Abraham, My Friend
The Making of a Praying Man_38
a long history of a moment
(with apologies to Stephen Hawking)
Lets begin by reminding ourselves of the place that this personal covenant between God and Abraham has in the overall revelation of Gods purposes. This is something we need to do often with the scriptures. Events are often being worked out at different levels at the same time. These personal events in the life of Abraham have their impact, worldwide and throughout time. To Abraham they were intensely personal but on the larger stage momentous moves are taking place; things that angels desire to look into.
The connection between time and eternity is a concept that dwellers in time can never fully grasp. The struggles of different schools of eschatology all begin here. How do we synchronize temporal and eternal timescales? Abraham witnessed an eternal reality at a point in time and space Genesis 15: And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between these pieces. (Gen 15:17 ASV). Abraham could have put this event in his diary under a specific date. It was a time-space event for him, but it was, at the same time, an eternal reality. On earth events must be sequential, with one event following another. In the eternal reality events just are!
Lets take another dateable event; lets take Psalm 2. Yet I have set my king Upon my holy hill of Zion. I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Psa 2:6-9 ASV). this day is a time reference; theoretically, in the worlds diary it would be under the events of a certain day. The Psalm soars far beyond Davids personal experience and is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a manifestation of the kind that Peter refers to; Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. (Act 1:16 KJV). (This, by the way, is a wonderful definition of inspiration; the Holy Spirit spake by the mouth of
David, Isaiah, Daniel
Luke, Paul, James
) In Psalm 2 the Holy Spirit spake by the mouth of David and the event that he witnessed took place on several planes at the same time. It has reference to Davids own life and experience, but its diary date is really Acts 2 minus 10 or if we dare call the Day of Pentecost P Day, Psalm 2 really occurred at P Day minus 10). This is when He was Taken up in glory (1 Tim 3:16 NASB). It is His ascension and accession; his exaltation and coronation.
Lets take just one more diary event. Psalm 22 is one of the most amazing pieces of scripture in the Book. Our Bibles usually credit David with the composition and call it a Psalm of David. But this is another thrilling example of the Holy Spirit speaking by the mouth of David. This may be Davids psalm but it is certainly not Davids testimony; they pierced my hands and my feet was not Davids experience. They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots. is not Davids testimony either. David, in the Spirit, is hearing a pre-echo; it is coming from P Day minus 50. At a place in time and space this was the unspoken testimony of Christ; the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Christ was not quoting David; David was quoting Christ. Is your brain beginning to spin? Even on the plane of a world timeline the Bible is an extraordinary book, but there is another plane altogether, the eternal.
An eternal event is an oxymoron; a self-contradictory statement. And yet there are events that have impacted upon eternity. Lets see if we can spin our brains a little more? But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2Pe 3:8 KJV). Now when Christians quote this verse they are usually thinking about the last statement that a thousand years is as one day, and the prevailing thought is that of Gods patient enduring. But the first half of the statement is true too; one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and at the same time! So these are not two alternate and switchable views available to God. In Gods realm (with the Lord is literally by His side) at one and the same time is as a long line and a pin-point. In fact, it is our time-locked understanding that concluded that these two apparent alternatives are viewpoints at all. The fact is that with the Lord time is not affecting the viewpoint, for the one watching time is outside it.
The artist is able to freeze a moment in time and give us time to examine it in detail. The sculptor or the painter captures a moment for ever. It is a great skill and a wonderful blessing or curse. Have you felt the pain in Edvard Munchs The Scream? It is still there, and you can still touch it. Have you wandered into a Constable Landscape and walked up over the hill through the waving corn? The same kind of thing is possible to a degree with the slow-motion-replay. Imagine then a day (or a year) played back over a period of a thousand years and think of what you would see that you hadnt seen the first time. And yet Peter is not referring to a replay, but the actual event; and it is not happening in slow-motion but real time. with the Lord events happen at different speeds at the same time and sometimes become part of an eternal event. How can anything become part of eternity? Well, because God is in time and outside time
at the same time! ;-)
In the book of the Revelation, John saw a sequence of visions. In Chapter 4 he hears the song that the angels sang at creation and sees a solitary figure upon the throne. It is an eternal record of creation, not in Genesis detail, but in overall truth. It sees the whole earthly and heavenly creation joined the theme of a great song. "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." (Rev 4:11 NASB) In Chapter 5 John discovers great sorrow; the angel voices are silent and only the sound of his weeping is heard. He weeps because although God is worthy, no man is. It seems as though creations destiny can never be unfolded; there are things that God will only do through man; not even the Cherubim can take his place, and all mankind is disqualified. In his weeping he is told to view the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who has overcome to open the book and loose the seven seals. He looks for a lion but sees a lamb, and the lamb is now in the midst of the throne; the lamb now shares the eternal throne. It is as Jesus had revealed; To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Rev 3:21 KJV)
The eternal, unchanging, throne of God has now become the Throne of God and of the Lamb; an eternal event has occurred. The book of the Revelation was written towards the end of the 1st century; the eternal event that it records took place 70 years earlier at P Day minus 10. And yet the moment has not aged; John sees a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain
(NASB). The NASB shows the order better here. This is a graphic image; the word for slain is slaughtered/butchered it denotes a violent death. And yet the Lamb is standing. In fact this Lamb is a standing, slaughtered, sitting Lamb; all at the same time. He is the Risen Lord, the Suffering Lamb and the Reigning King; all at the same time. Events in time have impacted upon eternity and the eternal event is captured by this artist in the Spirit. Please note that I put all those descriptive verbs into the present tense. In time, these events had a sequence; in eternity they are simultaneous; all as fresh as the time when the occurred. Little wonder that the Cherubim switched to a new song.
When we try to synchronize (make times meet) earthly events and eternal events we need to be cautious in forcing the match. There is a strong temptation to inexperienced jig-saw puzzlers to make it fit. You may make it fit but you may completely change the picture. This is where eschatology demands humility and caution. On earth we must experience, in time and space, eternal realities. The salvation that Christ accomplished is done in the eternal event, but it must be worked out in our personal experience in time and space. The finished work is finished only in Christ and we must be put into Christ at a point in time for it to become eternally true of us too.
These are awkward concepts for finite minds. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:14 KJV) The blood of the slaughtered Lamb was shed in time and place but it was through the eternal Spirit that the blood shed in time and place impacted eternal realities. And yet they are not different events but the same event. If the blood had splashed upon us as it did upon his executioners it would have had no eternal significance. Only through that same eternal Spirit can we be joined to the benefits of His death. Only then will His achievements be mine in time and space.
How did we get here from Abraham? Gods personal covenant with Abraham was designed to be repeated in successive generations of Abrahams bloodline; And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (Gen 17:7 KJV) But God would have to establish or raise up that covenant relationship again, fresh in each generation; and He did. In this sense, God has no grand-children. Each generation would need a fresh revelation of Gods nature; God would need to appear again as El Shaddai to Isaac and then to Jacob; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty (El Shaddai) ; but by my name Jehovah I was not known to them. (Exo 6:3 ASV)
As for Abraham, so for us all. We cannot live on other mens histories or testimonies. God in His mercy must re-appear in our own time and place to each of us. The eternal events do not need to be repeated but they do need to be constantly re-vealed and then, by the working of that same eternal Spirit, we may enter, if we will, into our own personal experience of eternal events.