My gaze is fixed on the horizon as the sun disappears into the sea. The sunset is quite stunning tonight, setting the evening sky ablaze with vivid hues of orange and red and purple. Slowly the colors fade into night with the distant sparkle of countless stars in the heavens. The moment and the landscape are somehow timeless, connecting with something very deep in my soul. I can’t help but wonder how many stood here on this lonely beach before me, considering the passing of time and their own mortality, and how many will stand here after I’m gone.
When I consider my place in the scope of the infinite expanse of time and space, I can feel quite insignificant. Yet somehow my spirit bears witness that God has set eternity in the heart of man.1 Though I was born a few short years ago, and this fragile body is already beginning to break down, I know my soul and spirit will never come to an end. I will undoubtedly spend eternity somewhere.
Remember when we were young, and shone like the sun? We thought we would live forever — no thought of the consequences of our actions, no real urgency to make every moment count…
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town,
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today…2
It seems I have wasted so much of my life. But have I really? If my journey ends at a good destination, then were any of my steps wasted? Did the lump of coal waste its time buried in the intense pressure and heat of the earth, which caused it to become a diamond? Did the tiny grain of sand waste its time sitting in an oyster shell, while it was becoming a pearl? The waves crash upon the shore and gently slide back into the sea, as they have for ages, and these things take time and a struggle.
The first man and woman began their lives in a pristine garden. It’s easy to assume that we know the story, but hidden between the lines of these first few chapters of the Bible is the mystery of God’s eternal purpose, and man’s place in the grand scheme.
Let’s ask some questions:
The command to the man and his wife was to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” They were given authority over the earth, but did they have the necessary wisdom and experience to carry out that mandate? They were also warned that eating from the wrong tree would result in death, but did they know what “death” meant?
Man was created to rule, but the knowledge of how to rule is not instinctive. In the same way, the ability to make a baby doesn’t come packaged with the wisdom to raise that child.
How does one gain the qualities of a good ruler — diligence, wisdom, compassion, patience, perseverance, and self-sacrificing love? Do you suppose that God knew we were going to have to go through many things as a race and as individuals to learn how to rule?
Surely the ancients understood that Earth is man’s testing ground. Consider the words of Job:
What is man, that You should exalt him, that You should set Your heart on him, that You should visit him every morning, And test him every moment? (Job 7:17-18)
If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes. (Job 14:14)
Our character is tried and proven by every aspect of what’s been given us to care for and rule over — our marital relationships, our children, animal and plant life, how we use (or abuse) natural resources, how we relate to authority, etc. How we interact in our particular environment reveals the true condition of our heart. The choices we make in this life fashion our character, and our character will ultimately determine our eternal destiny.5
So here we are in the 21st Century. Are we learning the right lessons and becoming all that we were meant to be? In the sixties we thought we were going to change the world. But things didn’t quite work out as we planned. We assimilated back into the society we sought to change, kidding ourselves that we would change it from within.
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
Where have you been?
It’s alright, we know where you’ve been.
You’ve been in the pipeline, filling in time,
Provided with toys and ‘Scouting for Boys’.
You bought a guitar to punish your ma,
And you didn’t like school,
and you know you’re nobody’s fool,
So welcome to the machine.6
So we settled for the American Dream. We raised a few kids, and put them through college (if they didn’t get lost in the drug culture we spawned). We’ve dabbled in different brands of spirituality, but mostly immersed ourselves in making money and setting up a comfortable existence. But in it all, how far have we disconnected from our own hearts? How far have we strayed from understanding the value of the struggle to shape our character, and our destiny? Have we somehow gotten distracted, or led astray?
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
Every year is getting shorter; never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught, or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.7
If you could have a conversation with God, would you think He would say He wasted His life, or that He wasted His time creating man? It seems that rather than raising up good rulers who care for the earth and its inhabitants, society is becoming more and more like ancient Sodom, with its abundant food and careless ease,8 and its insatiable quest for pleasure. Do you think our Creator grieves over all the wasted lives? What goes on in your soul when you consider the crushing weight of guilt and human misery on the earth?
It might shock you to know that God has not lost hope for man. He knew from the beginning that we would make the wrong choices and wander very far from Him. There is a little clue in the book of Revelation that reveals this fact:
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)
Any wise father knows his child is going to have to learn many hard lessons in life in order to grow up straight. So too, God understood from the beginning what it was going to take to win the heart of man, and teach him to walk in the way of justice and righteousness.9 He also knew that many of His children would reject His hand in their lives, choosing rather to go their own way, taking their fate upon themselves.
Some of those rebellious children would be prodigal sons who would deeply regret their wrong choices as they tasted the bitter fruit of their life. God’s plan from the beginning was to sacrifice His Son in order to reconcile those who would be humble enough to face their own sin, and turn to Him for mercy.
I was one of those prodigal sons. As I grew older and my soul became more corrupt, it became all too clear that I was not facing a good eternal destiny. My efforts to find forgiveness in the great confusion of Christianity only left me feeling more worthless and disappointing to my Creator. For I needed more than a philosophy of forgiveness; I needed the power to change.
But then I met a people who told me about the real Jesus of the Bible. They called Him by His Hebrew name, Yahshua. I came to know these people and their Savior. Yahshua paid the price to reconcile us to our Father in Heaven. Apart from Him we are like illegitimate children (bastards) — lost to our identity and without the necessary foundation to withstand the trials and tribulations of life. But in His hands we will be restored in every way to our created purpose. But we must be willing to receive the good discipline of the Father.
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)
Yahshua was the living example of a true Son. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Following Him we have hope to be the true sons that God is waiting for. All creation waits and groans for the sons of God (true rulers) to be revealed.10 When man is restored to God, then creation will continue and death will be no more. If you read the back of the book, you will see that God will get what He has waited for, what He paid for, and what He deserves.
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)
If you can see your own need to be saved from the corruption that works in your soul, then come and meet the true Yahshua. He is powerful to save His people — that is what His name means, and that is who He is…