The LORD, the one true and living God, is eternally in the present. That is what the Bible teaches and what the LORD declares about Himself. All events take place in the present for the LORD because He exists beyond time. He is aware of time, for He is the One who created time, but He is not bound by time, so He does not live within time.
I AM WHO I AM
In Exodus 3:14, when Moses asked His name, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say to the people, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Then God told Moses that His name was “the LORD.” The word that we have in Hebrew for God’s name is “YHWH,” which is connected with the Hebrew verb “to be.” The point is that even God’s name declares that God is always in the present. He did not say, “I WAS,” or even “I WILL BE,” but He proclaimed “I AM.” For God, all the events of His universe occur in the present. “I AM WHO I AM.”
JESUS IS THE ETERNALLY PRESENT ONE
In John 8, when Jesus was being challenged about His identity and about His claims to deity, He said to the Jews, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58).” The Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus because they understood that Jesus was claiming to be YHWH. Jesus was claiming to be the ever-present One for whom everything is in the present. Jesus did not say, “Before Abraham was, I was.” That would not have angered the Jews, but it may have confused them. Ah, but when Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” there was no question what Jesus was claiming. Jesus was claiming to be YHWH, the great “I AM.”
JESUS MODELED FOR US WHAT IE MEANS TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT
In Jesus, we see the unique combination of eternal deity entering time and space and intentionally being subject to the ravages of time and even subject to the experience of death. While Jesus lived on this earth, He had a mission to accomplish (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19 – and parallels; also John 17:4), which involved Him being delivered over to evil men who hated Him and then being crucified on a Roman cross. Jesus understood in the fullest possible terms exactly what His mission required, and yet at no point in His ministry does He dwell on the cross. Instead, Jesus remains always in the present moment.
For example, in Mark 10:32, “they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed.” The crowds are going up to Jerusalem so that Jesus can be arrested and crucified. There is no one who is more aware of what is shortly to take place than Jesus. He knows every lash from the whips, and He knows the spit that will drip down His face, and He knows the blows He will feel. He knows the mocking He will endure. He knows the nails that will rip into His flesh. He knows that, as He bears all the sins of His people, He will be abandoned by His Father. He knows the words that He is to say from the cross to fulfill the prophecies of His crucifixion. He knows all this perfectly. But now is not the time for that. Now is the time to walk up the mountain to Jerusalem, so He walks on ahead of the crowd. Now is the time to stop and have mercy on Bartimaeus, and to give him back his sight. Now is the time to call Zacchaeus down from the sycamore tree so He can go to be a guest in his house. Now is the time to ride the colt into Jerusalem. Now is the time to baffle the religious leaders with parables, and to tell His disciples about His return, and to have a final supper with His apostles. In all these events, Jesus is fully in the moment, fully present, completely trusting what is to happen in the future into the hands of His Father. Even though the horrors of the cross drew steadily closer, Jesus remained in the present moment, perfectly obeying the Father’s every commandment.
As in everything He does, here also Jesus, as the perfect Man, models for us how we are to live for the glory of God in this fallen world. Jesus lives in the present moment and entrusts His future into the hands of His Father. Just so, we are also to strive to live in the present moment and entrust our future into the hands of the Father.
HOW THE DISCIPLE IS TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT
PRINCIPLE/THEORY: The more we live in the present, the more we live like the Lord. This is based on the idea that because Jesus lived in the present, He has shown us that we are to live in the present. This keeps us in the middle of the “trust zone.”
When I am dwelling in the past, I am often dwelling in the place of sin and shame and failure that cannot be changed. While there can certainly be pleasant memories from the past, most often if we are living in the past we are living with regret or with guilt that holds us prisoner and that robs us of present peace and contentment and joy.
On the other hand, when I am living in the future, I am living in a place that does not exist and I am distracted from giving my energy and my attention to what is here and now. More than that, because we live in a fallen world, the future often evokes fear and dread. Often our future skies are full of dark clouds and whirling tornadoes as threats of loss loom large.
So, how am I to live in the present, in the so-called “trust zone” with Jesus, when I am haunted by my past and frightened of the future?
THE ANSWER IS THE GOSPEL
The answer is that I am to believe in the Lord Jesus and trust Him.
What do I do to forget the past and to stop dwelling on the sorrows and wounds of the past? Practically, I will rest in the Lord and trust Him with my past, knowing that He has sovereignly ordained all the events of my past for His perfect purposes to produce the man He wants me to become. I will forget what lies behind (in the past), and strain forward to what lies ahead (in the present) and press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:13-14).
How can I overcome my fears and doubts about the future, especially in our present time when there are threats on all sides? Practically, I will trust the Lord with my future, because the Lord has declared that there will never be a time in the future when He will not be with me (“I will never leave you or forsake you (Joshua 1:5).”) “The LORD is with me like a dread Champion (Jeremiah 20:11).” “If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?”
CHRIST HAS FREED ME FROM SINS IN THE PAST AND FEAR OF DEATH IN THE FUTURE
But the ultimate answer is that I will live in the present, secure in the fact that Christ’s death on the cross has erased the sins of my past and His resurrection has removed the threat of death in the future. (John 11:25-26; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:54-55; Hebrews 2:14-15) This glorious reality allows me to live in the present, in the middle of the “trust zone” with Jesus. SDG rmb 9/24/2020