Time–it's an integral part of our lives, whether we are young or old. Every day is like a grain of sand falling irretrievably from the hourglass of time.
Until the last century, scientists believed time was eternal and absolute. And why not? After all, everything around us is governed by time—from the mighty sun to the tiniest cell—all have a beginning and an end.
In fact, Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the famous discoverer of gravity, believed time was eternal. It was only during the 20th century that Einstein's theory of relativity and the detection of cosmic background radiation, among other findings, indicated time actually had a beginning and was woven into the very fabric of space.
Moreover, all the known ancient religious books except for the Bible describe time as being eternal. Only the Bible boldly claims there was a moment when time, as we know it, did not exist. Remarkably, it mentions this concept in several places!
As the astrophysicist Hugh Ross points out: "Because humans are trapped in time, where time is linear and cannot be halted or reversed, the idea that anything could exist 'before' time defies imagination. Yet, both the Old and New Testaments, uniquely among pre-modern texts, refer to God's activities 'before the beginning of time' (see for example Proverbs 8:22-23; John 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:7; and 2 Timothy 1:9) . . .
[The universe] must have arisen from a 'realm' or 'entity' beyond space and time" (Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, 2008, pp. 128-130, emphasis added throughout unless otherwise noted).
Biblically speaking, God "inhabits eternity" (Isaiah 57:15)—in other words, it is His dwelling place from where He can intervene at will in the universe (Isaiah 46:10).
Moreover, the Bible reveals that not only has God always existed, but that He made great plans "before time began." Remarkably, it points out three major facets of His plan for mankind that He determined prior to the creation of the universe. Let's take a look at these, which all overlap in large degree.
God's offer to people of eternal life in His divine family
The Bible speaks of "the hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Titus 1:2).
This is the reason you and I were created—to have an unending relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and all those whom They would eventually bring to a glorified state (Hebrews 2:10).
Having the characteristic of love as Their prevailing attribute (1 John 4:8), God the Father and Christ want to share this godly bond with us throughout eternity.
As 1 John 3:1-2 says: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! . . . Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
Eternal life means we will no longer be constrained by time. All of us have a beginning, but if we are faithful to God, we are promised a resurrection to an everlasting life in a glorious spirit body. What greater goal could we have than achieving that?
God's provision of grace—His undeserved favor, including forgiveness and help through Christ
The grace of God, His undeserved favor toward us, is also something that was planned before time began. This would involve calling people, leading them to repentance and forgiving all those who would accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins, turn from an ungodly lifestyle and commit to obeying God's holy laws. And it would further involve help to continue in obedience, great blessings in this life and future reward in God's Kingdom.
As 2 Timothy 1:8-9 says, "God . . . has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" (2 Timothy 1:9).
God would create human beings with free will—giving them freedom to choose what to do with their lives. This meant they could choose to sin, which brings misery. Yet God predetermined a plan to deal with that problem. The unrepentant would ultimately receive death, while those who repented would through God's grace receive help and eternal life.
We cannot, on our own, earn the reward of eternal life. It is only through God's grace that we can accomplish it. As the Bible tells us, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Again, God established, prior to the beginning of time, a way for us to be forgiven of our sins. Before we even existed, God the Father and the Word who became Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3, John 1:14) were in Their awesome love willing to pay the ultimate price—to have Jesus, beloved Son of the Father, sacrificed in suffering and death as a substitute for our sins.
This is why Scripture says: "And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear, knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Peter 1:18-20).
The mystery God's Church proclaims—God's plan of salvation
God has not planned the universe and our existence in a haphazard way. Instead, He carefully designed everything down to the slightest detail (Matthew 10:30) and has revealed much about His marvelous plan through His prophets and apostles.
As the apostle Paul wrote, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hid-den wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory" (1 Corinthians 2:7).
The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes regarding this verse, "At the heart of this wisdom is the plan of salvation intended for our glory, determined before time began" (1983, emphasis in original).
It starts with the Passover, which symbolizes Jesus Christ's sacrifice for our sins. The second feast—the Days of Unleavened Bread—picture God's people accepting that sacrifice of sin and following through with determination to put sin out of their lives while striving to take in the righteousness of Christ. The third step is depicted by Pentecost—when God's Spirit was sent to the disciples when the Church was founded—so God the Father and Jesus Christ could make a dwelling place in us (John 14:23).
The fourth step is the Feast of Trumpets, which marks the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth, this time to reign as King of Kings over all nations. The fifth stage is the Day of Atonement, when Satan will be removed from being able to deceive mankind, and the world at large will be led to repentance. The sixth step is the Feast of Tabernacles, symbolizing the thousand-year rule of Jesus Christ over the entire earth.
Finally, the seventh stage of this plan of salvation is the last feast—the Eighth Day, also sometimes referred to as the Last Great Day. This marks the opportunity of salvation for all human beings, then resurrected, who were not called during their former lives and had not become incorrigibly wicked. They will then have a chance to be called and accept Jesus Christ's sacrifice for their sins.
God is not a respecter of persons, and this vast multitude of human beings can at last have the "veil" of deception removed which kept them blinded from God's spiritual truths during their lifetime in this age (Isaiah 25:7). They will then have God's Holy Spirit and finally understand and keep God's precious laws that pave the way for true salvation.
So we see that these three overlapping aspects of God's plan were laid out before the universe came into existence—before the cosmic time clock was wound up and started ticking away.
God's gift of eternal life, His grace and the hidden brilliance and wisdom of His plan for the salvation of mankind were established prior to creation for all of us to one day choose and enjoy. Will we decide to accept them? We can—and nothing is more important! At The Good News, we're committed to serving you in reaching that goal!