I remember that warm summer evening. The sultry sunset with its dry, red and yellow hue, beckoned a chorus of crickets and other late August bugs. Their inflating and deflating songs were like a tranquil relaxant that called my young sweaty mind to reflect on my day as I sat and gazed out the cat-clawed screen in the kitchen window. I was spending my last few weeks of summer with my loving grandparents.
With another summer day ready to be tucked into evening, my grandmother stood there wiping dry her dishpan hands. Her well-worn apron, draping from her neck, was covered in her labors from the day in the kitchen. Giving her hands a final wipe, she looked at me with her warm, firm gaze and asked with a sigh, "Where does all the time go?" Her 74-year-old eyes peered into my young, tender, impressionable soul. "Another day gone by... Where does all the time go?"
I sheepishly shrugged my shoulders as I gave her my toothless smile. I didn't know where all the time went. I was only a boy. I just knew that I never wanted that time to end. But that was the last summer I would stand at that window, reflecting securely on a day lovingly spent at my grandparent's house. Later that year, she passed away, never to be hugged again.
And my grandfather? He was left with merely a memory of their marriage of 58 years. He said to me one time, shortly after her death, as he rested in his favorite chair, "Fifty-eight wonderful years." Then he paused and reflected for a moment and asked wistfully, "Where does all the time go?" Fourteen months later he, too, passed away. The doctors found no reason for his death. They said it was from a broken heart.
Where does all the time go? Tick, tock, tick, tock... drums the gentle cadence of time, that unstoppable ruler. Unswerving and unrelenting, time ticks steadily away. Tick, tock, tick, tock... like a great river that cannot be restrained. Tick, tock, tick, tock... Who can grasp it and channel it where he wishes? Who can halt time in her tracks? Tick, tock, tick, tock... drums the gentle cadence of time, that unstoppable ruler. Where does all the time go?
Where do all the souls of the people go who have lived throughout that steady rhythm of time. They were all born, grew older, made decisions, and knelt down to the grave. Some were much loved and missed, while others, tremendously feared, left their wounded successors relieved. They all made decisions. They all chose a path. They all yielded to the grave. Where did their time go?
I am a full grown man now. A crisp breeze bites at my cheeks in the morning sunlight of the thawing mountain springtime. I am walking down the street in a bustling mountain town, busy with the buzzing endeavors of vendors and buyers, busy with what they would consider "time well spent." As I walk I notice once again in the square the towering presence of the town clock. It stands as an unwavering sentinel of time, governing that bustling village, reminding all that time is like a great river that flows irrepressibly. Tick, tock, tick, tock... drums the gentle cadence of time, that unstoppable ruler, placed there for all to heed.
1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, another day goes by.
3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, all men live and die.
5 o'clock, 6 o'clock, does anyone really know?
7 o'clock, 8 o'clock, where does all the time go?
The halls of my mind resound with the voice of my grandparents and the countless times I heard that question posed. But now I know, having been taught by God's people, where all the time goes.
Surely all will bow to the grave. No one knows when his time is up. Time, that steady ruler, beats the cadence of its drum: tick, tock, tick, tock... till the end of time. Where does all the time go? It goes into books that will be opened at the end of time.
These all-inclusive books possess an exceptional knowledge. They are the rich collection of all decisions made throughout human history, from the world-changing decisions of kings and nobles made scandalously behind closed doors to the decisions made humbly by the watchful father over his children. These books contain all we have ever done, all of our choices, and all that we should have chosen but didn't. They contain our deeds. All the dead, great and small, will be gathered for the accounting of their time spent on earth.
These books are the precise record of our responses to the still, small voice we all hear within ourselves, telling us right from wrong -- the voice of our conscience. It confirms us when we do right or condemns us when we do wrong. It is that unrelenting voice, felt deep within your chest, gnawing at our heart when we know we should not have treated someone the way we did. Contempt for ourselves fills us. We are so sorry we did it. Our response to the voice of our conscience is what we will find recorded in those books, which will be opened at the end of time. That is where all the time goes.
Tick, tock, tick, tock... drums the gentle cadence of time, that unstoppable ruler. The busy mountain town square buzzes with the activity of those spending their time. Chime, Chime, Chime... the town clock keeps the tally. What have I done today? What am I doing now? What am I about to do later? It all goes into books that will be opened at the end of time.
Everyone will spend eternity in one of three places described in the Bible. These are The Three Eternal Destinies of Man. There is a destination at the end of the path you choose to walk during your short time on earth, as Romans 2:6-8 so wonderfully describes:
God will render to each one according to his deeds, eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath.
This speaks of the "Great White Throne" judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, where all the dead, great and small, will be gathered to hear the reckoning of their life. Standing before the throne, all will hear, as they look into the eyes of others, how they affected those around them in the way they spent their time here on earth. Two categories of people are judged at that time: those who have done good, and those who have done evil. Each goes to his own eternal destiny. These are the first two eternal destinies.
Who is worthy to judge such matters? "Only God," you might say. Yet the Apostle Paul said, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" Yes, the judgment will be carried out by the Messiah and all those who have followed Him at the cost of their own lives -- "these brothers of Mine" (as Matthew 25:31-46 calls them). These are the ones who have obeyed the gospel of unconditional surrender. These are the "saints" who will judge the world, the Holy, whose eternal destiny is the Holy City in Revelation 21.
In the midst of a world climate of revelry and lewd self-indulgence, these who follow the Lamb choose to be purified, in order to be made ready for the return of the Son of God. Tick, tock, tick, tock... every moment matters. All their time is devoted to building the spiritual ark -- the Church, the Commonwealth of Israel, the Body of Messiah -- which will pass through the end of this evil age and into the coming age of peace, just as in the days of Noah.
But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:37-39)
The onlooking world jeered and scoffed as Noah and his sons labored in faith to build the ark. One hundred years of absolute devotion is what it took for Noah and his sons to build the ark, according to the pattern given by God. When the construction was complete, the ark stood as a great and terrible witness, calling all to be saved out of that wicked and perverse generation. At the final possible moment the last remnant of the righteous -- Noah and his family -- were snatched out of that depraved society. Like a preserved seed they were called out and carried safely in the ark into the next age, as it were. So shall it be with the restoration of all things, that spiritual ark which will bring about the end of this age. For as in the days of Noah, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.
...the divine long-suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. This also prefigures that which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:20-21)
Through the sacrifice of Yahshua the Messiah, baptism now saves us, transferring us out of Satan's domain and into the place where all who believe are together, with one heart and soul, in joint participation in the Commonwealth of Israel. Apart from entering that spiritual ark, a person cannot be saved out of this wicked and perverse generation anymore than Noah's family could have been saved while remaining outside of the ark.
Inside the spiritual ark of the Communities of the Redeemed, all the enemies of God are being put under foot by the love of God poured out into their hearts. This will bring about the return of the Son of God and a new age of peace, just as in the days of Noah. The old world of viscous wickedness had passed away in the drowning waters of the flood. The waters subsided and the earth emerged like a faithful old friend who had always been there. As Noah walked the dry earth again, our loving Creator spoke to his heart a message of hope for the redemption of mankind:
Thus I establish My covenant with you: never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood: never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." And God said: "This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud and it shall be for the sign of the covenant... (Genesis 9:11-13)
There it appeared, in its simple beauty, shimmering in the sky like a divine statement of hope: His rainbow. Noah knelt down on dry ground and taught his sons the hopeful, yet painful depth of what those beautiful colors really meant: the destruction of evil and the promise of an age of peace. And as that father, so long ago, passed on the wisdom of righteousness to his sons and grandsons, time paced on like an unquenchable river. Tick, tock, tick, tock... drummed the gentle cadence of time, that unstoppable ruler. Who can grasp it and channel it where he wishes? Who can halt time in her tracks? Where does all the time go?
As we left my grandmother's house that late summer afternoon, the muggy rains of Kansas fell in sheets, like a much yearned for blessing from heaven. Afterward, there it was, arched above the tree-speckled landscape, shimmering in its simple beauty -- His rainbow. My grandmother's warm and firm eyes peered into my impressionable young soul as I pointed out to her the splendor that hung in the sky. A smile of delight beamed from her time-worn countenance. Mainly, I think she was delighted because of my delight. Our summer had been time well spent. She was a good and loving woman. She chose to be that way.
I am grateful that all her time has gone into books that will be opened someday, when everyone will be recompensed according to his or her deeds. That is where all the time goes -- into the books that will be opened at the end of time.
Come and get in the ark.