how God is eternal

One negative attribute of God described in the Bible is that God is eternal. The Calvinists see this word and instantly prescribe a scenario in which God lives in an “eternal now”. This is not a concept found in the Bible, much less alluded to in the Bible. Israel understood God as eternally existing, but acting always in the present (the future was always contingent and changing). The idea that there could even be such a thing as an eternal now is foreign to Israel’s testimony about God. God acts in time. God is relational. God responds as events occur. The testimony of the Old Testament concerns how God is interacting with Israel in their own day.

But in regards to the Biblical definition of eternal, Psalms describes the actually meaning of this word:

Psa 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

“From everlasting to everlasting” is the technical definition of “eternal”. The concept is repeated elsewhere in the Bible. In Isaiah the claim is made that God’s name is from everlasting (Isa 63:16). Elsewhere the Bible says God’s years will never end (Psa 102:27) and it does so in the context of man aging.

Notice how all these concepts involve timeframes. God has no beginning and no end, but has always existed and always will. The past and future are presented as points of time (infinite). This should be contrasted to the Calvinist’s picture that God resides outside of space and time. There is nothing in the text which describes the “eternal now” popular among Calvinists.

In Isaiah 57, God is said to “inhabit eternity”:

Isa 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

God “inhabits eternity”. Literally translated this mirrors Isaiah 63:16. God “resides” from “of old” or “from eternity past to eternity future”. Elsewhere, Isaiah uses the same word “eternity” in conjunction with human beings:

Isa 26:4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

Isa 45:17 But Israel shall be saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced Forever and ever.

At first glance, one might think that the same word used for “eternal” in Isaiah 57:15 is paralleled by the words “everlasting” in Isaiah 26:4 and Isaiah 45:17. But it is not. The word “Forever” is actually the same word for “eternal”. In these verses “eternal” is an attribute relational to human beings. People should trust God “eternally” and will not be ashamed “forever”. “Eternal” is not an “eternal now” but an actual timeframe.

The concept of God as depicted in the Bible is one in which God has always existed and always will. Israel, in the Old Testament, uses God’s eternal nature to stress His power. As with the rest of their testimony, stressing God’s eternity is always in the context of what God can do or will do for Israel. It is not used in the context of stressing a lofty metaphysical concepts, as the Calvinist would have us believe.

One thing to note about “eternity” is that the Old Testament has 23 thousand verses. There are about 8 verses used to ask questions about God’s “eternal” nature. Israel primarily was unconcerned about this concept, and when Christian today so heavily focus on these things they are disregarding what the Bible says is important about God. Contrast that with the 48 times God is called “Almighty” and countless others stressing God’s power.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Calvinism, God, Open Theism, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to how God is eternal

  1. Pingback: beware calvinism | reality is not optional

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