Psalm 90:1-11 contains the sad declarations concerning the short duration of the life of man. Man is likened to grass which endures only for a season. Yet amid these statements of man's frailty is contrasted the eternity of God. In this lesson we shall look at this important attribute of God, and find that it is a great source of comfort and exhortation to our lives.
I. Understanding Eternity
The eternity of God is actually a negative attribute. In other words, it is not an attribute which states what God is, but more what God is not - it denies in God any limit of time. God is of an eternal duration and not subject to the bounds of time as we are. For man this is almost impossible to comprehend. To help us better grasp this concept, let us consider the following facts:
Because we had a beginning, our tendency is to try to think of God in these same terms. In our text, we find that God existed before the mountains were created and even before the earth was formed. We measure time from the beginning of creation, yet our text says that God existed forever before that. Notice that no beginning is assigned to God. In fact, there is not a single verse of Scripture which ascribes to God a beginning. God did not come into being at some point in time; He has always existed.
For as long as God existed before creation, from everlasting, God will likewise exist after creation, to everlasting. Clearly, as God had no beginning, he has no end. There is no point in time that God will cease to exist. As Psalm 102 says, He shall endure for ever, and thy years shall have no end. God is not in a state of decay as creation is, nor will His power run out, for we are told in Romans 1:20 that His power is eternal (without end). There is nothing that can or will cause God to have an end. He will always be God.
Why do we measure time? Do we have a choice? Everything that we know of in this world is in a constant state of change. Some things change every fraction of a second while others seem to take longer. Not only do we see change all around us, we also see death. We talk about not wasting time, because we know that we are limited to a certain time to live. Our text says that God is from everlasting to everlasting. With God there is no succession of time - i.e. He does not change with the passing of time. The eternity of God and the immutability of God are very closely related. Indeed, we could think of the attribute of eternity as immutability with respect to time.
However, our finite minds always get into trouble when we try to conceive of God in relation to time. God is outside of time. If God were subject to time as we are, time would be His master and He would no longer be God. Past, present, and future are meaningless to Him. No, these are terms that we use because we are bound by time and change with time.
II. Utilizing EternityA. Information
1. The Fact that Jesus is the Eternal God
The eternity of Jesus can be seen in His immutability with respect to time as stated in Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. His throne is said to be for ever and ever (Hebrews 1:8). He is of the order of the priesthood of Melchisedec who had neither beginning of days, nor end of life and was a priest continually (Hebrews 7:3). Once again the Scripture claims that Jesus is God.
How bold and foolish it is for man to question the actions of God. Shall we of such short duration presume to judge the work of God based on our limited intellect? Shall we dare to disapprove of the actions of an eternal God whose knowledge is infinitely greater than ours? Since eternity cannot be comprehended in time, it should not be judged by a creature of time. As Elihu said, "Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out" (Job 36:26). Whenever those unworthy notions about the works of God enter the mind, lets us think back on the eternity of God and silence ourselves with God's response to Job, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" (Job 38:4).
Imagine the folly of offending an eternal God. If you offend a man, there is a limit on the amount of time which he can render vengeance; but what about a God who lives forever? Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, " fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Of how much more importance is this in light of the eternity of God?
Not only can God promise eternal life because He is an eternal being, we can count on His promise because His covenant is everlasting. If God could promise Noah, " While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease", how much more sure can His promise of everlasting life be, given His eternal being? Political leaders seem to have trouble keeping their promises shortly after they are elected but certainly cannot promise anything after their term is over. Since God has no end, we can rest assured that His promise can be kept forever. As Habakkuk 1:12 says, Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die.
As God is eternal, so must our eternity with Him be without succession, without division, without regret of time that has passed, and without future to be expected with tormenting desires. Our enjoyment with God will be as fresh and glorious after thousands of years as it will be after the first day. God is not a cistern which can become dry, but a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Whatever trials and tribulations we must endure, it is of great comfort to realize how temporary they will be in light of eternity with God. Our enemies may triumph today and the battles we may lose, but the war has been won - Death is swallowed up in victory. Perhaps the eternity of God prompted Paul to write those great words of comfort in Romans 8:38-39 (see also 2 Corinthians 4:17).
Psalm 90:12 contains the prayer to God that He teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. The beauties and pleasures of this world are all transitory and perishing. Houses, lands, riches, and things will all pass away eventually. As Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:7, " we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out". Therefore, we ought to take heed how we invest our time. As Jesus pleaded in Matthew 6:20, "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (see also 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, James 5:1-3). How foolish it would be to prefer momentary pleasures over eternal rewards. Time is short, let's get busy!
We ought to often meditate on the eternity of God, for doing so should cause us to become more sensitive to our own vanity. The eternity of God was part of the basis for praise to God in Revelation 4:8-9 as well as Paul's triumphant doxology in 1 Timothy 1:17. How small would the things of this earth seem if we were to consider them in light of eternity and those things that are everlasting? How much more likely would we be to have victory over temptation if eternity was consistently on our minds?
Let the words of Psalm 90:2 remain fixed in your thoughts, from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God, and let this change the way you live.