What Is Time?

Revelation 1:3: “… The time is at hand.”

The Biblical view of Time embraces the knowledge that Time is synonymous with Light, and, therefore, is a powerful and beautiful symbol of Christ, for Christ is Light.

When we come to the word time in Revelation 1:3, we should not go further in interpretation until we understand the system of time within the larger framework of the writing of the Book of Revelation and of the culture as a whole.  It will not do to skip over to Revelation 20 and speak of millennialism without first dealing with the underlying concept of time.[1]

The Book of Revelation shows Christ in His full, universal, transcendent exaltation, fulfilling His role of Light.  He is not only The Light of the World, but is also The Light of the Universe.  In fact, He is the very Light that proceeded forth from God, the Father of Lights, in the beginning, (Genesis 1:3), by which all things were created and through which all things consist and are united.  Now He is revealed as the Perfection of that Light, Urim ve Thummim, Light and Time. For a proper view of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we must see His relationship to time.

What is time?

Time is the signature of Light.  As God is Light, time is His written Name, but just as a name differs from a signature, so the Name of God is greater than the concept of time.[2]

Time is the impress of light upon the physical world.  Time is marked by the turning of the earth in relation to the heavenly lights, creating days and nights, seasons, months, and years. Through this impress of time, we have a likeness by which to speak of the power of God’s Name in the earth, both spiritual and natural.  As we can only speak of spiritual things through some kind of analogy with natural things, so it is the relationship of time to light that furnishes the analog for relating the Name of God to God Himself.

Time is the silent, invisible factor in every calculation that determines the ultimate outcome.

The final judgment of deeds is their result when multiplied by time.[3]  Every true vision of literal reality takes into account the effects of time.  Woe to the soul who lives only for ephemeral pleasures!  Woe to the generation that lives only for the present!  Woe to the nation that has no long-range policies!  The message of the Bible is that Man is an eternal being – one who must weigh every decision in the light of eternal time. Not only “Is it good for me,?” but “Is it good for the coming generations?”

“So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom,” Psalms 90:12.

[1] L. Hicks, “Time”, Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, (IDB) vol.4, (New York, Abingdon Press 1962), 642-9. “More than any other writings, the apocalyptic writings provide material on the concept of time.”

[2] W. F. Albright says that the high gods of ancient times may all be related through the concept of Light.  He gives the names from many cultures of [idol] gods that may be related to Semitic El.  The root meaning of the Indo-European words connect them with heaven through the concept of Light (From Stone Age to Christianity, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 3rd edition, 1962).

[3] It is no accident that the term for multiplication is ‘times.’