How old Is God?

September 2nd, 2021

Revelation 1:4b-8

How old do you think God is? Is God a baby? a child? a teenager? a young adult? a senior adult?

An old saying says there are no right answers to a wrong question. Of course, that is a wrong question to which there is no right answer. In the Revelation, God is spoken of as the One “who is and who was and who is to come.” Indeed, the Lord God identified himself as “the Alpha and the Omega” in that same verse. Of course, alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and omega is the last. God was saying that as far into the past as we can go and as far into the future as we can imagine, we’ll find God there.

God is timeless, yet related always to every time, be it past, present, or future. Think about what this means, that God is, God was, and God is to come.

First, God is. God is active in the present. When we think of God’s timelessness, I wonder whether we give enough attention to this thought. I wonder whether most of us do not simply think of God as being very, very old—eternally, endlessly, perpetually old. The danger is that we may come to think of God as sitting in a rocking chair, wringing his hands about the world, unable to do much if anything about it, and longing for the good old days that never were.

However, if God is timeless, we have as much basis for thinking of God as perpetually, eternally, endlessly young as for thinking of God as being very, very old. Whatever age we think of God as being, realizing that God is, is active now and with us now, is tremendously important. We need this recognition that God is, and we need it especially in the midst of a world of great change. Whatever happens in these days and whatever changes may occur in the near future, we have not left God behind, as if God is irrelevant to us and our changing world. God is.

Of course, the terms eternally young or eternally old are really unimportant, even wrong, as applied to God. What is truly important, however, is that we affirm that God is. God is with us and active in the now.

An equally important affirmation is that God was. This truth is what we see when we read of God’s mighty acts in scripture, in both the Old Testament and the New, and supremely in God’s Son Jesus, our Lord. God was active in the past. Note that we do not look back to God’s past actions, however, simply to satisfy our interest in history, however great or meager that might be. Rather our purpose in looking back to God’s acts in the past is to help us look up and in and to learn that this same God is with us today. As Paul wrote about past occurrences recorded in the Old Testament, “These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Why do we study the Bible, this ancient book, if not because we believe that in the Bible we have the record of God’s revelation of himself to humankind, coming finally to us to whom has been announced “things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12).

To know that God was gives stability, challenge, and hope for our present and future. As others counted on God, so can we. As others were challenged by God, so are we. As others knew the fulfillment of God’s promises, so will we.

Another fact about God’s age is that God is to come. If we could go into the farthest reaches of the future, we would find God there. The truth is these words that God “is to come” ought to give us encouragement and hope. If God is with us, we ought not be overly concerned about the future. We don’t know the future, but we do know the God of the future. We know that that God is a match for anything that the future may hurl at us. Neither the distant future nor what may happen tomorrow or this week ought to discourage us. Neither holds any perils that God cannot master and overcome. As scripture affirms, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

That God is the God of the future also challenges us to hear God’s call to go into the future with him. We must learn from the past, but we must not live in it. We must not even live in the present, since it mysteriously slips away from us the moment we say we live in the present. Rather, the God who “is to come” calls us to move into God’s future right along with him. We must not slip backward or stagnate. We must not stop growing. When we move into the future right along with God, we will find that God will be continually meeting our needs and continually growing us to be all that God wants us to be.

When we commit ourselves to God in faith, God changes us continually. God continually engages us in relationship with him and continually grows us to be more like him. The God “who is and who was and who is to come” gives us a profound sense of his presence with us now, a due appreciation for God’s acts in the past, and encouragement and challenge as we go with God into the future.

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