Knowing Our Hebrew Roots: JEWISH TIME

photo of hourglass in the sand


You may have heard the joke, "I'm running on Jewish Standard Time" meaning 15 minutes late. But of course, there are many cultures where it's acceptable to be late - even an hour or more past a designated time. But there is an aspect of "Jewish time" that Christians might "know" though we may not be aware.

He has put eternity in their hearts (Ecc1.3:1 1)

According to Joseph B. Soloveitchik ( 1903- 1993, Orthodox rabbi and philosopher), Jews have a "unitive time consciousness." He explains, "The story of Joseph and his brothers, the story of the destruction of the Temple, the story of Moses' death - all used to move me to tears as a boy. It was not an infantile reaction on my part. These stories do not lie in antiquity; they are part of our time awareness ...The past is not gone; it is still here. The future is not only anticipated, it is already here and the present connects the future and the past. This time-consciousness contains an element of eternity."

A 'proof-text' is found in the Passover account. One is to retell the story of the Exodus to his children, "because of what the Lord did for me when I came out from Egypt. (Ex.13:8) This Jewish way of seeing the past as a living reality is also found in the N.T. Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ" (Ga1.2:20). 

St. Augustine (354-430, bishop, theologian, philosopher) says it like this: "Perhaps it might be said rightly that there are three times: a time present of things past; a time present of things present; and a time present of things future. For these three do coexist somehow in the soul." 

Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

Unlike Nietzsche who famously said, "What difference does it make in the end! No action can be undone by repentance" the biblical understanding of repentance is based on this understanding of time as a continuum. If the past can be accessed and cleansed in the present, the future is already changed. Although some people are wary, the ministry of the healing of memories understands this reality.

Jesus understood the need for and the power of a lifestyle of repentance for the cleansing of sins. He began his ministry saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt.4:17) After His resurrection, He appeared to his disciples saying, "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations." (Lk.24:47) Throughout the book of Revelation Jesus calls the church to repent 12 times. And in His final words of Revelation, "Happy are those who have washed their robes clean and have the right to eat of the tree of life." (Rev.22:14)

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