Pastors Report - 11 Jan 2019

God's View of Time

"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (II Peter 3:8)

A New Year?

You cannot help but wonder why anyone would want to begin a new year in the dead of winter! But when you consider the pagan roots of so much in today's world, and the distorted spirit that spawns them, it is hardly surprising. New Year – as with Xmas and so many other worldly festivals – has neither true meaning, sense or anything else positive to add to this life we have been given. But if we are not careful, we in God's Church can become pretty smug at the thought that "we have God's view of time" – simply because, instead of these pagan days, our minds have instead been illuminated to keep God's Holy Days, and through them to understand the profound meaning of life itself.

But does merely keeping God's Holy Days really give us God's true view of time?

As with so many things, God's ways of thinking are multifaceted, and God's perspective on time is a prime example. Yes, God created the Sabbath and Holy Days for us — mankind — and all mankind will one day observe them, and be all the better for doing so. But does just keeping a few commanded days give us God's perspective? After all, what is a day? Just the time taken for the earth to revolve once around its axis. And a month? The time taken for the moon to revolve once around the earth. And a year? The time taken for the earth to revolve once around the sun. And a 19 year time cycle? The time taken for the lunar and solar cycles to return to the same conjunction relative to the earth. But is that all there is to the subject of God's view of time?

Consider the Heavens:

When King David looked up at the stars — as he must have done many times as a young teen responsible for his family's sheep — he was inspired to compose and sing, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalm 8:3-4) Yet how much of "the work of thy fingers" could King David actually see? Today we know that the various celestial cycles most certainly don't end with the 19 year conjunction. Our galaxy - in which the sun is just one small star (with over 200,000 million others) - takes a full 200 million years to revolve just once! The distances involved also are truly mind-numbing. At the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) it would take a traveller just 8 minutes to travel from the earth to the sun, but over 4 years to travel to the next star, and over 100,000 years to go from one side of the Milky Way to the other. And to get to the next galaxy (near Andromeda) would take over 2 million years, with the limit of the known universe 10,000 million years away and rising – as this youtube video illustrates.

Such distances give the science fiction writers some real headaches in coming up with a plausible explanation for space travel. I remember reading a story where the space craft was given a significant degree of robotic intelligence for very good reason: to overcome the clear limitation of the utterly vast distances involved! The writer tried to persuade you that the ship was able to place the human "passengers" into the stasis of one time frame, while it warped its own time-frame in which to travel for millions of years between points. Thus the humans instantly flashed from one galaxy to the next — even though the ship itself took the required millions of years to trawl across the cosmos — stopping for repairs every few thousand years! But the psalmist sings of The Eternal: "He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names." (Psalm 147:4) And Moses sang:

  • "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God
  • ... For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." (Psalm 90:2,4)
Different View of Time:

God's view of time is most certainly not the same as ours. For our finite brains to even try to contemplate a Being who has always been – having no beginning – a glazed look comes over our faces, and our minds go somewhat numb. So the question is, how can we possibly obtain God's view in this humanly incomprehensible area? Well the answer is: we can't. But God certainly expects us to use a much more expansive perspective than measuring time against our own mere threescore and ten!

To give us a handle on this unfathomable subject, God tells us very clearly not to be ignorant of one fact ... that: "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (II Peter 3:8) This, He knows, is something we can just about get our heads around. The psalmist then expands on this view when he says:.....

  • My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.
  • But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations....
  • Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
  • They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
  • But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. (Psalm 102:11-12; 25-28)

And the apostle Paul then quotes the above Psalm in the context of Christ's role as the firstborn – who brings many sons into glory!

  • And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
  • They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
  • And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
  • But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
  • Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
  • Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. (Hebrews 1:10-2:1)
Mr Armstrong's Understanding:

This profound sense of timing is also brought out by Mr Armstrong in a series of articles he wrote as a precursor to Mystery of the Ages...

In the time sequence of God's Master Plan, we have seen there are four important "UNTILS."

1) Mankind as a whole would remain CUT OFF from God UNTIL the Government of God is restored at the Second Coming of Christ. Satan will then be removed..

2) The Gospel message announcing the future Kingdom of God could not be proclaimed to the world UNTIL the second Adam had qualified to restore the Government of God.

3) God's CHURCH could not be founded, and endued with His Holy Spirit, UNTIL Jesus had ascended and been glorified in heaven.

4) Even then the Church could not be born of God UNTIL Christ's return as KING of kings.

And we might add a fifth "UNTIL." All who died —mankind as a whole — uncalled and therefore unjudged (neither "saved" nor "lost") prior to Christ's return to RULE shall not be resurrected for their time of judgment UNTIL after Christ's millennial reign. This will occur at the end of the 7,000 years of God's Master Plan.

There is a vital reason for these "UNTILS."....

...The average person has no conception whatever of the tremendous, supreme supernatural achievement Almighty God has undertaken in REPRODUCING HIMSELF — ultimately into billions of spiritual GOD BEINGS! Or of the many-faceted stages of development necessitated in this pinnacle of all divine accomplishments!

God could not hurry. It required a Master Plan, which must proceed a step at a time. It required PATIENCE and never-deviating determination on the part of the Divine Creator!

Few UNDERSTAND this!...

... The apostles were chafing at the bit to GET STARTED — to go forth proclaiming the Gospel Message. But God has wisely used restraint, with patience, taking a proper step at a time. So Jesus cautioned His apostles to WAIT! "Tarry ye," He commanded (Luke 24:49), "In the city of Jerusalem, UNTIL ye be endued with power from on high." ( PT Jan81 - A Voice Cries Out Amid Religious Confusion - Part Nine)

And we may add another "UNTIL" ... something which we have had to live through for the past few decades:

  • And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
  • And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished . (Daniel 12:6,7)
Our Present Position:

I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that we've learnt a lot since the apostasy "scattered the power of the Holy people"! We've needed to recognise the lesson of the Two Trees for one – and are still growing in grasping the depth of that understanding. We certainly were not ready to take on the responsibility of teachers in the Kingdom of God, that much is very clear. Are we ready to do so now, though? In John 14, Christ said He would be preparing a place for us and in retrospect, most of us can look back and see how the test of the shattering and individual trials have moulded and shaped us over these past few decades, God being our personal Master Potter and refiner of silver ... in fact preparing us for that place!

Since this new millennium started, we've been on tenterhooks, wondering how soon society would come crashing down ... witnessing horrendous debt mountains, the rise of German nationalism, the insidious slide into not just immorality, but a-morality ... i.e. no concept of morality whatsoever. But we just don't know how bad it has to get ... none of us were around in the "days of Noah" to compare to today. But just a few years ago, we never saw the rise in popularity of the "gender-fluid" mindset. What else haven't we yet seen? Could it be that the "iniquity of the Amorites" is not yet full ? (Genesis 15:16)

In Matthew 25, Christ tells the foolish virgins "I never knew you" – i.e. there was not a close relationship between Him and them. And then the chapter continues with the parable of the talents, the clear inference being that while we keep an eye on the world situation, God expects us to be DOING something, and that's not to be frantically working out when Christ will return ... second guessing end-time scenarios of how prophetic events might be fulfilled.

Need for Patience:

Yes, we get disheartened, frustrated, stressed and worn down by the events we see all around us, and those that have a direct impact on us as well ... health issues, family issues, church issues. The prophecy of the "wearing out of the saints of the Most High" appears to be in action – daily! And yes, we are even told by God : ... ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." (Isaiah 62:6,7) i.e. in asking for the Kingdom to come, but we have to have His mindset on not only time, but also TIMING! How many of us would like to press the Fast Forward button and have the Kingdom appear now? Sadly, it's obvious that the world, and no doubt the church is not yet ready ... vital lessons are yet to be learnt.

There's an account in Numbers that gives us an insight into the need – at times – for God's intervention to be delayed;

  • And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.
  • And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.
  • Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb.
  • And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.
  • And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.(Numbers 12:10-14)

Just as Miriam had to take "time out" to ponder the repercussions of her sins, the world – and we too – have been given valuable time to watch world events in order to ponder aversion therapy in "wide-screen technicolour," – recognising the spirit influence behind what is happening, hating what we see, and thus encouraging us to keep on, keeping on ... to make our calling and election sure so we can be part of the ultimate solution. (II Peter 1:10)

How Long?

As we are now well into January 2019, we who have been waiting for the Kingdom of God can't help but yet again ask the question, "How long?" But we obviously still have a lot to learn. Abraham had to wait UNTIL it was totally impossible for him to have a child – and then Isaac was conceived. Israel had to wait UNTIL they were boxed in with no possible path of escape – and then the sea parted. Gideon had to wait UNTIL his army had been whittled down to a laughable impotent size – and then the Midianites were defeated. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had to wait UNTIL all hope of life was gone – and then God delivered them. And we too must wait UNTIL the 1,335 days of Daniel 12:12 – and then the blessing WILL come, precisely as promised and right on time – just as God, the Master of Timing always does.

As we read the last words of the apostle Peter, realise what hope and encouragement – and mercy – they contain, and not just for us, but for our loved ones also;

  • Beloved. you must not ignore this one fact, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a single day.
  • The Lord is not slow with what He promises, according to certain people's idea of slowness ; no, He is longsuffering for your sake, He does not wish any to perish but all to come to repentance.
  • The day of the Lord will come like a thief, when the heavens will vanish with crackling roar, the stars will be set ablaze and melt, the earth and all its work will disappear.
  • Now as all these things are thus to be dissolved, what holy and godly men ought you to be in your behaviour,
  • You who expect and hasten the advent of the Day of God, which dissolves the heavens in fire and makes the stars blaze and melt!
  • It is new heavens and a new earth that we expect, as He has promised and in them dwells righteousness.
  • Then, beloved, as you are expecting this, be eager to be found by Him unspotted and unblemished in peaceful assurance.
  • And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord means salvation....
  • Now, beloved, you are forewarned: mind you are not carried away by the error of the lawless and so lose your proper footing; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory now and to the day of eternity. Amen (II Peter 3:9-15,17-18 Moffatt)
A Fuller View:

The "handle" of a thousand years being as a day is also given to counteract a problem with scepticism God knew would come. This is something specifically mentioned for "the last days" – in our time – today. God knew waiting would become a trial. But throughout scripture there also are passages of great encouragement for God's people. For example, as He assures us in Hebrews;

  • Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
  • For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
  • For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.(Hebrews 10:35-37)

Passages that remind us that the horrific cataclysmic events we are prophesied to see are not to be viewed as the world sees them. (Proverbs 3:25,26) But they are more like labour pains, and as in childbirth, these "pains" are there for a purpose, it's not going to be a long, drawn out labour, and these pains will soon end! Provided we grow ... provided we overcome ... provided we endure and daily strive to develop the Mind of God, we shall – as born Sons – be ready for the glorious Kingdom of God. And then – as eternal beings ourselves, we truly will have a much fuller view – and appreciation – of God's perspective on time.

  • Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child.
  • Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.
  • Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?" says the Lord. "Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" says your God.
  • Rejoice with Jerusalem, And be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
  • That you may feed and be satisfied With the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory." (Isaiah 66:7-11 NKJV)