You can train a dog to fetch a newspaper, but you can’t train a dog to read it. You, on the other hand, are fully capable of both fetching and reading that newspaper, something the dog simply cannot understand. We share an attribute with the dog, but the dog does not even know what it means to read. In a similar way, just as we transcend the dog’s comprehension, so God transcends our comprehension—but on an infinite scale. The eternality and infinitude of God are two such attributes beyond our understanding.
The Eternality of God
Although we are spiritual beings, we are also embodied beings living in the constraints of time. God, on the other hand, is not bound by time. Because of this, He is beyond our comprehension in His eternality.
Moses clearly shows the difference between our experience of time and God‘s eternality in Psalm 90:
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night. (v. 4)
As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away. (v. 12)
At the same time, God has chosen to reveal His eternality to us. He makes Himself known in Scripture through His special revelation, using our language to give us an idea of His character and His attributes. Consider the following example from Revelation 4:8, in which the four living creatures around the throne of God cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
The time words in this passage relate to our time, not to God’s. God always is; there never was a time when He was not. He has chosen to give us these words to help us understand Him, though we cannot fully grasp His depths.
In looking at the eternality of God, we ought to examine the brevity of our own lives. Every second counts, so let us use our time wisely and honor and glorify God.
The Infinitude of God
Another attribute of God beyond our comprehension is His infinitude. We are finite beings; God is not. Therefore, we cannot fully understand His limitlessness. We can only submit to God in the ways He has revealed Himself.
Although God’s infinitude is beyond our grasp, we catch glimpses of it in His other attributes. His love, for example, is boundless. It is beyond our own love, for our love always has a limit. But God loves us with a love that is unchanging and infinite.
At a certain point, as we study the eternality and infinitude of God, we must surrender our desire to understand and simply rejoice with Paul: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).
This study is based on J. I. Packer’s Knowing God and A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy.
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