foundation include: the forty days from the time Noah’s ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat until he sent out the dove, the forty years of Moses’ life in the Pharaoh’s palace, his forty-year exile in the wilderness of Midian, and the forty years in the wilderness during the national course to restore Canaan.
We can deduce that there are two types of periods of the number forty in the providence of restoration. One type is an indemnity period to restore the number four; in restoration, it is multiplied by the number ten, the number of unity, to form forty. The second type is the indemnity period to restore the number forty itself, which Adam should have fulfilled before the Fall, as was just described. The forty years in the wilderness for the national course to restore Canaan was set up to restore both these types of periods of forty at the same time. It restored through indemnity the forty-day spy mission and Moses’ forty-day fast, which were periods to restore the number four. It also restored through indemnity Moses’ forty years in the Pharaoh’s palace and forty years in the wilderness of Midian, which were periods to restore the number forty. Such a phenomenon occurs when the central figure for the foundation of faith is restoring through indemnity horizontally all the vertical indemnity conditions in the history of the providence.
When such a dispensation to horizontally restore periods of the number forty is again prolonged, it can be extended by a rule of multiplication by ten, because the required period of indemnity may have to be expanded through ten stages. Thus, a period of forty years may be expanded to four hundred or even four thousand years. Examples include: the four-hundred-year period from Noah to Abraham, the four hundred years of slavery in Egypt and the four thousand biblical years from Adam to Jesus.
Let us summarize the numerical periods of indemnity a central figure in the providence must fulfill to restore the foundation of faith. Had the first human ancestors not fallen, they would have laid the foundation of faith based on significant numbers, including twelve, four, twenty-one and forty. When they then accomplished the purpose of creation, they would have become the perfect embodiments of the quality of these numbers. Yet due to their fall, all these numbers were claimed by Satan. Therefore, the central figures in providential history must fulfill numerical periods of indemnity to restore the numbers twelve, four, twenty-one and forty before they can restore the foundation of faith. Only on that basis can they lay the foundation of substance for the restoration of the perfect embodiment of the quality of these numbers.
According to the Bible, God chose Noah to shoulder the providence ten generations and sixteen hundred years after Adam. Let us examine what significant numbers were restored by the sixteen hundred years and the ten generations.
The number ten is the number of unity with God. The course of growth to maturity requires a period to fulfill the number ten, through which Adam and Eve were to become the perfect embodiments of the number ten. When this number was defiled by Satan due to their Fall, God sought a central figure in order to restore this number and begin His work to unite the people with Himself by restoring them as perfect embodiments of the quality of the number ten. For this purpose, God would require the central figure to complete an indemnity period to restore the number ten. This is why God called Noah ten generations after Adam.
It was discussed earlier that the first human ancestors were to pass through a course to maturity which fulfilled the number forty and thereby become perfect embodiments of the number forty. For fallen people to become the central figures who will pave the way for the restoration of perfect embodiments of the number forty, they must establish the four position foundation necessary for restoration and then fulfill an indemnity period to restore the number forty. Each position of the four position foundation should fulfill the indemnity period to restore the number forty, yielding an indemnity period to restore the number 160. Moreover, since fallen people were to fulfill this number through ten generations – ten signifying unity with God – they had to complete an indemnity period of the number sixteen hundred. This is the reason the period from Adam to Noah was sixteen hundred years, by biblical reckoning.
After the failure of the providence of restoration in Noah’s family, God waited four hundred years, until another ten generations had elapsed, before calling Abraham to carry the burden of the providence. Set according to the number of generations, the period from Noah to Abraham was parallel to the period from Adam to Noah, and was to restore that earlier period through indemnity.
It was discussed earlier why this period was made four hundred years.7(cf. Foundation 3.1.1) God had Noah endure the forty-day flood judgment for the purpose of accomplishing the goal of the providence of restoration, which He had pursued by setting up the ten generations and sixteen hundred years. When this forty-day flood judgment was defiled by Satan due to Ham’s mistake, God had to work through another central figure to restore it. From Adam to Noah, God worked to fulfill indemnity periods to restore the number 160 in each of ten generations. In the parallel period of ten generations from Noah to Abraham, God set each generation as the indemnity period to restore the number forty, which is derived from the flood judgment.
The failure of the forty-day flood judgment had to be restored through a period of the number forty. Since the restoration of each subsequent generation had to span its entire length, it could not be fulfilled in only forty days. Hence, God set the indemnity period to be fulfilled by each generation as forty years. A day of the flood was indemnified by a year, just as in Moses’ time when the failure of the forty-day mission to spy out the land was restored through forty years of wandering in the wilderness.8(Num. 14:34)CEV|KJ|NI Since the dispensation in which each generation was set as a forty-year indemnity period continued through ten generations, the entire span of the indemnity period came to be four hundred years.
As explained earlier, each central figure of the providence is called to restore horizontally all the vertical indemnity conditions accumulated up to his time. Hence, the longer providential history is prolonged, the heavier the indemnity conditions will be for the central figures of later generations to fulfill horizontally. In the providence of restoration in Adam’s family, there were as yet no vertical indemnity conditions because the providence had just begun. Therefore, the foundation for the Messiah could have been laid quite simply by Cain and Abel properly making the symbolic offerings and the substantial offering. It would have merely required that once Abel had made his offering in a manner acceptable to God, Cain should have obeyed and followed Abel to fulfill the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature. In regard to the numerical indemnity periods to restore the foundation of faith, these could have been completed in the short time necessary for making the symbolic and substantial offerings. However, when the providence of restoration was prolonged due to the failure of Adam’s family, vertical indemnity conditions began to accumulate in the form of various numerical indemnity periods. Therefore, in restoring the foundation of faith, the central figures since Adam’s day have had to complete numerical indemnity periods to restore such numbers as twelve, four, twenty-one and forty.
In the case of Noah, he was supposed to restore in his time all of these vertical indemnity conditions. To restore the foundation of faith, he had to go through several numerical indemnity periods: 120 years to build the ark, forty days of the flood judgment, twenty-one days during which he sent out the dove three times at seven-day intervals, and the forty-day period from the time the ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat until he sent out the dove.
Noah faithfully fulfilled these numerical indemnity periods, but due to Ham’s mistake they were invaded by Satan. Consequently, they were again left behind as vertical indemnity conditions. Abraham had the opportunity to restore them all at once through his symbolic offering. However, because Abraham failed in his offering, the indemnity periods could not be restored horizontally. They then had to be restored vertically: by prolonging the fulfillment of His Will through Isaac and Jacob, God worked to fulfill in succession indemnity periods to restore the numbers twelve, four, twenty-one and forty.
In the providence in Abraham’s family, the following indemnity periods, which should have been fulfilled horizontally, were instead carried out in vertical succession to restore the foundation of faith: 120 years from the time Abraham left Haran until Jacob purchased the birthright from Esau with bread and a pottage of lentils; forty years from that time until Jacob was given the blessing of the eldest son by his father Isaac and received God’s blessing on his way to Haran;9(Gen. 27:1-29)CEV|KJ|NI; (Gen. 28:10-14)CEV|KJ|NI twenty-one years from that time until he completed his toil in Haran and returned to Canaan with his family and wealth;10(Gen. 31:41)CEV|KJ|NI and forty years from the time Jacob returned to Canaan until his family entered Egypt at Joseph’s invitation. In this way, the indemnity conditions which could not be restored horizontally were completed as extended vertical periods of fixed lengths.