Time is measured in three dimensions. There is the chronological time, the process time and the appointed time.
The chronological time is measured by the clock, and determined by the movement of the earth around its orbit. It is the grid on which the other time dimensions are built.
Process time is developmental (progression) time. In describing the life of Jesus, the bible says that he grew in wisdom and favour with God and man. That shows that over a period of time he experienced progression (Luke 2:40, 52).
The appointed time is a jump in which a point in time is overloaded with significance of change. It is a leap in time. Jesus was born in an appointed time, he died in an appointed time, and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the earth was also on an appointed time. All of them were times over-loaded with significance, pregnant with meaning. For the appointed time, something extra, external is injected for extraordinary result.
While chronological time is linear, developmental time is progressive, while the appointed time, is a quantum leap.
The coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus after the baptism of John in the wilderness was an appointed time. With the ways things were going, with the progression of the life of Jesus before that time, there was nothing to suggest that at a point in time, he will be empowered by the Holy Spirit for extraordinary impact for a few years before dying a gruesome death.
This was a carpenter who from a young age had learned the trade. Plotting the graph of his life, you would have said he will get married and died a good old age with a good reputation among the people. But when the Holy Spirit came upon him, what happened was nothing less than a quantum leap.
When you become born again you become a new creature old things have passed away and all things have become new (2Corinthians 5:17). That is change in who you are, a quantum leap from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of life (Colossians 1:13). It is a change in who we are, from being earthly to being heavenly.
For Mary to get pregnant with Jesus was not a progression in time, it was a quantum leap (Luke 1:35). There was no way she could have planned for it or progressed into it. Such possibility was beyond what her mind could ever consider or conceive or even wish for. It was an appointed time heralded by Angel Gabriel.
The direction of Paul’s life up to the point on which he severely persecuted the church was progressive. He was increasingly led along by wrong zeal, having been taught well, on the religious preferences of his pharisaic order which was decidedly antichristian (Acts 8:1-4).
But at the appointed time, he had a supernatural encounter with Jesus and he started following him. He would later write: when (appointed time) it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb to reveal his son in me (Galatians 1:15-17), I did not confer with flesh and blood. The experience of his salvation was a quantum leap. No amount of learning could have achieved it, it was as a result of spiritual infusion.
When you become born again, it is not just an ideology that you buy into, it is a life. You come into a new life, a new life comes into you. Paul said that neither circumcision (having to do with a chronological time in the culture of Israel) nor un-circumcision count for anything but a new creature (Galatians 6:15).
Other ways of putting it are thus: neither literacy nor illiteracy count for anything but a new creature; neither bank account, nationality, or family background, count for anything. There is no progressive road that leads from hell to heaven, you make a leap in the portal called Jesus.
There was a big gulf between Abraham’s bosom where Lazarus was in a story related by Jesus and the torment of hades where the rich man was. You cannot take a walk from where the rich man was to where Abraham was (Luke 16:19-31).
Moses said that we need to number our days so that we might get our heart set for wisdom (Psalm 90:12). The sense he wanted to impress on us is that when it comes to making effort, we cannot afford to waste time, we need to make efforts towards making positive progress. We can therefore to an extent control developmental time. Jesus said I must work the work of him who sent me while it is day (progressive time), the night (appointed time) comes when no man can work (John 9:1-4).
We cannot afford to loaf around in life. In the book of Ecclesiastes the youth were charged to fear God and live for him being the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13). That is about using the best of the time for the best purpose, which is the pursuit of a progressive experience of God and expression of obedience to him.
When Sarah gave birth to Isaac. It was a monumental event. It was the faithfulness of God made manifest to both her and her husband. It was a day to remember, an appointed time. Isaac means laughter and it happened suddenly, almost unexpected, but for years Abraham after his name was changed was firm in faith, but though his stood in faith (Chronological time), the appointed time was in the hand of God (Genesis 18:18). God said a year before to Abraham, according to the time of life (chronological), I will return and Sarah will have a child (appointed time). And that was divine intervention, because according to progressive time, Sarah was past the child bearing age.
And in the life of the nation of Israel we have divine interventions in droves. It was an appointed time for God to send Moses to deliver them from the house of bondage (Exodus 3:1-12). There was no way Moses was going to grow into it.
Before the birth of Isaac, God had revealed to Abraham that his offspring, will be in a foreign land for hundreds of years and they will later be freed (Genesis 15). That was exactly what happened. God had committed himself for that to happen and sent Moses with his power, signs and wonders to get it done.
There was no amount of planning and progression that would have achieved it. They needed divine intervention and they got it because of God’s prior commitment to them. Similarly, it is because of God’s commitment that we will have our appointed time.
There is a prior commitment of God to you for a resurrected body in the order of Jesus (1John 3:1-3) and you will get it. God has promised a new earth and heaven, it will happened at the appointed time. When the disciples asked Jesus before his ascension: will you at this time return the kingdom to Israel? He told them that that is an appointed time in the hand of the father (Acts 1:6-7).
The flood that came on the earth in the time of Noah came at an appointed time, which came about as a result of the people’s bad use of chronological time as they went in the wrong direction of development in deterioration (Genesis 6). So the developmental time can be used for either positive or negative end.
The three times are interwoven. They are all about change. The chronological time is about age according to the calendar, the process time is about age according to the effort you have made, while appointed times is change produced by interjections on our path in life. Both progressive and appointed time can be for good or for evil, but for Christians we have grace for the two to always be positive. As it is written: all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). And God is at work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).
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