Envisioning The Eternal

Eternity in the biblical world was the idea of “duration.” Scholarship tells us that in the Old Testament there are ten different terms marking duration.⁠1   Some concepts are admittedly difficult to discuss intelligently.  Discussing Eternity, we are like someone who has never left the house discussing what it’s like to be in a busy market place.  We are naturalists and people of this earth talking about heaven.  Paul said it right:

And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.⁠2 

And again He affirms that there is a spiritual dimension, another world, which we often reference as believers and which our faith is invested in, that the natural mind—something we all have—is unable to explain.  The two realms are mutually exclusive worlds.⁠3 

“There is no solution of the problem, however” writes Bowman,⁠4 “but only a dismissal of the problem of infinity;⁠5 according to [Immanuel] Kant⁠6 all experience is finite, and so infinity does not belong within the range of our experience.

Max Mueller, a British philologist, wrote,⁠7 

“The infinite is hidden from the senses, …denied by Reason, but … perceived by Faith.”

Faith, for the believer in Christ, introduces them to this spiritual world.  Faith is not just a belief but an awareness,  a real introduction into our first acquaintance in this life with heavenly things. We have a keen awareness of a reality beyond the physical or natural but just as real [2 Corinthians 5:5; Colossians 3:1-3].  Faith is trusting Jesus to return for us after He has finished preparing eternity to receive us [John 14:1] and us to accept eternity [Revelation 21:2].

For me: while praying,  God is not the One Who holds the universe in place, nor is He even the One Who will someday destroy it.  This makes Him appear too huge, too awesome and glorious, and far beyond my ability to comprehend Who He really is.  When I talk to Him I commune with a friend.  I am mindful of the Jesus who clothed in human form humbly strolled the lanes of human traffic and felt everything I feel—the God Who can say to me, “I understand because I have been there, too.” Eternal beings—though I, too am one—move outside this realm of suffering I find myself in and, although, I fully know and appreciate the fact that God, the eternal Father, does, indeed know and care, I somehow through the work of Christ Jesus, bring Him, academically speaking, closer, to my level, and walk with Him in peace.

1 Girdlestone, Robert B. Synonyms of the Old Testament: Their Bearing on Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974. p 312f
2 2 Corinthians 12:3-4
3 1 Corinthians 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
4 Boman, Thorleif. Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek. New York:W. W. Norton & Company, 1960. p. 160
5 infinite space is the universe; infinite time is eternity.
6 cp. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, pp. 299f.
7 ibid. p 448.Max Mueller says very well.

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