As I sit down to write this, I can’t help but feel a little nervous. The first essay in which I included a teaser, E is for Eternity, was attempting to peak your interest for this very monologue. I put in the first lines of a thought that I was formulating and exploring back in October of 2010. I have since made further discovery on the subject matter, but this next thought I want to posit will seem a little out of left field. I guess there is nothing left for me to do but swallow, take a deep breath and begin.
‘Is it not so hard to wrap one’s head around the concept of eternity? In a world where everything we see and experience is temporary and gone in an instant, I would say it is. Whenever trying to grasp this, we try to use the language of this temporary world. I believe there is a place and state of being that does not have time. Not just that is passes without our knowledge or notice, but that it actually doesn’t exist. All language has a past, present, and future tense, yet Jesus never uses anything other than the present tense when talking about eternity. The present tense is a tense that usually never acknowledges the passage of time or the completion of things. It is like the present progressive that denotes an ongoing action.’
If we say rightly that God created time, then it follows that there is in fact a state of being completely outside the constructs of time. When we say that God is eternal (eternal past), it is implied that God dwells in this state. I ran into a snag the other day when I applied the language of time to this state of being when none of it can apply nor should it. But let’s talk about the topic from above.
Revelation 21:1 speaks of the current heaven and earth passing away and God creating a new heaven and new earth. It is the final product of the New Covenant from Jeremiah 31, which I quoted in “E is for Eternity”, the fulfillment of the three part promise that “I will be your God and you will be My people and I will dwell with you.”
This new heaven, though, seems to be marked not necessarily by what is there (God, the Lamb, Church, etc) but by what isn’t. The only things found in it are those that are required. It has no temple, for God and the Lamb is its temple (Rev 21:22). It has no sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates it. Indeed, “The Lamb is its light,” Rev 21:23. Over and over, John remarks that there is no night. The sun, moon, and night seem significant to me because they are all things we use to mark and measure time. The phrase “forever and ever” in Rev 22:5 is an idiomatic expression that indicates an undefined period. This future, then, seems to be a return to existence before time, outside its confines.
Revelation 22:4 says, “They shall see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads.” If you remember, I addressed this in some detail in “F is for Face” and “H is for Holy”, but it would appear that somehow the things which are so incomprehensible about the very nature of God in our current state have, in this future Heaven, been made known to us and not only known but familiar. And oh, how glorious that will be!
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. “ Revelation 21:3-7