Time’s Purpose – In the Beginning (Part 5)

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Entropy and Time’s Arrow
Entropy, the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system, is often cited as time’s arrow. How do we distinguish past and present? One way we know this intuitively is through the observation of decay. It doesn’t take the likes of Newton to know the difference between a newly fallen apple and the fallen one from the week before. The world around us moves naturally toward disorder. Keeping things neat and tidy requires the injection of energy and intelligence. The flower garden and white picket fence grant great curb appeal as long as they are maintained. Leave them alone and they soon look old and disheveled.

The second law of thermodynamics, which states that the total entropy of a closed system can never decrease over time, is what physicists credit for the asymmetry between past and future and what makes the arrow of time point forward. Chaos in the universe increases as time moves forward. But such was not the case in the establishment of this universe. With each passing day of the creation week, chaos was progressively brought to heel under the order of God.

It can be argued that this in no way negates the second law as God’s creative work amounts to an injection of energy into the system. It undoubtedly was. My point is that regardless of the imposition of order—which remained until the fall of man—time still moved forward. In this age of decay, entropy is a useful tool for keeping past, present, and future in correct alignment. But entropy is not what makes time move forward, redemption is.

The Rhythm of Life
Among other benefits, God’s gift to man through time is a paced pattern of production. “Six days shall you labor and do all your work” we read in Exodus 20:9. The Sabbath is something to look forward to, a day of rest from our labors and time of fellowship with our Lord. I’ve had seasons in my life when I foolishly abandoned the Sabbath, working seven days a week for weeks on end. As day bled into day, joy grew harder to find. Each day took on the color of the one before it and life turned tasteless. Labor without rest is bondage. Rest without labor is boredom. God would have us free and lively.

Genesis 3:8a
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day … ESV

“The cool of the day” is literally “the breeze (Hebrew ruwach) of the day” and occurs in the early evening. This is a logical time for a Father to visit His children as it comes at the end of their working day. We tend to pattern our associations in the same way. We gather with family and friends after work or on the weekend. In the relaxed atmosphere of well-earned repose, hearts are more open and minds less distracted. We are free to pay attention to each other instead of tasks. Note the wording in the verse above. Adam and Eve hid when their heard the Lord’s footfalls. He appeared to them in physical form. Their sin made these face-to-face encounters subsequently rare. But the Lord kept the appointed daily meeting time for millennia, showing up in the form of the evening sacrifice.

Time, a Spiritual Entity in a Material World
Genesis 2:3
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. ESV

Time is the first thing that God explicitly sanctified.[1] God’s primary sanctuary wasn’t matter (an idol), space (a temple), but time. Matter, space, and time conceptually correspond with body, soul, and spirit.[2] Scripture attests to the difficulty of differentiating between soul and spirit.[3] Time and space are equally intertwined, which is why physicists often refer to them as the space-time continuum.[4] The introduction of time into our universe and spirit into Adam follow a similar pattern. I have juxtaposed the correlations in the table below.

Reference Universe Man Reference
Gen. 1:2 Spirit of God moved upon the waters. (Matter) God formed man out of the dust of the ground. (Body) Gen. 2:7
Gen. 1:3-5 God said, Let there be light. Evening and morning were Day One. (Time) God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. (Spirit) Gen. 2:7
Gen. 1:6 God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters. (Space) Man became a living soul. (Soul) Gen. 2:7

The weekly Sabbath is the first of the feasts of the Lord listed in Leviticus 23. It was designated as a time of holy assembly belonging to the Lord.[5] Though Israel was to be faithful to YHWH every day, God commanded that they assemble to worship Him on the Sabbath. After the tabernacle was constructed, members of the community certainly went there for the sacrifices. But God declared that the Sabbath of the Lord was to be “in all of your dwellings.” It was a time of worship more than it was a matter of a place of worship. This correlates with the truth that Jesus revealed to the woman at the well.

John 4:19-20
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

The Samaritan woman asked Jesus where the appropriate place was to worship. His response revealed the time/spirit reality of worshipping the living God.

John 4:21-24
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

“The hour cometh, and now is”—this is a time declaration—“when true worshippers shall worship the father in spirit.” Time is the spirit analogue in the physical realm.

[1] God breathing life into Adam is an implicit sanctification.
[2] 1 Thess. 5:23.
[3] Heb. 4:12.
[4] This isn’t just a matter of semantics. Standing still, we move through time at the speed of light. Any velocity we achieve through space slows our progress through time. In the space-time continuum of our universe, time dilates at extreme velocities. If we traveled through space at the speed of light, time for us would stop relative to a body at rest. Time dilation was one of the earliest predictions of Einstein’s theory of relativity and has been confirmed through multiple experiments.
[5] Lev. 23:1-3.

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