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We are familiar with the concept of time in general. Right now, early into a new year, we are particularly conscious of it. As far as the daily business of living goes, there are schedules to keep, deadlines to meet, appointments to be made, and so on, seemingly ad infinitum. Since the fall of mankind into sin in the Garden of Eden all of creation has become affected by time, whether by aging, deterioration, or some other process by which all things in the universe have a definite end or demise. For those of us who are or were science fiction fans, we have been fascinated with both the possibility and the stories of time travel. When it comes to time in reality, though, what is it? What does the Bible say about time and how should we as Christians look at and use time?

According to a Wikipedia amalgamation of definitions from The Oxford Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2011), The Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Webster’s, 2010), and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (Houghton Mifflin, 2011), “Time is the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future.” (Wikipedia, retrieved 01/03/2022).

We know of time by what we measure on such devices as clocks and watches, but these are keyed to the length of an earth day. On different planets they would have to be set to different speeds to measure day length, a “day” ranging from about 9 hours and 55 ½ earth minutes on Jupiter to about 243 earth days on Venus (Yes, you read that right!). However, time itself independent of chronological measurement is both a bona fide natural phenomenon and the fourth dimension, after width, depth, and height. Scientists know that gravitational fields can slow time down and that this and other factors have to be considered in order to make GPS satellites accurate in what they do. Computations and experiments have shown that time slows down as one speeds up. There is disagreement as to whether or not time travel can be done, but many scientists currently do not think it is possible. Beyond this, the study of time becomes extremely technical and I am not a physicist, so I do not want to try talking above the level of knowledge that I have on the subject. We have established that time exists independent of a measuring scale. We measure it here by earth time for very obvious reasons. Now what does the Bible tell us about this interesting phenomenon?

First, quite naturally, time was to serve as a guide and measure, something to be utilized for people to schedule the events of their lives by. We see this as early as the Genesis creation account:

Genesis 1:14-19:  Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Indeed, since the beginning of the existence of people on earth, the sun, moon, and stars have been used to keep track of days, nights, and seasons. For many cultures the phases of the moon were utilized in a lunar calendar. The various Jewish holy days were set by it, for example. Because the phases of the moon complete an annual cycle in about 354 days, the lunar calendar rapidly unsynchronizes from the true solar year of approximately 365 ¼ days. The Jews add an intercalary month seven times in 19 years—the moon’s phases repeat every 19 years—in order to keep their calendar on track with the seasons, so it is actually a lunisolar calendar. A solar calendar matches the days it takes for the earth to complete its orbit around the sun, with a leap day added once every 4 years except in century years that are not evenly divisible by 400, such as 1800, 1900, 2100, et cetera.
Various types of clocks and other devices have been used to keep track of the time during a day. We see an example of this in the account of King Hezekiah’s illness and recovery in the Bible. After fervent prayer the Lord decided to add 15 years to this righteous king’s life. The prophet Isaiah asked the king to choose the type of sign the Lord would give that He would do this based on the shadow cast by a timepiece called a sundial (2 Kings 20:8-11; Isaiah 38:7-8).
These days we use mostly digital timepieces, while scientists use atomic clocks to keep very accurate time. We know that the day’s length is 24 hours (actually, about 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds). In the time of Christ the day was viewed as the period of daylight and for practical purposes was considered to be 12 hours long, or 6 AM to 6 PM (John 11:9).
Likewise the night was considered to be 12 hours long and was divided into four watches: First watch, 6 to 9 PM; second watch, 9 PM to midnight; third watch, midnight to 3 AM; and fourth watch, 3 to 6 AM. For example, the disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee saw Jesus walking on the water in the fourth watch of the night (Matthew 14:25-27; Mark 6:48-50).

 There is a strongly seasonal element to time in the Bible, not just for religious festivals or crop planting but also for various events. We see this delineated in Solomon’s excellent discourse on the subject:

 Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:  To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.


Both the seasonality and the overall measure of time come out in Jesus’s words to those at Jerusalem as He prepared to ascend to heaven 40 days after His resurrection:

Acts 1:6-7:  Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
Jesus would go on to tell them of the coming baptism in the Holy Spirit and their empowerment for service to God, but we will focus on times and seasons. The word “times” in the New Testament Greek is chronos (KRON-oss) and means general time, as in that measured on a clock or on a calendar. For instance, in chronos time I am typing this part of this blog on January 3, 2022, shortly before 11 AM. The word “seasons” is derived in this passage from the Greek word kairos (ky-ROSS, sometimes also KY-ross), and this means a specific or limited period of time, characterized by certain events.
It could be said that 1939-1945 was the season or kairos of World War II, late 1517 was the kairos of the start of the Protestant Reformation, and that the 1770’s was the kairos of America’s birth, just to name a few examples. March 21 to June 20 is usually the northern hemisphere’s season for spring, nine months is the typical period of a woman’s pregnancy, and so on.

By volume of usage alone in the Bible, you can infer that God considers time and the way we spend it to be important. I have covered this in other blogs, including the New Year’s blog, so I will not heavily discuss it again here.
We as Christians should already know to make good use of our time and not take it for granted, doing good when we can and spending time in the Word, in prayer, and in meditation (Ephesians 5:15-16; James 4:13-15; Psalm 1:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:6-9).
It is healthy to also make time for recreation, rest, and other wholesome activities besides these. It is not good to waste time. In addition to the fact that God wants us to use our time wisely, we are given only so many years to live (Psalm 90:10).
Because of this and the fact that tomorrow is not promised, not only is it important for those of us as believers be good stewards of time, it is imperative for the lost not to neglect the opportunity for salvation when God invites them to be saved
In the larger scheme of things, the time of world history has been divided into various periods and dispensations. To name several examples, there were definite points in time when Adam and Eve fell into sin, when the Flood came, when the Mosaic Law was given, and when Jesus Christ came into the world. The world’s dispensations and ages have spun off of such watershed events as these. We can see this concept in what we know as The Great Commission:
Matthew 28:18-20:  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
This age is the age of grace or the Church Age, marked by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and, in Acts 2, the actual birth of the Church. For more details on dispensations and the Church Age, see Lesson 5 of Phase 2 in the Bible study on this website. With this said, more events to come include the Rapture, the Millennial Reign of Christ, the Great White Throne Judgment, and the renovation of the heavens and the earth, followed by eternity as those of us who are saved spend forever with the Lord and those who are lost spend forever in the lake of fire. So what is eternity?
Eternity is essentially an interminable period. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have always existed, without a beginning, and the very name of God reflects this incomprehensible fact (Exodus 3:13-14; John 8:58, 17:5).
For lack of a better description you could say that eternity is forever, more specifically forever backward in time as well as forever forward. In fact, time has little meaning as far as eternity is concerned, seeing that eternity never ends and that those caught up in it have entered into a permanent state of being, whether for good or for bad (Revelation 20:1121:4).
Time probably did not exist until God created it as He was making the earth and the heavens. Since the earth and the heavens will be renovated after the final judgment, it is conceivable that time will continue to exist as we go into eternity, but even if it does, due to eternity’s nature, it is hard to see what meaning time would have. Meanwhile, since we are on the temporary side of things, make the most of your time here in this world. Also behold the marvel that is time, one more evidence of an awesome God who created the entire universe and all its dimensions, both the seen and the unseen, both the immeasurable and those things which can be measured, including time.

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