Even though we know better, we tend to think of time as a constant. A second always last exactly a second, a day a day, a year a year, etc. But, we know that time is simply another dimension just like spacial dimensions height, width and depth. And we know that these dimensions that bind the physical world, these laws of physics, don’t apply the same way in the spiritual world.
Not only are space and time similar, but Einstein’s theory of relativity, published in 1915, postulated that they were interwoven into the same fabric of spacetime. Bear with me, but many of us don’t understand this 100 year old “science fiction” sounding term so let’s do a little bit of an explanation.
Let’s say a pitcher can throw a fast ball at 100 miles per hour. Now let’s say you are standing stationary on a tall mountain and the pitcher is standing in the back of a fast airplane hurtling through the atmosphere at 900 miles per hour. As the plane rockets past you, the pitcher releases a fast ball from the back to a catcher in the front of the plane. Relative to you, how fast is that ball going? The answer of course is 1,000 miles per hour (100+900). From the point the pitch is released to the point that the catcher catches it, it travels a distance in space away from you far greater than it would have traveled if the pitcher would have been standing next to you on the mountaintop. And since speed is measured in space/time (e.g., miles/hour), it travels at a faster speed.
Light also travels at a speed. Most of us know it simply as the speed of light or 186,000 miles per second. So, lets take our same scenario as above, but instead of the pitcher throwing a baseball, lets give him a flashlight. And lets also give you, standing on the mountaintop a flashlight as well. And, just to make things easier to understand, instead of an airplane, the pitcher is in a very fast rocket ship traveling at 50,000 miles per second (very fast). So, same scenario, as the rocket streaks by, both you and the pitcher perfectly simultaneously light your flashlights pointing in the same direction the rocket is going. Your light beam streaks forward at 186,000 miles per second and the pitchers light beam streaks forward at 186,000 miles per second, the two light beams traveling forward neck-to-neck through space.
But, wait a second. Why is it going 186,000 miles per second and not 50,000 + 186,000 miles per second? This is where things get really interesting. It is because the speed of light is a constant. So, if it is being accelerated along at a speed of 50,000 miles per second, but still goes at 186,000 miles per second then either space (miles) or time (seconds) must not be constant. And what Einstein proposed was that time, for the rocket pitcher, slows down. The faster you go, the slower time gets. His watch takes longer to count off 10 seconds than yours does. (I know: Mind Blown!)
Evidence has supported this theory, rocket ships and space satellites have to be operated on different clocks to stay in synch with earth time. Furthermore we have found that gravity, too, bends light and thus also influences time. As a result a second is not a second, a day is not a day, and a 1000 years is not a thousand years to every place because of speed and gravity. In some places a 1000 years is but a day (sound familiar?)
This is a really deep explanation to address a simple question. Where do people go after they die while the rest of us are still living? The problem with that question is that it is huge on assumptions. It assumes “where” is strictly physical and bound by the laws of space, such as height, depth, width (even though we don’t believe the dead go on limited by their physical bodies). It assumes “while” is a time dimension that is exactly observed at the same rate as those standing still on earth. But our growing understanding of physics shows that this is not how God designed reality.
Understanding the beauty of God’s design in the laws of physics also helps us see how being freed from the bodily constraints of life and having our souls separate from our bodies at death means a totally different experience of both space and time. The criminal on the cross would be in paradise “today” from his reality. Thousands of years may go by for those on planet earth, but the newly saved believer simply blinked.
It also is beautiful in the words of Jesus from centuries before mankind began to understand the speed of light when Christ said, I am the light of the world (John 8:12). Jesus is the only constant in all of creation.
1Cor: Upside downness – everything weak is made strong, dishonor traded for glory, humility into glory. Not by our own strength or works or thoughts or actions, but by the gift provided by the saving grace of Christ on the cross and resurrected from the tomb.
1John: What we will be has not yet been made known. We have nothing of reference to the glory and holiness that we (you and I) will become. We shall be like Christ, able to be with Him and view Him face-to-face.
Rev22: Paradise. To create anew what once was “good”. To make a new world in which there is no sin, because everyone in it has already made the choice to love and serve God, unlike the first world in which choice must be offered.
In paradise, in rest. Time is a dimension like height, width and depth which do not have the same constraints in the new world or in the spiritual world as they do in our physical world. When time is not a constraint, a moment and a 1000 years are not different.
The understanding that this is not it. All of us know that and want that, but to believe there is more opens the question of what is more, what else is there? This implies something else, something more, something greater. In a world that denies God and Jesus, this means opening a mind that is closed. – I pray for those who accept the lie as truth, who ridicule and deny God as fairy tale.