Eternal God ~ 20150920 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
09/20 Eternal God; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20150920_eternal-god.mp3
as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
And yet to times in hope, my verse shall stand
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
-Shakespeare, Sonnet 60
Time marches steadily forward. Time devours. We are creatures at the mercy of the ravages of time. Our lives are temporary. Fleeting. Momentary. Finite. We can think back in history to a time before we existed, before we were born. We had a starting point. And we will just as certainly have an ending point. We will pass away. We will return to dust. And given enough time, we will most likely be forgotten. We seek for permanence, something that will endure, a name that will last, something that will be established. But even the things we seek to leave behind soon fade away.
God is not like us. God is not subject to our limitations. God is infinite. He is not subject to the things we are subject to. God is not subject to the effects of time. God is without beginning and without end. He Is. He is eternal.
Prayer: The Infinite and the Finite (Valley of Vision)
Thou great I Am,
Fill my mind with elevation and grandeur at the thought of a Being
with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,
A mighty God, who, amidst the lapse of worlds, and the revolutions of empires, feels no variableness, but is glorious in immortality.
May I rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives; that, while all creatures are broken reeds, empty cisterns, fading flowers, withering grass, he is the Rock of Ages, the Fountain of living waters.
Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ.
Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity for usefulness;
Give me a holy avarice to redeem the time, to awake at every call to charity and piety, so that I may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the gospel, show neighbourly love to all.
Let me live a life of self-distrust, dependence on thyself, mortification, crucifixion, prayer.
In Genesis 21, after the birth of Isaac, after Hagar and Ishmael were sent away, after he settled a dispute over rights to a well of water, we are told:
YHWH El Owlam; The LORD the Everlasting God. He is perpetual. Think back before the first event you can conceive of; God was there. Think forward into the future as far as your mind can imagine; God is there. Extend a timeline infinitely in both directions and God encompasses it all. But a timeline does not extend infinitely. Time is not infinite. Time and matter and motion were brought into existence by God. Before time existed, God is.
At the end of Moses' life, as he blesses Israel, he says:
There is none like God, the eternal God is your dwelling place, the everlasting God is your support.
Moses' prayer is recorded in Psalm 90.
Life is short. Life is fleeting. It is here and then it is gone. Days fly away. The number of our years is limited. We are dust. In contrast to man, God is timeless. God is a safe harbor across all generations. God is God from everlasting to everlasting. All the way back before the birth of the mountains, before God formed land, before he spoke the globe into existence, from everlasting, you are God. And on beyond the distant future, you are God. From eternity past to eternity future, you are.
Eternity and Time
God is not limited by time, by dates, by sequences of events. For us it is often challenging to fit the necessary events into the allotted time. Time quickly slips away. We run out of time. Some things get done, and others have to wait. But from our experience we learn that time is relative. If there is something on the calendar that we are looking forward to, eagerly anticipating, it seems that time slows to a painful crawl. The anticipated event may never come. God is not constrained by the clock or the calendar. He never runs out of time. He never has things he wishes he could do that he simply doesn't have time to get done. His perception of time is different than ours. Verse 4 says:
God's perception of a thousand years is compared to our perception of yesterday, of a short period of time, of a dream, of grass that lasts a day. What seems to us an unimaginably long period of time, to the eternal God is like a few hours in the night.
Peter encourages believers in the face of scoffers who mock the promise of the soon coming of our Lord:
He takes the truth of Psalm 90, that a thousand years is as yesterday, and mirrors it with the parallel truth that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years; where we feel limited in what can be accomplished in 24 hours, to God it is as if he had a thousand years.
God is able to operate within time, but he is not constrained by time. He is not limited by time in the ways that we are limited by time. He existed before time, he created time, and he encompasses time.
Isaiah 9:6 calls Jesus Mighty God and Everlasting Father, or Father of Eternity. We will come back to this later.
Isaiah 40 calls God everlasting.
Elohim Owlam YHWH. YHWH is eternal. He does not get fatigued by doing work in time, he brought the earth out of nothing, but he doesn't have to gasp to catch his breath.
Isaiah 57 calls God the one who inhabits eternity.
Where God dwells is outside of time. He inhabits eternity. He is holy, set apart, totally other than us. He dwells in eternity, but he also enters time and dwells with those who humbly turn to him.
In Daniel 4, after the pride of king Nebuchadnezzar is humbled, he praises God.
The God of Daniel, the Most High God, higher than any of the gods of the Babylonians, is a God who lives forever. He has eternal life in himself. His rule is an everlasting rule, and his kingdom endures throughout time.
Jeremiah calls YHWH the true God, the living God, the everlasting King.
For his dominion, his rule, his kingship to be everlasting, he must be an eternal being.
In the New Testament letter of Jude, he says in his closing doxology:
If God is to have glory, majesty, dominion and authority eternally, he must exist eternally. Jude defines this with the three categories of eternity past, 'before all time'; the present 'now'; and eternity future, 'forever'.
Timothy in his opening doxology calls God the King of the ages or the King of eternity.
He calls God immortal, not subject to death or decay, and he attributes honor and glory to him eternally. In his closing doxology in chapter 6 he says
He attributes to him immortality and eternal rule.
In Romans 1:23, the immortality of God is contrasted with mortal man and animals, who are subject to death and decay.
In Romans 16:26, Paul refers to God as 'the eternal God'.
Revelation 4 describes the worship around the throne of God.
God is described as the one who was and is and is to come, the one who lives forever and ever. Past, present and future, the eternally living one.
Jesus the Eternal Word
John begins his gospel by describing Jesus as the eternally existent Word.
Jesus eternally existed with his Father from before the beginning. John begins his first letter, 1 John, this way:
He describes Jesus, whom the apostles heard and saw and touched as “that which was from the beginning”; he eternally existed. The life was made manifest, his eternal life who existed eternally with the Father. He was revealed to them in time. He says in chapter 5:
Jesus, the Son of God, who is the true God and eternal life, came to give us understanding. Jesus who is eternal life came so that we may know him. Jesus said in John 17:
Jesus innately possesses eternal life with his Father. Jesus offers eternal life to all who believe in him as a gift. This does not mean that we can become eternal beings; it would be impossible for us who had a beginning to become without beginning. We are invited to participate in God's eternal life by knowing him, by entering into relationship with him, by enjoying him forever.
Psalm 106 points us to this aspect of eternal joy. Psalm 106:48 praises the blessedness of the eternal God.
God not only exists from eternity past to eternity future, but he is blessed or happy from everlasting to everlasting. He is delighted to be who he is.
If we look back to Psalm 90, where we started, we see this aspect of joy. Psalm 90 begins with a recognition of the eternal nature of God. He is our dwelling place throughout generations and he is God from eternity past to eternity future. Psalm 90 ends with a prayer. The prayer of Psalm 90 is that the Lord bring satisfaction and the joy of his presence to our days. That he would exchange the days and years of evil and affliction with days of gladness in God. That he would establish and make permanent and lasting the work or our hands.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org