Ps 90:1 A prayer of Moses the man of God. Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
‘In this psalm, Moses ‘celebrates the eternity of God. To him this truth is a solid theological fact as firm and hard as that Mount Sinai with which he was so familiar, and for him it had two practical meanings: since God is eternal, he can be and continue forever to be the one safe home for his time-driven children. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.” The second thought is less comforting: God’s eternity is so long and our years on earth are so few, how shall we establish the work of our hands? How shall we escape the abrasive action of events that would wear us out and destroy us? God fills and dominates the psalm, so it is to him that Moses makes his plaintive appeal, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” May the knowledge of thy eternity not be wasted on me!’ (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 46f)
Psa 90:2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
From everlasting to everlasting – ‘”From the vanishing point to the vanishing point” would be another way to say it quite in keeping with the words as Moses used them. The mind looks backward in time till the dim past vanishes, then turns and looks backward into the future till thought and imagination collapse from exhaustion; and God is at both points, unaffected by either.’ (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 45)
‘Children sometimes ask, “Who made God?” The clearest answer is that God never needed to be made, because he was always there. He exists in a different way from us: we, his creatures, exist in a dependent, derived, finite, fragile way, but our Maker exists in an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary way-necessary, that is, in the sense that God does not have it in him to go out of existence, just as we do not have it in us to live forever. We necessarily age and die, because it is our present nature to do that; God necessarily continues forever unchanged, because it is his eternal nature to do that. This is one of many contrasts between creature and Creator.’ (J.I. Packer, Concise Theology)
God Before Time
See Psa 90:1-2. Moses evidently fascinated by time: mentioned 20 times in this psalm.
v1 – God’s faithfulness throughout all time. v2 – God’s existence throughout all eternity.
But what was God doing in this timeless eternity before creation? Scripture gives some hints:-
1. He was not alone. Jn 1:1. ‘The Word was with God.’ This relationship characterised by (a) love, Jn 1:18; (b) glory, Jn 17:5; (c) riches, 2 Cor 8:9.
2. He was making a plan. 1 Cor 2:7. This plan included (a) a choice, Eph 1:4; (b) a method, 1 Pet 1:20.
Implications: this is very practical. time is invaded by eternity; the finite by the infinite, the sinful by the holy. Deut 33:27, ‘The eternal God is your refuge.’
Psa 90:3 You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”
Ps 90:4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
Dr Hugh Ross, in a lecture entitled ‘Astrophysics Points to the God of the Bible’, suggests that this passage teaches God’s ability to ‘expand’ or ‘shrink’ time (since with him a thousand years can be equivalent to ‘a day’ (24 hours) or ‘a watch in the night’ (3-4 hours). This kind of attempt to harmonise science and the Bible seems to rely on very questionable exegesis, disregarding as it does the obvious poetic nature of the text.
Psa 90:5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning—
Psa 90:6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.
Psa 90:7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.
Psa 90:8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
Psa 90:9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.
Psa 90:10 The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
‘Life runs on in a continuous current, which carries us unconsciously along with it. We sleep, and as we do so, our brief space of time flies silently over our heads. We wake to a thousand cares, and, while struggling with them, life pursues its ever rapid course.’ (Basil)
Greek mythology has the image of time being like a man with long hair in front and bald in the back. The picture is of one you must catch coming toward you, because once it has passed, nothing is left to grab. See Psa 39:4-7; Eccl 6:12; Eccl 9:9; James 4:4; 1 Pet 1:24-25 1 “THE”: Meditation on Eternity
1. OUR OUTWARD LIVES ARE WASTING AWAY
‘Change and decay in all around I see.’
Where are the ancient civilizations? Where are the heroes and statesmen of old? Where are our forefathers? They appeared on this planet for a brief moment, and then disappeared.
And we too: ‘the houses we live in, the homes we love, the riches we accumulate, the professions we follow, the plans we form, the relations we enter into, – they are only for a time.’ (Ryle)
See Psa 90:10
Our lives are like ‘a moth-eaten garment’ (Job 13:28); ‘a shadow’ (Psa 144:4); ‘a passing breeze’ (Psa 78:39); ‘grass’ (Psa 90:5); ‘a mist’ (Jas 4:14).
This knowledge should govern our whole approach to life. 1 Cor 7:29ff
2. WE FIX OUR EYES ON THE UNSEEN, ETERNAL, WORLD
Universal human experience testifies to the existence of a world to come. We are said to live in a very secular age, and religion generally is out of fashion. But the human spirit revolts against the idea that beyond the grave lies extinction.
The word of God testifies to the existence of a world to come, Dan 12:2 ‘Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.’
The ministry of Jesus testifies to the existence of a world to come, Jn 14:2
There is a great reality which lies beyond the grave. And that reality is eternal. Because it is unseen, its existence is neglected (although seldom denied) by countless thousands. But it is real, none the less.
In eternity there will be a great separation between people. No longer will there be separation be on the grounds of race, or age, or gender, or social class, or income. But a separation there will be, nevertheless. There will be a division between two groups: the goats, and the sheep; the chaff, and the wheat; those who are in darkness, and those who are in the light; those who have faith, and those who are without faith; those who are with Christ, and those who are against him. There is no third group.
For the unbeliever, eternity is a dreadful prospect. To hear him who is the fountain of all goodness, and truth, and life, utter these aweful words, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41). Think on Heb 9:27 ‘Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.’
But for all who believe, eternity is full of promise. We shall see God face to face. We shall be with Christ. Psa 16:11, ‘You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’ Col 3:2, ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’
‘Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset; eternity to the wicked is a night that has no sunrise.’ (Thomas Watson)
3. WE SHOULD PREPARE IN THIS WORLD FOR THE WORLD WHICH IS TO COME
This life is best seen as a period of probation, of preparation. What we sow in this life we shall reap in eternity. Mt 6:19-20 “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” cf Jn 6:27
Your destiny depends on one thing alone: your relationship to Christ. Jn 3:16, 36
To the unbeliever I would say this: while you have life, you have hope. God can change your destiny in a moment. Only believe!
And to the Christian I would say this: It is easy to lose heart and be tempted to give up. Maybe you’re facing problems that make you want to walk away. But don’t let tiredness, pain, or criticism divert you from your path. For that path leads to eternal life and to glory. Your very weakness allows the resurrection power of Christ to strengthen you moment by moment.
Psa 90:11 Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
Who knows the power of your anger? – ‘God is the best friend, but the worst enemy. If he can look men into their grave, how far can he throw them? ‘Who knows the power of his wrath?’ Psa 90:11. What fools are they, who, for a drop of pleasure, drink a sea of wrath! Paracelsus speaks of a frenzy some have, which will make them die dancing; so sinners go dancing to hell.’ (Thomas Watson)
Psa 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psa 90:13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants.
Psa 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Psa 90:15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.
Psa 90:16 May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.
Psa 90:17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.