For in Your sight a thousand years are but a day that passes, or a watch of the night.
I. THE GROUND OF THIS ESTIMATE. It is the eternity of God. He who is from everlasting to everlasting - God, the Eternal. There never was a period in which he was not. He is more permanent than the most changeless things.
1. History teaches us this. Push back so far as we can into the remote past, there we find the sure proof of the Divine existence and work.
2. Science teaches it yet more powerfully. Whether we investigate the old rocks beneath our feet, or gaze upon the stars on high, both alike tell of vast ages, millenniums upon millenniums, in which they have had their being, and alike they proclaim God.
3. Revelation affirms the same.
II. ITS REASONABLENESS. Human analogies help us here. For our ideas of time are:
1. According to our own length of life. To short-lived creatures, such as the insects, a day appears a vast stretch of time; but to us, the days of whose years are three score years and ten, and perhaps four score years, a day is scarcely any time at all. We think a great deal of half a century, but what would one like Methuselah have thought of it? Only an insignificant fraction of his life, not needing to be much counted of. The angels of God also, what are our centuries to them? Above all, God the Eternal, how could it be otherwise than that a thousand years should be to him as one day?
2. According to the magnitude and multiplicity of those matters which demand and occupy our attention. There are people who live in very limited spheres, and who have scarcely anything to do - the idle rich, and many more. Their one idea is how to kill time; they hardly know how to get through it - their days are miserably long. But take the man of affairs, who has large responsibilities resting upon him, the statesman, the merchant, the governor of wide areas and of great numbers of men; - these have so much to attend to that the days are all too short and too few, and are gone long before they can accomplish what they have to do. Apply this to the idea of God. How vast his dominion! how infinite the demands upon his thought and energy! To him, therefore, a thousand years would be as one day.
3. Happiness or misery also cannot but affect our estimate of time. The sufferer tossed with pain, the prisoner in his dungeon, the exile, the miserable ones of all kinds, - how long, how wearisome, are their days (Job 7:4; Psalm 130:6; Luke 16:23-25)! On the other hand, the happy ones, - how time flies with them! And God is the blessed God - "the blessed and only Potentate." All that. can contribute to his joy is present to him increasingly; the evil that exists is but the evolution of good. Why should he not be blessed? Our sad days of pain, therefore, which seem to us like a thousand years, he knows not, but only the joy which reverses such estimate of time.
III. ITS BENEFICENT REMINDERS. All truths of Scripture have practical bearings, and this one assuredly has.
1. It deepens in us the spirit of holy reverence. (Psalm 8:3, 4.)
2. It loosens the power of this world over us. What poor things are all the world's gifts, when seen in the light of God the Eternal!
3. It bids us be patient, and not fret ourselves at the seemingly slow progress of good.
4. It ministers unspeakable consolation. We die, and leave our loved ones and our work; but God ever liveth, and they are in his charge. - S.C.
For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.1. Let us set this truth before our minds: that which seems a long season to man seems a very brief season to God.(1) God has lived for ever. Farther back than our strongest thought can travel, farther back than our swiftest wing or fancy can fly, and there our God was. As a drop in the boundless ocean, so is a cycle of a thousand years in the view of Him who is alike without beginning of days and end of years.(2) If God estimates the years by the magnitude of His empire, by the multiplicity of His cares, by the wide sweep of His eternal purposes, then no wonder that with God a "thousand years are but as yesterday when it is past."(3) Our Father in Heaven has an unspeakable blessedness. He is infinitely wise, holy, and good. He is love. "His tender mercies are over all His works." He tastes for ever the perfect joy of creating bliss, and conferring it upon others.
2. I proceed to point out the practical uses of this truth.(1) It helps our deep awe and holy reverence. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, as surely as love to God is the very summit of perfection.(2) One way of keeping the world in its proper subordinate place is to more frequently fasten our attention on these subjects, — the power and grandeur of God, the eternity of His being, the perfection of His character, the boundlessness of His empire. These things have power to lift our minds on high.(3) Lastly and chiefly: the practical use of this text is to strengthen our patience, and to cherish in us the assurance that, however long delayed, the purposes of God will be accomplished, the promises of God will be fulfilled.
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