I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
Let me ask you a question. Does it seem to you that time is going faster these days? To me, it seems like we are beginning a new week, and almost like a flash; it is Friday! Another week done and starting the weekend, only to fly through the weekend to start a new week! It can start to feel like you are on a treadmill going faster and faster, yet seemingly never going anywhere! If you ever feel this way, you are not alone. I can remember when I was young the passage of time seemed very different to me than it does now. The school year seemed to drag, and you just couldn’t wait for summer break! Summer always seemed so much shorter than the school year. It seemed like a conspiracy to me at the time.
Does time go by faster as we age? It does seem so, doesn’t it? Psychologists tell us that we can view time and the experiences we have from two perspectives – a prospective vantage(while an event is occurring), or a retrospective one (as we look back on it after it has ended). It has been determined that time really does “fly” when you are having fun. Research has determined that as we age our internal clock runs more slowly, which means the pace of life appears to speed up. Other research suggests that the perceived passage of time is directly related to the amount of new perceptual information you absorb; when you’re young everything seems new, which means your brain has more to process, which means the perceived passage of time feels longer. There is biochemical research that shows the release of dopamine when we perceive novel stimuli starts to drop past the age of twenty, which makes time appear to go by more quickly.
Of course our own age has nothing to do with how the earth revolves around the sun. So what is going on? In 1877 the “ratio theory” was born. Simply stated, this theory says we compare intervals to the total amount of time we have been alive. This is also known as, “proportional theory”, the idea that as we age, our sense of the present begins to feel short as compared to our total lifespan. As a child, a year feels like forever simply because it takes up a good portion of the total time you have been alive. But as the years roll on, having more of them behind us makes one more year seem less significant.
All of these theories are very interesting. But what about time from a biblical perspective? You probably knew we would get there, didn’t you? Is there something to the notion of the acceleration of time beyond science and our perception of time as we age? I believe there is. Is God up to something, and does it have anything to do with the Last Days and Bible prophecy? I believe the answer is yes, and yes!
Recently, scientist have been shocked to discover that their measurements indicate the expansion of the universe is actually increasing. Rather than slowing down, as the so-called “Big Bang” theory postulates, astronomers have been shocked to learn that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. CNN reported some time back, “Scientists are scratching their heads over a finding that indicates the universe, rather than slowing down, is being expanded by a mysterious force at an accelerating rate.” Guess what? Their “mysterious force” is the creator of the universe Himself! Job 9:8 says, “He alone spreads out the heavens, And treads on the waves of the sea.” [Job 9:8 NKJV] It is interesting that secular scientists have determined that the universe – which is comprised of time, space, matter, and energy – is expanding at an increasing rate. Would or could this affect the dimension we know as time? Frankly, I don’t think we humans understand time well enough to draw any conclusions; however, the Creator knows the answer.
Here is another question. If the acceleration of time is occurring, is it anticipated in the Bible? When referring to the Great Tribulation period, Jesus said: “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” [Matt. 24:22 NKJV] What about that word, “shortened”? It translates the Greek word, koloboo (kol-ob-o’-o). It is a derivative of the word, kolazo (kol-ad’-zo), which is to dwarf. It is to dock, or figuratively, to abridge. Mark 13:20 is one of the four places in the New Testament this word is found (all four are in the context of the Olivet Discourse of Jesus incidentally). Mark says, “And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.” [Mark 13:20 NKJV]
This refers of course to Jesus returning to rescue His elect (both those who have come to faith during the Tribulation, and the Jewish elect), to save them from death at the hands of the Antichrist and his henchmen. This prophecy is not referring to shortening the number of days (because the Tribulation is a literal period of seven years), but perhaps the length of the days. Now, I believe that while there certainly is a literal and plain meaning to this text (as is the case with any biblical text), is it possible that an end-time acceleration of time that will reach its zenith, or be fully realized in the time of the Great Tribulation could be in view here? I believe that is a distinct possibility.
I want to make it clear that while there are no scriptures that specifically state a speed-up of time in the Last Days, I believe there could be a remez, that is, a hint of this notion in certain passages. For example, both Jesus and Paul likened events of the Last Days to “birth pains”. Jesus said, when referring to the deception, trouble, and unrest that would characterize the years leading up to the end of the age;
“All these are the beginning of sorrows.” [Matt. 24:8 NKJV emphasis added also see Mark 13:8] Paul speaking of the sudden onset of Tribulation events stated, “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” [1 Thess. 5:3 NKJV emphasis added] I emphasized the words, “sorrows” and “labor pains” (KJV says, “travail”), because they come from the same Greek word, odin (o-deen’), which means anguish, travail, or the pain associated with child birth.
Incidentally, the Holy Spirit through Paul reminds us that, “…the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” [Rom. 8:21, 22 NKJV] “Groans and labors with birth pangs” is partly made up of a derivative of odin. This is the picture of the very creation groaning under the weight of the curse, awaiting the complete redemption of the children of God, and the lifting of the curse on creation. And guess what? Creation itself is experiencing “birth pangs”.
Something we know about birth pangs (or pains), is that they always grow in frequency and intensity as the delivery draws near. The prophetic “birth pangs” are growing in frequency and intensity. Beloved, we are nearer the end of the age now than we have been at any previous point in history!
Did you know that the Bible teaches that time is a physical property, and is therefore part of God’s creation? [See Genesis 1:1, 2; 2 Tim. 1:9] Therefore the dimension we call time would also travail, and perhaps increase, as earth’s final days draw to a close.
I don’t think there can be any doubt that the dimension we call time is definitely going to change in the days of the Great Tribulation. Jesus said in Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” [Matt. 24:29 NKJV] How is this connected to time? Genesis 1:14 – 16 tells us, “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.”
While there are several layers of application we could explore here, for our purposes here let’s just stick with the peshat, or plain, apparent meaning of the text for now. If the “lights” in the heavens are for signs, seasons, days, and years, then it follows they are directly tied to the dimension we call time. For example, a year is the time required for the earth to travel once around the sun. The seasons are caused by the changing position of the earth in relation to the sun. The moon’s phases move in clock-like precision – constituting the lunar calendar.
Now, if these lights – the sun, moon, and stars – are affected in the last days, and the very “powers of heaven” shaken, does this indicate a significant disruption in how the dimension of time will pass? In the book of Amos, the prophet informs us, “And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight…”. [Amos 8:9 NKJV]
God “changes the times and seasons”, says the prophet Daniel in Daniel 2:21, and so He does as He sees fit. He is the one and only Sovereign God. He alone determines kings and nations and ordinances and times and seasons. Because of this it is really no surprise that His Word anticipates this time dilation, and perhaps acceleration. The scripture even tells us concerning the Antichrist, “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.” [Daniel 7:25 NKJV]
There are other scriptures that imply time acceleration. For example, Daniel 12:4 says, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” [Daniel 12:4 NKJV] Today we are witnessing an explosion in available knowledge. With the advent of super computers and the internet, knowledge is rapidly increasing. How quickly is knowledge increasing? The answer to that depends on what type of knowledge we are discussing. For example, nanotechnology is doubling every two years, whereas clinical knowledge is doubling every eighteen months. According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every twelve hours. Think of that! Certainly this prophecy is coming to pass in ways no one would have imagined.
Another passage of scripture which may anticipate this perceived acceleration of the passage of time is found in the book of Revelation. During the Tribulation period, which is described in Revelation 6 – 19, we read that the judgments will follow in rapid succession. Once the Tribulation begins, these events will transpire very rapidly Revelation 11:14 says, “The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.” “Quickly” translates the Greek, tachu (takh-oo’). That is, without delay, quickly, by surprise, or suddenly. As one reads through Revelation 6 – 19, it is amazing how many cataclysmic events are going to be compressed into a seven-year period of time. If we follow the logic of my mid-tribulation or “pre-wrath” brethren (and they may well be correct), we are looking at all of these events compressed into a three and one-half year period of time! Couple all of this with Jesus and Paul’s birth pangs warnings, these scriptures indicate that as we draw closer to the climaxing events, we should expect the last days to also occur with increased rapidity.
Furthermore, Jesus declared (no less than three times), in the book of Revelation, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” [Revelation 3:11a also see 22:7, 12, and 20] “Quickly” here also translates the Greek, tachu. So the thought here is not soon, but that when His Coming and Tribulation events start, they will do so with increased acceleration. In fact, it is from this root, tachu, that we get the word tachometer, a device for measuring the speed of the rotation of an engine with acceleration. Interesting indeed.
Zephaniah 1:14 says, “The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly.” [Zeph. 1:14a NKJV] The same thought is in view here with regard to Tribulation judgments, when they begin there will be no delay, but they will come in rapid succession.
Those of us who study the prophetic Word know without a doubt that we are living in the days that the Prophets spoke of, and that the time of these prophesied “birth pangs” are currently ramping up. Every major last days trend anticipated in the Bible is being positioned in place. Like a tsunami that sweeps the globe, developments in Bible prophecy are overwhelming and irrefutable.
I want to pick this thought up next time. There is much more to explore. Join us if you can.
Until next time,
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson