The Bible has a prologue as well as an epilogue, an introduction as well as a conclusion (the open and closing parentheses to time). And in between is the story of God and His creation. This blog is a meditative look at, what I call, the parenthesis that separate out this main story from “the beginning and the end” of all things (Revelation 22:13).
Pondering the first verse of the Bible (“In the beginning”) I wondered, “the beginning of …what?” Not God! He had no beginning. Theologians call this the Aseity of God (He is uncaused. 1 Timothy 1:17). Not the earth or the firmament, the heavens; they were yet to be created (Genesis 1:6-10). I concluded the only understanding possible here was “In the beginning of time.”
The opening parenthesis, the Beginning: God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” There was an evening, and there was a morning: one day. – Genesis 1:5
The closing parenthesis, the End: Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever. – Rev. 22:5
In Genesis we begin with God creating a unit of time known as a “day” which, as we now know, involves sunlight as the earth spins on its axis. Time ends, logically, when God decides we no longer need the sun. Our Bible records God’s dealings with us “in time” even though everything about Him is outside time. Ultimately He would send His Son “in time” to die for us (Galatians 4:4).
God, here, calls the coming age a sunless “for ever and ever” (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων). In the Old Testament the primitive idea in reference to God (We are grateful to Isaiah 40:28 for this) no longer meant some remote past or future but, now, “unending time.” Plato called αἰῶνας timeless “in which there are no days…” [Hernann Sasse for Kittel Vol I, page 198]. As our referenced scholar points out, “how else can human thought picture it?” [page 201-2] This word also does duty for our word “world” since this world is linked to the “age” in time in which it resides. The end of the age is the end of this world (Matthew 24:3 NIV compare KJV).
Sasse then adds, “The future αἰῶν, the future time of the world is the new [age] which follows. It is something inconceivable, to be represented only symbolically, e.g. as ‘the Kingdom of God’ … or ‘the new heaven and the new earth.’ .. [The] contradiction consists in trying to picture in …time that which stands in antithesis to it.” [page 205]
What excites me is in the epilogue when the sun will be no more:
Revelation 22:10-11 [MSG] “Don’t seal the words of the prophecy of this book; don’t put it away on the shelf. Time is just about up. Let evildoers do their worst… but let the righteous maintain a straight course … in holiness. …
Now I must say it! The Bible did not say “forever” but “into the ages of the ages,” (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων). This, to me, is God’s way of describing to our kindergarten brain the indescribable that’s in store for us in His eternity.
I love Revelation 22:20 [in the MSG]
He who testifies to all these things says it again: “I’m on my way! I’ll be there soon!”