the God who is (eternal and existent)

How would you describe eternity? Eternity is one of the most difficult concepts to understand. The best description of eternity is, God. His name is El Olam (Genesis 21:33). His beginning and end are infinite. Whether you look His past or His future you will see that He is permanent and everlasting. That is difficult for our finite minds to wrap its brain around. Try, and you will be boggled, wowed, and flat out stumped. And that’s ok.

When considering the existence or eternality of God you must peer into His past, present and future. Together let’s wade into the mysterious depths of the God’s character. My aim is to stir your affections towards Him. To worship God is an act of hope—participation in the future, the eternal—and a look outside the cave.

“Suppose a man is born in a cave and spends his entire life tied to a post, facing the wall at the rear of the cave. He cannot look to the right or the left, only forward. The light from the outside shines from behind him on the wall he faces. Occasionally people and animals walk by the cave’s entrance and, as they do, their shadows are cast on the wall. These shadows and the dim light on the wall are all he ever knows of reality. To him they are reality. To speak of a world outside the cave, made of color and three dimensions, would be incomprehensible and unbelievable to him. But what would it mean if a mirror were held up to him, in which he could get a glimpse of the world outside the cave? Everything would change! He would then see the shadows in the context of a larger and deeper reality of depth and color.”[1]

The mirror is the Scripture. In His Word, you get a glimpse of God in all His eternal glory. It is there that you see yourself with the tens of thousands of angels in heaven around the everlasting God worshiping Him “who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

the God who was

God has always existed. Before anything was He was. Before there was a created universe, before the planet earth was formed, or before the first human being walked on the earth, God was. The first information you read about God in the Scripture is straight to the point; “In the beginning, GOD” (Genesis 1:1). The verse is not a long drawn out argument, but simply a statement of fact that God was and is.

God said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4ff) And king David sang to God, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.” (Psalm 90:2)

Even Jesus always was, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8]

When John wrote the seven churches in Asia, he greeted them saying, “Grace to you and peace from Him who is (Exodus 3:14) and who was (John 1:1) and who is to come…” (Revelation 1:4)[2] Then John tell us whom “who” is, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (1:8; Cf. 4:8)

The Godhead has existed for a long time—like forever. He always existed in eternity past. Just thinking about eternity past makes my melon hurt. But for God, forever is who He is. He has no beginning. He always was.

the God who is

Although the Scripture says God exists, does not mean everyone believes He is still intimately involved within the affairs of mankind or creation. Some think that God is distant or has taken a hands-off approach towards dealing with the universe. What if someone says to you, “God is not real!” How would your respond? What if someone else says to you, “God does not care about me. He is distant from my world and this world.” What would you say? These kinds of statements are common in today’s culture, but they are not new; people have made these statements for millenniums.

The ancient God-fearer, Job said confidently, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25) The Bible portrays a God orchestrating history, sovereignly working out His purposes among humanity, and sacrificially stepping onto the planet to redeem mankind. God is not dead nor is He distant. Jesus is not buried is some tomb like so many great men of the past. He lives (Matthew 28:6; 1 Corinthians 15) and He intercedes on behalf of redeemed mankind, even at this moment (Hebrews 7:25), “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:9-11)

Why would you want to worship a God or a guy who claimed He was God if He were dead? After Jesus’ death an angel (and many others) declared, “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.” (Matthew 28:6) And He is still transforming lives today. There is great encouragement, knowing Jesus still lives and His Spirit dwells within the redeemed (John 15:26-16:15). As the old hymn sung at Easter trumpets,

Verse 1: I serve a risen Savior; He’s in the world today; I know that He is living, whatever men may say; I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, and just the time I need Him He’s always near.

Chorus: He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.[3]

Verse 2: In all the world around me I see His loving care, and tho my heart grows weary I never will despair; I know that He is leading thru all the stormy blast; the day of His appearing will come at last.

Verse 3: Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King! The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find, none other is so loving, so good and kind.

the God who is to come

God was and is and will always be. Christ promises to come back and rule all eternity as the King of kings and Lord of Lords. When Revelation 4:8 says, “Holy, holy holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come,” the last three words certainly include an anticipation of God’s future coming to earth to fill it with His glory in an unprecedented way (Cf. Isaiah 6:3).[4]

So God was and is and is to come, what does that mean for me today?

First, God created you an eternal being too. You are not meant to live in the back of the cave in the dark. If you repent of your sin and believe on the name of Christ you will live forever with the Light of the world. If not, you will forever be separated from God in eternal torment (Matthew 25:41-46; Revelation 14:11). And this leads to a serious question; will you forever live with Him?

“Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning His Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 10-12; Cf. John 3:16; 17:3)

Jesus will be glorified throughout all eternity—His kingdom is forever (2 Peter 1:11; Revelation 11:15), “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25; cf. 2 Peter 3:18)

There is not only a future hope of eternity for followers of Christ, but there is a present hope too. You do not have to wait to be blessed by the eternal God; you can be secure in His presence now. Isaac Watts in His great hymn, O Go, Our Help in Ages Past wrote, “Oh, God our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home. Within the shadow of Thy throne, Still may we dwell secure. Sufficient is Thine arm alone, And our defense is sure. Before the hills in order stood, Or earth received her frame, From everlasting Thou art God, To endless years the same.”

Second, God is always present and always is working out His purposes within your life for your good and His glory. Even in the difficult parts of life, God is orchestrated His purposes. Suffering always precedes glory; just look at the way of the cross. Paul shared to young Timothy,

“But share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9-10)

God’s eternal existence may be a truth that is almost impossible to grasp from inside the cave, but it is one amazing truth that should cause us to be in awe of His awesome attributes seen in the mirror of His Word. He never ceases to exist nor will He ever fade from existence. Our God was and is and is to come.

[1] Ben Patterson and David L. Goetz, vol. 7, Deepening Your Conversation With God, The pastor’s soul series; Library of leadership development (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1999), 99.

[2] Cf. 21:6; 22:13; [Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 44:6]

[3] Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), 128.

[4] Note: The Lord comes to judge the earth (1 Chr. 16:33; we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:16); the coming of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1); when our Lord Jesus comes with all his saints (1 Thess. 3:13); where is the promise of his coming? (2 Pet. 3:4); Maranatha – our Lord, come! (1 Cor. 16:22); I am coming to you (Rev. 2:5); him who is and was and is to come (Rev. 1:4; Rev. 1:8; Rev. 4:8); you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26); come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20).