Time, and the Fourth Day
Pastor C. W. Powell
Trinity Covenant Church
We come now to the Fourth Day of Creation. In this fourth day, God gathered up the light that was in the firmament into the lights. He speaks from the point of view of the earth, and describes these lights as they appear to us; not as they are in themselves. I believe that the events here are exactly as portrayed by Moses in the sacred scriptures, but I also know that Moses is not speaking scientifically. The Bible is not written to satisfy our curiosity, or to encourage us to pry into things that are too high for us, but is written for our faith.
Judgment and damnation await those who, in the arrogance of their minds, would drive God from the universe and pretend to establish a rule of their own arrogance and perverse knowledge, by pretending to discover the secrets of creation and the ordinance of God. The science I will leave to others more qualified than I; but I would caution them to approach their studies in humility and reverence for the Holy Scriptures. The Bible warns us that there is a depth to the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Beware, lest you seek to enter presumptuously into things not given to you, and you fall and be destroyed in the incomprehensible depths of the wrath of God. The things that are revealed belong to us; but the secret things belong to God. We can only look at things from our point of view; we only see appearances; and the Bible warns us that it by faith that we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear. The world makes God visible, in the sense of Romans 1:20. In the world God displays that which is in essence invisible. This is the reason that men are without excuse. This is the reason that idolatry everywhere exists, for men change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible men, and worship and serve the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. They worship the Sun, instead of the God who made the Sun. They worship the tree rather than Him who made the tree. They worship the man, rather than the God who created man in His image. But they are so deceived that they pretend that they worship God in the Sun and in the tree.
As you know, I hold to the strict history of the events recorded in Genesis 1. I believe they happened exactly as recorded here. The language is language suited to the common language of men, from the point of view of men. For instance, the moon is called a great light; and so it is from the point of view of the earth. The light from the stars is far less than that from the moon. That's from our point of view. The sun is the dominant light in the day; the moon is the dominant light in the night. The moon and sun also affect the tides, and rule the day and the night. The rising of the sun brings many changes to the plants and animals on the earth; the rising of the moon has a profound effect also.
How can these things be? I do not have to explain it. I admit that I cannot explain it. We poor ignorant and sinful people cannot even explain earthly things: like how the man is formed in the womb; so how should we even presume to explain heavenly things? This answer will not satisfy the modern who is intoxicated with his own wisdom, but satisfies the humble believer, both the scholar and the child, who is content to learn at the feet of Jesus Christ. “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46,47) There are many fine books that discuss the science side of this equation, so I will not enter into this, for I have a different purpose in this sermon.
I. The Lights in Heaven.
The lights are placed for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. The lesson is this: Time is an extremely valuable commodity, and God expects us to measure it and use it wisely. In the normal affairs of life, all earthly things are ordered by time, and time is a necessary component of everything we do. If there is anything that separates the successful person from the unsuccessful one, it is in the use that is made of time.
Time is the creature of God. Let us look at that celebrated passage in Ecc. 3: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down ...etc.” 3:1-8
There are many places in the Bible that reinforce this: rain in season (Lev. 26:4); corn in his season (Job 5:26) are instances. In Jer.33:20 God says that He has made a covenant with day and night. We cannot change the seasons. Only God can do that: Dan. 2:21. God sends abundance, and He sends famine and death.
Acts 1:7 It is not for us to know the times and the seasons. God has placed these in his own hands, just as in all the rest of creation. God Himself is not subject to time, for a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day. He can stop time, as He did at the mouth of Joshua when the Sun stood still so that Joshua could complete his destruction of the enemies of God; He can roll time back as He did in the days of Hezekiah. Time is subject to him; this points to the immense difference between His being and our being.
II. Managing Time.
This means that we will never begin to get our lives into control until we learn to manage our time.
One day a manager came to the office of Lee Iacocca, GM of Chrysler Corporation. The manager stated as a matter of pride that it had been years since he had taken a vacation. Iacocca was furious. “How can you manage my business? If you cannot manage your time enough to get time to spend with your family, I do not want you to run my business.”
Israel was required to pay a vacation tithe (Deut. 14:26). In the Ten Commandments one day was required for rest and worship. That is about the right proportion. Six days work--one day for rest and worship. The Sabbath commandment includes both the work and the rest. It doesn't mean just the rest and the worship; rest and worship are not to become an excuse for not working six days.
Then there is night and day; work during the day; rest during the night. Certainly, I do not think the Lord forbids night work, for that has always been done; but an important principle is of the Lord. We are creatures and must sleep and get rest for body and for mind. We cannot work, work, work; or play, play, play. We have to sleep, and we should sleep at regular times.
Lesson: the seasons are the Lord's. God will bless us in due season, if we get time under control. Know the seasons for what you do.
There is a fundamental lesson here: The customs and usages of the Scriptures are an immense help to you in the management of your life. Time is a gift that God has given to you. He also, as with all His gifts, teaches you and me how to manage it. If we begin with disciplining our time so that we worship him, the discipline involved will apply to everything else we do.
So it is with so much of our lives. If we discipline ourselves to manage our revenue so that we can support and contribute to the work of the church, we gain order to our lives to be good stewards of our resources and many blessing flow to us from that. Without this, the Lord blows upon our resources and they are scattered like the wind.
Time also is frittered away. If we are careful in giving God his due, and worshipping him in due season, the discipline involved to so measure our time will bring good benefits to all of our lives.
III. Important Scriptures
Numbers 9:13. Israel was to keep the Passover in his season. You couldn't keep the passover anytime you wanted.
Christ came in due season. There are seasons of refreshing. Ex. 34:26ff. The times and places are out of your control. There is an external discipline enjoined upon you for your good. Jesus said: “Man was not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man.” It is interesting that God did not create man until he had placed the sun, moon, and stars in the sky to regulate time for men.
The Jew's life was regulated by feast days, etc. This was stressed in the Law. The feasts were commanded to be done in their season; We are not under the discipline of the Jews, and have much greater liberty in the management of our time, but the principle remains the same. “Neglect not the assembling of yourselves together,” the Holy Spirit says. There is a discipline to this that will bear great benefit in your lives.
Eph. 5:16; Col. 5:16. Redeem the Time. The Lord has saved our soul: now we are to redeem and save our time. God desires that every part of your life be saved; all parts of your life and being. That includes your time. Time is not to be wasted. Work; worship, and recreation are all mandated by Scripture in proper proportion. It is as great a sin to waste time as it is to waste money or property. In fact, time is the only commodity that, if wasted, cannot be reclaimed. You have a fixed time upon this earth. Job 14:1-6. You have an appointed time.
“But I don't have time,” is a statement of value, not time. You always have time to do what you value the most: even if it is just sitting on the couch.
Things must be done in time. Young people have much more capacity to learn than old folks. Concepts are more easily grasped; memorization is so much easier. Do things in time, or you will have no opportunity. Chasten your son while there is time, the wise man says. Teach while you have opportunity. The time passes quickly, and soon he might not listen to you.
It is the temptation of youth to turn this all around, and we parents often encourage the sins of youth. Youth should be a time of work, and preparation, not fun and games. Fun and games should come later, when they have been earned. This is the reason that Lamentations 3:27 says “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” Youth is a time for learning skills, storing up wisdom and knowledge, planting the seeds for later service in the kingdom of God. Yes, there must be times for fun; and times for recreation, but most important is preparation.
Why should a young man work hard? because of the service he can render to God over the course of his life. One of the tragedies is that we are too soon old and too late smart. What a blessing a man can be if he gets smart early in life. Olevianus was 30 years old; Ursinus was 28 when they finished the Heidelberg Catechism. Calvin was 50 years old, when his famous INSTITUTES received their definitive and final form, but the first writing of them was done when he was only 28. Even St. Augustine, though he was not a Christian in his youth, yet he was building up a storehouse of understanding and knowledge that would prove invaluable to the church when it came to fruit in his later years.
The church was greatly blessed because these young men prepared themselves to the service of Christ.
“But I have wasted so much time.” But what about the time you still have? Ps. 1:3. The blessed man still brings forth fruit in his season. Only God knows the seasons. A wise man said once: Success results when preparation meets opportunity. We cannot rule the seasons; but we can labor to be ready when the season comes. The fruit appears in its season, but unless it is planted in its season, it will never be ready at the harvest and the times will pass us by.
Acts. 24:25. Felix said to Paul: “Some more convenient season.” But the seasons are not in our hands. This was Felix's season. This was the time appointed of the Father. The great apostle stood before Felix: the word was preached powerfully to him. This was the appointed day, but Felix did not discern the times and the season, and the convenient season never came again.
The rich fool was not a fool in earthly things. He planted in season, he harvested in season, and built his barns in season. But he did not think of the seasons of eternity. As he was glorying in his full barns, and boasting in the years of relaxation to come, God said to him. “Your time is UP!”
Is. 22:12: Israel did not discern the times: They said, “Let us eat drink....” Even Nineveh did better when Jonah preached: they saw t was a time for sorrow and mourning. “Why don't your disciples fast?” the Pharisees complained to Christ. How badly they missed the times!!! It would be like a girl on her honeymoon, weeping for all the evil in the world. CHRIST WAS AMONG THEM!!! THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD WAS IN THEIR MIDST!!!! THE CHURCH WOULD HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO MOURN; BUT NOT WHEN THE BRIDEGROOM IS THERE!
Gal. 6:9. Let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap. If you learn to manage your time. [By the way, Time is the great democrat. We are all equal with respect to time. We each have 24 hours a day. John D. Rockefeller had no more time in a day than you and I do. Calvin had just as much time. In fact, in some ways, we have more time than they do, because of our timesaving devices.
They ought to be called timesaving devices, not work-saving. We should work as hard as our fathers, but accomplish more. Calvin did not have a word-processor like the one I wrote this with] If you learn to manage your time and learn to use it wisely for the most important usages, then the opportunity will come for you to be blessed of God and be useful in your work. Your time will come. In due season you will reap. But now, be not weary in well doing: in trusting Christ; in using time wisely; in preparing yourself for the work God has for you.
Hos. 2:9. God will take away the seasons for those who do not value his gifts. The greatest gift is time.
2Tim. 4:2. It is always the season for the preaching of the gospel. For the word of God rules all; and faithful ministers know that the time is short; there is an urgency to the preaching of the Gospel, just as there is an urgency to a fire alarm.
Psalm 90:1-12. Life is hard; life is full of many difficulties; The winds and the storms and the bad times come. The good times also come, but this life has more bad times than good times, for we are not in heaven yet. It is a time of sorrows and suffering, and it ends in death and misery.
Hosea 4:6: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; but they had rejected knowledge. Why had they rejected knowledge? Because they either had a bias against it, which is a form of ignorance; or they had not taken the opportunity to know.
There is so much more that could be said, but I hope this has stimulated your thought. May God bless you.
Pastor C. W. Powell
Trinity Covenant Church RCUS
6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918