Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. – Heb 13:8
Tenses in Hebrew. Enlightenment comes from understanding language and customs. Our Western culture and English language differ from the Oriental thought and culture.
There are four tenses in Hebrew verbs,
In the English language the verb tenses are related to time; past, present and future, while the Hebrew verbs are all related to action. The perfect tense is a completed action and in most cases is related to the English past tense (he cut). The imperfect tense is an incomplete action and is closely related to the English present and future tenses (he cuts or he will cut).
The Hebrew language has the present and past tense but no future tense. In the Hebrew language, Joel 2:28-32 reads as follows:
(Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible with the correct tenses of the verbs)
“And it hath come to pass afterwards, I do pour out My spirit on all flesh, And prophesied have your sons and your daughters, Your old men do dream dreams, Your young men do see visions. And also on the men-servants, and on the maid-servants, In those days I do pour out My Spirit. And I have given wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, Blood and fire, and columns of smoke. The sun is turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, Before the coming of the day of Jehovah, The great and the fearful. And it hath come to pass, Every one who calleth in the name of Jehovah is delivered, For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there is an escape, As Jehovah hath said, And among the remnants whom Jehovah is calling!”
When in the school of ministry I heard it said that the past and future are linear. This explains Einsein’s thought on time as being a continuum (or linear/continuum) of space-time.
All of the verbs here are past or present. There is no indication of a future tense.
One of the amazing things I came to realize is that Heb 13:8 is after reading this all my life in consideration that it was speaking in the three English tenses I find myself examining the verse more closely. It says “yesterday”, “to day” and “for ever”. Forever is not a future tense.
For ever is how it is written denoting two distinct thoughts.
1. For – eij “ice) a primary preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.) “For” (as used in Ac 2:38 “for the forgiveness…”) could have two meanings. If you saw a poster saying “Jesse James wanted for robbery”, “for” could mean Jesse is wanted so he can commit a robbery, or is wanted because he has committed a robbery. The later sense is the correct one. So too in this passage, the word “for” signifies an action in the past. Otherwise, it would violate the entire tenor of the NT teaching on salvation by grace and not by works. When Jesus said on the cross “It is done” The law was fulfilled and all from the past through eternity were reconciled to God. The next lesson we’ll deal with that.
2. Ever – aiwn “ahee-ohn” properly, an age; by extension, perpetuity (also past); by implication, the world; specially (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future):–age, course, eternal, (for) ever(-more), (n-)ever, (beginning of the , while the) world (began, without end). Compare 5550. G104 / for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity.
Just for information concerning the other two tenses:
1. Hebrew participles are “verbal adjectives”, meaning that they function like adjectives though they are constructed from verbs. Participles used the same endings you have learned for nouns and adjective, so learning their inflections is easy. There’s more to this, but this is sufficient for this study.
2. An imperative verb is used to express direct commands, instructions, and other similar actions with varying degrees of desirability as determined by the context. This is also sufficient for this study to know.
The point of all this is to say what we assume to already know. He NEVER CHANGES.
My personal assumptions on the study are this.
God lives in the eternal realm. There are 73 verses that describe the Eternal God. A couple of these are:
Deuteronomy 32:40 – Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, And say, as I live forever,
Ephesians 1:4 . . .just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love.
This leads me to something that will help growing Christians who worry and have anxiety. God lives in the for ever realm. As I said earlier that the school of ministry taught me that the past and future are linear. God sees the future from the past. We can only see the past from the future. Faith plays big in this whole scenario of viewing the future. If we truly hear God say something we have yet to encounter, it’s because He sees it already from His vantage point in the past. He speaks it to us in the present moment that it is already in place and done because He sees it that way. We need to align our hearts to His all-knowing vantage point.
God let me see how a prophet speaks to people concerning future events to our way of thinking. It’s like there’s a thin membrane to the past and future in God and in the “present”, He allows the prophet to poke their head through that veil into the linear line of past and future (really the eternal realm) and see the things He wants seen to pull back into the present and speak into the lives of those it’s intended for.
More to come. . .