the weblog of Alan Knox

Back in time…

Posted by on Apr 21, 2007 in discipleship | 24 comments

A few months ago, I read a novel by a friend that was built around the concept of time travel. At one point, the characters in this story consider the possibility to travelling back in time to the point when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They discussed various possible outcomes from travelling back in time and whether or not it would even be possible to change what happened.

The story, and the situation involved, was very interesting. Being a science fiction nut since middle school, I loved the story, the technology, and the ideas involved. I began to think about time travel. If I could travel back in time, where would I go? (Or, should that be, “When would I go?”)

As the characters in the story discussed, would I go back to the time of Adam and Eve? Would I go back further, perhaps to the time that God created the heavens and the earth? (Or, perhaps I should wait until at least after God creates dry land…) Would I go back to see Noah, or Abraham, or Moses? (The Red Sea crossing would be pretty exciting!) What about some of the kings or prophets? Would I want to see David at his best or at his worst?

I mean, if I wanted to be really spiritual, I suppose I should want to go back to see Jesus… but at what point in his life? At his birth? Would I want to see some of his miracles? Could I bear witnessing the cross? Could I bear witnessing the resurrection? Would I embarrass myself by waving as he disappears out of sight during his ascension? Or, maybe I would travel to some point during the life of Jesus that is not recorded in the gospel.

Then again, there are some very interesting times recorded in Acts. I could travel back to learn exactly what those strange tongues were at Pentecost. Or, would I want to hear Peter or Paul proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ? Or, as I have said before, would I choose to attend one of the early meetings of the church?

There are so many possibilities… but, I wonder, what would I gain by travelling back in time? The characters in the story wondered if they could remove sin and evil from the world if they travelled back in time to stop Adam and Eve from partaking of the forbidden fruit. But, what if I did not change anything, but simply observed. What would be added? If I believed because I “saw” Jesus, would that be better than believing by faith? If I obeyed because I “heard” him, would that be better than obeying Scripture and the Spirit?

So, I ask you… if you could travel back in time (not just to biblical times, but any time), when would you go, and why? Also, if we could “see” the events described in Scripture, how would that affect our faith… positively or negatively? (By the way, this is supposed to be a fun exercise that makes us think.)


24 Comments

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  1. 4-21-2007

    Joining Paul’s team and wandering around in the ancient middle east would be totally cool. From Turkey to coming up the Apian Way into ancient Rome would be my own dream come true. Of course, seeing the Roman collesium as a participant instead of a spectator would be a downer but…

    While there we could clear up the tongues and women in ministry issues.

  2. 4-21-2007

    I think I would love to go back and see Balaam. Numbers 24 is one of my favorite parts of scripture. But, I’ll be honest, I would just want to see the donkey talk.

    Dougald

  3. 4-21-2007

    Alan,

    I’d go back to about 10 minutes ago and warn myself not to read this blog! Just kidding! :)

    No really, I would love to go back to see how we as humans interacted with dinosaurs… I’d want to see if I could ride a pterodactyl or something.

    I’d also love to hear Jesus teaching or be a disciple under him (physically) or one of his apostles. Merely for the experience, I do not think it would hinder my faith, perhaps it would help it – it’s hard to say.

    I think I’d also like to witness when Moses and Aaron performed the miracles in front of Pharaoh. That’d be cool to see.

    Interesting post,
    Lew

  4. 4-21-2007

    Strider,

    Yes, I would have many questios for Paul as well. I wonder how many of those question he would answer, and how many He would allow the Spirit to answer for me.

    It would be awesome to see some of the sights of Ancient Rome, when it was not quite so ancient. The Collesium wasn’t built yet, but there were plenty of other sights to see.

    Dougald,

    You want to hear the talking donkey? That would certainly be interesting. I’m afraid it might sound more intelligent than I do.

    Lew,

    I could see you riding a pterodactyl… for a short time anyway. I’ve often wondered what I would say to Jesus, and more importantly, what He would say to me. Sometimes, I know exactly what He would say. I’m not sure if it would be better or worse to hear the words audibly.

    -Alan

  5. 4-21-2007

    I think that I would like to see Nadab and Abihu’s “explosive” worship experience. Just kidding, I wouldn’t waste my chance on that, I would like to see Genesis 1:1 in action!

    Since Paul describes faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the substance of what is not seen,” I pray that my faith will be as strong now as it would be if I were able to see Genesis 1:1 happen. I mean, look at all the people who saw Lazarus raised, did they believe? I think empirical evidence and eyewitness are overrated, but it would still be quite an experience for those who already believe.

  6. 4-21-2007

    Matthew,

    It would be interesting to view the creation of the heavens and the earth in Gen 1:1. I also liked your discussion of faith and seeing, especially this: “I think empirical evidence and eyewitness are overrated, but it would still be quite an experience for those who already believe.”

    -Alan

  7. 4-21-2007

    Alan-
    I’d love to peek over the Apostle John’s shoulder and eavesdrop on God’s revelation to him of the things to come. Forget about “Left Behind”…I’d like to see what John saw!
    Would it affect my faith? I’m sure it would, but then “faith is the evidence of things not seen”, so I don’t have to see it to believe it.
    Kat

  8. 4-21-2007

    Alan-
    I’d love to peek over the Apostle John’s shoulder and eavesdrop on God’s revelation to him of the things to come. Forget about “Left Behind”…I’d like to see what John saw!
    Would it affect my faith? I’m sure it would, but then “faith is the evidence of things not seen”, so I don’t have to see it to believe it.
    Kat

  9. 4-21-2007

    Alan-
    I’d love to peek over the Apostle John’s shoulder and eavesdrop on God’s revelation to him of the things to come. Forget about “Left Behind”…I’d like to see what John saw!
    Would it affect my faith? I’m sure it would, but then “faith is the evidence of things not seen”, so I don’t have to see it to believe it.
    Kat

  10. 4-21-2007

    Alan-
    I’d love to peek over the Apostle John’s shoulder and eavesdrop on God’s revelation to him of the things to come. Forget about “Left Behind”…I’d like to see what John saw!
    Would it affect my faith? I’m sure it would, but then “faith is the evidence of things not seen”, so I don’t have to see it to believe it.
    Kat

  11. 4-21-2007

    Alan-
    I’d love to peek over the Apostle John’s shoulder and eavesdrop on God’s revelation to him of the things to come. Forget about “Left Behind”…I’d like to see what John saw!
    Would it affect my faith? I’m sure it would, but then “faith is the evidence of things not seen”, so I don’t have to see it to believe it.
    Kat

  12. 4-21-2007

    Alan-
    I’d love to peek over the Apostle John’s shoulder and eavesdrop on God’s revelation to him of the things to come. Forget about “Left Behind”…I’d like to see what John saw!
    Would it affect my faith? I’m sure it would, but then “faith is the evidence of things not seen”, so I don’t have to see it to believe it.
    Kat

  13. 4-21-2007

    Alan-
    I’d love to peek over the Apostle John’s shoulder and eavesdrop on God’s revelation to him of the things to come. Forget about “Left Behind”…I’d like to see what John saw!
    Would it affect my faith? I’m sure it would, but then “faith is the evidence of things not seen”, so I don’t have to see it to believe it.
    Kat

  14. 4-21-2007

    Alan-
    I’d love to peek over the Apostle John’s shoulder and eavesdrop on God’s revelation to him of the things to come. Forget about “Left Behind”…I’d like to see what John saw!
    Would it affect my faith? I’m sure it would, but then “faith is the evidence of things not seen”, so I don’t have to see it to believe it.
    Kat

  15. 4-22-2007

    Kat,

    I was wondering if someone was going to mention the Revelation. It would be interesting to see what John saw, assuming, of course, that we could see his vision.

    -Alan

  16. 4-22-2007

    I like what you said about Paul letting the Spirit answer for me. Great thought. It is interesting to me that we take a letter, written for some specific purposes, take hard to grasp passages, and suddenly, voila, we tell the world women can’t teach anyone anything. Amazing.

    I think, after watching Amazing Grace, I’d like to have seen William Wilberforce in action. Can you imagine watching Martin Luther pen the 95? Can you imagine sitting in the first century house churches. I think that is what I’d like, in one where someone (or many someones) had walked with Jesus.

  17. 4-22-2007

    What’s interesting is that no one, so far, has said they wanted to go back in order to change something, the way most movies who deal with the subject do, and what the organizations in the book were formed to do.

    That’s good, because the point of the book was supposed to be that God is sovereign and put us where He did because that’s where He wanted us. (And that the idea of time travel is silly.) Of course, if He chose to make it available to us in later years, that would be His sovereignity, too. But I shudder to think what we would do with that availability, bearing in mind my ideas of what should have happened probably wouldn’t agree with another’s, and another’s, and another’s….

  18. 4-22-2007

    Bryan,

    You make some good points about the way we use Scripture. You also said: “I think that is what I’d like, in one where someone (or many someones) had walked with Jesus.” I agree that I would like to observe someone who is walking with Jesus – at various time periods. But, then again, this is also what we are supposed to be for each other now.

    Anonymous,

    Thank you for adding the author’s thoughts here. I also noticed that no one mentioned changing anything, although I didn’t ask the question that way. I’m still surprised no one mentioned it. One of the things that my family talked about was how things would change if we decided how something should come out. It is actually frightening to think about…

    -Alan

  19. 4-22-2007

    Yes, I definitely hope when someone walks a mile with me that they sense they are walking with someone who is walking with Jesus. What I was referring to was one of the first churches… with a person who physically walked with Jesus… to see how they “did” church, versus how we do it today.

    But, I agree, we are or should be walking with Jesus. I think often we are dulled by the present notions of a “personal relationship” with Jesus to the reality of the intimate walk to which we are invited.

  20. 4-22-2007

    Bryan,

    You said: “I think often we are dulled by the present notions of a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus to the reality of the intimate walk to which we are invited.” This is a very interesting statement… one that I want to think about.

    -Alan

  21. 4-24-2007

    My fun answer…
    When? I would join Cleopas and the other dude as they were on their way to Emmaus from Jerusalem.
    Why? I would love to hear Jesus Himself explain to me what was said in Scripture concerning Himself from Moses and all the Prophets.
    How would it affect my faith? No one can know what effect such an opportunity would have on themselves. I think it would give me a much better understanding of Scripture and of God.

    … or would I go back to the time of John 8:3-11, so that I could answer that all-too-important question: What did Jesus write on the ground?

    As for some of your other questions; believing because of seeing and obeying because of hearing is NOT better than believing by faith or obeying the Spirit and Scripture. John 20:29 b “… blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    Cindy

    We also need to consider Peter’s words in 1 Peter 1:18-9 (ESV): “… we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place …” (emphasis mine).

    Mae:l

  22. 4-24-2007

    Cindy,

    Walking with the two disciples and Jesus on the way to Emmaus would be very interesting. I also agree that seeing and hearing physically are not better than believing.

    Mael,

    It is amazing that Peter would put “the prophetic word” even above his experiences on the mount of transfiguration. What do you think “the prophetic word” is?

    -Alan

  23. 4-25-2007

    I would say OT and NT.

    BTW – The NLT paraphrases 2 Pet 1:9 differently: “Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. “

    I have not spent time checking it out in the Greek … but I thought it interesting that it paraphrases it the opposite of how the ESV translates it.

    Got to get back to work.

    Mae:l

  24. 5-28-2011

    I would go see the lowest attended game in baseball history. The St. Louis Browns in 1935 were a bad team in the depression, and had a game with 34 fans showing up. Now, that would be cool. :)