The first three words in the Bible allude to time. ‘In the beginning’ (Genesis 1:1). Everything God created was categorized according to time; the first day, the second day, the third day . . . up until the sixth day. The first thing God called to being was light and He ‘called the light “day” and the darkness he called “night”. And there was evening, and there was morning- the first day’ (v5). Although God is outside of time, He chooses to use time in His dealings with us (probably because our lives and everything on earth are literally ticking on a clock).
David writes, ‘You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises and they steal away: they return and lie down in their dens. The man goes out to his work, to his labour until evening’ (Psalm 104:20:23). Great! at least now we know that one of the reasons God uses time is to keep us from bumping into lions and other wild animals as we go to work- so that the earth can all sustain both man and animal equally.
Jesus, being God Himself, His clock was set to 33 years while on earth. He began His ministry at ‘about 30 years old’ (Luke 3:23) and at 33, He died, and on the third day He rose again, and after 40 days ‘He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God’ (Ephesians 1:20). With the YOLO (You only live once) motto taking root in society, many have construed it to mean that there is no right time for anything. Do whatever, say whichever and live however because I mean our time is short, right? However, the wisest man who ever lived (and had lived his life to the fullest by the way) discounts this notion and writes, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Jesus seemed to be obsessed with time and actually knew what to do with it. Unlike many of us who struggle to manage few hours (leave alone our entire lives), Jesus seemed to glide through time. He knew what to do, when to do it– ‘“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. ‘My time has not yet come’ (John 2:4), where to be, and even His time for dying- ‘Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”’ (John 12:23). When His brothers urged Him to showcase His miracles, one would think that there is never a wrong time for such, but Jesus in His wisdom responds;
‘Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right”’ ~ John 7:6
Unlike for Jesus, time for us seems like a mystery. We don’t know if we are coming, going, or gone. We are mere phantom; we are ‘those who cannot keep themselves alive’ (Psalm 22:29). We don’t know what the next minute will spring forth, leave alone tomorrow. No wonder some consult astrologers to know what their lucky day is, and horoscopes to know when is the best time to cross the road. But God forbids those who ‘interprets omens’ (Deuteronomy 18:10) and other practises He sees as detestable- because they all consult familiar, demonic spirits and not God’s Spirit.
You may wonder, so how can Christians then know what to do? And when to do it? God urges us to take each day at a time and not to worry about tomorrow. Jesus even tells His disciples, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority’ (Acts 1:7). While this may breed uncertainty for some, those following Christ can rest in His guidance because, ‘our times are in thy hand’ (Psalm 31:15). Jesus mostly wants us to focus on the present and make most use of it. He even rebukes the crowd saying, ‘Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?’ (Luke 12:56).
With God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, we always know what to do and say at every moment. No wonder His ‘mercies are new every morning’ (Lamentations 3:23). His revelation may give us a glimpse of what is to come because ‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever’ (Deuteronomy 29:29). But more often than not, God’s prophesies do not come with a timeline. God to Abraham said, ‘I will make you into a great nation’ (Genesis 12:2), but it was only in Joshua’s time that they knew that ‘three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you’ (Joshua 1:9).
At the right time, His time, God reveals to us what we need to know. But to every believer, He gives discernment like the ‘men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do’ (1 Chronicles 12:32). Because all believers understand (and everyone should) that ‘the days are evil’ (Ephesians 5:15), so we can ‘Be very careful, then how you live- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity . . . therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is’ (v15-16). This echoes Jesus when He says;
‘As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no-one can work’ ~ John 9:4