The Three Dimensional World of Time and Space
24 Sep 2005, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
THE THREE DIMENSIONAL WORLD OF SPACE AND TIME
'Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting thou art God' (Ps 90: 2).
These words, written by Moses and found in Psalms 90: 2, establish the framework of God's presence in the Cosmos.
He is saying that God is from eternity in the past to eternity in the future. He is 'the ancient of days' described by Daniel in chapter 7: 9. The Psalmist, in speaking about God, in Ps 93: 2 says: 'Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity'.
There could not be a more perfect statement of the eternity of God. Time means nothing to Him as the Psalmist in Ps 90: 4 continues to suggest that 'For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by…'
Hence, eternity talks about infinite or unlimited time; time without beginning or without end.
To understand this concept of eternity is a struggle for the finite human mind.
The Scriptures make clear that God, as the Creator, brought forth our world into being, even before the beginning of time itself. Gen 1: 1 says 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'. In making this statement God was making clear that this new world was to be bound in a framework that would involve definite time. Man who would be brought into existence was to live in this new time-space framework that becomes a measurable period in which certain actions or conditions would exist. This three dimensional aspect within time would be the lot of mankind until God determines that His people are ready to inherit their final reward, eternal life. We know that He will bring the world to its ultimate conclusion, in accordance with His will and purpose. The change that takes place at this point would lead man into what we call the fourth dimension where God and the angels dwell. The restrictions of our three dimensional world will be removed forever.
For those early people of the Bible, units of time were to be measured in hours, days, weeks, months and years. However, it is interesting to note that of all these periods, the only one not set by astronomical happenings was to be the seven day weekly cycle.
This set period was god ordained and was designed for man's benefit and happiness. This was god's gift to preserve life and health
Wherever the rhythm of this weekly cycle has been changed, it has created major difficulties for man's ability to work and has affected his overall happiness. This was no better illustrated than during the French Revolution in 1793 when the French Republic made the move to adopt a new twelve monthly calendar of 30 days each. This created a nine-day week with opportunity to rest on the tenth. The changing of the calendar was a prelude to the abolition of Christianity in France and the replacing of the Catholic faith by the Goddess of reason. The results were both disastrous for man and his beasts of burden and destroyed the general economy of France in that period from 1793 to when the calendar was discontinued in 1806 (Neufeld & Neuffer, 1962: 436-8).
The Scriptures also make very clear that the most important part of this weekly cycle was to be the seventh day Sabbath. This was to be time set aside for a particular purpose.
LETS READ EX 20: 8-11 (Paraphrased)
Remember to observe the Sabbath because I have set it apart as holy. There are six days in the week for you to earn a living. But the seventh day of the week belongs to the Lord your God. On that day you are to do no work - you, your sons, or daughters, your male and female servants, your animals or any aliens living among you. Because in six days I, the Lord your God, created the earth, the sky, the seas and everything in them, and on the seventh day I rested in the joy of having made it all. That's why I blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy, so you can rest and rejoice with me'.
Mark 2: 27 tells us that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.
When man was first created and after sin entered the world, his lifespan was such that his existence was measured by centuries (White, 1958: 90). For hundreds of years there were seven generations living simultaneously, having the opportunity of consulting and profiting by the knowledge and experience of all (Ibid: 83). There was no need of written records because their strong memories and great mental vigour transmitted information unimpaired to their children (Ibid). We are told, that if their time had been spent in following God there would have been no need to cause the destruction of the world by a flood (Ibid: 82).
By the time of Moses, mankind had reached a point where their length of days was reduced to three score year and ten. Lets read his words in Psalm 90: 4-10,12 as he compares the eternal nature of God with feeble man. (Paraphrased)
'A thousand years to you is like one day to us. They are no more to you than a day gone by or a watch in the night. You could sweep the whole human race away as you did in the flood, and our earth's history would only be like a bad moment in time to you. V6 We are like the flowers in the field, which open up under the morning sun then close up and die by afternoon. You could consume us in a moment. The very thought of such awesome power frightens us. V8 You know everything we do; even what we do secretly or at night is as clear to you as if we had done it openly or in broad daylight. V9 Our whole lives are open to your scrutiny. We live our lives as a tale that is told which ends with a sigh of relief. V10 Seventy years is all we have, eighty years if we are strong. Yet much of that time is spent in labour, concern, sorrow and trouble. Then we are gone.
V12 Help us to understand how short our lives really are so we may fill our hearts with wisdom.
Whatever we do or where ever we are, we need to use our time in such a way that it will be to God's honour and glory.
The Scriptures constantly remind us of the shortness of our life journey by making comparisons with the natural world. Ps 102: 11 says that 'Our lives are like the evening shadow, we wither away like grass.' James 4: 14 (NKJV) says: 'Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.'
Dear friends, how we use our time will eventually determine our eternal destiny.
If it is used for self alone the consequences will be disastrous in the light of eternity. God, in His love for us, makes it very clear that we are to be held accountable for our stewardship of the time He has allotted during our sojourn on this earth. We need to remember that:
The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To say just when the hands will stop;
At late or early hour
Now is the only time we own
To do His precious will,
Do not wait until tomorrow;
For the Clock may then be still (Repeat)
- Selected (Tan, 1991: 1481).
The value of time is above computation. Jesus regarded every moment as precious, and we should regard it the same way. Life is too short to be just fritted or trifled away. Time squandered can never be recovered. The human family have scarcely begun to live when they begin to die, and the world's incessant labour can end in nothingness unless a true knowledge of eternal life is gained.
The Scriptures in 2 Cor. 6: 2 make it clear that the accepted time of salvation is right now. We are to seek the Lord at all times and learn to put our trust in Him. God is working within this present time-space world and therefore, the present should be used for God's purposes and glory. The ancient prophet Hosea expresses a universal truth when he says in Hosea 10: 12 KJV 'Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to SEEK the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.'
In looking at our time on earth Solomon, in all his wisdom, declares in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11 that there is a proper time for every purpose under heaven.
There is a time to be born and a time to die. Over both we have no control. Man does not know his time (Ecc. 9: 12) and his times are in the Lord's hands (Ps 31:15). There is a time to build, to weep, to laugh, to embrace and to love. All are part of the lives we are to live here on this earth. However, man is warned not to plan his time as if it belonged to him, but to do what the Lord wills in his life.
This is well illustrated in the life story of Queen Esther as was faithfully recorded in the Holy Scriptures. It was a story similar to that of Joseph and David where God had each one hidden away until He was ready to use them and unfold the special workings of His plans. God hid Joseph away in a dungeon in Egypt but when he was ready, He placed him in the position of prime minister of that country. God always seems to have someone in reserve to fulfil his purposes and, as such, we all need to be ready to accept His calling to duty.
Beautiful Queen Esther stands out as God's chosen one to save the Jewish nation at a time when it seemed they were doomed to total destruction. Esther 4: 14 tells us that she had come to the kingdom for such a time as this. Taking her life into her hands she went in before the King to plead on behalf of the Jewish nation enabling them to eventually escape extermination (Esther 4: 16). A life of luxury had not deterred her from doing what was right and she had learned that when this decision to obey was carried out the rest was left to God. God prepares us all for emergencies and we need to act when He speaks.
Failure is not sin but faithlessness is (Mears, 1983: 168).
As we look at history in more recent times we could think of men like Martin Luther who was responsible for changing the course of Christian history at a time when it seemed that 'the faith once delivered to the Saints' had all but disappeared (Jude 3). Abraham Lincoln was another whom God seems to have prepared and kept for the hour to meet the issue of slavery during the American Civil War - one of the most disastrous wars in modern history, but one that profoundly transformed the American way of life. At war's end, 620,000 lay dead, but four million enslaved men, women and children had gained their freedom. (Grosvenor, 2005)
It would do well for us all to ask the question why it is that God has allowed us to live at this particular hour of earth's history.
What impact have our lives had on those around us?
Is our church a better place because we are here?
Is the world a better place because we have lived?
What good have we left behind when we leave this earth?
A gentleman called Stephen Grellet once said:
'I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow human being; let me do it now. Let me not differ nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.'
Is it too late to rectify wasted time or a wasted life?
In Jesus' Parable of the workers in the vineyard told in Matt 20: 1-16, the Lord makes very clear that it is not the length of time we labour but our willingness and dedication in the work that makes it acceptable to God. You know the story so well. Workers are hired throughout the day from early morning until one hour before finishing time, yet when they received their wages, all received the same. This caused many who had worked the whole day to be upset, thinking they would have received more. The owner of the vineyard reminds them that they were all promised a denarius, a days wages, and if he wished now to be generous to the others they should not be envious. He who begrudges the reward to another forgets that he himself is saved by grace alone.
It is also a warning to the labourers that however long their service, however abundant their labours that without love to their neighbours, without humility before God, they are as nothing.
Is the world a better place because you lived in this time and space?
Over 100 years ago, during the late 1800s, a number of creative young men with vivid imaginations were to turn their hands to writing for their livelihood. Some were very successful and, as a consequence, many of their books are still very popular reading today.
One of these men was a man called Herbert George Wells or more commonly known as H. G. Wells. He was born on September 21, 1866 at a place called Bromley in the county of Kent in England.
Like Robert Louis Stevenson, who learned to enjoy books after he suffered from ill health, Wells' career as an author was fostered by an unfortunate accident as a child. He broke his leg and spent the mandatory rest period reading every book that he could find. After winning a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London, he came under the influence of a famous biologist by the name of Thomas Huxley. It was his continuing interest in Biology that clearly directed much of his writing that was described by many people as 'science fiction'.
Over the years Wells became concerned with the fate of human society in a world where technology and scientific study were advancing at a rapid rate. Remember that this was the late 1800s and the industrial revolution that had taken place 100 years before was initiating changes in society at a tremendous pace. People's lives were also changing, as the new inventions of the age were forcing people off the land and moving them into the cities. This movement of people was to provide labour for the huge factories and mills that were being built throughout England and Europe providing an environment that many believed was to be a hell on earth.
It was within this context that young Wells began to write. However, he considered it an insult to have his science fiction thought of as no more than just that. He insisted that the fantasy novels, like his non-fiction works were written chiefly to illustrate his beliefs. They were never intended to be taken for reality any more than a 'good, gripping dream'. While he was to eventually write more than 100 books during his lifetime, his most famous and popular book written in 1898 was to be called 'The War of the Worlds'. Twelve months previous to this publication in 1897 he released a book called 'The Invisible Man'. This was preceded in 1895 by 'The Island of Dr. Moreau', but it was to be his first book, written in the early part of that same year, that brought him immediate fame. The book was entitled 'The Time Machine'.
The story begins in England in the year 1899 with a scientist who is obsessed with the concept of time. His concerns over the restrictions placed on all human beings living on this earth was to lead to his study of the 4th dimension. While we all know about the other three dimensions that we were taught in school, the fourth dimension was to hold a fascination for him and was to lead to one of the most astonishing stories ever told.
All scientific people know that the first three dimensions allow us to move back and forward, from side to side and up and down (length, breadth and height), but we do not have the freedom to move in the fourth dimension. We are all prisoners of time and space.
To overcome this problem, his experiments were to lead him to create a machine large enough to carry one man into the past or into the future. This machine, he called 'The Time Machine', was not to carry a man through space but to carry him through time itself. The question that had tormented him during the creation and perfection of this machine was that if it were possible to travel through time, 'Could man control his destiny?' 'Could he hope to change the shape of things to come?' The only way to obtain the answers to these questions was for him to travel on this experimental machine into the fourth dimension and tempt the laws of providence, the laws of God. After making some last minute adjustments he climbed into the compartment, took the starting lever in his hands and advanced it ever so slightly. He felt like a man holding a pistol to his skull. As he looked at the clock it showed that he had moved ahead five hours.
Drawing a deep breath he gripped the starting lever with both hands and silently moved off into the eternal realm of time. Day went into night like the flapping of a great wing. It was a feeling of helpless headlong motion. As the machine moved on, the landscape around him began to change. He recognised that he and the machine were still in the same place. Only time was changing around him. Conflict, war and desolation seemed to be everywhere as he continued his journey at an even greater speed. The future looked very bleak indeed.
It was at a point beyond this time that he decided to stop and to look at where mankind had reached in their history. Did mankind still live on the earth? What did they look like? Were they still human? As he stepped from the machine and looked around him, the world looked peaceful and beautiful.
It was then that he heard voices and he saw a group of people walking towards him. As he looked at these simple, childlike people of a small stature who were speaking in a strange but musical language, he began to wonder what had happened in the intervening years. He discovered that they called themselves the 'Eloi'. As he walked around he began to realise that there were no small houses to be seen and that everyone seemed to live in the huge palace-like buildings that were spread throughout the countryside. Inside these structures the tables were laden with food but where did it come from? There were no farms, factories or cities to be seen but there were many ruins that showed evidence of civilizations that had long since disappeared.
He also discovered, dotted throughout the countryside, structures that looked like wells, which he later found to be passageways for a different group of people who lived underground and who called themselves the 'Morlocks'. It was here that the work was done by sophisticated machines providing food and clothing for the Eloi people.
Somewhere in time mankind had become two different and distinct species. The sweet but helpless Eloi who lived above the earth and the vile but efficient Morlocks who preferred the darkness of the underworld and who had become the master race. They had complete control over the destiny of the Eloi and had reduced themselves to the lowest form of life by becoming cannibals. This was evidenced by the fact that none of the Eloi reached middle age.
It seemed like mankind in one way could go no further into an animalistic state for one group and yet on the other hand some had reached that utopian or wonderful stage of life where it was almost like what heaven was meant to be.
To cut a long story short, the scientist reactivated the Time Machine and, in absolute discouragement, returned to his own time arriving on January 5, 1900.
It is interesting to note that H. G. Wells believed at the end of time mankind would fall into two distinct groups. It is also interesting to note that the word 'Eloi' that he used for the group found on the earth's surface comes from a Greek word used in Scripture by Jesus himself when He was on the Cross. Eloi, Eloi Lamma Sabbacani - 'My God, My God why have you forsaken me'?
Wells in using this word was describing a 'God-like people' - 'the Eloi'. The other group he described as being the lowest of the low, a vile despicable group who lived in the underground reaches of the earth which for many represents an understanding of hell or the place of the 'lost'.
The Scriptures make it very clear that at the end of time there will only be two classes of people left on the earth, The 'lost and the saved', the 'sheep and the goats', the 'wheat and the tares', 'those that walk in the light and those that walk in darkness'.
There is no middle ground.
In 1895 H. G. Wells believed that time was running out for the world in which he was living.
When one reads the Scriptures it becomes obvious that God is particular about time. Fulfilment of time is an important concept because it shows God's sovereign control of these aspects of time and space in order to bring His promises to pass.
Luke 19: 44 tells us that Jesus was born on time, Rom 5: 6 tells us that he died at the appointed time and let me tell you He will come back on time - a time that Matt 24:36 tells us is known only to God the Father.
The future and the end times are in God's control.
While the future is filled with fear and uncertainty for the unbeliever, it should be filled with hope and certainty for you.
According to Bible prophecy we have been living, since 1798, in a period the Scriptures call 'the time of the end'. Time is running out and we all need to be faithful in the discharge of our duties. We need to know something about the period in which we are living. Hence, it is essential to improve the use of our time so we may understand these things through the reading of God's word, listening to God's Word proclaimed, and then conforming our lives to what He says.
Rev 1: 3 says: 'Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.'
We need to make those decisions now that will ensure us a place in God's Kingdom where we can be with Him forever. The Scriptures in Joshua 24: 15 encourages us to choose today, present time, whom you will serve. If you choose to serve God we will have eternity before us. We will have an opportunity to move into the fourth dimension where dwells the powerful God of the Universe. We will no longer be prisoners of time, as we now know it. Let's make that choice today so that we can know right now what the future holds for each and everyone of us.
This is my earnest prayer for you this day.
NEUFELD, D. & NEUFFER, J. (Eds) 1962 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Student's Source Book. Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
TAN, P. L. (1991) Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations. Hong Kong: NORDICA INTERNATIONAL LTD.
WHITE, E. G. (1958) Patriarchs and Prophets, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association.
www.kirjasto.sci.fi/hgwells.htm H.G. Wells
www.bartleby.com/1000/ H. G. Wells - The Time Machine
www.online-literature.com/wellshg/ H. G. Wells - Biography and Works
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