Eternal Life and Hebraic Time
There are two aspects of time in the Bible. You are familiar with one, which is the Greek, western sense of time that views points on a line. The past is behind us and the future has not yet happened, so only the present is a reality. We can access past through evidence and the future through imagination. However, there is another sense of time, which is God’s time. Since God created time and is in time, the ever-present God is in all aspects of time. To the extent that we are “one with God,” we are with Him in all aspects of time. THIS IS IMPORTANT because we can bring the future into our lives today as a reality.
God is in the process of drawing His children to Him where He dwells in peace and harmony and righteousness, which requires us to be in this same holy condition. The children of Israel could draw near to God in three ways. One was through the ritual of different offerings and sacrifices. The second was by honoring the Sabbath, a day when God spends time with His people. Finally, God gave the Law to Israel, which instructed His people in righteousness. When we walk in righteousness, we are united as one with the righteous God.
The ability of believers in Christ to come into God’s presence has been elevated because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which acts as a guide to righteousness (John 16:13). Paul tells us that we have the Law written on our hearts (2 Co 3:3), which lies dormant until we activate it by our love and faith in Christ. Therefore, we are able to live and walk in righteousness, although this probably only happens from time to time. But when it does, we can draw near to God.
I find in Romans 10:9-10 a chiastic construction that reveals two aspects of salvation. In the first, you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, and the result is that God sees you as a newborn, righteous child (without sin) who belongs to Him. In this first aspect of salvation, God guarantees that you will be with Him at some time in the future, which Christianity calls “being saved.” However, the second aspect of salvation results from making Jesus Lord in your life. In this second aspect of salvation you are saved now from a worldly life of pain, tension, suffering and sickness, and you are transferred into a condition of wholeness, purity and perfection. The second aspect of salvation allows you to enter God’s time where God resides.
I have found that the author of the Book of Hebrews conducts a midrash in Hebrews 3:7-19 by using Psalm 95 in its relationship to the Exodus account. The midrash concludes that it is possible to enter into God’s rest in our lives today when we are one with God and are with Him in His sense of time. The midrash points us to the process of testing in the wilderness, and reminds us that only Joshua and Caleb from the generation that left Egypt (which represents the world) were qualified to cross into the Promised Land. There they entered into God’s rest by defeating the enemy. However, the psalmist uses the term, ”today,” thus signifying that the same challenge and opportunity of entering God’s rest can apply to us today. This midrash helps us understand that when we conquer our enemy, which is sin, we can be one with God in His time and His place. And we can be there with God in our lives today.
Since there are two aspects of salvation, there are also two aspects of entering God’s rest. When we first belong to God (for Gentiles that occurs at the moment they believe in God’s son, the Messiah), we have the promise of being at rest with God at some time in the future (Christians call this “being saved”). However, with the Hebraic sense of time, we can bring this future into our lives today by walking in righteousness when we become one with God. This is the second aspect of salvation, which is often called “sanctification.” When we are in a sanctified or holy condition, we are righteous and one with God, thus at rest in Him.