Previous: [BTT011] The End of Time
Let’s do a quick recap:
1). The Bible uses two primary images for the Day of Judgment: an old worn out cloth being replaced and an all-consuming fire.
2). All physical matter will be destroyed, down to the very elements.
3). Human souls and good works done in Christ will survive the Day of Judgment, but everything else will be destroyed.
I’m once again leaning slightly more towards the “literal meaning” camp, but it seems justifiable in this case. While the passages in Isaiah and Psalms could easily be taken as figurative (i.e., not a literal fire), Peter goes out of his way to emphasize that the Day of Judgment will physically, literally consume the entire physical universe down to its base elements. Even if we suggest it will not be a conventional fire, it is most reasonable to assume a literal destruction.
With this much established, let’s think about what the destruction of physical Space implies for physical Time.
Right off the bat, we are confronted with something of a conundrum. Space and Time are not two separate entities. Time only exists in relation to Space. Moving through Space alters the very nature of Time.
Have you ever used a GPS device? GPS functions using satellites. Cosmically speaking, there is not a very large distance between your GPS device and the satellite it is communicating with. And yet, even within that very short distance, your GPS device must take relativity into account. If your GPS device did not take into account the fact that Time is moving ever so slightly differently between the surface of the Earth and the satellite in orbit, it would be impossible to calculate your location accurately.
Time on, say, Pluto, is different than Time on Earth, and not only because Pluto’s days and years are longer. The distance between the two planets and their relative speeds means that they are moving through Time at different speeds.
Again, if I left the Earth on a rock ship to Pluto and you stayed behind, I would age more slowly than you. The faster an object in Space moves, the slower it moves in Time. Time literally functions differently depending on your location and speed within Space.
Therefore, it would be inaccurate to think that Time can exist without Space. It is popular to describe Time as “The Fourth Dimension,” but Time is actually a function of three-dimensional Space. If three-dimensional Space is destroyed, Time will inevitably be destroyed along with it.
Arguments from science are well and good, but we must also recognize the necessity for Time to be destroyed and recreated when we consider that God curses Time in Genesis 3. Sin affects Time as much as Space, as it affects all of Creation. A world with a redeemed, recreated Space but the same old fallen Time would be by no means a paradise.
So far so good. Time in the New Heavens and New Earth will be recreated and restored. This causes no problems if we limit the recreation of Time to the Future. Up until this point on the timeline, Time is cursed and tainted by Sin, but at this point (the Day of Judgment) it is destroyed and recreated.
Here’s the problem: you cannot destroy the Present of Time without also destroying the Past. The entirety of the physical universe does not take place in a uniform Present. Due to relativity, the Present on Earth is different than the Present on Pluto, is a different than the Present on Alpha Centauri. Destroying the Present necessarily involves destroying the Future and destroying the Past.
This may not be as shocking as it initially appears. 1 Corinthians 3 also describes a sort of destruction of the Past – at least, all actions in the past that were not founded in the love of Christ. This makes sense – if the Past is destroyed, all actions that are not founded in Eternity will be destroyed as well. Works founded in Jesus can survive the destruction of Time because God is Eternal.
While the physical Space where these works occurred may be destroyed – the home you built for the homeless, the food you gave to the hungry, the art you made while inspired by the love of God – the God who inspired you is Eternal.
For the redeemed, only works done in Christ will live on. 1 Corinthians 3 clearly states that all works not done in Christ – not sinful works only, but any actions not done for the love of Christ – will be burned up and destroyed. Isaiah 65 confirms that the burned-up past “shall not be remembered or come to mind.” We will not remember these things because they will have no place in the New Earth.
But in another sense, we will not remember them because they will not have happened. If the Past is destroyed and remade, then actions done in the Past will also be wiped out. They will no longer exist in the world of Time and Space.
This too may not be as shocking as it seems when we take into account two things about God:
1). God is not bound by Time, but rather sees the end from the beginning (and presumably the beginning from the end).
2). Sin cannot exist in the presence of God.
We’ve already discussed the first point in some detail, but I think it’s worthwhile to review the second. I do not anticipate much resistance to this idea, so I’m going to indulge in a bit of proof-texting:
“You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.”
- Psalm 5:4
“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate
the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than
- Habakkuk 1:13
"I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD,
in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion
on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see
me and live."
- Ezekiel 33:19-20
Essentially, sin cannot exist in the presence of God. His holiness and purity are so great that He destroys sinful men by His very presence.
Now jump back to Isaiah 65 or Revelation 21. Part of the promise of the New Heavens and New Earth is that God will physically, literally dwell in our midst. This is why the refining fire of Judgment Day, which burns up all impure acts is necessary. Until we are purified of our sins, we cannot survive in the full presence of God. It is the same reason why it is necessary for the rest of physical creation to be burned up and remade – a cursed, sinful world would not be able to survive the full presence of God.
This is why it is necessary for the Past to be remade as well as the Present. Because God is not bound by Time, at the point that He comes to dwell fully in our universe again, He will not only be dwelling in the Present moment. He will see all of Time at once, existing equally in the Present, Future, and Past. How can an eternal God tolerate a Past which is still filled with Sin and cursed in its very being? If the very atoms of the universe must be destroyed and recreated to be worthy of the presence of God, how can we exempt the Past from this recreation?
This, I think, is where many of you will start to have serious disagreements with me. So let’s wrap up Part Two and start dealing with objections in Part Three.
Next: [BTT013] Isn't the problem of Time..."