What is Time?

August 27, 2007
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1 To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

What is time? Time is defined in the dictionary as “A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future” (thefreedictionary.com) Time plays an important role in society today. We constantly watch it to determine what our next move will be. We will plan for the day, plan for the week, plan for the month, plan for the year, maybe even plan for the decade. But is that our limit? Shouldn’t we also plan for the century? What about the millennium? You might say, “that’s a long time,” or “I don’t have that kind of time,” which brings me to my first point: time is short.

Psalm 39:4-6
4 “LORD, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
5 Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
6 Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.

What can we conclude from this? First of all, life is short. Whether it’s tomorrow or thirty years from now, we’re all going to die. But is that it? Is time gone? Oh no, but for now look at verse 6. “Surely they busy themselves in vain.” What exactly do we accomplish on this earth under the sun? I’ll try to give an example. How long did it take man to develop the light bulb? … For those of you who didn’t answer, you got it right. Why? Because when Edison started 129 years ago, the light bulb had been under development starting as a flame under glass, and is still under development today. The device itself is limited by time. Edison tried many things to use as a filament lasting only a few seconds. Today, light bulbs can last several thousand hours and some even years of continuous use, but is that long enough? We busy ourselves in vain because our work is limited by time, among other things. Could we develop a light bulb that lasts a thousand years? Probably so. Would it be vain? Certainly.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11
8 All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said,

“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.

So, even if we can make it last longer, it’s time is still short. The wheel is another example. In today’s age there is something called a tweel in development. It cannot be deflated, but will it last forever? No, it cannot. Time is short. Humans work to find ways to live longer. What if we lived to be 700 years old again?

Genesis 5:27
So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.

And he died. Time will catch up.

James 4:13-17
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

If you make a life goal to do something, no only will you probably not quite achieve it in the first place, but it will be short lived. In my personal experience, I look and back and ask ‘why did I do that?,’ ‘ what purpose did it serve?’ As the preacher says, all is vanity under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:14). But, the computer is a device that can last for the most part. Many old computers can keep kicking and can do work, but why don’t they? It is because they have lost their usefulness as so many other things in the past. In museums you can find perfectly good washing boards, but as we’ve already read:

Ecclesiastes 1:11
11 Thee is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.

For the next point, not only is time short, it never ends. … You might ask ‘now wait a minute, you just said time is short.’ Let me clarify. The time that is short is the MTTF, or Mean Time To Failure, the time Ecclesiastes 3 speaks. But now I’m speaking of the very element itself, the fourth dimension as it is known. Does time stop? Sometime our watches or clocks may stop, but that’s because time caught up to them. Time is linear, it never stops. There are also some things in time that will last as long as time itself.

Psalm 9:5-7
5 You have rebuked the nations,
You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.

6 O enemy, destructions are finished forever!
And you have destroyed cities;
Even their memory has perished.
7 But the LORD shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.

Psalm 111:2-4
2 The works of the LORD are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
3 His work is honorable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.
4 He has made His wonderful works to be remembered;
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

Psalm 136:1+
1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Proverbs 29:14
The king who judges the poor with truth,
His throne will be established forever.

Peter concluding his second epistle wrote:

2 Peter 3:17-18
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

So, what can we learn here. The LORD shall endure forever, along with His righteousness, His mercy, and His throne. God will nerve cease to be, He will never become unrighteous, He will always be forgiving if we repent, and He shall never be overpowered and loose His throne. Thus His glory will endure forever. What else?

Proverbs 12:19
The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.

The truthful lip. If you always tell the truth, your credibility will endure and you can always be trusted. If you lie, things may seem to work out for a short time, but as soon as that lie is uncovered, everyone will question their trust of you, and rightfully so. The truth will last forever. Jesus’ Prayer in John 17 says this:

John 17:14-19
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

God’s word is truth. Let’s look into that a little more.

1 Peter 1:22-25
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because

“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the LORD endures forever.”

Hebrews 13:7-9
7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

God’s word is forever and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And Jesus is the head of the church.

Ephesians 1:22-23
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 5:23
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

Colossians 1:18
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

So if God’s word is truth, and Christ doesn’t change, and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), then where do we get the concept of instrumental music in the worship since it isn’t found in the truth? This is bringing me to my third point, time erodes and degrades. I know many people like to go to Psalms to justify instrumental music, but as we already saw in Ecclesiastes, we see again in Hebrews:

Hebrews 8:7-13
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
13 In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

You’re an engineer and you’re told to use toggle switches for all the panels you make. The company has used toggle switches on their panels for years. You do this for years and let’s say you start thinking one day and say to yourself “This project seems more serious and needs something more. Maybe I should use a key switch to power it up. That would be much better.” So you go and speak about it with your co-workers and they agree with you, but never contact your head, your boss. Lastly, you install it. Your boss comes back to look at the project after completion. Checking it out, he asks you “What’s that key switch on the panel?” He didn’t ask for that did he. He never authorized it. It was something added years later. People do the same thing with the church. Are you going to look at your boss and say “You didn’t say I couldn’t use a key switch.” Perhaps the application requires quick access and a key switch just can’t do that. How much more so when our ultimate boss and father is God asks many “Why did you use instruments?”

Hebrews 4:12-13
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

A discerner of the thoughts... You thought that key switch was good, but your boss discerned that key switch shouldn’t be there. Based on what? Based on what he initially instructed earlier. The word of God is a discerner. … Let’s say you have a favorite plastic cup and you drink from it when your out doing yard work. It’s full of color. After a few years later, you notice the same cup at a store, but you notice something. Going back home you notice that your cup is no longer full of color after seeing the same cup at the store. ... Time allows things to erode. It is not time itself that does the erosion, but allows everything to wonder and play and move about. If you’ve ever gotten a rock tumbler, you know you have to tumble those rocks for a long time. Then the rocks come out nice and smooth and something is added to give them a glossy look. For us this is the desired effect. We want them to look pleasing to the eye, right? We want them to be what we want instead of it’s original state. Unfortunately that’s what so many like to do with the Bible. Chip at it until it looks smooth and add something to make it pleasing.

Deuteronomy 12:32
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”

Revelation 22:18-19
18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

But the subject we’re discussing is time. Those rocks take a long time to get that way. Erosion does not happen instantly. You don’t buy a new tire and the next day it pops from wear, unless of course you abuse it that quickly. However, erosion happens faster than some might think. In todays world we hear the notion that the earth is billions of years old. The natural erosion rate for Niagara Falls before we messed with it was estimated to be 3.8 feet per year (http://www.onlineniagara.com/info/niagara-falls-erosion.htm). “The earth has a circumference of approximately 24,900 miles” (http://www.lyberty.com/encyc/articles/earth.html), that’s 131,472,000 feet. It would take 34,597,895 years to circle the earth. It’s eroded 14.4 miles (76,032 feet) (measured in Google Earth) from it’s indicated starting point. That means it can’t be any more than 20,008 years old. If it was billions of years old, it would have circled the earth several times over by now. But that can’t happen can it? Once it reaches it’s end, that’s it isn’t it. Nothing lasts forever, because time will aways be in sway. Not even the earth as we know it, because God has said:

2 Peter 3:10-13
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

But what do we need to guard from the erosion of time by the effort of the world today?

Acts 17:10-11
10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Matthew 5:13-16
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

We need to make sure time does not erode our knowledge of the scriptures and our zealously for doing good. That is why we must study and renew our hope. We need to make sure that time does not burn out our spiritual light.

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

Matthew 6:22-23, Luke 11:34
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Time will bring us trials at some point or another. So many denominations are the result of this kind of erosion, but as we know, God’s kingdom is eternal and not bound by time. So must we also know that we will exist for eternity somewhere.

John 14:1-4
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Matthew 25:31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Don’t let the waters of the world carve a hole in your soul. Don’t let the sandy wind waste away your soul. In the passage we just read, there were some who thought they were doing good. What happened? Time and erosion. They and the world about them degraded the Bible and authority of God through time.

Matthew 16:18
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

It we stand on the rock that will never erode, the true confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we cannot erode.

Ephesians 5:15-17
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Redeeming the time. Dear friends, time is precious. So how can we can redeem the time we have lost? By “walk[ing] circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.” As wise. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. What did he have to say?

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14
9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

Our bodies will certainly erode away. So... what does time not guarantee us? Death and taxes are not even certain. If the Lord came now, you would still be alive and never see death. And some people actually get away without paying taxes. What else does time not guarantee us? What about a second chance? This it my fourth and final point. Time is irreversible.

Hebrews 9:27-28
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Yes, time is linear, and the judgment is certain. Remember the definition? “A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.” Concerning mathematics, a line is defined as “a geometric figure formed by a point moving along a fixed direction and the reverse direction” (thefreedictionary.com). What does that mean for time? The reverse direction is the past, the point is the present, and the direction in which the point is moving is the future. Linear, not a circle. A circle is “A plane curve everywhere equidistant from a given fixed point, the center.” Ever heard the expression “time is money?” Well that’s not quite true. Money is circular because the same dollar you spent 20 years ago could find it’s way back to you. That gives you a second chance to spend that dollar on something else, or the same thing. But not so with time. Your age of 20 can’t come back to you to spend it in a different way.

Job 14:7-14
7 “For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.

8 Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,

9 Yet at the scent of water it will bud
And bring forth branches like a plant.

10 But man dies and is laid away;
Indeed he breathes his last
And where is he?

11 As water disappears from the sea,
And a river becomes parched and dries up,

12 So man lies down and does not rise.
Till the heavens are no more,
They will not awake
Nor be roused from their sleep.

13 “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave,
That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past,
That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my hard service I will wait,
Till my change comes.

I encourage you to read all of Job 14 as it relates to this subject. … A line does not have a beginning or an end, just like eternity. A circle can only be so big, even if it were ten times larger than the universe, it would still only be so big. But the equation of time can be y=0, while x equals 10, 10,000, or 10 billion to the hundredth hundredth and on. … As x increases to 7, you cannot go back to 5 again and back to 7, because 7 has already been drawn. All you would be doing is confirming what has already happened, because even if you could go back to 5, you’re still going to end up at 7. And of course you can’t get to 9 without going through 8 in the same respect. … In college speech class, we learned that speech is irreversible. Speech cannot be taken away. You can not unsay something.

James 3:3-4
3 Indeed,we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

I encourage you also to read all of James 3 concerning the tongue. … Bits and rudders. A steering wheel would be applicable in today’s time. If you turn it at the wrong time, get into a wreck, you can’t undo it can you. You can try to fix what damage was done, but you can’t undo it. If someone dies, you can’t bring them back to life. You don’t get a second chance to steer in a different direction. … So which way is your life heading? The path you are on is shorter than you think because time is short. Your vehicle, that is you body, is deteriorating because of time. Where you’re going, time will never end because time has no end. You can’t go back and try something different in place of what you’ve already done because time is irreversible. If you’re not a member of Christ’s church, and decide not to be added to it today-not to obey the gospel, you will never again have today to decide, and time does not guarantee you tomorrow.