It's About Time

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 4:15,16).
Last week I once again crossed the International Date Line, traveling from Osaka, Japan to Los Angeles, California. As always (I have now done this a few dozen times) it was a strange sensation to suddenly “gain” (or, traveling the other way, “lose”) twenty-four hours, merely by crossing an imaginary line somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. The line may be imaginary, but the effect on one’s body is certainly not. Jet lag is real. We left Osaka late one afternoon, traveled all night, then arrived in Los Angeles early in the morning of the same day that we left! Believe me when I say that is a hard concept to get accustomed to.
We often think of time as a rigid reality that is always the same. It is sometimes referred to as the “fourth dimension” and this suggests that it is as invariable and fixed as height, width, and length. That it is always the same. Einstein apparently refuted this supposition with his theory of relativity almost one hundred years ago. Under certain conditions time varies. I don’t pretend to understand all of the implications or mechanics of that fact, but I have grown to accept it.
The Bible has a lot to say about time as well, and just like modern science, the Bible emphasizes different aspects and realities of this subject. We all know that God is not bound by time as we are here on earth. “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Being eternal, God existed before time began (Titus 1:2). He has intervened often in earthly affairs to bring about his purposes “in due time” (Romans 5:6, Galatians 4:4). Other important Biblical emphases on time include the following:
We are saved from our sins at a particular time. “For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Paul stresses that we must not receive God’s grace in vain, but that we must render faithful obedience to his will in all things. Salvation does not come to us gradually, or in some unknown, unperceived fashion, but is granted at the time of our obedience to the Gospel (Romans 6:17).
We will die at a specific time. “… As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Yet the exact time of our deaths is rarely known much in advance. James warns us, “… What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Since we do not know the time of our death, it follows that we do not know the length of our lives. James advises us to make no plans for the future relying on ourselves alone, but to always submit to God’s sovereign will. Death is certain, life is short. Therefore, we must live as to always be prepared to die and face judgment.
Christ will return to this life at a determined time. “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). “… Keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which he will manifest in his own time, he who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:14,15). Jesus, who left this earth forty days after his death, burial, and resurrection, will come again (Acts 1:11). Just as we know that we will die, so we know that Jesus will come again, bringing reward to the faithful and justice to the unrighteous (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). And, just as we do not know exactly when we will die, so we do not know the time of Christ’s return. But we must be prepared for either occurrence. Jesus urges us, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
Time is not as rigid and predictable as we sometimes think. Only God controls the clock and the calendar. It benefits us greatly to adjust our lives to his schedule and yield to his will.

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