Have you ever wondered whether eternity is just endless time?
The term eternity is often used to indicate an interminable length of time. A journey to the beach with two 4 year olds in the back of the car can seem like eternity. Waiting for your exam result or medical diagnosis might seem like eternity. However, eternity shouldn’t be viewed simply in terms of length of time – and eternal life is more than everlasting life.
Actually, eternity is better defined as timeless or boundless existence rather than length of existence. It actually describes the life experienced by God – which includes freedom from all that time precludes. Eternity is best understood in terms of the quality, not length, of life.
So, eternal life may refer to an infinitely extended existence but, much more importantly, it defines a form of existence that’s defined by limitless, supernatural energy – best categorized as the life that God enjoys right now. It’s more than endless time – much more.
But having said that, exploring eternity is easier said than done. The first problem is that it’s beyond the finite mind to understand what’s outside time – eternity, as a concept, is beyond our ability to comprehend – as is the God who is defined by it.
Secondly, the Bible doesn’t reveal a great deal about eternity. Instead, it drops hints to encourage us to consider it, to allow our imagination to explore it, to savour the flavour of the life that belongs to God…
Some of these hints are intended to say something about God. The Psalmist defines him as being eternal by which he means that he’s associated with concepts of steadiness and security (Ps. 90:1), and unalterability with regard to his promises (Ps. 102:27). God cannot be improved. Every decision he makes is perfect. He has no need to reconsider or change his mind (Mal. 3:6).
The word is also used in relationship to our salvation – it will last for eternity (Heb. 9:15), protected by an eternally existing God (Rom. 16:26) whose power is eternal (Rom. 1:20). After all, he ‘inhabits eternity’ (Isa. 57:15) who allows us to share his eternal life (John 3:15).
So, eternity is more than endless life after death; it’s the commencement of a relationship with God in which we share something of the quality of life experienced by God himself. He never gets old and he was never young. He’s as he always has been and as he always will be – perfect and full of life…life that’s associated with a different era, beyond time and that’s unaffected by the variations of time.
God is endlessly intriguing. He cannot be completely known and he creates us for eternity to enjoy an endless exploration into him. Eternity awaits us with endless life of a quality that we can only dream of. This brief period of time on earth is a moment when God holds his breath, when he blinks his eye, but he inhabits eternity.
We live in time and are restricted by time but the God of eternity has squeezed himself into time and into our lives and says, “come and have a look at what’s waiting for you…in fact, enjoy it today”.