The cosmic time travelling warrior

People have been systematically studying nature for thousands of years, but the field of science is a relative newcomer. Before science emerged, the systematic study of nature was called natural philosophy. 

From Aristotle to at least the fifteenth century, natural philosophers studied the created world and everything in it. For natural philosophers, the purpose of studying nature was to hear God’s thoughts echoing after Him.

To illustrate the difference between natural philosophy and science, I want you to imagine a pond. Now, you’re looking at the pond, and you see ripples on the surface of the pond.

If you’re a scientist, you’re interested in the ripples, the forces that transmit energy through the water itself, the frequency with which the ripples are appearing. You’re also interested in the object that caused the ripples. You can’t see that object right now, but you might suppose it was something like a pebble. But the moment someone says, “Where did the rock come from? Did someone throw it?” As a scientist, you have to answer, “Hey, we don’t do that here. This is science. Rocks just happen to appear without cause.” Your friend might be a little confused about how logical this is, considering he’d learned that all bodies in motion have a prior cause. “That’d be a pretty low probability event, wouldn’t it?” Hey, this is science.

Whereas, a natural philosopher, while being interested in all the same forces that science is interested in, would have absolutely no problem asking the question about Who might have thrown the rock into the pond that caused the ripple. For a natural philosopher knows that all events are caused by prior events, and that infinite regress is impossible.

So, natural philosophy incorporated the study of the Divine. That’s what separates the study of natural philosophy from modern science. For more or less a century or so, science has had the pretence of ignoring the Person who created the cosmos. But the very advances science has been taking in the last decade or so have led many physicists back to the study of God. 

For our purposes, we’re going to discover that the echoes of scientific thought inevitably lead us to understand scripture far more clearly than ever before.

Geometry is stranger than you think

In high school, most of us learned that if you draw a straight line, the two ends never meet. We were also taught that the sum of the angles of a triangle always added up to 180 degrees.

What we probably weren’t taught is that these things are true only if you hold certain assumptions to be true. The assumptions our high school teachers held were that we were studying Euclidean mathematics, where there was a perfectly flat plane.

But if you relax this assumption, you can easily create geometries in which straight lines become circles, and triangles have three 90 degree angles, adding up to 270 degrees in total. Here’s how:

“Consider now the triangle on the surface of the Earth, made up of the equator, the line of 0 degrees longitude through London, and the line of 90 degrees longitude east, through Bangladesh. The two lines of longitude, meet the equator at a right angle, 90 degrees. The two lines of longitude also meet each other at the north pole, at a right angle, or 90 degrees. Thus one has a triangle with three right angles. The angles of this triangle add up to two hundred and seventy degrees.” [1]

Space and time is stranger than you think

From what we can see of the world, we imagine that space is three dimensional and time is linear. But in actual fact, in 1905, Albert Einstein demonstrated that space and time is interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time [2]. Space and time are not two distinct things, they are part and parcel of a single thing.

One implication of what Einstein demonstrated is that space-time curves around large objects. That’s what makes the moon orbit the earth, and what makes the earth orbit the sun. The moon and the earth are simply following shortest path, because the path of the space-time in which they are moving is curved around those objects.

Maybe you could visualise it like this. Imagine a really heavy basket-ball, placed in the centre of a trampoline. The basket-ball would press into the fabric of the trampoline, causing it to dimple. Now if you roll a marble around the edge of the trampoline, it would spiral inward into the basket-ball. And that’s how a planet’s gravity well pulls at rocks in space. [3]

Now, the curvature of space-time has some really cool effects. Because space-time is curved, light actually curves around planets. This means that scientists can see behind a planet as the light curves around it. More than this, space-time is more curved in some places than others. This means that light can travel on different paths, travelling different distances before it arrives here on earth. 

Fifty years ago, scientists predicted that this means that we would be able to see events that occur multiple times, because we would receive light from the event that have travelled multiple distances to get here. Well, in 2014, the team operating the Hubble telescope managed to see a supernova situated around 9.3 billion light-years away explode four different times. The four different explosions were seen because the light had travelled through four separate and different gravity wells on their way to reach the Hubble telescope. Scientists are using gravity wells as cosmic lenses in order to see things they otherwise would not be able to see. [4]

We shouldn’t think, though, that it is only space which is curved. It is space-time that is curved, which means that time itself is not linear, but is itself curved. [5]

Time travel!

Now, you might be thinking, “So what if time is curved? Why is that at all interesting?”

Well, it’s more than interesting. It’s downright, positively fun, because it gives us the idea of time travel. Listen to this Limerick:

“There was a young lady of Wight,
Who traveled much faster than light,
She departed one day,
In a relative way,
And arrived on the previous night.” [6]

To go backward in time, all you need to do is to travel faster than light. Now, the problem scientists have with this idea is the amount of energy you’d need. The closer you get to the speed of light, the more energy you need in order to accelerate. To actually accelerate past the speed of light, you’d need an infinite amount of power. [7]

Now, if you're a scientist, that's a hard barrier. But if you’re a natural philosopher, that’s not a limitation at all. Because a natural philosopher knows a Someone Who has infinite power. After all, all the energy, all the mass, all the power we can observe from one end of this cosmos to the other, originated in the mind of God. Which means that time travel is not just a science fiction, but a science fact.

The warrior who warps time

I’d like you to imagine a warrior. This warrior is super-human. He’s so powerful that He displaces space-time, causing Himself to simultaneously exist in multiple time dimensions. This is the inverse of time travel. Instead of an object moving through space-time, we have time bending around a single Person causing Him to simultaneously exist in multiple time dimensions. Now it’s quite possible, remember we’ve already solved the problem of infinite power!

Now this super-human warrior arrives at His destination and confronts His mortal foe. They engage in super-human combat, and the result is that the enemy is simultaneously bound and not bound. The enemy is simultaneously destroyed and not destroyed. And that’s made possible because our super-human warrior exists and is operating simultaneously in multiple time dimensions.

Now, I ask you, “Am I talking science, or science fiction, or, (could it be possible?) scripture?” And the answer is, “Yes.”

Yes, this is the material science fiction is made out of. It’s the material science is made out of. But it’s also the material scripture is made out of.

Multiple time dimensions in scripture

The story I’ve just told you is pretty much a summary of what we see described in Hebrews 2. I’d like you to consider this verse:

“Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come…” (Hebrews 2:5). 

Consider the tenses and time references. “God subjected” is past tense—indicating a past time reference; yet “the world to come” indicates a future time reference. What it is saying is, “Sometime in the past God subjected the future of the world.” This verse is practically begging us to understand that God’s Warrior exists simultaneously in multiple time dimensions. It begs us to understand that the fulcrum of time bends around God’s Warrior.

Multi-dimensionality of prophecy

The author of Hebrews next quotes a prophetic passage from scripture:

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
    or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
    you have crowned him with glory and honour,
and set him over the works of your hands,
    putting everything in subjection under his feet”
(Hebrews 2:6–8; quoting Psalm 8:4–6 from the Septuagint).

As prophecy, this passage is multi-dimensional in at least two different ways. 

Firstly, it’s multi-dimensional because it simultaneously refers to multiple humanities. The son of man it implicitly references is humanity, all humans who exist in the first Adam. When David first wrote this Psalm, all he may have been thinking about was the humanity that he could see around him. And everything being placed in subjection under his feet references the fact that Adam was put in control of everything at creation. But the meaning of this text extends far beyond just the first Adam, because it describes the second Adam as well. Multiple New Testament authors apply this prophecy to Jesus Himself, the second Adam.

Secondly, it’s multi-dimensional because prophecy is a human glimpse of God’s reality. Remember how the Hubble telescope captured the supernova four different times? That’s how prophecy works. It’s not that the prophet is seeing something future; it’s that God’s Spirit is functioning as a cosmic lens, bending the light so that the prophet can see what has already occurred, even though its reality is yet future to the prophet’s point in time.

Prophecy affects future events

One of the interesting problems in science fiction is how time travel affects the future. You can see this in movies like “Back to the Future” and “Terminator.” You can see the same thing happening with prophecy. For example, when Isaiah was inspired to write:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour” (Isaiah 61:1–2).

It set the scene that Luke recounts in Nazareth:

“The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to [Jesus]. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.’

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:17–21).

So, this is Isaiah seeing Jesus speaking these words, which caused Isaiah to write them down, which caused Jesus to quote them to the synagogue in Nazareth. Isaiah quotes Jesus quoting Isaiah.

Look carefully through the life of Jesus and you’ll see this happens many times.

The dilemma

Returning to Hebrews, the narrator has just quoted the David, and has applied David’s prophecy to Jesus. Now he relates a bit of a dilemma.

“Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Hebrews 2:8).

There are two sentences right here in verse eight. The first sentence is past tense, and it echoes the accomplished time reference of last line that was quoted “You put everything in subjection under his feet” (Psalm 8:6, Septuagint). In other words, the author of Hebrews is asserting that, indeed, everything is under Jesus’ feet already. Yet the second sentence reveals the dilemma, because “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.”

So, which is it? Is everything under Jesus’ feet? Or is that yet to happen? — And the answer appears to be, “Yes.”

Now, this is a really, serious question. Understanding the scriptural answer to this question provides the foundation for understanding the scriptural perspective on prophecy. You can’t understand biblical prophecy without understanding the answer to this question.

You see, many people have concluded that the kingdom of God, and the rule of God, is yet future. They argue that you can’t have the amount of murder, mayhem, death and destruction that you see in this present world while declaring that the kingdom of God has arrived. So, they push all interpretation of the kingdom of God into the prophetic future. And by so doing, they gut the New Testament of its explosive energy and power. For the New Testament declares from beginning to end, “The kingdom of God has arrived. Jesus is Lord. He is enthroned and in control of the universe.” 

The author of Hebrews is not the only person who reveals the dilemma involved in correctly interpreting this passage. Let’s see what Paul has to say.

“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet’” (1 Corinthians 15:24–27).

Reading this carefully, it says that death is the last enemy, and that the kingdom is handed back to the God the Father once the last enemy is destroyed. And then Paul quotes that same line from David, structured in the present tense, referring to the present reality as already having been accomplished.

Now, you might screw up your face, and say to me, “But that can’t be. Because people clearly still die. Death is not yet defeated or destroyed. It’s still a reality.”

And I’d have to respond, “What does scripture actually say?”

Now, I’ve suggested that Paul understands the prophecy from David to be applying to the present. Do I have corroboration for this claim? I sure do.

“[God the Father of glory] raised [our Lord Jesus Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:20–23).

So, this is Paul confirming—I repeat—confirming that God has put all things under the Lord Jesus Christ’s feet. “All things” excludes nothing except God the Father Himself (see 1 Corinthians 15:27–28), which includes death, which is the final enemy.

What’s going on here? We could tie ourselves in logical loops trying to interpret what’s going on here. We could do what most commentators have done, which is to ignore part of the evidence in order to create a nice linear theory. But now that we understand the principles of general relativity, we can see that what is happening is that our super-hero warrior, who exists in multiple time dimensions simultaneously, has defeated and destroyed the last enemy death, and that last enemy is simultaneously destroyed and not destroyed.

Let’s prove this to ourselves one last time. In Hebrews, let’s skip over a few verses to:

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14, ESV, italics mine).

But if we read this in another translation, we hear something a little different:

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14, KJV, italics mine).

Two versions of scripture. One says the devil has the power of death; the other says the devil had the power of death. Which is it? — “Yes.”

The story is like this. Jesus suffers until He dies. It’s like he’s walked into the devil’s trap. The trap is sprung. And Jesus is surrounded by the trap of the tomb, in the devil’s domain. But the great reverse happens, and Jesus’ body is re-animated, and he breaks free of that trap, in so doing He smashes the trap and ensnares and binds the devil (Matthew 12:28–29; Revelation 20:1–3). Destroying the hold of death on Jesus was the tool by which Jesus destroyed Satan’s hold on people.

Before the resurrection, people “were subject to lifelong slavery” “through fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15), yet after the resurrection, people would say, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23). 

Royal enthronement

When Paul departs to be with Christ, he could join with the author of Hebrews in saying:

“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).

Jesus is crowned with glory and honour. And He is crowned with glory and honour because He tasted death for everyone.

Jesus’ death means life for you, life for me, life for everyone. This is the good news of the gospel. The good news is that our mighty super-human warrior was victorious in his struggle, and now sits enthroned, feet resting on His footstool. That’s the God you and I serve.

Now it gets personal

But God is not yet done. He’s not satisfied with bringing one son to glory. His desire is to bring many sons to glory.

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source” (Hebrews 2:10–11).

This word “founder,” can mean “author,” “captain” or “leader.” So, this warrior is not just a lone, rogue combatant. He is in fact the leader of a troop. He is the commander of an army. And you and I are intended to be soldiers in this war.

Do we suffer? — “Yes,” we suffer. Things go wrong in our lives. We suffer pain in this life. Not everything goes to plan. People disappoint us. People for whom we pray sometimes toss our prayers to the wolves. But none of this is unexpected, because Jesus Himself suffered. Jesus suffered beyond our comprehension. Jesus suffered to the point of death, and beyond. So, our experience is but an echo of His experience. And we are called to join the war.

Now this word, “source” can mean “having the same origin,” and it can mean “having the same nature.” What it means is Jesus is family. The same power that sanctified Him (John 17:19) sanctifies us (Hebrews 2:11). We have the same Father. That’s why he calls us brothers.

“That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,

‘I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.’

And again,

‘I will put my trust in him.’

And again,

‘Behold, I and the children God has given me’” (Hebrews 2:12–13).

Do you ever fear that you burden is too great? Do you ever wonder whether you are too handicapped by sin, or family history, or current circumstance? Do you ever fear that you can’t be forgiven? Do you ever fear you’re too mired in sin to come to Jesus?

Don’t be troubled, because Jesus understands. 

“For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:16–18).

Jesus helps those who by faith seize hold of the Person to Whom Abraham prophetically looked forward and in Whom he placed his faith (John 8:56; Galatians 3:25–29). Jesus was made human. He took on human nature, and this means He is merciful to us. He understands our struggles. He knows what it means to be human. He came to help the most vulnerable among us. He didn’t come to call the strong, but the weak. Come to Jesus, and He will give you rest.

Have you come to Jesus, and feel like you’re being tempted? Jesus understands. He was tempted. And he can help you and me when we are tempted.

We’re family. And He understands.

We’re family

But get this. We’re not just any old family.

We’re a clan of cosmic time traveling warriors who exist in multiple dimensions simultaneously. How do I know this? Scripture tells me.

Note back at the beginning of this passage, we talked about how “God subjected the world to come”? Well, that “world to come” is the present reality for those of us who have joined the family.

“[Those who] have tasted the goodness of the world to come and the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5).

You read that right. We who have been called to stand with Christ taste the powers of the age to come. If that’s not multi-dimensional time bending phenomena, I don’t know what is.  God is making available to us in the present reality the powers that belong to the age to come to which He has already subjected our brother, who is mounted on a throne, right now … and guess what … we’re already seated on that throne with Him:

“[God] raised us up with [Christ] and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6–7).

When we are in Christ, we’re not just with Him in this dimension, we’re with Him in glory seated on His throne—right now!

So, we’re family, and we’re part of this time warping reality in which we’re present in multiple places at once. And we’re called to join Jesus in the war against an already defeated foe—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, but all the warriors in any story you’ve ever read greatly preferred the battle whenever the enemy had already broken and a rout had set in. We’re warriors for scripture says:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10–18).

Sometimes Christians have become confused by this martial language, and think that they are called to fight against people. But scripture is clear, it is not against people we are to engage in battle—it is the devil and his schemes. We’re called to join Jesus as cosmic time travelling warriors who’re engaging an enemy who are already defeated and have broken ranks and are ready to be routed… 

Will we accept by faith the reality of this situation? Will we by faith accept the reality that we have the same Father as Jesus? Will we accept the reality that we are already seated on Christ’s throne? Will we walk in the understanding of the reality of our true nature and true circumstances? For this is the destiny to which we are called.

The warning

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).

God warns us—pay attention! This is fantastic news! But it’s news we need to attend to. We can’t just hear this message and not do anything about it. We must pay close attention to it, lest we drift away.

“For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution…” (Hebrews 2:2)

The author of Hebrews is building on his audience’s scriptural knowledge, and drawing from them their understanding that the angels were involved in the giving of the law at Sinai, and that penalties for breaking the law was declared.

“…how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Hebrews 2:2–4).

The author of Hebrews argues that since the magnificence of the revelation of God at Sinai has been superseded by the magnificence of the revelation of God in the Lord Jesus Christ then the rewards for obedience and the punishments for disobedience will be greater.

We, here in this house of God, have been claimed by the Almighty God as recipients in the calling to join this clan of cosmic time travelling warriors completely committed to the cause of Jesus Christ. We’ve been made part of the family. We’ve joined the brotherhood and the sisterhood of the family of God. We’ve been raised and enthroned and united with Jesus.

Will we live what we have heard?

“We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).

 

References

[1]    Hawking, S., Space and Time Warps, retrieved from http://www.hawking.org.uk/space-and-time-warps.html on 7 August 2015.

[2]    Redd, N.T., Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, retrieved from http://www.space.com/17661-theory-general-relativity.html on 7 August 2015.

[3]    Redd, N.T., Ibid.

[4]    Choi, C.Q., Cosmic Lens Reveals 4 Views of Same Star Explosion, retrieved from http://www.space.com/28744-cosmic-lens-4-supernova-views-photo.html on 7 August 2015.

[5]    Hawking, S., Op. Cit.

[6]    Hawking, S., Ibid.

[7]    Hawking, S., Ibid.

 

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