A Scriptural & Scientific Study on Time, & its Mysteries. “Lord, make me to know my end, and the measure of my days…”(A) “…teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”(B) When we ponder the nature of time, indeed as we observe all of the nature of reality, we are overwhelmed & amazed at Creation. Studying time is both awesome & humbling! When science looks at large things with Einstein’s formulas on relativity and then examines the small things with quantum mechanics, the “facts” about time are contradictory. We may have a “devil of a time” figuring out what is real about time. In fact, many scientists currently hold to the idea that time does not exist, it is but an illusion. We find the Word of God caters to our intuitive 3-fold concept of time: past, present & future…”Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”(C) But verses like this, also strongly suggest (or some may say prove) that the Creator of the Universe, who created time, exists in no when, a timeless eternity. “For thus says the High & Lofty One [God], who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy…”(D) “Before…You had formed the earth & the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”(E) So God, at times called “the Ancient of Days”, is not getting older!
THE ISSUES OF TIME. The current mainstream scientific explanation of time (based on Einstein’s relativity formulas) hold the concept that the past, present & future coexist in reality (F) & therefore there is no such thing as free will. (While predestination theologians may be glad to get support, I see the Word of God giving us free will, and common sense teaching us that we do have choices, that the future is not written in stone & predetermined.) So the time is ripe to question & ponder time…I’ll take my time with this study, and write it in more than one post (segment), and we will all have a good time discovering what we can learn! After all, God’s people are to study to show ourselves approved!(G) For instance, what is the proper way to calculate the times of feasts (literally called “appointed times”-“moed” in the Hebrew)?? How are various terms in prophecy such as “this generation” to be interpreted?? Can time machines be built?? And if so, can they go both forward & backward in time?? After the masonic prophet H.G. Wells in 1895 wrote The Time Machine people have been fascinated about the concept of time travel. What should we believe about time travel claims?? What does the Word of God teach about time that helps us understand science & vice-versa?? Bible scholars use scripture & science to debate if time is static or dynamic, & whether God is in time or outside of it. (On this last issue, I say why not both? He is outside of it, but can step into time as He wills.)
DEFINING TIME (el tiempo (Spanish), temps (French) & tempus (Latin). In biblical Hebrew, at least 6 words can translate into our word “time”, and in biblical Greek at least 3, and all have different meanings, for instance, the Hebrew word “et” means a “specific time”, a non-reoccurring event. Chronos in Greek also means a “precise time”. Time is actually several related things at once, but each of these 3 things are also significant by itself: time is a Measure between events, it is a Medium (dimension) of existence, and it functions as a Method of organization.
OUR INTUITIVE VIEWS. We are all in the middle of a 4-D space time reality, where time happens in one direction. We all possess some memories of the past, as well as being able to see records and evidence of the past. (It is possible that the earth was created looking old…so “evidence” may not be precisely what we think it is.) And then to some degree, we are aware of our present. (Some scientifically say, if no one were here to be aware of the present, then it would not exist. hmmm.) The future is expected, predicted, conjectured about, or perhaps remains a complete mystery to us. (Is there one future, or many possible futures? There are perhaps 6 different models of how the future branches into possibilities or doesn’t deviate.) Quite baffling the more one thinks about it…In some Scriptures it is very clear God does not change his mind(H), and in others He does change His mind (I). Such things are not mutually exclusive, for an observer’s pt. of view can change one’s perspective. A father may think to himself as he drives a car on a trip, if my daughter asks to go to the bathroom, then I will stop. When she asks, he therefore stops at a station. From his view, he did not change his will. From the child’s view, she changed him from driving to stopping. I am not saying that is the explanation for the difference between the verses given in G & H, but merely saying that type of explanation could resolve these kind of problems.
KNOWING THE PRESENT & FUTURE. Science teaches that if one had a comprehensive knowledge of the present, one could recreate what the near past looked like, and with that go back and recreate another near past. Obviously, God’s omniscience would allow Him to figure out both backwards and forwards from the present, what did and what will happen. Two related & interesting verses are ISA 46:9-10: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done [prophecy], saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure…” Yahshua did something similar, for instance, he told Peter that Peter would deny him 3 times before the cock crowed. Yet, the Bible accords Peter’s denial to be an act of free choice. And this perplexes some deep thinkers. If Peter most certainly was going to follow the “script”, did he have free will? There are verses that declare that Yahshua was chosen to be the Messiah BEFORE the creation of the world.(J) Indeed, Yahshua said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”(K)
USING TIME. “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years…”(L) So the sun, moon and stars provide us with references, reoccurring events, that allow us to create units to measure the “passage” of time. We know that ancient Sumer was doing this 5,000 yrs. ago by having yearly calendars broken up into 30 day months, and days with 12 hours (their hours equaled 2 of ours). 4235 B.C. is the earliest known recorded year in man’s written history. The ancient day for the Hebrews was as the Genesis account: i.e. the evening (an entire night) & the morning (following daylight) made up a day. In contrast to this, in modern times, we split the night into two calendar days. While we don’t see hours mentioned until the time of Daniel in Babylon(M) around 600 B.C., we do read of the sun dial of Ahaz in 713 B.C. (N), which shows us that hours were being reckoned at least by 713 B.C. in Israel. The Hebrews in David’s time were dividing the night up into 3 watches.(O) When the Romans ruled the Holy Land, they introduced a 4-watch division of the night…so in Christ’s time we see in the Gospel records use a 4-watch division of the night.(P) The Hebrews originally used a lunar calendar, and their flexible method of calculating Feast days differed from our fixed solar calendar. A “long” New Year’s Day of 48 hours was celebrated prior to Christ. This means that there were differences between the ancient ways of calculating the biblical Feast times and the common method done today. It was likely there were two different Passovers celebrated in Christ’s time-an official date, and the more accurate religious one, thereby complicating but solving the contradictions as to when Christ was crucified. For thousands of years, the year was calculated from the beginning year of the current king’s reign. Japan still does this.
FINAL COMMENTS. This has been an introduction to the topic of TIME. As time permits, I hope to continue helping us understand the nature of time better. Physics has competing views on the future–and theologians debate the nature of time. So opening up some of these issues about time, is like opening a Pandora’s box of trouble…but I will press ahead. HAVE A BLESSED DAY!
(A) PS 39:4 (B) PS 90:12 (C) HEB 13:8 (D) ISA 57:15 (E) PS 90:2 (F) Einstein said, “The distinction between past, present & future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” (G) 2 TIM 2:15 (H) NUM 23:19, 1 SAM 15:29 (I) EX 32:12, 14, JER 18:7-10, cf. JOEL 2:14 & JONAH 4:2 (J) EPH 1:4, 1 PTR 1:20 (K) JN 8:58 (L) GEN 1:14 (M) DAN 4:33, 5:5 (N) 2 KGS 20:9, ISA 38:8) (O) mentioned at PS 90:4, 119:148, JER 51:12, HAB 2:1 (P) examples are MT 14:25 & MK 6:48