Call Him Everlasting (Isaiah 9:6, Colossians 1:15, 17)
Can you imagine eternity? It’s a hard thing for most of us to wrap our heads around. That’s because we start with time. We try to envision time stretching forever in both directions, past and future. But eternity is not forever time: it’s not time at all. Eternity is the absence of time. Confused? Let’s start at the beginning.
Both Genesis and John tell us that the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—were “in the beginning.” Dictionary.com defines beginning as “the point in time or space at which something starts,” so in the beginning, before the creation of anything, God already was. However, the word “before” is problematic: it means “during the period of time preceding” an event. Time began with the creation of the world, so before creation, there was no time. We need a different way to imagine the state before time. This is a job for eternity.
Dictionary.com defines eternity as “a state to which time has no application; timelessness.” When Isaiah prophesied an everlasting Father, he understood the eternal aspect of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus, who was in the beginning, who created the world and everything in it, who would leave his heavenly kingdom to establish his earthly one, a kingdom without end, and then return to his heavenly throne, where he would rule forever. Jesus who, with God and the Holy Spirit, exists in the eternal present.
How strange it must have felt to him, the awareness of an eternal self in a temporal human body. To be temporarily subject to time and its inevitable process of growth and decay. But we hold that in common with our Lord, for we also are an eternal self in a temporal human body. Our physical selves get sick, age, and die, but our eternal selves exist outside of time, where they are not subject to its ravages. And a peek ahead, to the resurrection of Jesus, shows us that our post-resurrection bodies will be material but also eternal, not subject to time or to the regular laws of nature.
To ancient philosophers and modern physicists, time is only an illusion. This should not be news to Christians. We follow and serve an everlasting God, an eternal savior, who is ever creating, ever sustaining, ever redeeming. The verb tense for all that he is accomplishing is the present continuous or present progressive, naming all that is presently happening and indefinitely ongoing. The everlasting Jesus calls to the eternal within us, and the eternal within us responds with a grateful hallelujah and an enthusiastic yes! For he has come and is coming to rescue us, to gather us back to him, and to make us whole and holy. All praise to the everlasting God!