TIME VERSUS ETERNITY
WHERE Are We, and WHEN Is God?
by John T. Webb
time \ 'tim\ n 1. The general concept, relation, or fact of continuous or successive existence, capable of division into measurable portions, and comprising the past, present, and future. 2. Duration with reference to this world and all finite existence as distinguished from eternity or infinity.
But what is time compared to eternity? Did it begin? Will it end? Scientists measure a day down to the millisecond by the rotation of the earth. We set our clocks in order to keep appointments. History has certain moments which we commemorate. But God. . . Well, the Bible says Elohim ("God") "has set eternity in their heart, without which man cannot find out the work that Elohim makes from the beginning and to the end." (Ec. 3:11)
The dictionary says time is "capable of division into measurable portions." There are few "measurable portions" of time mentioned in the Bible: the day, created by Elohim and divided by Him into evening and morning; the week, ordained by Elohim in creation and commissioned by Him to allow man to rest seventh day; the month, the duration of the moon's revolution around the earth; and the year, the duration of the earth's revolution around the sun. The seasons are distinguishable in the Bible only as summer, winter, the early rains and the latter rains.
All other divisions of time are man-made; the second, the hour, the decade, the century. The four seasons which begin at the equinoxes and solstices are based on man's desire to make nature fit into the little niches which he creates in order to bring a precise order to his life. Certainly, there are points in the year at which the day and night can be separated into almost equal lengths, and other times when the days reach their longest and shortest daylight hours, but the seasons of the Bible do not depend on these moments. Elohim's plan is too grand to have these trifling seconds exceed their actual importance.
The twelve zodiacal months denote one way in which man worships the creation more than the Creator. Astrologers with their horoscopes presume to be able to predict how the stars will affect our lives, and say this is a science. But scientists deal with processes which are reproducible, and therefore provable. Any given alignment of planets, sun and stars is repeated over a period of more than twenty thousands years! Therefore, astrologers haven't a leg to stand on, since astrology was begun between 2000 and 4000 years ago by the Babylonians. Isaiah, in a lament for Babylon (47:13-14), said, "You are wearied with your many counsels; let now the astrologers, those who prophesy by the stars, those who predict by the new moons, stand up and save you from what will come upon you. Behold, they have become like stubble, fire burns them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame; there will be no coal to warm by, nor a fire to sit before!" There is no magical power in the stars. Only in man's imagination are there constellations in the heavens which resemble animals and people. ELOHIM put no such divisions there! The One who controls the stars is the One to whom we should look for strength and guidance! Even the stars in their seemingly endless existence are but for the blink of an eye in Elohim's eternity.
Time and eternity -- how are we to understand them? Someone has said (perhaps somewhat waggishly) that time was invented in order to keep everything from happening at once. But that is exactly how it is for Elohim -- He sees the "beginning from the end." (Eccl. 3:11)
Some people believe that in the future it may be possible to travel backward and forward through time. Psychics say they can see the future. Reincarnation says that souls continue through time jumping from a dead body to a newborn baby, or even to an animal. But what does the Bible say about these ideas?
The Preacher says, in Ecclesiastes 3:1, there is "a time to every season under the heaven." The psalmist says, "My times are in Thy hand." (31:15) The Torah commands, "There shall not be found among you. . .one that uses divination, an observer of clouds, or a fortune-teller. . ." (Deut. 18:10) YHWH our Elohim is a jealous Elohim (Ex. 20:5) and will not suffer the worship of His creation over Himself.
The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews said "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Once! Not hundreds of times until reaching the utmost, perfection, Nirvana. Paul said, "that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual." (i.e.: the body is born, then much later the spirit may be "born from above" [usually translated "born again.")
Let's look at a few instances in the Bible where we don't fully comprehend how time passes.
Peter said, paraphrasing Psalm 90:4, that to Elohim, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. From this, we can logically assume that, for Elohim, in the spiritual realm, time does not exist. In Hebrew thought (and remember, Peter was a Hebrew), a thousand can mean simply a very great number. For Elohim, time does not exist! Elohim inhabits eternity (Is. 57:15), not time, which is for mortals. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. To Elohim, the moment you read this is the same "time" as the moment He created the world. And as the same moment the earth will come to an end!
Death is always spoken of in Christian teaching as either sleep until the day of judgment or of the soul immediately passing to heaven or hell. I submit that upon death, a person's next conscious moment is in eternity with Elohim, at the "time" of the judgement -- in the spiritual realm where time does not exist. Elohim is a spirit and, after death, man is a spirit knowing the same sense of time that Elohim knows. . .that is, all time and no time at the same time, but man cannot see time as Elohim sees it, seeing "the beginning from the end." If the soul does sleep, the length of the sleep is an instant between time and eternity, just as when we sleep, eight hours may not seem to have passed at all. It is from this position in eternity that Yeshua will re-enter time with these departed spirits when He returns to the earth for his millennial reign, at the end of which, each person's eternal reward or final punishment will be meted out.
"In the beginning. . ." When was the beginning? Before time began? Just as a tree falling in the woods without anyone hearing it can be said not to make any noise, can there be a precise instant of time beginning without a way to measure time??? Well, that's where man's mathematical calculations come in. Astronomers determine the speed at which galaxies are moving away from a certain point in the universe, the rate at which those galaxies may be slowing down as they get farther from that point, the rate at which stars and planets have cooled after the initial "big bang," etc., and set the age of the universe at approximately sixteen billion years. BUT if Elohim is great enough to create billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, each with uncountable atoms of matter which keep precisely regulated patterns of electrons in orbit -- why couldn't He create those galaxies at any point in space where he decided to hang them??? (For an interesting and logical explanation of how the "Big Bang" equals sixteen billion years, check THIS out.)
The preamble to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, can stand alone, separate and apart, while everything after it comes at a later date: "In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth." When Moses asked Elohim, Who should I say sent me?, Elohim said "I AM." Not, "God," or "Jehovah," or "He Who created the universe," or even "Elohim." Elohim IS. The simplicity of that statement belies its magnitude and supremacy. Everything else exists only for a little while but Elohim is forever and ever. If the world did not exist, if the universe had not been created, if time were not -- Elohim still IS. Yeshua said, "Before Abraham was, I Am." It was this and similar subtle yet profound declarations by Yeshua that caused them to denounce Him as a blasphemer. It was two thousand years from Abraham till Yeshua and has been two thousand years from Yeshua till today. And yet, if Yeshua were walking the earth today, he could make the same statement with the same authority. So how does Elohim view time?
A better translation of "in the beginning" from the Hebrew point of view would be "to begin with." The Hebrew actually says, "In beginning," not "In THE beginning." The whole point of the opening verse of Genesis is not that there was a beginning, but that ELOHIM DID IT! Rather than decide on a point in time for the beginning of creation, shouldn't we concentrate on the Creator?
The primary cause of man's inability to comprehend Elohim is man's finiteness. Man is so infinitesimal and confined that the very idea of a limitless universe forces him to develop mathematical calculations that show that time and space bend, and that if an object travels far enough through space, it will eventually return to its point of origin. Elohim does not have this limitation. Eternity and infinity are synonymous. There is simply no beginning and no end of either time or space in the spirit realm. We must speak of eternity in millions of years because we cannot imagine time passing without time passing. We must limit the size of the universe simply because our minds are limited.
Our Elohim is an omnipotent Elohim, and to foist upon Elohim the limitation of time is to place on Him a restriction limiting his omnipotence.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like Are We Alone?
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Last update 31 January 2020