Living in God's Time

Updated: 22 Apr 2007

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Living in God's Time

Psalm 90

Harassed by Time

Our lives are obsessed and harassed by the clock, by time

The gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish hours. Confound him, too! Who in this place set up a sundial to cut and hack my days so wretchedly Into small pieces! When I was a boy, my belly was my sundial - one more sure, truer, and more exact than any of them. This dial told me when 'twas proper time to go to dinner, when I had ought to eat. But nowadays, why even when I have, I can't fall to unless the sun gives me leave. The town's so full of these confounded dials, the greatest part of its inhabitants, shrunk up with hunger, creep along the streets. (Attributed to Plautus, about 200BC. Oldest known quote on a sundial)

Scurrying around, pursued and harassed by Old Father Time and a horde of competing and conflicting duties, cares, duties and desires.

Has God made a mistake? - too few hours in the day - too few days in the week?

The Lord of Time (and its not Dr Who!)

According to Psalm 90 the answer lies in God himself. Moses wrote down this psalm/poem/song, and he had learned patience 38 years in the desert as a simple shepherd, after letting go his dreams of greatness as prince of Egypt and hero of his people Israel.

Psalm begins and ends with God as the foundation and home of men who trust themselves to him.

Verses 1-2

We are Creatures of Time

Pessimistic? seems so, if we leave God out of the picture. Need not be if we recognise he is time's Master. "You sweep them away". God is in control, and time is not meaningless.

Without the life of God within us (depending, resting, thanking, submitting, enjoying, and rejoicing in his forgiveness through Jesus, in his love and everlasting care) there can be no peace here

Creatures of Fallen Time

This world is under a curse; it is a decaying world "change and decay in all around I see".

"what are we? ... we are just specks of dust that have settled in the night on the map of the world" (attributed to Winston Churchill, meeting with Stalin and Roosevelt during WW2)

How foolish then is so much of our goal-setting? How pathetic are men's aims?

Not wrong in themselves, but worthless and broken if we make them our idols.

Fallen Slaves of Time

This psalm show man as fallen, guilty and sinful (ie, utterly biased more to evil than to good). v7-11

"Who knows the power of your anger?" - v11 - Alas, everyone will one day (as witnesses or defendants)

The Pivot Point

v12 - "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom"

Why count our days? Because they are

A Heart of wisdom. That's what we need! Based on knowing our days and on knowing him who gave them to us.

"Teach us" - the first prayer in this psalm.

Divine Arithmetic - a Christian pastor once had a second job as a university lecture, and was later being criticised for it. His answer - "When I taught mathematics, I didn't know what mathematics was! What is mathematics? It is about magnitudes and proportions of magnitudes, and I forgot two magnitudes - the littleness of time, and the greatness of eternity"

Without God we will always get our arithmetic wrong.

Living in God's Time v13-17

What can I do?

("Screwtape Letters", XV, p76-79 makes fascinating reading, at least to me 8-0)
(the senior devil, Screwtape, is speaking) "... In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time - for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men's affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality.
  ...we want a man hag-ridden by the Future - haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth..." 

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

  Psalm 90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place (1)
  in all generations.
  2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
  or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
  from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
  3 You return man to dust
  and say, Return, O children of man! (2)
  4 For a thousand years in your sight
  are but as yesterday when it is past,
  or as a watch in the night.
  5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
  like grass that is renewed in the morning:
  6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
  in the evening it fades and withers.
  7 For we are brought to an end by your anger;
  by your wrath we are dismayed.
  8 You have set our iniquities before you,
  our secret sins in the light of your presence.
  9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
  we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
  10 The years of our life are seventy,
  or even by reason of strength eighty;
  yet their span (3) is but toil and trouble;
  they are soon gone, and we fly away.
  11 Who considers the power of your anger,
  and your wrath according to the fear of you?
  12 So teach us to number our days
  that we may get a heart of wisdom.
  13 Return, O Lord! How long?
  Have pity on your servants!
  14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
  that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
  15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
  and for as many years as we have seen evil.
  16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
  and your glorious power to their children.
  17 Let the favor (4) of the Lord our God be upon us,
  and establish the work of our hands upon us;
  yes, establish the work of our hands!

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright (C) 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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