Bread – Timeless

October 28, 2013


Readings for Monday, October 28, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Zech. 1:7-17; Rev. 1:4-20; Matt. 12:43-50; Psalms 41,44,52

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We are naturally time bound. We think in terms of the past (history), the present (now), and the future (plans). Everything we do is somehow time-related. We may not be slaves to the clock, but we watch it to make sure that we are getting things done on time and that we make our appointments and project deadlines. The clock may not tell us what to do, but it certainly orders our days and nights. We study history to understand the present, and we take both the past and the present to project into the future. We think of time as either a progression (past is prologue to present which is prologue to future) or as a cycle (the cycle of life). In other words, we think of time as linear or circular.

Even our science is time bound. It used to be that we could speed up (distance over time) to the speed of light. Now we recognize that the speed of light may be a barrier, but that things may slow down to the speed of light. In any event, however, the fact that we are even measuring speed means that we are measuring time. One cannot speak of evolution without speaking of time. One cannot speak of distance without speaking of time. One cannot speak of force without speaking of time.

It is therefore almost beyond our imagination to think of something, or someone, as timeless. But that is who God is. That is what God is.

In our reading today from Revelation, Jesus says simply “I am the Alpha and the Omega…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev. 1:8 Later, Jesus says that He is the first and the last. Rev. 1:17

Since we know that “all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3), we know that this beginning, this “first” was actually outside of the beginning of time, and yet in some sense He is the beginning of time. Our Jesus is therefore both timeless and time bound, just as we are. He is both omnipresent and directly present at the same time. He is both omniscient and yet receives His knowledge from the Father, all at the same time.

It is enough to give us a headache, but only because thinking of anything or anyone outside of time bumps into the time limits of our understanding.

For a while, I stopped saying at the end of the Lord’s Prayer “forever and ever, Amen” and substituted instead “forever, Amen” (leaving out the “and ever”). The reason I did was that I thought that “forever” was just that, and saying “and ever” was just a weakening of the “forever” part. Later I came to realize that that the “and ever” part was merely our weak way of saying “for all time and beyond time.” God’s glory and power are time bound (“forever”) and timeless (“and ever”).

Perhaps our view of this and our ability to grasp the idea that there is something beyond our grasp, that there is an aspect of God which will never be understood because He is timeless while we are time bound, is partly why my scientist friends have such a hard time with Jesus. When you assume a closed system (time bound), the possibility of there being something outside that system (something timeless) is impossible to comprehend because its mere existence causes the system to no longer be closed. When we can conceive of something timeless, then we can conceive of something outside ourselves. When we can see a beginning which is outside of beginning and an end which is outside of end, we can invite the person who occupies the beginning and the end into our lives, because at that point He is no longer a stranger.

But not only is Jesus the beginning to the beginning and the end to the end, He is present in between. He may be timeless but He is also present in time; He is present today.

In the movie “Toy Story,” we laugh at Buzz Lightyear, one or the toy characters, when he holds out his arm and says “To infinity and beyond.” Jesus holds out His hand and says something similar, “For all time and beyond, forever and ever.” But what Jesus says is no laughing matter, because He is the timeless One, born into time, died, and resurrected for us. Repent of your sins, believe in Him, grab His hand today and be with Him, the Alpha and the Omega, for all time and beyond, forever and ever. Amen.

Our reading in the Old Testament today is from Ezra. Ezra reports that Cyrus, the king of Persia, after being stirred up in his spirit by the Lord, proclaims that the Jews may return to Jerusalem with these words – “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all His people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel – He is the God who is in Jerusalem. ..” Ezra 1:2-3

Who does Cyrus think God is? First, he says that God is “the Lord.” Then he says that God is “the God in heaven.” Then he says that God is the “God of Israel.” Then and finally he says that God is “the God who is in Jerusalem.” So, does Cyrus think that God is God over all, over a people, or of a city? Is God unlimited or limited to particular people who believe in Him, whom He has claimed as His? Is God unlimited or is He limited to a particular geography or place (Jerusalem)?

What does Cyrus believe about God? We really don’t know, except that Cyrus obviously believes enough in Him to obey Him. However, Cyrus is obviously confused in his own mind about who God is and who He belongs to and where He is located.

Don’t we relate?

Aren’t we often just as confused? We say that Jesus is Lord of everything, but we leave Him behind in His jurisdiction (the church) and fail to acknowledge Him as Lord in the world. We say that Jesus may be that person’s God, but fail to recognize that He is Lord over all. We may hear Him and believe Him just enough to obey Him, but do we believe Him enough to make Him exclusive. When we say that there are many paths to heaven, aren’t we really saying that Jesus is limited in what He commands, where He is, who He is, and whose He is?

In many, many, many respects, aren’t we just as confused as Cyrus?

Luckily, our position with God, our salvation, and our blessing is not dependent upon whether we are confused or not or whether we even “get it right,” but upon the solid rock that God Himself is not confused – He knows exactly what He is doing, when He is doing it, and with whom, for whom and to whom He is doing it. He is true to His word.

It is in this knowledge that, although we may be buffeted and confused by what happens to us, by other people, and by what we believe, God is steadfast that David can say in our Psalm 31 today: “Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For You are my rock and my fortress; and for Your name’s sake you lead me and guide me…You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” Ps. 31:2b-3,5b

So, today, although we may be confused about many things, let us remember clearly and without confusion that God is not confused, He is our rock and our fortress, and He is faithful.

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© 2013 GBF

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