Sometimes I muse about what it would be like if we were no longer subject to time as we are now. Scripture says: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). This gives us a glimpse into how differently God views time than we do.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary states the following concerning this verse: ““God counts time differently than does man. . . . People see time against time; but God sees time against eternity. In fact, time only seems long because of man’s finite perspective.”
Human perception is finite. It is flawed. God designed our physical existence to be short, with the intent that we would take notice of that very fact and use it judiciously:
“The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. . . . So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10,12).
Though our physical existence is finite, God does grant us a perception of the concept of eternity. Here we are trapped, limited by time, but through the human spirit that He put within us (Job 32:8), God has revealed to us this notion of eternity: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
As technology has advanced, man has been able to look further and further into space. When we see galaxies far away, we are looking into the past. It is a recorder. Each time man builds a telescope he looks further and further into the past and time becomes longer. Right now, man can see approximately 15 billion years out. That means it took 15 billion years for light from that galaxy to reach earth. The galaxies that we see right now may no longer exist because a lot happens in 15 billion years.
No matter the age of the universe, those 15 billion years and beyond do not represent eternity. God tells us in Revelation 21 that this physical universe will pass away. All that ‘space’ as we look at it from earth will no longer exist.
Still we, in our natural, physical state, live life tactically. Tactic means now, what you need to do right now to live. In a battlefield it’s what you’re doing right now in the battle. Strategically is in the future. The thing about it is yesterday is behind. We can’t do anything about it. We can’t go back and relive it. There can be some planning for the future, but we know the result of that planning is still out of our control. It’s still based on what we do now in order to reach that point in the future.
This is why Christ says what He does in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
The only control we have in our lives is right now, at this instant. As we live our lives, we live them moment to moment. God put us in that reality. We are linear in the sense of that what is happening right now is happening.
All humanity struggles desperately to control their lives, steering themselves in the way they desire their lives to be. Trying to exercise this control is why mankind fights against God and anything He requires of them. Instead of seeking God’s understanding, man turns to science in an attempt to improve creation, and metaphysics to seek answers and definitions to its own questions regarding life.
Thus, man is blinded from the truth and cannot glimpse any of the unlimited abilities of the God that created them. Even in the Church, we live our limited lives, with limited experiences, in limited time and attempt to make God’s unlimited view fit within our own limited views.
Time limits us to now. It is why what we do now as we move through time is important. Our creation includes the universe, matter and all the other constants like light, magnetism, gravity, and time. Time is a physical thing. It has been proven scientifically. But God is not physical, He is spiritual. His very existence is apart from His creation. God lives outside the time in which we live.
With our limited minds, concepts like this are almost impossible to grasp. However, God grasps them all: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways’, says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’ ” (Isaiah 55:8).
The entire book of Job reveals the struggle man has concerning his place in the world and understanding God as He really is. It’s not until God shatters Job’s limited thinking that Job even begins to understand:
“Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’ ” (Job 42:1-6).
What we all must realize, so we can live properly in the ‘now’, is that God lives outside of time, and He has everything under control. That includes our spiritual lives. God has it covered other than ‘now’, where we have choices. Living ‘in the now’ helps us see that we need the eternal God‘s support through ‘now’, while it is today, and that He will take care of the future.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
As God works out His plan, He does not view it linearly in time; He does it as a composite of the whole of His purpose. We have many examples of God working with people in their “now”. From Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, the disciples, you and me and everyone in-between, He works with the one goal of moving His family out of this limited environment into His unlimited environment with Him.
His works are for His Church now, at this moment. And His works are also for the entire world: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3).
The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon states that the Greek translated “desire” is really its secondary meaning. Its primary meaning is to will, to intend, to resolve and to purpose. The salvation of all mankind is not merely a hope or a desire of God. It’s His eternal will, His eternal intent, His eternal resolve and it’s His eternal purpose. Even the word ‘eternal’ gives us an idea of time. God is bigger than the word.
Now considering this, the writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to think about ‘now’ in several places.
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, (now) if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness,” (Hebrews 3:7). That means we hear, we listen, and we do.
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today”, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Today, now.
“While it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:15). Today, now.
“Since therefore it remains that some must enter [My rest], and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again, He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today (now), if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ ” (Hebrews 4:6-7).
Let’s make sure the cares of the world do not cause us to stop living in the here and now. Let’s not begin to question, “What if this, what if that.” Let’s focus on becoming who we have been called to become now.