By Philip S. North
The above word is so much bigger than the number of letters of which it contains. The word “eternity” is a noun, which comes from the word “eternal.” “Eternal” comes from the Greek word aionios, which means, “everlasting, without end, never to cease, or indeterminate as to duration.” We are then able to conclude that “eternity” simply refers to a period of time that is perpetual-that is to say, never ending at all; infinity. Gospel preachers young and old cannot preach or teach on eternity sensibly. The human mind has always measured everything in time, therefore having an end to it. However, try and measure eternity! Regardless of how far the most genius and imaginative mind can stretch itself to grasp how long eternity is, that mind will somewhere along the line fall short of its duration. I find that the closest one may arrive at the length of this thing known as eternity is in the last verse of the hymn, “Amazing Grace.” The verse reads, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.” I shudder to think how long eternity will be for many souls. Perhaps too long is about as close as I can phrase it.
A little boy once said that he wished he had a piece of peppermint candy with only one end on it. That is a good definition of eternity. It has but one end on it-the starting place. If an ant could walk on the equator (traveling at the rate of 1/17 of a mile an hour) and wear the earth in half, how many years would it take? Suppose the entire state of Texas were made of wood. How long would it take the termite to eat the entire state. If the entire world were made of solid steel, how long would it take someone with a hacksaw to cut it in half from one end to the other without stopping? Good reader, I do not even begin to know the answer to these ridiculous examples that I’m giving-and did not originate; but however many years it would take to perform all the above put together, that is still not eternity. That is less than eternity. Again, you cannot discuss the duration of eternity sensibly. I challenge you in the spirit of Jesus to attempt it and you will then see most clearly what you are up against. All attempts, both vours and mine, will be vain and void.
Jesus said in Matthew 25:46, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” In Romans 16:26 Paul describes God as the everlasting God.” In Hebrews 9:14 we read of the eternal spirit.” In Hell, after a man has been there for one million, or one billion, or one trillion years, or as many zeroes as you wish to place after the number “1,” he still has no less time to stay. He has not even begun!!! Revelation 14:11 states, “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever and they have no rest day or night.” In Heaven, after a man has been there for urnteen years, he too has no less time to stay. When an individual constantly rejects the call of the Gospel, he does not know what he is ignorantly and foolishly asking for! However, there are two main things we can be quite certain of that these people are not pondering: (1) how terrible Hell is, and (2) how long eternity will be for them.
I would that I could find exact words to use which would fit such an awful place as Hell, with reference to its pain an eternal duration. To those precious souls who will unfortunately be cast there on judgment, I tell you in truth that eternity will give them ever so much time to regret rejecting Jesus and His Gospel; certainly a lot more time than they were given here on this earth living a prodigal life before God.
How long then is eternity? For many it will be too long! For those who, because of the grace of God, will make it to that celestial city Heaven, eternity will be just right. The actual thought of no more pain, sorrow, disease, hate, or anything else evil! How much more of a precious, priceless, unmerited, worthwhile gift could a person ask for? How is eternity going to be for you? Too long or just right? If you are not living as God would have you live, (and you know deep down if you really possess the spirit of a Christian or not) then YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ASKING FOR! You are spiritually blind and the devil has you in his evil snare (Jn. 8:44; 2 Cor. 4:4; Mt. 13:38). Reader, what will you open up to in the next life when you close your eyes for the last time here on earth? After death, what then?
Truth Magazine XX: 47, p. 738
November 25, 1976