God is completely outside of time. You’ve probably heard that before, in lots of different contexts. Most Christians have heard that God isn’t bound by time. But do you ever stop to think about what that entails? Every aspect and trait of God has an effect on us as His people and His creations. So it’s important to pay attention to all the aspects of God. His timelessness is a huge piece of who He is. If God wasn’t outside of time, Jesus’s sacrifice couldn’t have been once for all. It could only cover the sins of the people who were alive at that time. If God was bound by time, He couldn’t have complete control over all the events of the universe. So obviously, this is an important trait of God. But what does it really mean?
Imagine you’re in a parade, standing high on a float. You’re smiling- it’s exciting! You’re waving to all the people watching, enjoying the feeling of importance. You turn and look ahead, in the direction the float is traveling. You see several of the floats and marching bands and other such things in front of you, and you see the crowd that you will soon be passing. However, there’s a bend in the road just ahead, and you can’t see any farther than that. So you turn and look the other way. In the other direction, you see the floats following you, and the smiling audience that you just passed. However, you can only see so far back, and then your view is obscured by the closer things.
However, high above you, imagine there’s a man on the top of a building. He’s looking down on the parade, observing all that’s going on. Because he’s not in the parade, he can see the whole thing. He looks ahead of where you are and sees where the people who have already finished the parade are taking off their costumes. Looking back the other way, he sees the people who haven’t started yet, just putting the finishing touches on their costumes and hopping onto floats or into cars. He can see the whole picture, because he’s outside of it.
This image reflects the infinitely more magnificent picture of God’s timeless eternality. We are like the people in the parade. We are trapped within the powerful force of what we call time, stuck like flies to flypaper. We can only see so far in either direction, and we certainly can’t influence anything in either direction. We can remember only so far back, study only so much history, and the rest of the past is a mystery to us. The future is even foggier- we can see hardly anything in the so-called “foreseeable future.”
However, God, like the man on the building, sees the whole picture. He knows exactly what’s going on, and he is not tied to any one part of the parade. He gets the whole picture. However, God takes it a step farther. God not only sees all of time- He can act within and influence all of time. Psalm 90:2 says “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God has always been, always is, and always will be. And because of this, He can affect all of time, past, present, and future.
How is this aspect of God significant for us? Well, several ways. Firstly, because God is outside of time, He has complete control over the world. There’s nothing going on that He can’t control. He doesn’t run out of time to get done what He was planning to get done in your life. He has everything planned out, and He had all the time in the universe to do everything in His plan. He also knows everything that will happen within time, because He sees all of it. Thus, He can make perfect plans for everything, including our lives. Imagine how much easier it would be to plan if you knew everything that would happen! Also, God may exist outside of time, but He works within time. He says that Christ will return “at the appointed time.” So though He isn’t bound by time, He isn’t bound outside of it either. God transcends time.
Probably the most significant effect of God’s timelessness as it applies to our lives is its impact on Christ’s sacrifice. You see, if God was bound by time, Christ’s sacrifice couldn’t have been once for all. It could only have applied to those living at the time. But because God is outside of time, Christ’s sacrifice is too. You shouldn’t think of the Cross as an event that can be marked on a timeline- instead, it is a separate thing entirely, above the timeline, affecting all time at once. Jesus Christ, as the Son of Man, was very unique, because as fully Man, He lived within time. However, as fully God, he existed outside of time. Because of that aspect of Christ, His sacrifice could be a physical, timely thing, but still work outside of time.
This also has an almost scary aspect to it too, though. If we recognize the Cross as being outside of time, then while it was a “past” event, it didn’t just “happen.” Instead, though Christ is currently alive and seated at the right hand of God, His death on the cross, being outside time, is in a way still there, still happening. You should not view it as “Jesus loved me so much He was willing to die for me.” Instead, it’s “Jesus loves me so much He is willing to die for me.” This is both beautiful and frightening. Beautiful, because it reminds us that Jesus is a personal God who knows us and loves us. He’s not some dude who died on a big chunk of wood 2,000 years ago for mankind. He’s God, who loves you and is willing to die for you. However, it is also frightening, because He didn’t just take your sins upon Himself and bear them for you. He is taking your sins upon Himself. There’s a song that says, “It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished.” I love that song, because it reminds me that Jesus didn’t have to die- it’s my wrong choices that led Him to it. And every time I sin, it’s a nail in Jesus’s hand; a nail that He is taking for me.