by Lambert Dolphin
Elsewhere in what I have written concerning the created universe, I took note of the fact that time as we know it and experience it on earth is one of the created dimensions of the physical universe. (See for instance The History of Hyperspace) Describing the material realm mathematically requires at least four dimensions (length, width, height, and time), but up to 26 dimensions have been postulated to simplify atomic physics.
When God created the universe He also created an invisible, spiritual realm where the flow of time is apparently multidimensional and events move at a different rate compared to earth-time. (1) The physical realm is linked with and interacts with the spiritual realm, so events taking place in heaven "now" can influence our past, our present and our future. Events that are viewed as completed in the spiritual realm can still be working themselves out in human history.
For example, the overthrow of Satan and the "reconciling of all things to Himself" took place when Christ died on the cross 2000 years ago, but we are still waiting for the final outworkings of this finished work in our time frame:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
He has (already) delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities --all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:13-20)
God Himself stands outside His creation--that is, He is a "transcendent" Being--separate from, and independent of, either the physical or the spiritual realms of the created universe.
"For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.'" (Isaiah 57:15)
Yet God is neither detached from and uninvolved in the management of all the details of our world. God is also "immanent" and omnipresent:
"...he is not far from each one of us, for `In him we live and move and have our being'" (Acts 17:27, 28).
The fact that God is outside time is implied by the name Yahweh, derived from the Hebrew word "to be," which translates "I am who I am" or equally well "I was who I was" and "I will be who I will be." In simpler language the writer to the Hebrews says, "Jesus Christ is the yesterday, and today, and forever." A number of Bible commentators have pointed out the for God our entire past, present, and future is eternally before His eyes as "now." Faced with a sudden, impending car crash, for instance, we may have only a split second to call to God for help, but God has all eternity to consider His answer to our call for help and to respond!
From Biblical revelation we learn that God--though One--nevertheless exists eternally as three separate Persons. He is immutable and can not change, yet each of the Persons of the Godhead thinks, creates, makes decisions, and acts both in time and in eternity as well. God is involved in our world every day at all levels, and nothing escapes his notice.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)
Yet our choices and decisions do affect Him. Love between persons requires give and take, action and reaction, initiative and response. This giving of loving and response to love exists outside of our time frame between the Persons of the Godhead as well as being part of our ordinary human experience--because God has made us very much like Himself. God walks with us through life when we allow Him to do so, and as such He responds in real time to all we do and say because He is a living Person.
The Bible speaks of the Persons of the Godhead "counseling together" in eternity making decisions that affect the past present and the future. Because of these "eternal councils," believers are said to have been "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world." The creation of man, and then of woman involved all three Persons of the Trinity working together (Gen. 1, 2). Statements such as Christ having being "the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8) make sense only when we realize that all possible dimensions of time are inherent within the Person of our Creator.
The plurality of persons with the God head is also implied by the Hebrew name for God, Elohim, a plural noun (3 or more), a noun which usually takes singular verbs. Yet, it is not until the New Testament that God disclosed Himself as three Persons--at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew ). The Person of the Godhead who makes the invisible God visible is the Son of God, (John 1:18, Col. 1:15-19).
There is great mystery connected with God's decision to send the Second Person of the godhead into world as a man. How could the Son of God become also a Son of Man and member of Adam's race? All three Persons were involved in this decision as can be inferred from Paul's description of this event in Philippians 2:5-10.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In all likelihood the actual birth of Jesus took place in September, probably at the Feast of Tabernacles, in 2 BC. This would mean that His conception could well have occurred at the previous Hanukkah, or Festival of Lights. (2) The gospels give us a panoramic description of the entrance of the Son of God into our world as a baby born in Bethlehem: angels sing and the heavens are open, shepherds visit the manger, wise men come from afar following a unique Star which guides them to the spot. Representative of Shem, Ham and Japheth, the three branches, of Noah's family, come to pay homage. (3) In other words, the incarnation was a point in time of earth-history in which eternity broke through and forever changed not only the future of mankind but also sent ripples into the past.
"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me (the Father) one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days (from eternity)." (Micah 2:4)
That Jesus was born of a virgin is attested to carefully by the Holy Spirit in the record of Scripture. For instance in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew (giving us the kingly lineage of Joseph), says, "...and Jacob [was] the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ." (Matthew 1:16). The "of whom" in this passage is feminine singular in Greek. Only Mary, and not Joseph was a biological parent of Jesus. There is great mystery connected with the Son of God becoming the Son of Man through Mary so that genes and chromosomes of Mary and her ancestors David and Abraham were imparted to the child--but not Adam's sin. (4)
There is great mystery also in the new birth, the process by which we become children of God,
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.' The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit." (John 4:5-8)
Receiving Christ into our lives links us each outside of time back to the First Advent of the Son of Man into our world at Bethlehem. This same Christ Jesus is born in our hearts when we become God's children.
Eternal life is not merely something we experience when we die, it begins with the new birth, the regeneration of our spirits. Eternity begins to be part of our daily experience at the new birth, and we are invited to enjoy the fellowship of Jesus our Lord at all stages of His life, from His birth through His death, burial and resurrection and His now exalted place in heaven as our great high priest. The Son of Man lives in both time and eternity at the same time and it is He who comes to make His home in our hearts. Because of the coming of God's only-begotten Son into our world, the true history of our lives can be forever changed. Indeed God actually rewrites the whole story of our lives: past, present and future!
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
--Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
1. Greek: ouranos, the "heavenlies" or "heavenly places" translates the Hebrew shemayim which is the plural Hebrew word for "the heavens."
2. For more on the time of year Jesus was born see Uri Marcus, "Merry Messiahmas" (http://www.ldolphin.org/xmas.html).
3. Arthur C. Custance, "Noah's Three Sons," (http;//www.cutsance.org/)
4. On the virgin birth see Arthur C. Custance, "The Seed of the Woman," (http://www.custance.org/).
November 13, 1997