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The Bindings of Time

April 26, 2012

Have you ever wondered about the people living before Christ and whether God could save them? I have. The answer seems so obvious, now. It probably seems so to you, too. It’s illustrative of some big truths, though, and that’s why I’m going to delve into it.

To begin, remember that the people of the Old Testament had only the Law and the prophets while we have the entirety of the Bible. They could only see the beginning of the story while we know the whole thing. Further, we know that nobody can be made righteous by the Law. In fact Romans tells us that the Law only serves to highlight our sins–or to make us unrighteous.

Yet, we also know that at least some Old Testament people belonged to God. God called Israel His people, and a people condemned couldn’t really belong to God. A people that belong to God must be saved. In fact, that’s really what the Christian phrase, “saved”, means, belonging to God.

So how is this resolved? God instituted with the law ritual sacrifices for the Jews. These weren’t saving in and of themselves—there’s nothing about the blood of sheep or cattle that has any redeeming value whatsoever—but they serve as a symbol of what was to come. When making these sacrifices, the Jews were trusting that God would save them. Isn’t that what Christianity is—trusting in God’s redeeming work?

You see, God is not bound by time. That’s a crazy truth; think it over for a few minutes. I’m not saying that He’s everlasting, which merely implies that he lasts forever, but that He’s eternal. Time is nothing but a construct of this world, something he made to give himself glory. When speaking of God, past, present, and future have no meanings, so Christ’s death on the cross could act as payment even for the sins of those living before Him.

What does it mean to be outside of time? I couldn’t begin to tell you. We serve a God who is utterly incomprehensible to our human sensibilities, and that’s a great thing.

The fact is though, that we are not eternal beings. God designed us as temporal creatures, and we have a definite beginning and will have a definite end—even if that end itself is really nothing but a new beginning. All these things we want to do, all the purposes we desire to accomplish are utterly beyond our reach in these few years we have on Earth. We might be able to do a few of them, but we are limited to a mere 80 years to act.

Someday we will go to be with God, and I can’t begin to know how time will work in that glorious future, but I do know that it will no longer bind us in the same way it does here on Earth. We will not have a death looming in our future, making every action come at the opportunity cost of another action.

This is why we need to live with purpose. In heaven, we can sing God’s glory a thousand years in heaven and still have time to come home and write a masterpiece novel with more pages than the Bible, An American Tragedy, and War and Peace combined, but here on Earth every action counts.

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