Psalm 90:2,4


Sermon preached on November 4, 2001 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.


Time can sometimes be a friend to us.
One of the guys at the prison is going home on the day after Thanksgiving. He's really excited about it. He can't wait. At times like that you count the hours and the days. With each day that passes he's a day closer to his family, to freedom. He's looking forward to the passage of time.

Yet in other cases, the passage of time can be a great enemy. If someone is
drowning and has been under the water for awhile, time is of the essence. The brain starts to die if it's without oxygen for five minutes. In a situation like that time can be a great enemy.

In other cases we wish that we could undo something we have done or something that happened. If only someone could have warned us about September 11
th, how much tragedy could have been avoided. But September 11 is past and we can't do anything about it. In a certain sense we're prisoners of time. We're bound by it. We can't undo things that are done.

But one of the things that we Christians should realize is that God is not a prisoner of time. Time is never a problem for God.
The Bible teaches us that God is eternal. This means that His relationship to time is much different than ours is.



So what I want to look at this morning are a couple of verses in Psalm 90 that tells us about God's relationship to time. My purpose will be to show somewhat of how great our God is and to increase our faith in Him.

In
verse 2 we read,

"Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting
you are God."

And in verse 4 we read,

"For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night."

Now the main point of doctrine that we see from verse 2 is that

God is eternal.

The psalmist said,

"from everlasting to everlasting
you are God."

I don't fully understand God's eternity. None of us can. I can somewhat grasp the fact that He will exist forever. But my mind does not at all understand how He could have always existed. It's difficult for us to even imagine it because it's so unfamiliar to us. James Montgomery Boice writes, (Foundations of the Christian Faith, p. 102)

"God as he is in himself is unknowable. Everything that we see, smell, hear, taste or touch has origins. We can hardly think in any other category. Anything we observe must have a cause adequate to explain it."



But God is different from our experience. He is eternal. He is 'from everlasting to everlasting'.

What does it mean that God is eternal?

First of all ,it means that God had no beginning and He will have no end.

He always existed and He always will exist. Clarke says that the phrase, 'from everlasting to everlasting' is,

"the highest description of the eternity of God to which human language can reach."



He's absolutely correct. God has always existed. He had no beginning. He will have no end. He is from everlasting to everlasting. That's why in Job 36:26, Elihu says of God.

"The number of his years
is unsearchable."

God is from everlasting to everlasting.

We have another description of God's eternity in
Psalm 102:25-27. The psalmist wrote,

"In the beginning
you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end."

Many years ago some scientists used to think that the universe was eternal—that it always existed. Then earlier the last century it was discovered that the universe is expanding. It was then that they realized that the universe couldn't be eternal because one can extrapolate back. That's how they came up with the big bang theory.

The earth and the universe are changing. In a certain sense they are wearing out. They are not from everlasting to everlasting. Scientists tell us that
our sun will burn through all its nuclear fuels and in 5 billion years will become a white dwarf, a dead star. (God's Equation, by Amir D. Aczel, p. 4) (Of course that really won't happen because Jesus will come before then.) The universe will wear out and perish, but God remains the same. He does not grow old, He does not wear out, He ever remains the same. God is eternal. He has always existed. He will always exist. He is from everlasting to everlasting.

We see this concept of God's eternity in
Revelation 1:8 as well. God says,

" I am the Alpha and the Omega,
who is, and who was,
and who is to come,
the Almighty."

Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet. Omega is the last letter. He is the A to Z. (Or as we say in Canada, the A to Zed.) God is the Alpha and the Omega. One might be tempted to say that He is the beginning and the end. But I don't like that way of putting it because the idea that is conveyed is not that God will end. Rather the idea is that, (Vern Poythress, The Returning King p. 74)

"God is the Alpha Creator and the Omega Consummator. He is Lord of all—past, present and future."



Alpha and Omega have to do with God's relation to the universe. He is the Creator and the Consummator. Jesus is the One who is ever with His people, from the very beginning to the consummation of all things.

But there is much more to God's eternity than the fact that He always existed and that He will always exist. The second thing we must understand about God's eternity is that it means that, (
Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, p. 154)

God is transcendent above time.

Louis Berkhof writes, (Systematic Theology, p.60)

"We generally think of God's eternityÖ as duration infinitely prolonged both backwards and forwards. But this is only a popular and symbolic way of representing that which in reality transcends time and differs from it essentially. Eternity in the strict sense of the word is ascribed to that which transcends all temporal limitations."



Remember what Jesus said in John 8:58? He told the Jews that their father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing his day and that he saw it and rejoiced. They replied to him,

"You are not yet fifty years old,
and you have seen Abraham!"

Jesus said to them,

"I tell you the truth,
before Abraham was born,
I am! "

We must understand that

God is the great "I AM".

Jesus' existence transcends time. Jesus is the eternal "I AM." Jesus' statement is unusual but it reminds one of Exodus 3:14 where God said to Moses that he was to tell the Israelites about the One who sent him.

"I AM WHO I AM.
This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
'I AM has sent me to you." '

Leon Morris tells us that we should note well that Jesus didn't say, "I was." He writes,

"It is eternity of being and not just simply being which has lasted through several centuries that the expression indicates."



God's relationship to time is different than ours. He transcends time. Orr writes,

"Time, strictly has relation to the world of objects existing in succession. God fills time; is in every part of it; but His eternity still is not really this being in time. It is rather that to which time forms a contrast."



God is transcendent above time. God is not bound by time like we are. God is not completely enclosed 'in time' like we are. As Hermann Bavinck says, p. 156,

"Time is a measure of creaturely existence."



Now we know from Einstein that time is relative. It is not a constant. Time is related to space, gravity and matter and is affected by them. For example, an implication of Einstein's Theory of Relativity is that, (God's Equation, p. 22)

"A twin traveling on a fast spaceship was proved to age more slowly than his or her twin remaining on the ground. Moving objects change and time dilates as the speed of a body approaches that of light. Time slows down."



Indeed, scientists tells us that in a black hole, time stops. Scientists now sometimes refer to space-time rather than to time alone. The two are so interrelated that they go together. I've heard that matter, time and space must all occur together; that if there was no matter, their would be no time.

Now what does all this mean? Well, it shows that before God created the universe, time did not exist. Time relates to creation, to the physical universe. God created time when He created the universe.

We must understand is that God is not bound by time. He transcends it. Louis
Berkhof writes, (Systematic Theology p. 60)

"Our existence is marked off by days and weeks and months and years; not so the existence of God. Our life is divided into a past, present and future, but there is no such division in the life of God. He is the eternal 'I am.' His eternity may be defined as that perfection of God whereby He is elevated above all temporal limits and all succession of moments, and possesses the whole of His existence in one indivisible present."



Hermann Bavinck writes, (The Doctrine of God, p. 157)

"In and by itself, moreover, time is not able to exist or to endure: it is a continuous becoming, and must needs rest in an immutable essence. It is God, who, by virtue of his everlasting power, bears the time, both in its entirety and in its separate moments. In every second the pulsation of his eternity is felt. God stands in definite relation to time; with his eternity he fills time; also for him time is objective; by virtue of his eternal consciousness he knows time in its entirety and in the succession of all its moments. The fact that time is objective for him does not make him temporal, however. He never becomes subject to time, measure, number: he remains eternal, and inhabits eternity. But he uses time as a means for the manifestation of his eternal thoughts and excellencies; he makes time subservient to eternity, and thereby proves himself to be the 'King of the ages,' 1 Tim. 1:17."



I hope I haven't lost any of you. But this is getting a little complicated. Let me try to illustrate it another way.

I want you to picture God filling the whole front of this church- from one side to the other. Just pretend for a moment that He's that big- that God is there. Now I want you to picture a time-line that stretches from the creation to the consummation of all things. That time-line is represented by the width of the pulpit. Creation is here and the consummation is there.



Now the point I want to make is that God is so much bigger than that time-line. He is not bound by it. He is outside it (in a certain sense). He created it. He can go to any point in that time line and see everything there. Actually , He doesn't have to go to any point in the time line, it's all present to Him. Nothing is future to Him. Nothing is past. Next year is not future to God. Ten years from now is not future with God. One thousand years from now is not future with God. Yesterday is not past with God.

Let me illustrate again.
Grudem writes,

"Although the analogy is not perfect, we might think of the moment we finish reading a long novel. Before putting it back on the shelf we might flip quickly through the pages once more, calling to mind the many events that had occurred in the novel. For a brief moment, things that transpired over a long period of time all seem to be 'present' to our minds. Perhaps this is faintly analogous to God's experience of seeing all history as equally present in his consciousness."



That God's relationship to time is different than ours is evident from verse 4 of Psalm 90. We read,

"For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night."

We read something similar in 2 Peter 3:8.

"With the Lord
a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day."

Wayne Grudem, (Systematic Theology p. 168) defines God's eternity this way:

"God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly…”



I like Bavinck's comments on it. He writes, (p.156)

"God's eternity should rather be conceived as an eternal present, without past or future."

He is the great "I AM". God is Lord over time. He created it. He controls it. He transcends it. It does not bind Him, He binds it.

Now that's the doctrine. What does it mean for us?

First, this means that nothing in time, (and that means nothing at all) can thwart God's purposes.

Our God rules. He is the high and exalted One. He is transcendent over time. Nothing can ever take Him by surprise. It's impossible. Nothing unexpected ever happens. God never wishes that things happened another way, because they have happened exactly as He has controlled them. We see this in Isaiah 46:9f, where God said to His people.

" Remember the former things,
those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times,
what is still to come. I say:
My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.
From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land,
a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said,
that will I bring about;
what I have planned,
that will I do."

God holds time in His hands. He controls it completely.

Now this should give us Christians great confidence and hope.

How great your God is! How safe your are with Him! Remember what the apostle Paul said in Romans 8:38f,

" For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us
from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Nothing in the present or the future can separate us from God's love because God controls the present, the future, the past. He is the Lord of ages. We read about this in Revelation 15:2f,

" And I saw what
looked like a sea of glass
mixed with fire and,
standing beside the sea,
those who had been victorious
over the beast and his image
and over the number of his name.
They held harps given them by God
and sang the song of Moses the servant of God
and the song of the Lamb:
'Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the ages.
Who will not fear you,
O Lord, and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,'"

God's purposes shall stand. We have nothing to fear. Our goal ought to be to do His will and so to bring Him glory.

Secondly, God's eternity means that God will never cease to love us.

God's eternity means that God is unchangeable. Time changes us. But God never changes. One aspect of His eternalness is that He is unchangeable. I've already quoted from Psalm 102, but I'll quote it again because it shows us this so clearly. The psalmist wrote, (Psalm 102:25-27)

"In the beginning
you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end."

James Montgomery Boice writes, (Foundations of the Christian Faith, p. 105)

"The fact that God is eternal has two major consequences for us. The first is that he can be trusted to remain as he reveals himself to be. The word usually used to describe this quality is immutability, which means unchangeableness. 'Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.' "God is unchangeable in his attributes . So we need not fear, for example, that the God who once loved us in Christ will somehow change his mind and cease to love us in the future."



Calvin,

"God remains unchangeably the same. God is here contrasted with created beings, who, as all know, are subject to continual changes, so that there is nothing stable under heaven. As, in a particular manner, nothing is fuller of vicissitude than human life, that men may not judge of the nature of God by their own fluctuating condition, he is here placed in a state of settled and undisturbed tranquility. Thus the everlastingness of which Moses speaks is to be referred not only to the essence of God, but also to his providence, by which he governs the world. Although he subjects the world to many alterations, he remains unmoved; and that not only in regard to himself, but also in regard to the faithful, who find from experience, that instead of being wavering, he is stedfast in his power, truth, righteousness, and goodness, even as he has been from the beginning."



What Paul said in Philippians 1:6 is so true.

"being confident of this,
that he who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus."


Thirdly, this means that if you're not a Christian,

you need to embrace Jesus.

Those who are opposed to Jesus can never win? How can they when He transcends time?

Boice,

"The second major consequence for us of God's unchangeableness is that he is inescapable. If he were a mere human being and if we did not like either him or what he was doing, we might ignore him knowing that he might always change his mind, move away from us or die. But God does not change his mind. He does not move away. He will not die. Consequently, we cannot escape him. Even if we ignore him now, we must reckon with him in the life to come. If we reject him now, we must eventually face the One we have rejected and experience his eternal rejection of us."



Embrace Jesus now. It's your only hope.