I might hear a deep sigh right now. Yes, I am writing about time – again. I will always be fascinated by the numbers of time and all their special names – seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years with seasons and semesters, decades, centuries, eras and ages. They are written into our history books – Ancient history, the Middle Ages, the Modern period.
Humans travel further into space than ever. The awe-inspiring images from the Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope transmit past activity in space – measured in lightyears. Stars die and are being born by millions time million – numbers and calculations that overwhelm the untrained mind.
God is outside time. God is aionios = everlasting – a term in Hebrew that means more than infinite time. It means without beginning, without end, without change and unlimited.
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – (Romans16:25,26)
…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, (2 Timothy 1:9)
I don’t even know how to begin to think about God’s existence. Maybe with the greatest effort I might reach one miniscule droplet of fleeting understanding.
Travel with me in the spirit to a time depicted as ancient history. The Egyptian civilization has just received a fatal blow with the dramatic and destructive exit of a slave-nation that contributed to the high achievements of the Egyptian civilization under the Pharoah, Ramesses II, also called Ramesses the Great.
One miracle upon another brought this historic change for both nations into being. A Hebrew baby boy survives a risky basket-trip down the Nile river. He is picked up by the Egyptian princess and given back to his mother for nursing on the recommendation of his sister that “happens to be” close by when the princess bathes and sees the baby. He grows up in the palace as “brother” to the crown prince with all the skills and education that the best of the ancient world could offer, until the cruelty of slavery drives him to murder and he flees the country into the desert. He works as a shepherd to his father-in-law for forty years when he encounters the God of his people in a burning bush.
A burning bush in the desert was a common sight, but not one that keeps on burning. It must have taken Moses some time to realize that the bush keeps on burning. God is patient in his appeal for the attention of his people.
Moses turns aside and meets Yahweh – I AM – the Creator God of heaven and earth.
With a larger-than-life purpose he returns to Egypt and leads his people out of Egypt after a spectacular sequence of natural disasters breaks the arrogance and pride of the Pharoah to allow the Israelites to go. The miracles continue – on a daily basis. A sea that splits to enable a crossing, food from heaven, sweet water, rock-water, guidance and protection with cloud and fire, shoes and clothes with no wear and tear and healing for their bodies are all part of everyday.
In everything, the people are only human. They are disgruntled and grumbling. Arrogance and pride are ready to express the dragon’s take on matters. Rebellion follows easily. Even in the midst of daily miracles, they miss Egypt and the slave-meals of meat – the familiarity of bondage. Is it possible? We should not criticize old Israel too easily. An honest assessment of our own mind could leave one in cold shock about the ingratitude in our own hearts.
Miriam, Moses’ sister, very much part of the miraculous plan of saving her young brother’s life, and his brother Aaron, the serving high priest and spiritual leader, become insubordinate and defiant towards the leadership of Moses when he marries a black woman. (Numbers 12:1-16)
The rebellion is based on jealousy. Would God not speak to them too, and not only to Moses?
All three are summoned to the tent of gathering. God descends in the cloud and speaks to all three, commending Moses for the role that he plays and calling him his friend with whom He does not have to speak in riddles, but to whom He speaks directly.
When the cloud departs, Miriam is white with leprosy. Leprosy was not an illness that was always immediately visible. Sometimes someone had to spend time outside the camp, to make sure that it is leprosy. In Miriam’s case there is no doubt. Leprosy causes the decay of the body just as sin causes the decay of the soul.
The shock of her illness hangs thick in the atmosphere and immediately Aaron appeals to the same brother that he had just defied. He asks forgiveness and begs Moses to pray for Miriam. Moses forgives and prays in an instant. Confession is powerful with instantaneous consequence.
Moses calls upon the Lord, on behalf of the sister that defied him. Brotherly love embraces her and lifts her up in prayer.
God healed her, but she had to spend seven days outside the camp.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.
Spit was considered very rude in the Near Middle East. To spit someone in the face was the ultimate act of humiliation and scorn. That is what the soldiers that crucified Jesus did to him.
Seven days were the prescribed isolation, but we know seven as the perfect number symbolizing fullness and adequacy. God created the earth in seven days. In her illness He created a new heart in Miriam and most probably also in Aaron, who was shocked and affected by her illness and even others in the camp who witnessed the incident.
Seven days – God’s time, kairos-time -the fullness of time, the opportune time, the right time, enough time.
Could we submit the diagnosis, the prayer request, the heart’s cry, the lingering, persistent predicament that robs us of our insight into the joy of daily provision and protection from God to “seven days” – the perfect timing of our loving Father, Who rules our live in goodness and truth.
In seven days He will create a new heart, a new life, a submissive spirit, with joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. Ordinary circumstances produce an ordinary life. Extraordinary circumstances produce a life of excellence.