Posts Tagged With: eternity

Dwelling in the Eternal God

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalms 90:1-2; all Scripture quotations from the English Standard Version unless otherwise indicated).

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (First Timothy 1:17).

Image created using the YouVersion Bible app.

It has been a few weeks since I posted to this blog. At the beginning of November, my wife and I have moved. We live only a few blocks from our old house—we found a bigger apartment—but the quarter-mile relocation has engulfed our time over the last few weeks. We are still unpacking and trying to figure out how we accumulated so much stuff in less than 20 years.

So, the concept of a “dwelling place” seems worth considering. In recent posts, we have looked at some of God’s attributes, including His status as the “self-existent One,” “the Ground of all Being,” etc. A natural outgrowth of that is the fact that God is eternal. An outgrowth of God’s eternal nature is His status as the believer’s dwelling place.

My wife and I have a new dwelling place. Our previous apartment, where we lived for 19 and a half years (since our wedding) is the place where I have lived the longest. I lived in my childhood home for about 17 years. Other homes have ranged from a few months to maybe four years. I have had two long-term dwelling places and several shorter-term addresses.

Yet, God is always our dwelling place. Psalm 90 was written by Moses, who spent much of his life in short-term locations. The Israelites traveled as nomads, setting up short-term camps wherever God directed them, for 40 years. They did not have a permanent earthly abode, but Moses says they did have a spiritual dwelling place. Moses writes that God had been their dwelling place “in all generations.” Wherever they went, God was there. He was their protector and provider. He had been with them since the time Abraham several centuries earlier, and He would continue to be with them. His eternal loving presence would abide with them. He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and continued to fulfill His promises to them and their offspring long after they died.

Because He is the Eternal God, He outlasts our days.

“The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away” (Psalms 90:10).

Most of Psalm 90 focuses on the difference between God’s eternal nature and our temporary status. Seventy or 80 years is a long time for us, but 1000 years is like a few hours to God. We think 70 or 80 years is a long time, but it is a mere blink in the eyes of God:

“For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night” (Psalms 90:4).

Paul’s praise to God, expressed in 1 Timothy 1:17, follows a passage where he testifies about how Jesus, by His grace, had radically transformed his life. God’s eternal majesty is linked to His grace, love, and mercy.

Since God is eternal, we can trust Him with our lives. Even if His plans make no sense to us, He knows what He is doing. Our lives are only 70 or 80 years long, and we have enough trouble seeing how our current circumstances will affect events five years from now. On the other hand, God’s work in our lives can have a long-term lasting impact. Our lives are short and we cannot see tomorrow, but God can use our lives to impact future generations.

Because God is eternal, He is able to offer us a life that is eternal. Our earthly time is short. Since 1000 years are like yesterday in God’s eyes, a millennium will be short compared to our entire existence beyond the grave. Perhaps the apostles are still thinking “We just got here!” in heaven. Long after the sun has ceased shining, God’s people will still be celebrating in heaven. As we share in the eternal life of Christ, we will last beyond time. Because He lives forever and we live in Him, our lives are eternal. He is our eternal dwelling place.

Copyright © 2019 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, God's Nature and Personality | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking Beyond the Hilltop—John 14:1–7

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

John 14:1–7, NASB

For the last few weeks, this blog focused on Lenten themes. Whereas Lent is a time for reflection and repentance, Easter is a season of celebration. Having recognized our need for a Savior, we celebrate the fact that Jesus came to save us and overcame sin, Satan, and the power of death. After several hours at church on Easter Sunday morning, my wife and I visited the cemetery where my father and his parents are buried. It is not only an opportunity to connect with my past, but also to remind myself of the hope that we may be reunited someday. Easter reminds us that the grave is not the end of our existence, but a transition to an everlasting existence, either in heaven or hell.

We tend to lose sight of this in our prosperous American culture. Many view Christianity as a path to self-actualization or self-fulfillment. Even many who reject the prosperity gospel, positive confession movement, or positive thinking philosophy will quickly define their faith by how it makes them feel, or how it makes this life seem easier or more pleasant. This would probably have sounded odd to Jesus’ first disciples, many of whom suffered intense persecution. For the apostles, a “personal relationship with Jesus” led to persecution, prosecution, and (for most of them) execution.

We need to get back to reading Jesus’ promises and the rest of Scripture with an eye on the Bible’s historical context. John 14–17 is a popular and powerful passage of Scripture. These four chapters contain some of the great gems of Jesus’ teaching: His unity with His Father; the promise of the Holy Spirit; the parable that He is the vine and we are His branches; the new command to love one another; the promise that disciples can pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, and God will answer; the high priestly prayer; etc.

What many of us forget is that this extensive teaching took place in a very short time period. Jesus had just washed the disciples’ feet and eaten the Last Supper with them. Judas Iscariot was in the process of betraying Him to the high priests. Jesus had warned Peter that he would deny Him three times. And all the while, Jesus mentally counted down the minutes until Judas’ return, knowing the fate that awaited Him.

It was in this context that Jesus told His disciples to “believe also in Me.” Some time earlier (perhaps near the beginning of His ministry), Jesus had said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 14:20). Now, as He awaited death, Jesus promised His disciples a dwelling place. Peter had earlier said that he would follow Jesus even unto death; now, Jesus assured them that they would remain with Him in His Father’s house.

The point is this: Jesus’ promises are most completely fulfilled not in this world, but in heaven. Yes, we receive a foretaste of those blessings now, but our eyes need to grab the bigger picture.

When I was in seminary, I would minister once per month with a group from my church, conducting services at a nearby nursing home. We would sing hymns selected by the residents during the song service. Many of their selections focused on the afterlife and heaven. We sang songs like “Mansion Over the Hilltop” and “Sweet Bye-and-Bye” almost every time. The songs reflected their longings and hopes. Every month, we would pray for the family of a resident who had been present the previous month, but had passed away since then. They knew they could not cling to this world. They realized that their best life is not now, but was just over the hilltop.

We tend to seek our best life now, but Jesus offers us a better life later. His promises are meant to empower us to serve Him today, but the greatest rewards come later. “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18). May all of us who call on the name of the Lord gain His perspective, rather than trying to force Him to yield to ours.

This post copyright © 2017 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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