Will We Be Conscious of the Passing of Time in the Present Heaven before the Resurrection?
Question from a reader:
Do you think perhaps there is no sense of passage of time after death and that after we die, the intermediate state you speak of would pass in a millisecond, and then we are resurrected? It would be sort of like a seamless quick passage to the New Earth. Otherwise, would we be conscious of say, 200, years passing in the present Heaven before the bodily resurrection?
Answer from Stephanie Anderson:
Randy shares in his book Heaven that from the clues Scriptures give us, the inhabitants of the present Heaven do experience time, and are consciously aware of it:
- Heaven’s inhabitants track with events happening in time, right down to rejoicing the moment a sinner on Earth repents (Luke 15:7).
- Martyrs in Heaven are told to “wait a little longer” when they ask “how long” before Christ would judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge the martyrs’ blood
- We’re told that “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Revelation 8:1).
- The book of Revelation shows the intermediate Heaven’s inhabitants operating within time. The descriptions of worship include successive actions, such as falling down at God’s throne and casting crowns before him (Revelation 4:10). There’s a sequence of events; things occur one after another, not all at once.
- The inhabitants of Heaven sing (Revelation 5:9-12). Music in Heaven requires time. Meter, tempo, and rests are all essential components of music, and each is time related. Certain notes are held longer than others. Songs have a beginning, middle, and end. That means they take place in time.
Randy writes, “To say we’ll exist outside of time is like saying we’ll know everything. It confuses eternity with infinity. We’ll live for eternity as finite beings. God can accommodate to us by putting himself into time, but we can’t accommodate to him by becoming timeless. It’s not in us to do so because we’re not God.”
So we can say confidently that the inhabitants of the present Heaven experience the passage of time. How we’ll experience that is hard to know. For sure we’ll be free from our sin nature, so any negative associations presently attached to time won’t exist. We won’t be bored, or frustrated, or worried about how slowly or quickly time is passing. We’ll be with the Lord, where there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
Still, the passage about the martyrs asking, “How long, Lord?” seems to imply there can still be a sense of longing or anticipation. Will we count the years as they pass until God brings about the consummation of His earthly kingdom? I’m not certain, but surely we’ll joyfully anticipate our resurrection and God’s creation of the New Earth!
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.