Every one of us is on an epic journey through time, space and eternity. I call it the Great Reveal. Why?

Let’s begin at the beginning .. well .. before the beginning.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:1-2

Working Backward

The psalmist (believed to be Moses) worked backward in time and space to eternity.

Time – Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Space – Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world.

Eternity – Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Working Forward

Reversing the order of this verse shows us the process of the Great Reveal.

Eternity – Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Space – Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world.

Time – Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Finite and Infinite

The epic journey you and I call life began before time and space. It started with God in eternity (“everlasting to everlasting”). I think eternity is difficult for us to understand because all of our experience is with time and space. We are finite and God is infinite. How can finite beings understand the infinite God?

The word finite is an adjective that comes from the Latin finis, which means “end, boundary, limit.” A finite being is a being with an end, with a boundary, with limits.

The word infinite is an adjective that comes from the Latin infīnītus, which means “endless, boundless, without limits.” An infinite Being is a Being without an end, without a boundary, without limits.

Think about the challenge before us. We are finite beings, with limits, trying to comprehend an Infinite Being, without limits. How is that possible?

God is infinite in relation to time and space. He is not limited by time or space. He is not dependent on time or space. In fact, time and space depend on God. God is the cause of time, the cause of space. God is the necessary Being. Time and space are contingent on God’s existence and creative choice and accomplishment. So, we need to go back before time and space for help in answering the question of how a finite being can comprehend an Infinite Being.

The Eternal God

“The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27

The Hebrew words for “eternal God” are אֱלֹ֣הֵי קֶ֔דֶם (elohim qedem) – “the eternal (aforetime) God.” The word qedem also translates as “ancient, long ago, days of old, front, forward, forever, everlasting, east,” so it’s important to note the usage and context when searching for the proper translation.

God’s “arms” are described as the everlasting arms. The Hebrew word is עוֹלָם (olam), which means “forever, ancient, eternal, of old, long duration, antiquity.”

Moses wrote in Genesis that God is “the Everlasting God.”

אֵל עוֹלָם (el olam) “God forever”

The Prophet Isaiah identified God as “the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity …” (Isaiah 57:15) 

High – רוּם rum – “high, exalted”

Lofty One – נָשָׂא nasah – “to lift, carry”

inhabits – שָׁכַן shakan – “to settle down, abide, dwell”

eternity – עַד ad – “forever”

The psalmist wrote – “Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting.” (Psalm 93:2) ( עוֹלָם olam)

After King Solomon wrote his famous – “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die” – thoughts in Ecclesiastes 3, he wrote this –

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 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 3:9-11

Interesting thought that God has placed eternity in our hearts, especially after writing about those things human beings experience within the boundaries of time and space:

  • A time to be born, And a time to die
  • A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted
  • A time to kill, And a time to heal
  • A time to break down, And a time to build up 
  • A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance 
  • A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing
  • A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away
  • A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak
  • A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace

The eternal God who is not bound by time and space placed eternity in the hearts of humans who are bounded by time and space. That’s an important clue as we search for an understanding of this thing called ETERNITY.

What Is Eternity?

Human beings are “time-bound.” What I mean by that is we are limited (finite) by time. Time is our “boundary.”

When I was younger I would often say, “I can’t wait until this happens or that happens.” I was excited to get to the next big thing, but not any more. As I am starting my eighth decade of life on earth, I find myself pushing back on that “time boundary”. I can wait until this happens or that happens. I’m more patient waiting for the next big thing to happen. Time is short, shorter than I had realized, and I don’t want to rush through what’s left.

In case you wonder if I have apeirophobia (the fear of infinity, eternity), I don’t. Many people do and I understand why they would. However, the idea of living forever with God is a joyous concept to me. What I am conscious of is that my “time” of serving Him on earth in this lifetime is rapidly coming to a close. I want to accomplish as much as I can for Him while in this mortal body. I am “time-bound” in service to God on earth, in my corruptible flesh.

There is coming a time when we will no longer be bound by time or space. Our present circumstances are about to change!

One of my favorite sections of Scripture is 1 Corinthians 15 – especially this part –

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Whether you are excited about eternity or have some fear about it, the question still remains – “what is eternity?”

Think about the way you think about life and the way you express your thoughts about it. How often is your thinking “bound” by time and space? Time is a succession of events. Space is where those events take place. Both are based on “measurements.” We measure time by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millennia. We measure space by distance or volume: height, width, depth, inches, feet, yards, miles, ounces, pounds, tons, etc. Mathematics and physics play an important role in our understanding of “life.” Our finite boundaries are impacted by them.

Now think about eternity where there are no time or space limitations. Mathematics and physics play no role in eternity. The infinite knows no boundaries and is not impacted by them. To say something is ‘past’ or ‘future’ works in a finite experience, but not in an infinite experience. To say that God did something in eternity past is to misunderstand eternity. There is no past in eternity, there is no future. It just is.

We get a glimpse into God’s eternality when Moses asked Him a question –

Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’  Moreover God said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’” Exodus 3:13-14

I don’t want to jump ahead of myself, but a big part of The Great Reveal are the names God uses for Himself. In God’s first discussion with Moses, He reveals three names for Himself –

אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה – ’ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh – I AM THAT I AM (come which come) .. God repeats אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה when He tells Moses to say to the leaders of Israel – “I AM has sent me to you.”

יְהוָ֞ה – Yahweh – “The Lord”

אֱלֹהֵ֣י – ’ĕlōhê – “God” (used four times in verse 15) – “God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”

God then tells Moses – “This is My name forever” – “name” is שְּׁמִ֣י (šəmî) and “forever” is לְעֹלָ֔ם (lə‘ōlām). The word “name” transliterates as “shem” and “forever” has the idea of both antiquity (past) and futurity (future). The word lə‘ōlām can be translated as “eternity, everlasting.” The name God gave to Moses is His “eternal, forever” name.

Then God told Moses – “this is My memorial to all generations.” The word זִכְרִ֖י (ziḵrî) means “remembrance, memory, memorial.” God’s name is His “remembrance” to all “generations.” The Hebrew reads לְדֹ֥ר (ləḏōr) “from generation”  דֹּֽר׃ (dōr) “to generation.”

We’ll dig into God’s names more deeply as we continue our series, but it’s definitely something to ponder when we think about trying to grasp the concepts of finite and infinite.

How Do We Know About Eternity?

One question is how do we understand eternity, but another is how do we even know about eternity? How can finite beings who live inside the boundaries of time and space know there exists something outside of time and space that is not limited by what limits us? We can’t! Our limits keep us from knowing that something outside our limits exists – unless Someone without limits reveals it to us.

Aha! Now we’re on to something; we’re beginning to grasp the importance of the Great Reveal! Unless a Being without limits reveals eternity to us, we would not, could not know of its existence. Because we are limited within the boundaries of time and space, there is no possible way for us to know about anything outside those limits.

Let’s look at eternity from a different perspective. How does an infinite Being without boundaries view something going on inside time and space boundaries? King Solomon, in the same context of Ecclesiastes 3, give us some insight –

I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, And what is to be has already been; And God requires an account of what is past.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-15

  • That which is has already been
  • what is to be has already been
  • God requires an account of what is past

What kind of being could look at time and space in a way “that which is has already been” and “what is to be has already been?” Can a finite being look at what is and what is to be as having “already been”? Remember that a finite being is one who is limited by the boundaries of time and space. That’s not possible for them. The only type of being who looks at “what is” and “what is to be” as having already been must be an infinite Being.

Next Time

In the next part of our study we’ll see how God began His Great Reveal and where it takes us.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

GraceLife

 

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