Thursday, December 31, 2015

[BTT010] The Fall of Time and the Three Curses

Previous: [BTT011] The Fall of Space and the Fall of Time

The argument so far is thus:

1). Time is part of creation, not part of Eternity.

2). The nature of Time can be changed, and indeed, has already been changed from a perfect state into a fallen state.

3). Just as the rest of creation will be restored to its perfect, pre-fall state, so will Time.

I do not think that most readers will have any major objections up to this point. I feel that most Christians do not think about the redemption of Time, but only because we do not think very much about the relation between Time and Space. Once we see and accept that Time is part of creation, the necessity of its redemption fairly cries out to us.

But there is a point where the discussion becomes an argument. First, in what exact sense is Time fallen? In Genesis 3, we are given a fairly clear picture of how the fall affects Space - the earth brings forth thorns and diseases, childbirth and work become painful, and our physical bodies die. This gives us some good leads in exploring how the fall affects Time, but it also forces us to indulge in a certain level of speculation.

Second, in what sense will Time be redeemed? Once again, it is fairly easy to get a Scriptural image of what a restored Space will look like - no more death, no more pain, no more sin. The lion will lay down with the lamb, there will be no more war, and God will dwell directly in our midst.

It is much harder to imagine a changed, redeemed Time. Will this redemption apply only to the Future? To the Present and Future? Or dare we suggest that the redemption of Time will also apply to the Past?

After all, the redemption of Space will not apply to only one country, one continent, or even one planet. It is all of physical creation, from the Earth to the Sun to beyond our galaxy, that will be burnt up and replaced with a “New Heavens and a New Earth.” Redemption will not extend only to the upper atmosphere of Earth.

What then of Time? When the physical universe is burnt up like an old cloth in a furnace, what does that mean for Time? We can very easily accept that the Future will be redeemed, we can easily accept that there will be a definite Present moment in which this will occur (though we know not the day and hour, we can reasonably assume that it occur in a particular day and an hour), but what about the Past?

I would like to look at how the fall affects Time first and how the redemption will affect Time second. After all, if we understand how sin has affected Time we will be better equipped to tackle how redemption will restore Time.

To understand how the Fall has affected Time, we must go back to the moment that the curse was proclaimed onto the world, as described in Genesis 3:14-19. In this passage, God pronounces what effects the Fall will have on three individuals: the Serpent, Eve, and Adam.

            “So the Lord God said to the serpent:
            “Because you have done this,

You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”

             -Genesis 3:14-15

First, God pronounces His judgment on the Serpent, who we know from the rest of Scripture is actually Satan. Now, there is a legitimate line of thinking that claims that in this passage God curses both a literal serpent that Satan was possessing and Satan himself. It is common to see paintings of the temptation of Eve in which the snake has legs, thus implying that part of God's curse was reducing snakes into ground-crawlers.

I have no particular objection to this interpretation, but it does require a certain amount of speculation. The Genesis account does not explicitly tell us that snakes had four legs before the Fall. Perhaps God is using the snake which Satan inhabits to tell us something of Satan's fate.

Scripture certainly does imply that part of Satan's existence from here on out consists of “going to and fro in the earth, and…walking up and down in it” (Job 1:6-7). Cast out of the assembly of his brother angels, Satan is reduced to crawling around on a sphere of clay. Lucifer, the bright morning star, must eat the dust of the world that he led into sin.

I am taking this time to discuss the identity of the Serpent, not because I do not think that my readers are well of who Satan is, but in order to draw out the role of Time in this curse. Satan is cursed “all the days of [his] life” and bound to the physical world of dirt in a way he was not before. Part of Satan's curse is that he is now bound to Time. Even if he has until the end of history before he must face the Judgment, for a being that once dwelt in eternity “His time is short” indeed!

Second, Satan is cursed by the prophecy of the Seed. This too is a curse relating to Time. From here on out, there will be enmity between Satan and the woman, between his seed and her Seed. This is Satan's ticking clock. One day, the Seed will come and crush his head.

Satan's future is written, his Time is set. Struggle as he may, the day of vengeance comes inexorably closer. He can fight the woman and her seed, kill and accuse humans, work his own seed of sin, death, and separation from God, even go so far as to fatally wound the Seed, but it is all in vain.

For Satan, a very real part of the curse is the simple onward movement of Time. Even if part of this curse is turning snakes from four-legged creatures to no-legged creatures, the Messiah, the Promised Seed, does not come to wage war on physical snakes. The second part of the curse only makes sense in reference to Satan. After all, we are given images of redeemed snakes in the World to Come. Isaiah 11: 8-9 tells us:

            “The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
              And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
              They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
              For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
              As the waters cover the sea.

The snake is a fitting symbol for Satan crawling around in the dust of our world, but the snake as an animal is part of the original, good creation. Jesus will not destroy snakes, He will make them our companions and friends. Snakes look forward to the redemption as much as the rest of creation. The passage of Time is not a curse on them, but on Satan.

Moving on to Eve:

            “To the woman He said:

            “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
            In pain you shall bring forth children;
            Your desire shall be for your husband,
            And he shall rule over you.”

             -Genesis 3:16

This is perhaps the curse least related to Time, but it is still a curse related to the future. Now, it is difficult for us to imagine a form of childbirth that would not be painful (a friend describes it as “a watermelon being pushed through a tennis ball”), but the point is something which was once only blessing is now part curse.

However, if we look back at the curse on the serpent, we can see that this curse is mixed with a blessing. The Seed will be delivered in pain and sorrow, but it is coming. There is a Hope in our cursed timeline, a Seed which will overthrow the enemy.

It is also interesting to note that men ruling over women was not a part of the good original order, but rather the fallen order. This verse has been used time and time again to justify male domination, but nothing could be further from the point.

Bear in mind the unique dignity given to the woman in this passage. It is not the man Adam who the serpent will be at war with, it is the woman Eve. The Seed, the redeemer, the over-thrower of sin, will not be born through a man, but through a woman. The future of woman is filled with pain, but it is a pain which will deliver the Savior into the world. Men may die for the truth, but only a woman can give birth to the Truth, the Way, and the Light.

Jesus may be a man, but the glory of his birth belongs to Eve and Mary, not to Adam and Joseph. Without women, there would be no Redeemer, no hope for all of Time.

Let us turn to the man, to Adam and his curse:

            “Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

            “Cursed is the ground for your sake;
             In toil you shall eat of it
             All the days of your life.
             Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
             And you shall eat the herb of the field.
             In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
             Till you return to the ground,
             For out of it you were taken;
             For dust you are,
             And to dust you shall return.

            -Genesis 3:17-19

In Adam's curse, we perhaps best see the effects of sin on Space, on the physical world. Adam's curse does not only affect him in the way that the curses on the serpent and Eve affect only them. The ground itself is cursed on Adam's behalf, the creation is “subject to futility” because of Adam's sin.

What a terrifying vision this is! The sinless creation is turned into a nightmare of pain and death in order to punish Adam for his crime! Satan is cursed to eat the dust, but Adam is cursed to become it. It is in this curse that we see creation bound for the sake of one man's sin.

While the curse on Satan and the curse on Eve give us a glimpse of the coming Seed and the inevitable Redemption, the curse on Adam ends on the bleakest note possible. There is no hope of new births to lighten the curse on Adam, only a life of futility which ends in death.

In a very real sense, Adam is now bound more tightly to Eve than Eve is to Adam. Eve may be subject to desire for her husband and to chafe under his rule, but her salvation is contained inside her very body. Not so for Adam! He is the ruler of the kingdom of death. His hope can never be in his body, which will toil, wear out, and die, but in protecting the woman from whom new life will come. Nowhere do we see so clearly the Gospel message, that salvation will not be born from the futile work of our hands, but from the gift of God.

This, then, is the curse on Time: bodies will grow old, work will become futile, and history will be the oppression of the guilty. Perhaps this is best expressed by Entropy, the physical law by which energy is scattered into an unusable form. The Sun and her sister stars will run out of energy and explode, succumbing to the futility of their work. All of the monuments of man will crumble and fall, all systems be reduced to chaos, “things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”

How clear the Fall becomes when we look at Time! Our world is so fallen that it marches forward toward a universal scattering, not an evolution into a perfect state. While Time cannot destroy matter or energy, it can break them apart.

When we look at Time, we see the curse on Adam in its purest form. All our effort is broken and reduced to dust. The finest poetry is forgotten. The greatest empires crumble. Our cities will be swallowed by the sea, the continents will be pulled into the mantle of the Earth, and the Earth will be consumed by a dying Sun. All that is will be undone, pulled into an increasingly chaotic state until the sin of man has reduced the universe into an endless gray void.

The lesson of Time is that our world cannot continue on its own. Time, though it was created good, has become as much of a source of futility as Space. Were it not for the Seed, the works of man would all be pulled into a universal cloud of dust. Without the pain of birth cursed on woman, the promise of God cannot be born into Time.

Next: [BTT011] The End of Time

Monday, December 28, 2015

Race and HBD Comment Thread

Hey Anon, leaving scattershot comments across different posts is making this discussion difficult. So I'm making a post all for you and pinning it the right side of the blog. Hopefully this will make the conversation easier to follow. If this doesn't work, we'll go back to scattershot comments.

Others are free to chime in as well.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

[BTT009] The Fall of Space and the Fall of Time

Previous: [BTT008] The Beginning of Time

Any discussion of the original creation must turn inevitably to the tragedy of the Fall, an event that so radically altered the nature of the universe that we must struggle to understand what life was like before it. What was it like to live in a world without death, without disease, without pain in childbirth? How could the lion lay down with the lamb?

Even so, it is relatively easy to understand how the Fall has affected Space, the material creation. We may not know how lions fed themselves before death came into the world, but we know what they eat now. We have all felt our bodies heavy with disease, felt the painful curse put upon our work as we struggle to provide for ourselves and our families. We struggle with sin, with the twistedness of our own hearts. There is not a day of our lives in which we do not come face to face with the consequences of the Fall on the race of human beings.

But the effects of sin are not limited to humans. It extends to animals, which must also shed blood to survive. It extends to plants with the creation of thorns and thistles, with vines and weeds that choke the life out of other plants. While the death of plants is not put on the same level as the shedding of human blood (or even animal blood) in Scripture, their struggle for life in a hostile universe is an all-to-clear reflection of our own.

In The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton poses the haunting question, “Why does each thing on the earth war against each other thing? Why does each small thing in the world have to fight against the world itself? …Why does a dandelion have to fight the whole universe?”

Every thing that is, not just humans, must partake in the dreadful struggle for continued existence, feeding on the life of others and being fed upon in turn. Even the stars grow old and die. From the largest, most powerful star in the depths of space to a broken dandelion struggling up from the concrete, the whole of creation is in “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21).

Just as humans are not the only part of creation subject to bondage under Sin and Death, so humans are not the only part of creation which will be redeemed by God. In Romans 8:19-22, Paul paints a beautiful picture of the creation that will be redeemed along with us:

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

 It is not enough for God to redeem His sons and daughters out of a dying universe. God will not be content until the entire creation, which He made good, is returned to that original state of goodness.

The dandelion which struggles against the universe is subjected to the same hope as us: that God will remake all of creation according to the “glorious liberty” which frees us from Sin and Death. “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). The need we feel in our hearts for the redemptive love of Christ is shared by the whole of creation.

It is very commonly accepted Christian teaching that the Fall has affected physical space - death entered the world, changed the physical natures of humans, animals, and plants. If we keep Paul's teaching in Romans 8 in mind, we can easily expand this to the whole of creation - not just living beings, but rocks, water, and air. After all, Jesus says that if His people do not respond to His divine presence, the rocks and trees will praise him (and while we might be tempted to assume Jesus is speaking metaphorically, Paul seems to take Him quite literally).

But as we established earlier, Time and Space are both part of the same creation. This thing called Time is by definition not a part of Eternity, nor part of the Eternal Nature of God. Just like the Sabbath, Time was not created for God's needs, but for our needs as human beings. If created Space is subject to the hope of redemption, it seems to follow that created Time is also in need of a Savior.

As human beings, we instinctively know that the realm of Time is the realm of change. We change in time, growing from babies into adults and from adults into elders. Time weathers down monuments and great cities, eats away at mountains and transforms languages. It is in Time, not in Eternity, that we age and die, that our works are buried beneath the sand and forgotten.
However, there is also a sense in which we think of Time as unchanging - the Past. We move forward in Time, not back. The Past remains ever as it was. It is as if once a given moment slips past our fingers, it becomes permanent. I would say that it becomes etched in stone, but even words etched in stone are weathered away. The Future has infinite possibility and the Present is still fluid, but the Past is as firmly settled as Eternity.

This is a perfectly natural thing for beings within Time to feel, to think. We cannot reach back into the Past and change it any more than we can rewrite the laws of gravity. But to a being which exists outside of Time, this might be a laughably limited perspective.

Next: [BTT010] The Fall of Time and the Three Curses

Thursday, December 17, 2015

[BTT008] The Beginning of Time

Previous: [BTT007] The Time Before Time

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

 - Genesis 1:1-5

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.

 -Genesis 1:14-19

These are complicated passages, and there are many opinions on how to best interpret them. Since I am not interested in engaging in debates outside of the scope of the present question of Time, I will stick to a fairly literal reading of the text.

I doubt there are many who will challenge me when I say that “In the beginning” refers to the very moment of the beginning of Time and Space. Time and Space were created simultaneously - “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

There was no creation of Time separate from the creation of Space. There was no Time, in our universe's understanding of it, before there was Space; there was no Space before there was Time. However, just as God successively developed Space into distinct categories (for example, separating the seas and the land), so God developed Time into more and more distinct categories.

The first thing we see from the creation account in Genesis is that God created our universe in a series of days, according to the new order of Time. We might assume that God could have created a fully-functioning universe in a single moment if He so wished, but the text shows that He chose to first create the raw material and improve from there.

God created the world in a series of six days, not for a lack of power, but to show us how God chose to interact with this new creation of Time. By dividing His work into six separate days, God shows us in Genesis that He prefers to work with Time rather than against it. Rather than simply “poofing” a fully-functioning universe into existence, God reveals it slowly, starting “without form and void” and making it more and more complex.

Now, the first specific things which God creates by name instead of by general fiat is light. These are the first recorded words spoken directly by God in all of Scripture: “Let there be Light.” The light is still mixed with darkness in a disordered and chaotic state until God separates them. In doing so, God creates another new thing: the first distinction of Time. Before, there was only homogenous, undefined Time; now there is night and day. God has created a measurement by which Time can be recorded and expressed.

Skipping down to Genesis 1:14-19, we see a further defining of Time. We use the Sun, Moon, and Stars to define much more distinct categories of Time than “evening and morning.” Our day is divided into 24 hours based on the Sun's motion across the sky. The concept of Months was first found in the waxing and waning of the Moon. The rotation of the Earth around the Sun, the long days of Summer and long nights of Winter, define the concept of the Year.

So God creates Time, and then creates more and more minute categories for marking the movement of Time. These categories would be unimportant to an Eternal Being existing outside of Time, but they are extremely useful to temporal beings existing inside of it.

For that matter, these categories of Time would be fairly useless to a being living on, say, Pluto. When your year (that is, a single rotation around the Sun) lasts more than 90,000 days, it is a much less useful marker for Time.

Just as God created the universe according to an order our benefit, so these increasingly complex means of marking Time were created for our benefit. These categories of time are not necessary for an eternal God or to a hypothetical microbe living on Pluto, but they are extremely useful to human beings on Earth.

It is precisely in this context that I wish to talk about Time.

When I discuss Time with other Christians, they have a tendency to approach it as something sacrosanct, something unchanging and immutable. Genesis 1 paints a very different picture. It shows us an “original” order of time - chaotic, undistinguishable, unmarked - and then an “improved” order of time - ordered, distinct, marked. Some say that God would not alter the nature of Time. Genesis 1 shows He already has. What's more, He has done so for our benefit.

This, I hope, will inform the debate over Time. It is no less subject to change than Space, though admittedly more difficult for humans to influence. But there is no “eternal and unchangeable” nature of Time presented in Scripture. That which has been changed once may be changed again. For another example of this, we can look at the sixth day of creation and the establishment of the Sabbath.

 After creating Adam and Eve, God addresses them in Genesis 1:28-30: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.' And God said, 'See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food'; and it was so.

As God gives His blessing to the first man and woman, He unveils the astonishing fact that all of the Creation has been given into their hands. This mighty labor has been done for their benefit. But in Genesis 2:1-3, God does something even more surprising: “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Having finished His work and having blessed Adam and Eve, God blesses a time.

How strange this is! God blesses a period of Time, establishing a seven-day week for the newly-created humanity. Mark 2:27 tells us that this too was for our benefit, as Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” The entire establishment of Time, just as much as the creation of plants and animals, is for the benefit of mankind.

Let us remember this when we are tempted to think of Time as an unchanging, untouchable law. The Sabbath, the original holy day, was created not for its own sake, but solely for the good of “those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Previous: [BTT009] The Fall of Space and the Fall of Time

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

StudyOke! "TSUNAMI" - Southern All-Stars

Thursday, December 10, 2015

[BTT007] The Time Before Time

 Previous: [BTT006] What Does the Bible Say About Time?

            “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,
            Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

            You turn man to destruction,
            And say, “Return, O children of men.”
            For a thousand years in Your sight
            Are like yesterday when it is past,
            And like a watch in the night.”

            -Psalm 90:1-4

Before the mountains were brought forth. Before the Earth and the universe it inhabitants. Before atoms, before energy, before Time, there was God.

God is an eternal being, not a temporal being like us. He had no beginning, and He will have no end. Our universe and its specific form of Space and Time do not apply to God. He sees “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10). We might well add that the past is not a closed book to God either; while the past is inaccessible to us, God is an Omniscient God, fully able to see the beginning from the end.

We see from these verses that there was “something” before our universe existed, a Time Before Time. Scripture makes frequent reference to what existed before “the foundation of the world.”

Now, when we say there was “a time” before Time, we do not mean it in the same sense we might say “there was a time before the United States of America.” When we refer to “the time before the United States of America” we can use the conventional picture of a time-line: at this point on the line the USA came into being, but here on this earlier point, it did not exist.

When we talk about the “time” before our universe, we are not talking about points on a timeline at all. We are not even talking about a point on a different timeline. We are talking about the paper onto which the line was drawn. The Time Before Time was not just a larger, longer timeline extending infinitely into the past, it was the absence of Time as we know it.

In a certain sense, this Time Before Time is older than our universe. It did, after all, exist before it. In another sense, concepts such as “older” and “before” do not properly apply to it, since these words presuppose our universe's structure of Time.

It is entirely appropriate to say that Rome is older than the United States of America. There was a city of Rome long before 1776, or even before European colonization of the Americas. Rome begins on this point of the timeline, long before the USA. This is the common usage of “older” and “younger.” But these terms presuppose a shared timeline - in fact, they do not make any sense without a shared timeline.

Let me give an example by way of a question: Which is further North, Mt. Everest (the tallest mountain on Earth) or Mons Huygens (the tallest mountain on the Moon)?

Give up?

It is very easy to compare latitude of two objects on the same planet. Mt. Everest is located 27 degrees north, while Mt. Kilimanjaro is located at 03 degrees south. Therefore, Mt. Everest is unquestionably farther North than Mt. Kilimanjaro.

However, Mt. Everest and Mons Huygens do not share a common concept of North. They are located not simply at different latitudes, but on separate systems of latitude. It is like this with our Time and the Time Before Time. They are not just different points on the same line, but completely different systems of measurement.

I realize that this may be a bit abstract, so let's talk about a more concrete issue. How are we supposed to understand the relation of angels to time? We know that God is an eternal being who is not limited by Time, but angels are created beings. Do they operate according to our understanding of Time?

Job 38:4-7 seems to indicate that angels existed before our physical universe. God asks Job:

             “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
             Tell Me, if you have understanding.
             Who determined its measurements?
              Surely you know!
              Or who stretched the line upon it?
              To what were its foundations fastened?
              Or who laid its cornerstone,
              When the morning stars sang together,
              And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

Here we have an image of the very first moments of our universe. God is “laying the foundations of the earth,” setting up the architecture which underlies our universe while the angels sing and shout for joy.

Genesis 1 at no point specifically refers to God creating angels. It does mention the creation of stars, and we might be tempted to take the reference to “the morning stars” in Job 38 to mean that angels were created along with the physical stars. However, the stars were not created until the fourth day of creation. Angels could not be present at the first day of creation if they were not created until the fourth. So clearly, the “morning stars” of Job 38 are not the physical balls of fire in the sky, but angels metaphorically described as stars.

It seems most likely that angels were already in existence when our world was created. What is not clear is just what relationship they have with Time. If they were created before Time, it would seem logical for them to not be bound by its rules.

And yet, Scripture seems to indicate that Time does have an effect on angels. In Daniel 10, an angelic messenger, a “glorious man” is sent to interpret Daniel's visions. This angel describes his experiences with the language of time:

“Then he said to me, 'Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.” 
- Daniel 10:12-14 (emphasis mine)

The prince and kings of Persia in this passage are often said by theologians to refer not to human royalty, but to demonic spirits claiming to rule “the kingdoms of this world.” Although there are some who object to this interpretation, I think an angelic conflict is a much more likely theory than a human king with the power to oppose an angel.

Whether or not this confrontation was between angels and fallen angels or angels and supernaturally powerful humans, it lasted for twenty-one days. And we have no reason to believe that these were metaphorical days. In Daniel 10:2-3, Daniel describes himself as fasting for three full weeks, that is, twenty-one days. The twenty-one day struggle between the glorious man and the prince of Persia lasted for twenty-one literal rotations of the earth, for twenty-one “evenings and mornings.” Angels and demons do seem to be, in some sense and in some contexts, bound by the laws of Time.

One possible way to understand this is that they are bound by Time only when they are interacting directly with our universe. That is to say, the glorious man may not have been affected by Time until he was sent to minister to Daniel. This would make a certain sense; after all, human brains understand things according to forward-moving linear Time. If you want to speak to a human, you need to make some accommodation for how they perceive the world.

Alternately, angels may operate according to some sort of parallel system of Time of their own. Call it an "Angelic Time," which operates independently of our universe's laws. No matter what theories we may speculate with, Scripture does not give us a clear answer.

Based on these basic teachings of Scripture, I have developed three main theories about angels and time:

1). Angels have their own system of Time, which is similar to ours but not based on our universe's laws of physics.

2). Angels have no system of Time, but rather work with Time when interacting with human beings.

3). Angels did not have a system of Time until our universe was created by God, at which point they began to use our system of Time.

While none of these arguments are in direct conflict with Scripture, I do not think any one of them has any significant amount of Scriptural support. All we can say for certain from Scripture is that angels can operate according to our universe's structure of Time, not that they must.

I think the principle of angels operating in accordance with our world's concept of Time may also be reflected in how Jesus operated within Time during His earthly ministry. While Jesus was fully God when He walked among us, part of His humility was in living as we live. In Christ, God bound Himself to Time, incarnating His eternal being into a human body that was born, aged, and died.

In other words, He submitted Himself to the operation of the very Time which He Himself had created. Jesus did not only submit Himself to the Law of the Old Testament that all humans were slaves to, He submitted Himself to the Laws of Time and Space. It should then not surprise us that angels also work within human Time when ministering to humans such as Daniel.

While it is not exactly clear to what extent angels are bound by Time, it is very clear how God is. Or rather, how He is not. With the exception of Jesus intentionally humbling Himself to live as a human among humans, God is not bound by Time. The divine being of God is eternal, from “everlasting to everlasting.” God was God before our Time existed, and He is in no way bound by its ebb and flow.

Peter refers to Psalm 90 in 2 Peter 3:8, where the apostle writes, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The exact meaning of these verses has been much debated. I remember talking to one pastor who claimed it meant God literally perceives periods of 1,000 years as if they only take 24 hours!

Clearly, this is not what Peter is trying to say. Both Psalm 90 and 2 Peter are, in fact, speaking of God's patience towards human beings. In the next verse, Peter says “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Psalm 90 shows God's concern for humans, as God cries “Return, O Children of Men!”

While some of us may pray that the Second Coming would come soon, to take us from the heavy burdens of this world, God in his patience waits for all to come to repentance. A single day, a thousand years, it makes no difference to God. A day is not literally a thousand years for God (or vice-versa), rather, Time and our perceptions of it are not binding to God. A thousand-year wait or a one-day wait; it makes no difference to the God who plans patiently for our salvation.

There are a few more passages dealing with the “foundation of the world” and the Time before it that I would like to discuss.

In discussing the Beast from the Sea, Revelation 13:8 says that “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This shows us that God's plan of salvation transcends Time - the names written in the Book of Life have been there “from the foundation of the world,” not after the Fall or after the resurrection of Christ.

Just as the names in the Book of Life were ordained from the foundation of the world, so was Christ's divine mission. 1 Peter 1:20 says of Christ, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”

The foreordination of Jesus as the Savior of mankind explains how our names could be written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 says “...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” We were chosen before the foundation of the world on the basis of Christ's foreordination as Savior.

There are many more Scriptures that refer to the Time before the foundation of the world, but I think it is sufficient to establish the following points:

1). God is eternal, existing before Time.

2). As the creator of Time, God and His works are not bound by Time.

3). Angels existed before Time, but seem to operate according to its principles when dealing with humans.

4). The plan of salvation existed before Time and is not bound by it.

We will talk a little more about how salvation relates to Time a little later on, but first let's talk about the creation of Time.

Next: [BTT008] The Beginning of Time

Thursday, December 3, 2015

[BTT006] What Does the Bible Say About Time?

Previous: [BTT005] Creatures of Time, Creatures of Eternity

This is the essential question. As Christians, we can trade personal theories about Time as much as we want, but we must keep our discussion grounded in Scripture. We may compare and contrast what the Bible says about Time with scientific models, but science can tell us very little about how spiritual, non-physical beings relate to time.

Scripture does not give us an explicit explanation of how Time functions, but then again, it doesn't give us an explicit explanation of how the human circulatory system functions either. There is no pull-out chart of human anatomy in the Bible, no discussion of physics. The Bible is not science textbook.

This does not mean that the Bible has nothing to say about time. Some of it is practical, such as verses in Proverbs which exhort us to make proper use of our time. Some of it is prophetic, as with Daniel's “time, a time, and a half a time.” Some of it refers to “times and seasons,” that is to say, the Jewish calendar of feasts and festivals. Instead of throwing up our hands because Jesus never discusses thermodynamics, I think it is appropriate to concern ourselves with what the Scriptures do say about time rather than bemoaning what it does not say.

I've broken this section down into five main parts:

1. The Time Before Time - What does the Bible say existed before the Genesis 1:1? How do angels relate to time? How does God relate to time?

2. The Creation of Time - What does Genesis 1 tell us about the nature of time? What was time like before the Fall?

3. The Fall of Space and the Fall of Time - How has the Fall affected time? What is the nature of time in a fallen world?

4. The Fall of Time and the Three Curses – How do the three curses on the Serpent, Eve, and Adam relate to the Fall of Time?

5. The End of Time – How does the Bible describe the Day of Judgment? What happens to Time when Space is destroyed?

Next: [BTT007] The Time Before Time

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Calibrate Your Rage

It’s not as popular as it once was, but I kind of liked the phrase “Check your privilege.”

Now, I understand why some people didn’t like having the phrase shoved in their faces. Even if you accept that you benefit from structural discrimination, there is still an authoritarian tone to the meme. “Check your privilege” – or else, what? An implied threat lingers over the words.

The phrase may rankle when it comes from the outside (from a rainbow haired twit denouncing your Chinese tattoo as worse than the Rape of Nanking), but it can be a very positive thing when it comes from the inside.

Once you come to realize that "Check your privilege" can be a step on the road to "know thyself" it starts to feel less of an imposition. Know how the world sees you, and that it would treat you differently if you looked differently. In this positive sense, it is a call for self-awareness and humility, not to hate yourself for being white, male, CIS, or whatever.

But life is nothing without balance. For every angel, there is a devil; for every proton, an electron. While “Check your privilege” can be a good thing, it must have its necessary counter-balance.

Which takes us to “Calibrate your rage.”

Uncalibrated rages may result in nuclear explosions

We live in a perpetually outraged society; a world where every man is a rapist and every woman is a gold digger. A world where every immigrant is a potential terrorist and every gun owner a potential spree-killer. I know people that get more angry about white people wearing kimonos than the South East Asian sex trade.

"Stop appropriating your own culture!"
To “Calibrate your rage” is to put offenses into a larger perspective. It is to take a moment to breath, and remember what actual evil looks like. It is reflecting that, while this person may be a CIS piece of shit, they are not literally as bad as Hitler. It is considering that, while that person may be a PC asshole, they are not literally as bad as Stalin.

Take a moment to calibrate your rage today. When you find yourself boiling over with righteous indignation about a shitlord who microaggressed you on Tumblr, go read a few pages of Mein Kampf. Heck, go read a few pages of The Turner Diaries. Expose yourself to someone who literally wants to swing you from a lamppost, and then reconsider if that asshole on Tumblr is still worth getting upset over.

Suddenly, I'm not as angry about the cultural appropriation of Hip-Hop

It’s good to get angry, sometimes. Angry gets shit done. But when we live in a state of perpetual hyper-sensitized outrage, angry can get too much shit done. It gets shit done that should not be done. It encourages us to do more evil than we would if we just took a step back, and understood that this was not the hill to kill and die on.

If you calibrate your rage today, I guarantee that the worst thing that will happen is that you will be less angry about things that do not matter. If the person pissing you off is doing something that is actually evil, putting it into context will only remove any lingering doubts you may have. And then, you can hit back twice as hard.

So take a breath. Look at the big picture. Calibrate your rage.