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.