The Eternal God
Text: Romans 11:25-36
Imagine going back in time to the early days of this country and trying to explain the marvels of our time to someone who lived back then. Could you explain how we get around in automobiles? “Well, cars are kind of like carriages, but they don’t have horses. They have an engine that makes them go. Oh, what a moment, you don’t know what an engine is ...” Perhaps you would like to explain an airplane? “Well, they are big metal contraptions with wings like a bird, but they don’t flap. ...” How about the now common cell phone? “We can talk over large distances using electricity. What’s electricity? Ah, ...”
We have grown up with so much technology that we just accept what is there without really trying to understand how they work. Not that it matters a whole lot because most technology is easier to use than to explain. But trying to explain what we casually accept to another person who doesn’t have the same experience with technology is hard.
Let’s apply this idea to another point. God is eternal (Deuteronomy 33:27; Genesis 21:33). So how do you explain eternity to people stuck in the passage of time? In trying to explain how long wisdom has existed, Solomon wrote, “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world” (Proverbs 8:22-26).
God has given men a grasp of what eternity is, but it doesn’t mean that we fully understand it. “He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
How do people deal with things that they don’t understand? For many of us, we try to redefine the incomprehensible into terms that we can understand. In other words, we try to simplify the problem. Yet, in dealing with God, this has often gotten men into trouble. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:20-23). God’s eternal power is clearly seen in our world, but man has a hard time putting his arms around the concept of a God with the power to create an entire universe. So man redefines his concept of God with things that he understands and sees. The problem is that those things don’t even come close to describing the eternal God.
We have a tendency to oversimplify things. “Oversimplify” means “to simplify to the point of causing misrepresentation, misconception, or error; to cause distortion or error by extreme simplification of a subject.”
When Paul spoke of God’s eternal power, he meant that there is no limit on what God can do.
“O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man does not know, nor does a fool understand this” (Psalm 92:5-6). Though Job’s friends did not understand why Job was suffering, they did perceive the greatness of God. “But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause - Who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number” (Job 5:8-9). “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven - what can you do? Deeper than Sheol - what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.” (Job 11:7-9).
Job understood the vastness of God as well. “He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number. If He goes by me, I do not see Him; If He moves past, I do not perceive Him; If He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, 'What are You doing?'” (Job 9:10-12). Perhaps, though, the best description is found in Job 26:14, “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” (Job 26:14). The things we see concerning God are just a very small portion of what God has done and is capable of doing. It would be silly to try to make a conclusion about the vast totality of God based on small glimpses that we see. “Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? Who can declare all His praise?” (Psalm 106:2).
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
“All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?"” (Daniel 4:35).
It is almost laughable when people try to describe God in human terms. God is not a man (I Samuel 15:29). Men have too many limitations.
When Moses asked God who he should say to Israel sent him, God told him to say that “I Am that I AM” sent him (Exodus 3:14). “I Am” is an appropriate name for God. It captures the idea that God always exists, in the past, present, and future. It also tells us that God is self-sustaining. He doesn’t need anything else to make Him complete or to keep Him going.
As difficult as it is, we need to appreciate the vastness of God without trying to box Him in with our own ideas of what God should be like. This is why the world is filled with false doctrines. People latch on to one aspect of God and then think they fully understand Him. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (I Corinthians 2:11). The only one who could understand God is God Himself.
The Lord our God is an awesome God. “Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 117).
- Give an illustration that would help explain eternity.
- Discuss the follow statements. What is wrong or what is being left out? How would you answer a person who believed this?
- Universalism: “God is love! He will not condemn a person to eternal punishment.”
- Skepticism: “God is responsible for the suffering in the world because He knows about it in advance and does nothing about it.”
- Calvinism: “Since God’s will is always done, the behavior and eternal destiny of a person is the fulfillment of God’s choice and not the individual’s choice.”
- How does Deuteronomy 29:29 apply to this topic?
- Find songs dealing with the eternal nature of God. Ask one of the boys to lead one of the songs.