Doing the Math on Time & Eternity

Psalm 90:1-4,10,12

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as one day; or as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night…

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Children learn numbers as soon as they begin to prattle; and we do not need a teacher in arithmetic to enable us to count the length of a hundred upon our fingers. So much the fouler and more shameful is our stupidity in never comprehending the short term of our life.

JOHN SHOWER (1657-1715): O think a little, how inconsiderable a thing is the longest life of man on earth compared with an everlasting duration! The psalmist tells us, Psalm 39:5, “Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth, and mine age―my life, my time on earth―“is as nothing to thee;”―nothing, as compared with God’s duration, which is without beginning or end.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A thousand years! This is a long stretch of time. How much may be crowded into it―the rise and fall of empires, the glory and obliteration of dynasties, the beginning and the end of elaborate systems of human philosophy, and countless events, all important to household and individual, which elude the pens of historians. Yet this period is to the Lord as nothing, even as time already gone…If a thousand years be to God as a single nightwatch, what must be the life-time of the Eternal!

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): If a thousand years be but as a day to the life of God, then as a year is to the life of man, so are three hundred and sixty-five thousand years to the life of God; and as seventy years are to the life of man, so are twenty-five million, five hundred and fifty thousand years to life of God. Yet still, since there is no proportion between time and eternity, we must dart our thoughts beyond all these, for years and days measure only the duration of created things.

JOHN SHOWER: If it had been said that a thousand millions of years are but as a minute, it would have been true. According to this computation, a thousand years as one day, suppose a man had been born five thousand years ago? He is in God’s sight as one born five days ago. If Adam, the first man, were now alive, he would not be six days old, by that reckoning.  And by the same account, he that has lived in the world sixty-two years has lived but an hour and a half.

C. H. SPURGEON: Before the Eternal, all the age of frail man is less than one ticking of a clock.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): This word ‘eternal’―it is a heavy word.

JOHN SHOWER: How useful and awful it may be, to make the comparison between the longest life and eternity…Old Jacob, when he passed one hundred and thirty years, said, “Few and evil are the days of the years of the life of my pilgrimage,” Genesis 47:9. What was that to Adam’s nine hundred and thirty years, after his creation in full strength and maturity? Or to Methuselah’s nine hundred and sixty years? But what a moment is that to the divine eternity?

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): This life, upon which every thing depends, is very brief: this is fearful. Look at the images of Scripture: a flower of the field; a flood; a watch in the night; a dream; a vapour.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It is soon cut off, and we fly away.” That witness is indeed true.

JOHN SHOWER: The comparison of this life with the other, of time with eternity, whether in happiness or misery, is of so much moment and use, that it may serve so many excellent purposes, and produce such wise thoughts and reflections, that I wish we would consider the one and the other more seriously and frequently. How little a while we are to abide here, and after death we must abide forever in Abraham’s bosom, or in torments; with God in endless glory, or in everlasting fire with the devil and his angels.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset: eternity to the godless is a night that has no sunrise.

JOHN SHOWER: Upon the whole, who would not pray with David, that God would teach him to number his days, and value his little time, so as to apply his heart to wisdom, that he may walk in the way of life?

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): See this obvious difference between the Christian and the non-Christian? The non-Christian does everything he can not to think of the world beyond. That is the whole meaning of the pleasure mania of today. It is just a great conspiracy and effort to stop thinking, and especially to avoid thinking of death and the world to come―that is typical of the non-Christian; there is nothing he so hates as talking about death and eternity.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Eternity―O that the sinner would study this word, methinks it would startle him out of his dead sleep! O that the gracious soul would study it, methinks it would revive him in his deepest agony!

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such an impression upon us as they do if we did but believe the things of eternity as we ought.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): We must not forget that the issues of Eternity are settled in Time.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” We can never do that, except we number every day as our last day.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The great weight of eternity hangs upon the small wire of time.

J. C. RYLE: A mistake about your soul is a mistake for eternity…Sit down and think.


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