I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
I am blessed to live on Florida’s magnificent Gulf Coast. As is my custom when writing, I have settled in at one of my preferred inspiration points by the sea. With an air temp in the 80’s and an idyllic view of the shoreline, I cannot help but reflect on the timeless beauty of the natural world. From a passing boat, I faintly hear a familiar old 70’s rock tune by the renowned band Pink Floyd. The song is called “Time.” The lyrics, as you may have reasoned, deal with the passage of time. This is the sliver of lyric that caught my attention:
“So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines.
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.”(1)
In my sojourn here on spaceship earth, I have witnessed the manner in which time appears to wind and bend its way through every facet our daily lives. Time dictates when we work, play, eat, and sleep. Some days it seems like we have all the time in the world. On other days we feel that there will never be enough time. We say that time flies or time is on our side, but we also claim that time stands still or is against us. So really, what is TIME? Hmmm? Let’s talk.
We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time.” – Alan Watts
A nonscientific definition of time (one that doesn’t rely upon a systematic collection of evidence) might go something like this: Time measures events and their duration from the past through the present and on into the future. Clocks, calendars, seasons, days, months and years are just some of the tools that we use for assessing the passage of time. From our mortal perspective, time is the gauge of our life experience. We are born at point A and we die at point B. The interval in-between point A and B is our life-time. So, it would appear that the flow of time is central to the human experience. But does this flow of time truly exist?
Albert Einstein said, “Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.” Einstein believed that time simply provides us with a delineator – a way to keep everything from happening at once. He proposed that existence is singular (i.e., it is always “now”). In the theories of Albert Einstein, the past, present and future all exist in parallel and any distinction between them is nothing more than a convincing illusion; a construct which allows us a degree of comprehension into what might otherwise be unfathomable.
Can this actually be the truth? Is time just an intricate illusion? A movie recorded and played back by the human brain? Who knows? The philosophers, religious practitioners, scientists and physicists have been debating that question for centuries. Let me tell what I know for sure: here on spaceship earth, NOW is all we have – illusion or not. Now IS the time.
God knows when the end of time as we perceive it will come, not some fanatic… The world will end someday, but the end of the world and the end of time are two different things.” ― Dolly Parton
For thousands of years prognosticators have attempted to foretell the end of the world (and thus the cessation of time as we know it). Aside from numerous past civilizations with their copious chronicles and codices on this subject, the Bible contains a plethora of inspired writings and prophecies that also refer to the end of time. Should we take any of them seriously?
The God-man Jesus, who visited the earth nearly 2000 years ago, most certainly did. He often spoke of the time of the end. Here is just one example,
21-22 “There is going to be a time of trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God’s chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.” – Matthew 24:21-22
This text and dozens of similar biblical declarations warn of increasingly cataclysmic global events that will occur over time and intensify exponentially prior to a supernatural (unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature) intervention in our mortal affairs. When will this intrusion occur? I don’t know. No human being does. Anyone who claims with certainty to possess the knowledge of when the world (as we know it) will come to an end is either a liar or greatly deceived. Pay them no mind. When the Jesus walked the earth, he made it crystal clear: no one would ever know the exact time of His return to this planet. Here is what he said:
34 Then at last this age will come to its close. 35 “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words remain forever. 36 But no one knows the date and hour when the end will be – not even the angels. No, nor even God’s Son. Only the Father knows. 37-38The world will be at ease – banquets and parties and weddings – just as it was in Noah’s time before the sudden coming of the Flood; 39people wouldn’t believe what was going to happen until the Flood actually arrived and took them all away. So shall my coming (His return) be. Matthew 24:34-39 TLB
So, we cannot know with certainty at what moment our perception of time will end. But we can recognize when that day is drawing near. The ancient scriptures are peppered with clues. For instance, the biblical texts predict an increase in false liberators (people claiming to be our Savior or Knight in shining armor), an intensification of regional conflicts and one eventual final devastating world war. Famines, pandemics, droughts, wildfires and other natural disasters will steadily increase. These are all signs of the approaching end of time. Again, here is what Jesus had to say:
5 For many will come claiming to be the Savior and will lead many astray. 6 When you hear of wars beginning, this does not signal my return; these must come, but the end is not yet. 7 The nations and kingdoms of the earth will rise against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many places. 8 But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. Matthew 24:5-8
It would be a mistake to interpret every earthquake, tsunami, tornado, and the numerous civil flare-ups occurring at any given moment as a sign that the end of time is here. These events merely foreshadow the final curtain. They are like the growing discomfort and final labor pains that precede a child birth.
What if time doesn’t exist and what we refer to as past and future have no reality except in our own mental constructs? The idea of time is a convention of thought and language, a social agreement; in truth we only have this moment.” – Author Unknown
Something else to consider. As we get closer to the end of the world there will be an unmistakable increase in spiritual, moral and social deception and degradation. The Newer Testament writer Paul warned of this nearly two millennia ago:
1-5 But you must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centered, greedy for money, full of big words. They will be proud and contemptuous, without any regard for what their parents taught them. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, purity and normal human affections. They will be men of unscrupulous speech and have no control of themselves. They will be passionate and unprincipled, treacherous, self-willed and conceited, loving all the time what gives them pleasure instead of loving God. They will maintain a facade of “religion”, but their conduct will deny its validity. You must keep clear of people like this. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
So here we are, living on a floating orb in the vastness of space, timeless beings restrained by the illusion of time, and yet witnessing what might possibly be the beginning of the end of all we know as real. That sounds a bit alarming, if not crazy. No worries. I have learned a thing or two about the ways of the Divine Spirit whom we call God. The Creator of all things specializes in new beginnings. The end of time will simply bring about the elimination of all that is wrong (evil). With the return of the God-man called Jesus to the earth, a new age of untainted leadership over humanity will commence, and everything will become as right as rain.
For now though, I would recommend a bit of self-examination. Are you prepared for the end of time as we know it and the sudden return of the Creator to earth which He made? The God-man Jesus was rather blunt in saying that only those who have followed the truth which he came to reveal will find their redemption. If I have interpreted His words correctly, He said: If you know my ways, you know THE way. Politically correct? Tolerant? Not really. But truth seldom is these days. Jesus put it this way when he was questioned by a skeptic (doubter):
5 …Thomas said to him, “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father (GOD) except through me. 7If you have really known me, you will know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
And, here is what the scripture has to say to all who might be sitting on the fence right now:
7 …If you hear His voice today, 8 do not let your hearts become hard as your ancestors did when they turned against me. 10 For this reason, I was angry with the people of that day. And I said to them, ‘They always think wrong thoughts. They have never understood what I have tried to do for them.’ 12Beware then of your own hearts, dear brothers, lest you find that your heart too is evil and unbelieving and leading you away from the living God. 13 Speak to each other about these things every day while there is still time so that none of you will become hardened against God, being blinded by the glamor of sin. 15 For now is the time. Never forget the warning, “Today if you hear God’s voice speaking to you, do not harden your hearts against him …” (Hebrews 3:7-8, 10, 12-13, 15)
Today is all we have. NOW is the time to open your heart to the truth that can bring you genuine freedom and life.
Well, speaking of time mate; it’s time for me to shove off. I’ll leave you with a prayer:
God of all creation, before there was time you knew me by my name; you numbered all of my days and considered all of my ways. Before there was time you promised redemption was mine; this was always your plan for mankind and a liberator you sent to find all who were stranded in time. My hope is built on every promise made by my Liberator Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabid Coastal Junkie®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
(1) Pink Floyd. Dark Side of the Moon. Harvest Records, 1973