Dwelling in Eternity
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. --Isaiah 57:15
God is the living God; He not only is alive, but He is the source of life itself, for He has life in Himself and does not derive His life from anything that is created. This means that that He is independent.
Immutability follows from the life and independence of God, and is clearly taught in Scripture. God does not change, for it is impossible that He should change. Everything that is revealed in the Scripture about God points to this attribute: God is all powerful; all knowing; everywhere present; all wise. So change would be a contradiction, for it would mean that He is getting more or less powerful, more or less knowing, going somewhere else, or getting more or less wise. All such ideas are contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible and are blasphemous.
Someone has asked, “How do people become heretics.” The answer was, “By reading the Bible once or twice.” A little learning is a dangerous thing, and you must give yourself to the study of scripture, you must take advantage of the gifts of ministry that God has given to the church, and you must live within the fellowship of the saints, or you will go astray. This is true about the nature of God as well as any other teaching of the Bible.
The first passage we want to look at today is Isaiah 57. As a preparation for our discussion of verse 15, let us look at its background. Let me set the table for you, so that you might not miss the import of this great truth concerning God. In the first place, this is the only place in our King James Versions that the word “eternity’ is used. The word “eternal” appears many times; and is sometimes translated “everlasting.”
It was a time of great pride, wickedness, and arrogance in Israel. Good men perished, and no one thought about it. It was a time when people lived for the pleasures of the moment and didn’t think about the reasons for things. Why were good people being taken away? They did not even consider that it was because God was going to bring such terrible times upon the nation, that God was taking away the righteous, to peace in heaven.
Their offense was against the Lord, but they didn’t think about that either. They were the children of adulteries and fornication. Their lightheartedness was against God. They sported against God. Although God placed their peril before the eyes over and over again, they counted the warnings as nothing, and made light of them.
They offended over a wide expanse; they were not ashamed, but did all these things openly. Vs. 6, 7. Instead of writing the law upon the doorposts and having God’s word before them, they put the symbols of their wickedness everywhere. Vs. 8, 9. Adultery and fornication are symbols of idolatry in Scripture for the two go together. Sexual sin is related to spiritual sin and the one leads to the other.
When men turn from the Lord, they turn to trust the secular power. Israel went to Egypt; to Babylon; to Assyria. They hoped that they could save themselves from their enemies by entering into alliances with these nations and by putting their trust in them. They wearied themselves in their exertions, trying to find refuge. How the followers of false gods weary themselves, trying to find peace in their souls; trying to find escape from fears and troubles! They weary themselves.
They refuse to abandon hope in their idols. They refuse to say, “There is no hope.” Vs. 10. Their lives were empty, but they refused to abandon the false ways and the vain dreams. Instead they boasted that they had found the life of their hand. The parties continued, and they congratulated each other on how brave they were and how much courage they had in facing the calamities of life. “We really live in a terrible world, you know, but you got to have hope. Somewhere over the rainbow, at the end of the yellow brick road, the birds fly. Why, oh, why can’t I?”
Vs. 11-14. Their idolatry was horrid. They were afraid and lied to God and themselves. They did not remember God in spite of the long patience and kindness He had shown toward them. Now God would declare their righteousness: He would show them their true condition, for it cannot be that God can leave the world without judgment. Vs. 12; He would show the vanity of their idolatry, the things in which they trusted. Vs. 13.
Their trust in their alliances, and the troops of Egypt and Assyria and other would be in vain. Their troops and their allies had become their idols. They were a vain hope, and the wind would carry them away.
Those who trusted in the Lord, however, would be safe, and would inherit “my holy mountain.” In other words, they would go to heaven, of which Mt. Zion in Jerusalem is a symbol. Such trusting men would be faithful: They would say, “Get the stumbling blocks [another name for idolatry] out of the way of my people.” Let my people go. There is a specific historical application to Cyrus and Darius, who would smooth the way for Israel to return to their land after their captivity in Babylon. The general application for the gospel witness is that all barriers to faith are removed by God’s grace. Every one of God’s elect will be saved; and nothing can prevent the will of Messiah from being done.
Why? Why is this promise good? The promise is good because of the nature of God. A person will not be able to really trust in God, if he does not know what kind of God He is. A person will either trust in vanity—that which is no god or he will not trust at all.
The promise to Israel is good because God is living, independent, and unchanging. Now we may add another attribute, mentioned in our text, infinite. He has no limits. He is infinite, eternal.
God will keep His promise because there is nothing on this earth—neither of time or place or power, that can hinder Him from doing all His holy will.
Isaiah 57:15: For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Deuteronomy: 32:40. I lift my hand to heaven and swear: I live forever. There is no limit to His life. God is eternal.
Exodus 3:15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. “Forever” means the vanishing point. He time cannot be numbered.
Exodus 15:18: The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.
Ps. 33:11: The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
Three Things Needs to be said about the eternity of God.
1. God has no beginning. From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God, the Scriptures say.
2. God has no ending. He is the alpha and the omega; the beginning and the end. Beginning and Ending simply do not apply to God. He is eternal.
3. God has no sequences of time. This was denied by Unitarians and Arminians at the times of the Reformation, in order to make room for man’s free will. But if God is without limits then there are no limits between the beginning and ending. He doesn’t experience days and years and months and hours. These have beginnings and endings. If God lived from day to day, then there would be limits, beginnings and endings. If God learned something, or changed His mind, or forgot something, there would be limits, beginnings and endings. God has none of those. “Before Abraham was, I am,” Jesus said, and the Jews took up stones to stone Him. They were a religiously sophisticated people, and they knew the claim that He was making. He was claiming eternity for Himself. He was claiming to be God.
God dwells in eternity. He does not dwell in time, for time is the creation of God: Things present or things to come—the past and the future cannot separate us from the love of God, because time is God’s creature and cannot affect Him.
1. The immortality of the Soul.
2. Why the Soul Must Be Immortal.
We must distinguish between God who only has immortality in Himself; and we who have it by the gift and good pleasure of God. We have everlasting life, in the sense that it does not end. We do not dwell, and never will dwell, in eternity in the same sense He does, for we will always be creatures. Note the following:
Is 40:28: Eternal Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth. God created the boundaries—the ends of the earth. You and I have boundaries, because we are not God.
Ecc 3:11: God has set the world (eternity) in man’s heart. Man has the capacity to see the horizon, to know that there is something beyond. This is both the blessing of man and his misery. It is a blessing, for it causes man to long after the infinite—after God. It is man’s misery because man is a sinner and does not seek the true God. He tries to find infinity and eternity in the world and finds misery and sorrow.
Job 22:5: Iniquities are infinite. Because they are against an infinite God, sins have an infinite character. No sin is small because every sin is against an immense God. In comparison to each other, some sins are greater than others; in terms of man’s relationship to God, every sin carries an immense offense.
3. Whom are We to Trust? We must not trust in the things that have limits, but the things that do not have limits. We must trust in God.
Is 26:4 Trust in the Lord forever
Ps. 119 89: God’s word is forever settled in heaven.
Is 40:8: The word of our Lord abides forever (rises forever): Jesus: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Is. 45:17: But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
4. Where Is Your Inheritance? It is desperately important for us to know where our inheritance is.
a. God is the inheritance of the Godly.
· Psalm 142:5 I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
· Psalm 73:26 my flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
b. The wicked have their portion in this life.
· This world is their inheritance, and this is all they have. But it passes away. God is the portion of the saints forever.
· They do not worship the living eternal God. They worship idols, the gods of this world. They lust after the things of the world. They have not longed after the Lord, or sought His way.
· MATTHEW 24:51 and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
· Revelation 14: 10,11 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night,
· An offense against the eternal God, requires an eternal punishment. God is in all time. There is no statute of limitations with offenses against God.
5. What of your offenses committed years ago? What about sins against your mother and your father? What about sins against your friends and your relatives? They are as present with the Lord as if you were committing them right now. Should that not bring the greatest concern to your heart and mind, if you are not in Jesus Christ?
As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it:
Q10: Will God allow such disobedience and apostasy to go unpunished?
A10: Certainly not, but He is terribly displeased with our inborn as well as our actual sins, and will punish them in just judgment in time and eternity, as he has declared: Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.
1. Heb. 9:27
2. Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10; Rom. 1:18; Matt. 25:41
Q11: But is not God also merciful?
A11: God is indeed merciful,  but He is likewise just;  His justice therefore requires that sin, which is committed against the most high majesty of God, be punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting punishment both of body and soul.
· It adds blessing: God cannot be moved by the things on the earth. We are safe in Him. We are safe forever. We do not know what the future holds, but we know that it is secure in the hands of God. His love, His power, His understanding, His will, and His wisdom, are not bounded by time. He will be as wise a billion years into eternity as He is now. He will be as powerful. He will be as loving and kind. He does not grow old.
· It adds terror. God is angry with the wicked every day. He will not forget nor will He overlook transgressions and sins. Punishment from God is horrible enough, but will you add eternity to it? “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever…”
Come to Jesus Christ. Remember His blessed words: John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”