Perhaps there are theologians out there who have fully comprehended the relationship between time and eternity and can package it all into a neat sermon. For me, however, my today is in the context of yesterday, tomorrow and the next day (God willing!). Even writing this article has put my mind in a spin as I try to think through the concept of eternity.
Isaiah speaks of ‘the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy’ (Isaiah 57:15). It seems that the Lord is outside of time – and yet Jesus stepped into time. The Lord ordained days and seasons before man’s fall, making us ‘creatures of time’. The Lord Jesus willingly became subject to the clock; He repeatedly said, ‘My hour has not yet come’ (John 2:4; 8:20) until the Gospel writers record the moment when ‘His hour had come’ (John 12:23; 13:1;17:1).
He is the ‘Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8), and yet we know that He was revealed to mankind around AD 30-33. The effects of His entrance into humanity are eternal: His coming fulfilled the promises contained in earlier sacrifices and looked ahead to provide salvation for people in the 21st century.
While it is a subject beyond comprehension it is nevertheless one for adoration. The knowledge that the Lord is the great ‘I am’ rather than the great ‘I was’ gives me confidence as I read His word and pray – He is speaking into my situation today. The small word ‘is’, in such verses as ‘The Lord is my helper’ (Hebrews 13:6) and ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1), makes me realise that, today, I can claim the same promises that were given to the psalmists. ‘The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27).
As He walked once to Emmaus, with them to abide,
So through all life’s way He walketh ever near our side;
Soon again we shall behold Him—hasten, Lord, the day—
But ’twill still be this same Jesus as He went away.
Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same,
All may change, but Jesus never—glory to His name!
(Albert B Simpson)