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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does God Know Everything?

Don Stewart :: Does God Dwell in Time?

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Does God Dwell in Time?

Does God Know Everything? – Question 30

Time can be defined as “the measurement of events that appear one after another.” When God created the world He created time. Indeed, He existed before the first event of creation. Therefore, God dwells outside of time. From Scripture, we learn a number of things about God and time.

The Bible Acknowledges the Existence of Time

From the first page of the Bible until the last, we find that the existence of time is recognized. Indeed, the Bible speaks of yesterday, today, and tomorrow as well as God’s intervention in history and in the lives of individuals.

In the first chapter of Genesis, we are told that God made the sun, moon and stars for us to mark the times and seasons, days, and years. The Bible says,

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years...” (Genesis 1:14 NIV)

These lights in the sky were created by the God of the Bible for a number of purposes. One of them was to mark time.

In the gospels we read of Jesus saying that He existed before the time of Abraham. John records the following.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58 ESV)

Therefore, Scripture recognizes that time exists.

God Is Not Limited by Time

The Bible also says that God is not limited to time. This means that He is a timeless being the One who inhabits eternity. We read in Isaiah,

The high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts.” (Isaiah 57:15 NLT)

While God inhabits eternity, He deals with His creation in time. This is another example of a paradox; two truths that seemingly conflict. Consequently, we can only approximate the truth when we speak of God living outside of time, yet interacting with His people in time. We must appreciate our limitations here.

Indeed, the Bible records God saying the following about His ways and our ways.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

Notice God’s comparison between His thoughts and our thoughts as well as His ways and our ways.

We read in the Book of Job about God’s greatness. Scripture puts it this way.

“Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered.” (Job 36:26 NKJV)

Time and space do not, in any way, limit God.

Time Is Relative to God

We find that time is merely relative to God. The Bible gives this comparison.

Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. (2 Peter 3:8 HCSB)

God is certainly not limited by time. Although we cannot totally understand how an eternal being operates in time, we believe it to be true because the Bible says so.

He Is the Alpha and Omega: The Beginning and the End

There is something else which the Bible teaches. The God of Scripture never had a beginning point and will never have an end. The Bible recognizes that He is the beginning and the end. At the beginning of the Book of Revelation we read the Lord God saying,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8 ESV)

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet while Omega is the last letter. The Lord God is saying that he is both the first and the last.

The same truth is restated at the end of the Book of Revelation. It says,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13 HCSB)

He was there before time began and He will be there when time, as we know it, ends.

Isaiah the prophet also recorded the Lord saying that He was the first and the last. The Bible says,

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6 ESV)

God Himself claimed to be the first and the last.

In another place, Isaiah recorded God saying that He is the first and the last.

“Listen to me, Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.” (Isaiah 48:12, 13 NIV).

This tells us there was none who came before God, and none will come after Him.

God Can Predict the Future Because He Is above Time

The fact that God is above time allows Him to see future events as though they had already occurred. This is why we find God telling us what will happen in the future. God has made the following claim with respect to His ability.

“And do not forget the things I have done throughout history. For I am God—I alone! I am God, and there is no one else like me. Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (Isaiah 46:9, 10 NLT)

Only the Lord knows what will occur in the future.

We also read the Lord giving the following challenge.

“Speak up and present your case—yes, let them take counsel together. Who predicted this long ago? Who announced it from ancient times? Was it not I, Yahweh? There is no other God but Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no one except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:21 HCSB).

Only the God of the Bible, who is outside of time, can predict future events with 100% accuracy.

In sum, the Bible says while God exists outside of time, and is not limited to it, He interacts with His creation in time. While we cannot completely understand how this can happen this is what the Bible tells us. Consequently, we can believe it.

Summary – Question 30
Does God Dwell in Time?

Time and space were part of God’s original creation. When the Lord created the universe He created time. Thus, God existed before there was such a thing as time.

As we search the Scripture we find that it recognizes the existence of time. Indeed, we are told that God set certain lights in the sky for us to have the ability to mark time. These great lights, including the sun and the moon, help us mark the day, months, and years. Jesus also acknowledged the reality of time. Indeed, He told the religious leaders of His day that He existed before the time of Abraham.

While the Bible acknowledges the existence of time, God is not bound or limited by it. In fact, we are told that He dwells in eternity, not time. Because He dwells in eternity He sees both the beginning and the end.

Though God dwells in eternity He interacts with His creation in time. This is one of the biblical mysteries. How can a Being who lives in eternity interact with other beings which are bound by time? Although humankind cannot completely comprehend how this can be true, it is the biblical teaching on the subject.

The fact that God is not limited in time is evident by the way He can accurately predict the future. He sees things which will occur in our world as if they had already taken place. Therefore, He can always accurately tell us what will come to pass.

Therefore, the God of the Bible is the eternal God who inhabits eternity but interacts with His creation in time.

What Should We Conclude about Passages That Seem to Say That God Has Changed His Mind? ← Prior Section
Does God Have Any Passions or Emotions? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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