Posted by: rogermitchell | October 11, 2010

The time behind time

This post picks up an earlier theme of time [see posts of 21/01/10; 26/01/10; 27/01/10; 01/02/10].

I think that there is a time behind time and that this is what eternity is. To say that God is outside time is only to underline that his time is different to ours. If the creation images God, then the time component contained in day and night and the seasons mirrors his situation in some way, just as humanity expresses his character. Like we don’t need idols to convey divinity because we already have our fellow humans, so we don’t require speculative theories of eternity because we already have time. From this standpoint some aspects of anthropomorphism [thinking that God is like a human being, or ascribing human attributes to God] are essential to understanding God, and time is part of that.

In case you are wondering what the point of these observations is, it is that what happens in time is very important to eternity. The Psalmist’s idea that I am just a drop in the ocean needs holding in tension with the likelihood that God is depending on me to play an important part in his story. Paul’s “Who are you O man?” (Rom 9:20) needs meeting with “a divine representation with a place with God at the heart of the eternal plan.”



  1. I love thinking about this kind of thing…and I believe we are meant to use our prophetic imaginations this way. I find it amazingly humbling that God loves us to work with him in discovering and participating with him in these things. For example, that he worked with Einstein to help him understand what he was doing. There is so much more to discover. I lovue the sense if wonder that that brings.

  2. I caught the end of an interesting discussion on Radio 4 recently in which sone scientists were talking about time. They have more or less concluded that time is a concept which is the product of our internal processing of external sensory perception and that our sense of its passing is entirely constructed by our own (sub/)consciousness. I think this is right. There is no one ‘time’. There is only how we each relate to the coming and going of events and how we locate it in the bigger picture. So I’m now reading your discussion of time to mean that there is a tension between relating to events and context in the way that God does and the way we are conditioned to.

    Need to think about this some more…

    • I think it is important to recognise the way that God has made night and day and seasons as the creation context for this inividual internal processing, and also the way he has made us as individuals who need corporate relational interaction to make sense of anything, including an agreed time frame. So I am suggesting that all this images God’s approach to time.

  3. Interesting isn’t it? Thats why we call it Heaven because it is ‘higher’ than this where we are now.
    Symbol after symbol – but a symbol is only a shadow, a reflection of the object its pointing to.

    This thought asks us what is Gods original long term purpose for us. It points beyond the Great White Throne section in the Book of Revelation.
    “Man has not imagined, nor has the heart of man conceived the glorious things God has prepared for those who believe.

    In a sense, we may not even be built to be able to conceive until are transformed….

    When think “God not even the Heavens can contain you” normally we think (or I do in size) But this reminds us we really need to think also in terms of ‘there is more to the dimensions we consider ourselves familiar with’ you know – as in 3D glasses type dimensions. Also called Cartesian co-ordinates ‘vertical, horizontal, depth’ – the 4th one mentioned here time.

    If as you have stated our time is only a training wheels version of His time, then it could easily be applied to the other dimensions – and hence, in His full glory, the heavens and the Earth cannot contain Him.

    God is awesome – couldn’t resist saying it.

  4. .

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