March 16, 2012

A Biblical Time Traveler: A Timeless God & A Timeless Text

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...~Ecclesiastes 3:1

Since I was a kid I have always enjoyed a good time travel novel. Unfortunately, many are written or were written by a godless lot. The idea of traveling back to a different time and a different age always appealed to me. I didn't have much interest in the future since my Bible upbringing I had, sort of precluded the idea of a "bright" future. In the back of my head a bright future looked even less plausible than time travel since God said so. As I grew older the belief that it was possible to travel into the past died away and I found somewhat of a recourse in my interest in history books. As a mostly secular person until the last decade, I generally focused on things of the past that revolved around the New World and the founding of the North American continent...and yes, the virtual genocide of the Native Americans. As a matter of fact I believe that it was my fascination of the Native American experience that ended up getting me into the New Age and Native American mysticism that pervaded my twenties and early thirties. I had spiritually...just the wrong kind.

So when I came to the faith all these rudiments that I had accrued through my past began to make sense. I divested myself of the Native American fascination and broadened my historical horizons farther to the east and farther back into the past.

Along comes the power of the Holy Spirit.

All of my interest in history came to bear on the things of the Bible and it is here I find that not only can I loose myself in something I is to my eternal benefit. As I read the Bible and study the Old and New Testament I am transported to the past in writings that literally bring the past to life. We have narratives and eyewitness accounts that literally build my faith (others also). As I learn more of the culture of the writers and readers of these original documents I am sent off to Ancient Egypt, Canaan during its conquest which eventually became IsraelPersia, and other diverse places distant in both place and time. I am in the mind of Paul, Moses and most importantly...I am in the mind of Jesus/God. I know without question that these accounts are as if I am actually there, standing with the disciples in the Upper Room. I am in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of Jesus' betrayal by Judas. I am with David in the Valley of Elah facing-down the uncircumcised Philistine named Goliath with a sling and 5 polished stones. I am standing on the Plain of Megiddo at the end and I am even in the glorious future looking upon the Kingdom of God in the New Heavens and New Earth.

What's more, I know for a fact that what I am reading is accurate to the letter, not just words and grammar. What I am reading is absolutely true. It is as if I am actually there. I get inside of the heads of great men and women of the faith that have come and gone before me. I see that I am not alone in my desire to pursue God with calculated/reckless abandon. I am not alone in my ostracism from society for my belief. I have not been the only one ridiculed or mocked for my belief, in what I know is true. Looked at as  a fool for believing a man can be raised from the dead and that in that Resurrection, my eternal security is founded.

Non-believers look on in confusion or arrogance at my/our assured conviction of what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future in the absence of empirical evidences. They do not understand how I/we can be so sure of ourselves as Christians. It is actually quite simple. Where the Bible has addressed things about the past (or anything for that matter) and we have found archaeological evidences to back it has proven the Bible correct every time. This has built a precedence for certainty in the future. The burden-of-proof is one the doubters at this point. If there is a fact stated in the Bible about something that has happened in the past that does not have current archaeological evidence to back it up in the empirically minded world, the overbearing preponderance of past accuracy dictates it will be accurate in the future also.

The Bible is a synchronic text yet it is also diachronic text. When I say synchronic or σύνχρονικός, I am saying it is a text that describes events that happened or was written about a specific time. The word σύν/syn (as in synthesis) meaning "with" or "at". When I say diachronic or διαχρονικός, I am saying it is a text that describes events  that happened or was written over time. The word δια/dia (as in diameter) meaning through. It was written over a period of time and it describes events that happened over time...or will happen over time as some events described in the Bible haven't happened yet. The Bible can speak of and is written over the long haul of diachonos/διαχρονικός or elapsed time but is can also deal with the synchronic or kairos/καιρός or exact/perfect time...and it can do so simultaneously as in the case of prophecies that unfold over time but speak of exact events!

How can the Bible narrate or describe things that have not occurred yet in chronological manner? It is because the source of the Bible's inspiration finds its impetus in the divine. God being spirit must transcended time also since physical space and time are linked together by a space-time continuum. Since there was no time as we understand it or one moment followed by another in sequential linear order before Creation, God must also have the characteristics of timelessness. If God is timeless He must therefore be changeless and perfect since changes require linear time. In other words to be eternally timeless and changeless, He is therefore perfect. God is therefore eternally synchronic and sees all time as the eternal present.

So I time travel into the past as accurately as anyone possibly could. How so? There is no other document or record(s) of historical accounts that even comes close to the manuscript base for the Christian Holy Bible. Even through all of the poorly educated accusations of "translation errors" and "transliteration confusion, 99% of what we have today in our current versions of the Bible are the same as they were in the time of Christ. The 1% is the product of variants that are negligible grammar wise and do not affect the theological aspects of the Bible at all. These manuscripts find their source in divinely inspired autographs or original documents from which later manuscripts were transcribed or copied with negligible variances.

So if we read the Bible together in a Bible Study or group devotion,  it is as if we are eyewitnesses to the events themselves. We time travel to the Sea of Galilee, Caesarea Philippi, JerichoSodom and Gomorrah. We are between the walls of water with Pharaoh hot on our heels. We are with the Spirit of God as He hovers above the waters. We are in the presence of God in the pillar of smoke and fire. We are with Daniel in the lion’s den and with Jeremiah at the bottom of a well. We are on Mt Moriah as Abraham is about to drop the knife and we are with Adam and Eve in their shame. We are at the site of Araunah's threshing floor as David purchases the floor for fifty shekels of silver to build an altar to the One True God. It is the place where chaff was separated from wheat and it is turned into a place of sacrifice and worship. If we jump forward a few days we see David has indeed built and altar and is offering burnt offerings and peace offerings. It is here that we learn that the burnt offerings and peace offerings are from David to shows that David understood his guilt that resulted in the death of the 70,000 in Israel in a plague. We stare stunned  as the Lord accepts David's offering and consumes them with a searing beam of fire from heaven.

[Our scene shifts forward another thousand years...]

We are at Golgotha the place of the skull as we stare transfixed at the scene that unfolds before us. It is as if we stand at the ultimate crossroad of time. We stand at the perfect time. These moments tick off as if they are divinely ordained...and it is because they are divine ordained. It is as if time and space and all of creation have converged on this hill of execution in Jerusalem. There are three men hanging on a cross and there is something special about the one who hangs between the two thieves in the middle. We are then startled by the  a piercing shout from the man on the middle cross whom we thought to be dead. He yells the words, “It is finished!” The man then expires and slumps limply with his head down on his chest. There is blood still running down the stanchion holding up the cross member on which he has been impaled. We then hear a Roman centurion, after seeing what had happened, he stares at the dead man on the middle cross and he says, “Surely this was a righteous man.” The people around the Centurion in front of us beat their breasts and then go home. At the back of the crowd, the acquaintances and the women who had followed this enigmatic man from Galilee stand cautiously at a distance watching these things. Little are they aware that they are about to be the impetus of the greatest faith ever known. They are our spiritual brethren two millennium removed. They are Apostle and disciples of Christ.

In the end we realize that we need only the Bible and faith for this time travel, not some fancy technological marvel that will whisk us deep into the past one particle at a time. We understand having moved in a matter of hours over the entire arch of history that that the events of history have been so perfectly arranged that they are indeed an intelligent pattern or the unfolding of a preordained or predestined plan. We also see that there are no bit players or unimportant characters in this mind-boggling tapestry of time and humanity. All are important and all play a profound each and every gear within a watch that moves time forward as history unfolds. Finally we realize that everything and everyone is created for a purpose that revealed itself over time and will end in the consummation of time. A consummation foretold of in the past by the Bible which was written through the very people in this tapestry, who were inspired by a God that exists outside of time...and is timeless.

Ecclesiastes 3:17 ~ I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work

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