Saturday, February 23, 2008

Is God Above Time?

Perhaps I am the only one who has noticed this, but have you ever seen someone who claims that God has created everything, and so believes that God is above things like time itself? I have a difficult time getting my mind around this concept, and because this belief creates some strange anomalies, I thought I would bring it up on the Blog for discussion. First, I think this is an important topic, because it reveals more about Who our Creator is, and not to pick on anyone who has this understanding of God. The more we grow in our knowledge of Who God is, the better it is for us.


 

Genesis 1:1 is the starting point for this discussion: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. While this means that God created everything in the universe, and the three heavens (see my previous blog posting on this, the 3 Heavens means the sky and every visible thing above it in our galaxy; the unseen world around us which is the domain of angels and demons; and the traditional heaven, home of God and angels). So while Genesis 1:1 speaks of God creating all material things in our universe and on earth, it does not specifically speak of God creating time.


 

But just because there is no explicit mention that God is over/above time, does this mean that God is within the same time stream as we are? There are several interesting verses on this: first, God is called the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End (Rev. 1:8, 22:13; Isa. 41:4, 44:6, 48:12). God is also described as "immortal" and the "King of Ages" (1 Timothy 1:17). But what does it mean to describe God as the Beginning and the End, immortal, and the King of Ages? Does this mean that God is outside of time?


 

Why I ask this is that I have seen other people (and even myself) use prayer that relies on God being above time. As an example, do you think we should pray for the salvation of someone who has already died? Asking that God send an evangelist to someone on their deathbed, when perhaps they died last year? Or worse yet, perhaps someone has prayed that Adolf Hitler would have had an evangelist witness to him on his deathbed? Do these sorts of prayers, praying for God to change something that has taken place in the past, make any sense? Somehow, I think by making prayers like this we are diving into the realm of the Science Fiction hit 'Terminator' show and movies, rather than having a clear understanding of God's nature.


 

Perhaps prayers like this make sense if God is above time. But if time is merely a measurement of the beginning going towards the end, time being just the line from the first day of Creation (Genesis 1:1) to the final Judgment Day, then it is not insulting for us to say that God as in the same moment as we are. Time would then be merely a description of where we are on God's timeline for His Creation. Now, let me bring up a few verses that touch on this subject - We see in Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus is described as the "exact representation" of God the Father. And when Jesus was on earth, He moved through time growing up from a baby and growing older. Jesus didn't just 'pop' onto earth as a 30 year old man, as perhaps someone who was above time may have done. And of course, in Genesis Chapter 1 we see God creating the universe and everything in it over the course of one week's time, and not at just one moment. And one final thought, we see in 2 Peter 3:8 that for the Lord "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day". And so, once again God is described as being within some sort of time cycle, with the Lord having days and years, just as mankind does, with His perspective being what is different.


 

I apologize if this topic is too philosophical for anyone out there reading this. But I think it is an admirable goal to grow in our knowledge of Who God is, and so I ask these questions in hopes that we learn more about God through the study of these verses. For me, I find comfort in thinking of God as being in this same moment as I am, and seeing the same tragic things and the same victories as I do. It makes God a little too weird for me to think of Him as being outside of time, although if someone can give me a good reason to think so, I trust I can change my opinion on this. I hope you will let me know what you think about this. Thanks.

8 comments:

Bryan & Meggan said...

Here is a recent similar discussion.

http://jmoorhead.blogspot.com/2008/02/praying-for-past-in-future.html

bry

Anonymous said...

What is time? Life is measured as you say from the beginning to the end. Creation to an eternal end.What went on before the clock started at creation? I have struggled with questions of this nature in my work. I could measure the relaxation (decay) in a streached plastic band in order to predict its future life. But going backward to find when it first started to decay was always elusive.Mathematically it was posible, but you always run into that infinitively small quantity that can never actually reach zero...

Where am I going with this?

We know that god is omnicient, knowing all things being in all places and having been from there from alpha to omega ie: from infinity before to infinity beyond. I like the explaination that Bryan referred to.

God is just to large for us to grasp and put into a box that we can grasp like time.

Someday we can ask him for a better explaination face to face...

dad

tom wolff said...

Thanks Dad and Bryan for your comments. Dad, I didn't realize your work had time as an important component like that. Yes, I can't wait for the time :o) when we can have all of our questions answered.

And Bryan, where did you find Jmoorehead's blog? He's from an entirely different part of the US, and so it is cool that different people all over the US look at the nature of God like we are doing.

Edward Oleander said...

IMHO, if God exists in anything like Biblical form, he must be above Time.

In the world of Physics, time is assigned the same importance as any of the other 10 known and theorized dimensions within our universe. Time dilation is a measured fact (the age of returning astronauts is tiny fragments of a second off from their counterparts on Earth), which pretty means it is not just a man-made convenience to measure the lineal existence continuity of visible matter. We see the effects of this dimension in the decay rates of the elements. That is really one of the most fundamental driving forces in our universe.

What Biblical evidence is seen? Your choice of the verse stating that to God 1000 years is a day and vice versa actually indicates the direct opposite of what you claimed. To me, this says that all Time is the same for God. If a day can be as a 1000 years, and a 1000 years can be as a day AT THE SAME TIME, then obviously God must not experience Time as the linear flow we perceive.

Then there's prophecy. There are only two ways prophecy can exist. Either God controls the smallest workings of every atom in all the universes all the time, or he can peek ahead to find out what you're eating for breakfast tomorrow. The first case totally destroys the concept of Free Will, so I submit that for God to know any or all of the future, he must be able to skip at least his vision into any point along the time continuum.

Therefore, prophecy plus Free will equals a God outside of Time. Now, I have had at least a couple people over the years tell me that Gods "turns off" his ability to see the future so that he can be just as surprised by your breakfast choice tomorrow as you will be, but since every event that happens, large or small, is the culmination of myriad events before it, God must have total knowledge of the future to properly understand when each event will take place, especially those that are based on, and thus consequent to, Free Will choices .

It is, like you said, a difficult concept to get your head around. I see it like Time being the rat maze, us being the rats, and (here come the heretical part!) and God being the lab technician dispassionate;y feeding some us cyclomates, spraying others with DDT, all while shouting at others to measure the effects of sleep deprivation. Anyway, it's the cage part that makes the analogy, the rest is just there 'cuz I've been awake all night despite a double dose of sleepy drugs...
~Ed~
ps: I like john's breakfast idea... I'm pretty open...

Jay PerryCook said...

God is all powerful
Nothing can control God
God has created all
All are touched by God
God affects the intelligent and the unintelligent
God is unknowable
We are all at the mercy of God

God knows love

Time is all powerful
Nothing can control time
Time has created all
All are touched by time
Time affects the intelligent and the unintelligent
Time is unknowable
We are all at the mercy of time

Time does not know love

Doesn’t God seem like a personification of time? The human race has personified the mysteries of time into a lovable notion of the supernatural called God. This notion seems a release for human’s nature to be spiritual and relentlessly inquisitive about how we got here and where we’re going. It seems that God exists in the minds of those who want to share love with our creator. For the others? They shall test themselves to find contentment in the love for only and all that time has given them and be spiritual with those, face to face.

tom wolff said...

Thanks JayPerryCook for visiting, and for your comments.

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