How do we ask questions about eternity? We looked at eternity and infinity in the first part of our series and saw that it has no boundaries, no limitations. Time and space are not part of eternity and infinity. So, how do we form good questions about eternity and infinity?

We’ve all heard the phrase “eternity past,” but how can eternity have a past if it has no boundaries? Can we talk about eternity as past or future? Is it better to describe eternity as “always present” as in now? But how do we understand eternity as now when now doesn’t remain now because now becomes past as soon as we think of now?

That’s just one of the challenges we “time-and-space-bound” beings have in trying to understand something like eternity. We can try to define the words best as we can, but is that good enough? How can finite beings understand an infinite being who is not encumbered by boundaries/limitations of time and space?

I don’t think we have any chance of understanding eternity “unless” an eternal being reveals what eternity is like.

Before Time

Here’s another question. What happened “before” time began? If eternity is not bound by time or space, how could there be a “before”?

Good question!

Keeping in mind that only an eternal being could answer questions about eternity, let’s see what we learn from the Eternal God. There are several places in the Bible where God shares clues with us about what He was doing in eternity. Two phrases we can look at are: “before time began” and “before the foundation of the world.” As we look at these, remember that the Eternal God reveals eternal things in ways that finite beings could understand.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” 2 Timothy 1:8-9

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.” Titus 1:1-3

“… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:18-21

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Ephesians 1:3-4

Here’s what God revealed to us about what He did before time began, before the foundation of the world –

  • God the Father loved God the Son and the Son loved the Father
  • God chose us in Christ
  • God saved us and called us with a holy calling according to His own purpose and grace toward us in Christ
  • God foreordained Christ’s death and resurrection
  • God promised eternal life to us

Wow! All of that happened in eternity “before time began,” “before the foundation of the world.”

I don’t want us to miss this point because it is central, foundational, to everything that happened ‘after’ time began, ‘after’ the foundation of the world.

** God determined in unlimited, unbounded eternity that Jesus Christ would die on the Cross, be buried, and rise from the dead. **

Please read that again –

** God determined in unlimited, unbounded eternity that Jesus Christ would die on the Cross, be buried, and rise from the dead. **

I’m not saying that God determined in unlimited, unbounded eternity that He would start things up, see what happened and respond to problems as they arose.

I’m not saying that God the Father determined in unlimited, unbounded eternity that He would ask His Son to be on standby to help out if things went bad in the new ‘time and space experiment’ He had planned.

I’m not saying that God decided to give time and space a whirl and would pull the plug if anything wasn’t to His liking.

What I am saying is that God determined in unlimited, unbounded eternity that Jesus Christ would die on the Cross, be buried, and rise from the dead. Period.

Think about that for a moment.

Before time began, before the foundation of the world, God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – determined together to create time and space, knowing exactly what would happen in time and space. God determined that the Father would send the Son to die on a Roman cross and rise from the dead, and that the Son would send the Holy Spirit to followers of the Son to guide them through time and space and into eternity for the glory of God.

Before time began, God ‘chose us’ in Christ. God decided in eternity, before the ‘beginning’ we understand as the start of time and space, to express His purpose and grace toward us in Christ. God promised eternal life to us ‘before time began’!

The offer of ‘eternal life’ was not an afterthought for God. It wasn’t something God came up with at the last second in the Garden of Eden when the slimy serpent got to Adam and Eve behind God’s back and tricked them into disobeying God. No, indeed! God walked through the Garden toward the serpent and the first man and woman knowing what they had done and what He would do. How did He know? It was part of God’s epic plan determined in eternity, “before time began.”

What God Knew and When He Knew It

I. God knew “before time began” that sinners would need a Savior.

God knew “from before the foundation of the world” that Jesus Christ would be that Savior.

God knew “before time began” that His Son would die on a Roman cross, be buried in a borrowed tomb, rise from the dead, and ascend to the right hand of the Father in the “heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”

God knew all of that before He ever created time and space.

II. God knew the end from the beginning and before. 

God knew ‘everything’ before time began, before He created the universe. Everything!

Does that mean God knew Adam and Eve would disobey Him in the Garden of Eden?

Yes.

Does that mean God knew Adam and Eve’s disobedience would cause the sin nature that would distance humans from their Creator?

Yes.

Does that mean God knew the human sin nature would be passed along to all generations?

Yes.

Does that mean God knew the sin nature in every person born would lead to great evil and wickedness around the world?

Yes.

Does that mean God knew He would send His Son to be born of a virgin and die for the sins of sinful people?

Yes.

The answer to all of these questions and other questions we can ask about what God knew is YES. God knew everything “before time began.”

III. Then why didn’t God do something else?

Excellent question!

It would seem that an All-Powerful, All-Knowing God would have a choice about what He was going to do. He’s God!

God could have chosen to do something else. He was under no compulsion to create time and space. If God didn’t want to create time and space, He didn’t have to do it. If God wanted things to turn out differently than they did, He could have made things turn out differently than they did.

So, where do we go with that? If God knew what would happen before it happened and could have done something else, why didn’t He do something else? If He wanted to create  time and space with a perfect universe and earth and living beings who would always be perfect and never disobey Him, why didn’t God do that?

I think the answer is obvious, but we may not want to hear it.

Next Time

We will look at why God chose to create the kind of world we see in the Bible and in our world today as we continue looking at The Great Reveal.

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

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