“For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be,” Psalm 37:10.
It is acknowledged by many scientists that the universe is boundless. Every new and improved telescope that man has produced gives evidence of this truth. The Evolutionists pontificate about the ‘big bang’ as being the origin of the universe billions of years ago and that it is ever expanding, but I do not believe either notion.
Genesis chapter 1 tells us clearly HOW the universe came into being. Nehemiah wrote: “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee,” Nehemiah 9:6.
I believe that here the prophet is telling us, by divine inspiration, that there was an immediate and complete creating of all that exists. Isaiah the prophet put it like this. “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in,” Isaiah 40:22. Here the prophet is telling us, again by divine inspiration, that as one pulls across a curtain or erects a tent, so the Lord in the six days of creation, stretched out — spread out the heavens in one glorious act so that what they are today came into existence on the second day of creation. “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day,” Genesis 1:6-8.
Here is a Christian scientist’s view on the subject: Age of the Universe
I. FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME AT THE CREATION UNTIL ITS END, AT THE GREAT WHITE THRONE OF JUDGMENT, IT IS BUT A SHORT PERIOD!
1. Of course, that is God’s view of time for He sees it in the light of His eternity. There is just no illustration that comes anywhere near setting forth this truth. To speak of a speck of dust in comparison to the earth, falls very far short of truly illustrating the contrast between time and eternity! If we were to replace the earth with the endless universe, we might be getting nearer to a proper resemblance of the true relationship between ‘time’ and ‘eternity’!
2. God has ordered all things that will take place within the sphere of time. This is a mystery to our human minds. It appears to contradict the freedom of man and seems to suggest fatalism, we cannot do other than that which God has predestinated!
One of the first things I learned in my theological studies under Dr Alan Cairns, back in 1965, was the fact that the freedom of man’s will is bounded by his ability to chose ONLY that which is in accord with his depraved appetites and disposition. I can still vividly recall that wonderful moment of understanding!
The Scriptures describes mankind as consisting of those given over to manifold depravities including being “Haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,” Romans 1:30.
Because they ‘hate’ God and all His ways, they naturally will NEVER obey His commands.
Of course, having a ‘hatred’ for God may be hidden beneath a pretence of a professed ‘love’ for the Lord. But as the Saviour said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:15. True love is a constant companion of obedience!
Professed lovers of God give themselves away by their rejection of the commands of the gospel.
3. This truth is a great comfort for the child of God. We all surely know that wonderful verse in Romans chapter 8. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” All things will ‘work together’ for ‘them that love God’! Children have a faith in their fathers that they will see that they come to no harm. Sadly, as the news we read in these evil times, such a childish faith is frequently very flawed. However, Christians can have absolute confidence that NOTHING that happens to them is other than that which the Lord has willed for their good. The word ‘good’ is explained by such expressions as ‘joyful, agreeable, pleasant’.
Like medicine meant for our benefit often has a very unpleasant taste, so there are times when God’s merciful dealings with us often appear harsh and painful to our minds. Paul summed the matter up in these words.
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby,” Hebrews 12:5-11.
4. Whatever trials and pains we may encounter in time we have a glorious end to look forward to. I recall, in those early days after my conversion, learning a lot of simple gospel truths from the oft repeated sayings of seasoned Christians. One, oft-repeated by Dr Paisley in those days was, “The end is not yet and the best has yet to be!”
How gloriously true that is.
We who “Wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come,” 1 Thessalonians 1:10, have a most glorious eternity awaiting us. The Saviour has told us: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also,” John 14:2-3. This comfort is repeated in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
The old hymn says:
Since Christ my soul from sin set free,
This world has been a heaven to me;
And ’mid earth’s sorrows and its woe,
’Tis heaven my Jesus here to know.
O hallelujah! yes, ’tis heaven,
’Tis heaven to know my sins forgiven;
On land or sea, what matters where?
Where Jesus is, ’tis heaven there.
II. THE TRUTH REGARDING TIME’S DURATION IS ONE SINNERS WOULD NEED TO LEARN
Our text says: “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be. . . ”
1. Sinners have nothing to look forward to. Doubtless, it is for this reason that makes it so difficult to have sinners consider eternal matters. I remember as a teenager, living in Rugby Avenue in Belfast that I often passed by a Gospel Hall just round the corner on the main Ormeau Road. It always had a gospel text on its notice board. I most deliberately avoid looking at that notice board though, in truth, I could not explain and really did not understand any text from the Bible. Its very presence, understood or not, brought God and eternity before me and I most fervently did not wish to contemplate such matters!
I believe that, irrespective of the many denials of the existence of God by men or the truth of His Word, EVERY sinner carries within an awareness of the Lord, to some measure, and of the eternity ahead. That is why it is dreaded!
I recall reading the following verses, Revelation 6:12-17, a long time ago and realising something significant about them. It is a scene at the coming of the Lord Jesus at the end of this age. The exclamation of the army of the Antichrist as the glory of the Lord breaks upon them is most significant. “And the kings of the earth (that is, the land ruled over by Antichrist, the territory of the old Roman Empire), and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:15-17.
These chief of God-defiers, these arch idolaters, were very AWARE of what was taking place and what was coming about. “The great day of his wrath is come.” This indicates a knowledge of the day of wrath, whether they ever acknowledged such a truth or not! So it is with all sinners, left to themselves.
Of course that changes when the Lord begins to take a dealing with the sinner. He then ceases to try and deny eternal truth but is brought by grace to face up to it. Nothing illustrates this better than the change of attitude in the Philippian jailer.
“And the multitude rose up together against them (Paul and Silas): and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:22-30. He who had a short time before had brutally ‘thrust’ (the word carries the meaning of not caring whether his actions hurt them or not) in the inner prison, is now very much alive to his eternal danger.
Likewise, we see the same change brought about in the repentant thief on the cross alongside the Saviour at Calvary. When first crucified, he was a mocker of Christ. “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth,” Matthew 27:39-44.
But grace changed that mocking into repentant praying.
“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” Luke 23:39-43.
It takes the grace of God to enable the sinner to face up to eternity and what it will mean for him if he is not saved.
2. The sinners’ denial of God and all things eternal as revealed in Scripture, ensures that his end of his ‘time’ will overtake him most unexpectedly. For the unbeliever, Christ’s return will come as a ‘thief in the night’. “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness,” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5.
In like manner, death overtakes the ungodly. I have visited men and woman in hospital and they have very little time to live but so often I was told that there was time enough for them to consider such things! They blinded themselves to the ‘shadow of death’ falling upon them! How we all need to learn what life is like. “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away,” James 4:14.
I have often told the children in the occasional assemblies that I conduct in Kilskeery Independent Christian School that the Lord has given us His inspired Word in which is set forth every eternal truth He would have us learn. But he has also given us a secondary revelation of gospel truths and they are set forth in the creation all around. James is ‘quoting’ from that revelation in the verse I have just quoted.
3. I have already stated that ’time’ will come to an end with the great white throne of judgment. The events of that dreadful occasion are related for us in the last book of the Bible. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire,” Revelation 20:11-15.
Immediately after these scenes we are told that John writes that, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea,” Revelation 21:1. Here we have the ETERNAL ABODE of the saints of God. Read from verse 2 until verse 8.
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” Revelation 21:2-8.
Here is finality. A new heaven and a new earth is brought into existence. The first heaven and the first earth, the first creation, cursed by sin, are passed away. The old is gone, replaced by the joyful new. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” “It is done”, God says. Time is at an end and the pure and holy and happy eternity, prepared by God for His prepared people, has been entered. In contrast, “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
4. Dear reader, are you saved today or is the eternity of the wicked awaiting you? Remember what our text says. “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.” Now that does not mean that the wicked will be annihilated or cease to be. That is the lie many most foolishly believe.
No it means that they will be removed by God’s judgment never to be seen again by the redeemed, whom they have plagued and vexed. They shall not be found in heaven but will be lost in that place of eternal darkness of which the Saviour spoke in His parable of the man without a wedding garment. “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Matthew 22:13.
Such is the eternal fate of any who die without being robed in Christ’s righteousness whereby their sin is covered and they are justified from all things by the blood of the atoning death of the Saviour.
Consider these words.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” Revelation 7:9-14.
Tell me, will you be amongst that number? Have YOU been ‘washed in the blood of the lamb’? You have no hope of heaven if you have not.
Hasten to Christ NOW and be saved.
Rev Ivan Foster. (Rtd)
1st September, 2023