Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why Did God Create Time?

God is not bound by time. Moses said in Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God has no beginning and no end. Moses at the burning bush, anticipating a question from the children of Israel, asked the Lord:

“Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hathsent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” The Lord responded by saying, “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:13-14)

By naming himself “I AM” the Lord teaches us that he is without beginning or end. The Lord names Himself an eternal being, outside of time. He is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 106:48), and “inhabiteth eternity.” (Isaiah 57:15) Our God does not even view time in the same manner as us. 2 Peter 3:8 tells us; “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.” Why did God, who is outside of time, place his creation within the grip of time? I believe God created time for two reasons. So that we might seek him, and so that we might have the opportunity to change, repent and grow.

God created time so that we might seek him. In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon writes:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which 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 together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, 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.

In this word all things come to an end. In truth our lives are filled with endings. The hour that now is will come to an end and when it does we will never get it back. When this day comes to an end it will be gone and we will never get it back. We can, with micrometric precision, document endings. Millisecond by millisecond, second by second, minute by minute our lives are filled with endings. I believe we, as adults, grow calloused to these endings. The illusion of past experience tells us that this ending is nothing special we will meet again. Our children, however, often react to the parting of friends as if it is the last they will see of each other. James, like Solomon, reminds us that we cannot assume anything concerning the future.

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).

All things come to an end. These endings may occur in such a sequence so that we may never see each other again. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” and when that time is over there is an ending. Solomon concludes some of his thoughts on endings with verse 11 saying: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” I think God has put eternity in our hearts by filling it with endings. We see in this world that all things come to an end and that should make us yearn for something more. Paul echoes these points in his sermon on Mars hill. Acts 17:26-27,“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”

I believe Paul is indicating that God has placed us in time and space so that we might seek him.

Another reason God created time is so that we can experience repentance, change and growth. John said, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8). Repentance encompasses recognition of error, choosing to change in accordance with the will of God, and demonstrating change. This compound action can only occur over time. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:8-9 that God does not view time as we do but is longsuffering. God wants to give everyone a chance to come to repentance.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.   The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance(2 Peter 3:8-9). God, in his mercy, has given us time to repent. Jesus tells us a parable with a similar message in Luke 13:6-9, revealing that God wants to give everyone time to change. God created time so that we might be able to change, repent and grow in Him.

It is through time that we see the impermanence of this world and this should lead us to seek the Lord. Likewise it is only through time that we can experience change and repentance. God created us to serve him and has given us time so that we can choose to do so.

~ Richard Garbi

The King’s Justice

The story of King David’s adultery with Bathsheba, his attempts to cover it up, and the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite, is told in 2 Samuel 11. The last statement in the chapter is “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.” Afterward, the prophet Nathan, who had always been a staunch supporter, friend, and ally of King David, came to him and told a story of a poor man whose one pet lamb was stolen by a rich man, who had plenty of sheep and cattle of his own, then slaughtered to feed a guest. David was stirred with great indignation against the rich man who had so abused his power and taken advantage of one who could not retaliate. David angrily said that the rich man deserved death (2 Samuel 12:5). However, the law did not provide a death penalty for theft, and so David pronounced his judgment, based on legal precedent (Exodus 22:1), that the rich man must pay for that lamb “four times over because he had done such a thing and had no pity.” That’s when Nathan made the famous statement to David, “You are the man.” Nathan proceeded to deliver a severe godly rebuke for David’s lack of gratitude and his unfaithfulness toward God, his great benefactor. Nathan told him that the cost of what he had done would be high, that “the sword will never depart from your house”, that his family, his wives, would be visited with the same infidelity he had shown regarding Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:7­12).

David immediately admitted his wrong (2 Samuel 12:13, and in Psalm 51), but Nathan answered that while God had taken his sin away, and David would not die, the consequences remained. David had strengthened the hand of the enemies of God by his “secret” sin, and so the first very public display of the sword striking David’s house would be the death of the infant son conceived in his adultery with Uriah’s wife (2 Samuel 12:14ff). David pleaded with God for the child’s life, but the boy died soon after.

The story of David’s life and reign after that seems to flow from crisis to crisis, events that affected the whole nation but arose within his own family. The next story in 2 Samuel 13 tells of David’s son Amnon becoming infatuated with David’s daughter Tamar, and then carrying out a plan to force himself on her.  After raping his half sister Amnon’s infatuation turned to hatred and he humiliated her even further by having her thrown out of his house. The Bible says that “When King David heard all this, he was furious,” (2 Samuel 13:21) but he apparently did nothing about it, perhaps in part because with his own sin he felt morally compromised in dealing with his son’s sin. However, David’s son Absalom, half brother to Amnon and brother to Tamar, quietly waited two years and then murdered Amnon for what he had done to Tamar. Afterward, Absalom fled to his grandparents’ kingdom in Gerar for three years, until David was manipulated into bringing this son that he loved very much back to Jerusalem.

Once Absalom was back in Jerusalem he put a plan into motion to secure the kingdom of Israel as his own, sooner rather than later. He patiently plotted and maneuvered for several years before openly moving to declare himself king and raise an army against his father David (2 Samuel 14­-15). David initially avoided conflict with Absalom and the Israelites who followed him, abandoning Jerusalem to Absalom (and thus fulfilling a portion of Nathan’s prophecy years earlier about the public defilement of some of David’s wives). Conflict was inevitable though, and when it came to open war between the forces of Absalom and those loyal to David, David’s one desire was to save his son’s life. Despite his wishes, Absalom was killed, breaking David’s heart but saving the kingdom (2 Samuel 18:1­19:7). By this time, David had seen three of his sons die.

After the kingdom was again settled firmly in David’s control, as he aged and grew infirmed, he made it plain that his son Solomon, one of his younger sons, born of Bathsheba, was to be his heir (1 Chronicles 22:5ff). However, David’s older son Adonijah wanted to be king and began to make preparations to crown himself with the support of several leading men who had previously served David (1 Kings 1). When David was made aware of the plot and the dangers involved he ordered the immediate coronation of Solomon, and then instructed Solomon to deal firmly with the divisive elements in his kingdom. One consequence was the condemnation and death of David’s ambitious son Adonijah, Solomon’s older brother, a short while later (1 Kings 2:13­25).

Years before, Nathan the prophet had told David that the sword would never leave his house. As a result of his sins against God and Uriah the Hittite, David’s house was violently divided. King David himself had set the judgment. The rich man who selfishly took the other man’s lamb must pay fourfold because he had no pity. Nathan answered, “You are the man.” Pay fourfold he did, in the death’s of his own sons, the infant son of Uriah’s wife, Amnon the rapist, Absalom the usurper, and the ambitious Adonijah. It was the King’s own justice, the penalty he himself declared.

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

~ Charles Fry

Love Does Not…

“Above all keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

(1 Peter 4:8)

Godly love and sin are incompatible. Christians are to be patient when personally wronged and righteous when God is wronged! While men may feign that their love, “just loves no matter what, and that is all there is to say about it,” God’s love makes no such pretense, for God’s love and truth are inseparable. In this article we shall consider what Peter’s text reveals about agape love and, in the related context, seek to understand how love “covers a multitude of sins.”

The type of love mentioned in 1 Peter 4:8, earnest love or fervent love, means “to be stretched, to be strained.” It is used of a runner who is moving at maximum output with taut muscles straining and stretching to the limit.

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Love indicated here by Peter is the love of choice, the kind of love that responds to a command. The text says “fervently/earnestly,” which again means to be stretched to the limits (compare Luke 22:44, Acts 12:5, James 5:16c). Only those who have been “purified,” that is, those who have been washed in the blood of the lamb, regenerated, baptized into the LORD Jesus and now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, have the capacity to love like this. Such love exhibits itself by meeting others at the point of their need. This kind of love requires that the Christian put the spiritual welfare of another ahead of his own desires, even if that means being treated unkindly, ungraciously, or with hostility. Agape is what fuels Christian fortitude that enables a Christian to overlook sins against him, if possible, and always be ready to forgive insults and unkindness (c.f. Hebrews 12:3-6; Philippians 2:1-4). This is the context of Peter’s statement as he goes on to say in 1 Peter 4:8, “love covers a multitude of sins.”

To help us understand the meaning of Peter’s statement, let us enlist the writings of Paul. Consider the “all things” of love (1 Corinthians 13:7), beginning with “love rejoices with the truth.” Not simply factual truth, but God’s truth, God’s revealed word. Righteousness is predicated on God’s truth and cannot exist apart from it. Love always rejoices in God’s truth and never in falsehood or false teaching. Love cannot tolerate wrong doctrine. If we properly understand God’s love, we cannot say this for example: “It doesn’t really matter if we don’t agree doctrinally what matters is if we love each other,” because what they believe affects their souls and THAT, should matter a great deal to us!

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, Paul makes it very clear that agape love rejects jealousy, bragging, arrogance, unseemliness, selfishness, anger, resentment and unrighteousness. So then how do we reconcile these verses with verse 7? And how does agape love bear, believe, hope, and endure ALL things? Does love endure lies, false teaching, immorality, or anything else that is not of God? LOVE DOES NOT! So what does Paul mean by “all things?” Paul refers to all things that are acceptable in God’s righteousness, all things acceptable in God’s will. Love does not justify sin. Love does not compromise with lies. Love warns. Love corrects. Love exhorts. Love rebukes. And love disciplines.

Then Paul says “love believes all things.” Does this mean love is blind or gullible? No, but neither is love suspicious or cynical! Love believes in the best outcome for the one upon whom it is bestowed. What is the best outcome? Simply this: sin confessed and sin forgiven, a loved one restored to righteousness. What if the sin was not exactly confessed? Then there could not exactly be forgiveness! Love is a harbor of trust. When that trust is broken, love’s first reaction is to heal and restore. When loves throws its mantle over wrong, as it does so, it also believes in the best outcome for the one who has done wrong. Love “bears” by covering, by supporting, by protecting others from ridicule.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

“Love hopes all things.” Even when belief in a loved one’s goodness or repentance is shattered, love still hopes. As long as God’s grace is operative, human failure is never final! Jesus would not take Peter’s failure as final. Paul would not take the Corinthians’ failure as final. There are more than enough promises in the Bible to make love hopeful for parents of children who have strayed, the spouse of an unbelieving partner, the congregation that has disciplined members who, to date, have not repented. Love remains constant in the hope that the child, the spouse, the erring brother or sister will be restored. Love refuses to take failure as final. The rope of love’s hope has no end. As long as there is life, love does not lose hope. When our hope becomes weak, we know that our love has already done so!

“Love endures all things.” Do you know, oh Christian, you’re a doormat? Yes, sometimes that is the sacrifice of love! But do we define love based upon the frequency that someone takes advantage of us? NO! Love refuses to stop bearing, stop believing, or, stop hoping, because love will not stop loving! Love bears what is otherwise unbearable. Love believes what is otherwise unbelievable. Love hopes in what is otherwise hopeless. Love endures when anything else would just give up. After love bears, it believes. After love believes, it hopes. After love hopes, it endures. THERE IS NO “AFTER” FOR ENDURANCE! And who more than Christ, had to endure?

“And Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do’” (Luke 23:34).

~ Steven Wright