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When we say that God dwells outside of time, we mean that He isn’t in our dimension of time. You see, there are multiple dimensions of time, space, and who knows what else. Now trying to discuss subjects like this often makes our brains feel overwhelmed. So let’s keep things simple. Metaphors are never perfect, but they can be very helpful in simplifying complex topics. Let’s use a metaphor to understand how God can be outside of time.
Let’s imagine God as a man who is writing a book. As He writes His book, God is sitting at a comfortable table in the living room of His nice house. It’s a sunny day, and there’s a pleasant breeze blowing through the window. The temperature is just right. God’s feeling quite relaxed and in a good mood. But what about the characters in His book? Well, they’re not having such an easy time of it. Some of them are quite ill at the moment. Some of them are fighting wars. Some of them are worrying about how they’re going to pay their bills. Some of them are walking in the rain. There are a lot of characters in God’s book—billions in fact. Those characters are us.
Now what’s unique about the books God writes is that the characters He creates actually become alive. He is constantly creating new characters, introducing them into the plot of His book as babies, and then having them age as time marches forward in His plot. All of God’s characters live in the same dimension of time and space—a place called Earth.
The Omniscience of God
When we say that God is omniscient, we mean He is all-knowing. Our current metaphor makes this easy to understand, for nothing happens in God’s book without Him knowing about it. You don’t know that your friend just got in a car wreck ten minutes ago, but God does because He’s the One who wrote that scene. You don’t know yet that your romantic moment with your wife last night resulted in her getting pregnant, but God does because He just decided to throw that little plot twist into your life. God knows all kinds of things that you don’t know because God is the Author of the whole book, whereas you are just one little character with a very limited perspective.
Now the chapters of God’s book don’t write themselves—God writes them. He decides what will happen next in the lives of each of His characters. He creates conflicts for them to deal with and He presents them with solutions. So where does our choice come into it? Well, let’s remember that God’s book is different than the books we write. The characters we create are just fantasies in our minds, but God’s characters really exist. As a character in God’s story, God gives you some degree of choice. He doesn’t give you very much, just a little. For example, you don’t have any say about when God will choose to create you or whether He’ll create you as a male or a female. You don’t get any choice about when God will introduce you into His complex plot or where He’ll have you be born. You also don’t have any control over when God introduces Himself to you. But you still have some choice. When God creates problems in your world, He often provides you with multiple options for how you can respond to those problems.
Let’s say your phone rings. You see that it’s your friend. You’re in the middle of something. Do you answer or not? God lets you make the choice, and then He responds to your choice. Let’s say you send your friend to voicemail. God wants you to talk to her. So He causes that flashing light on your phone to be really distracting until you finally check your messages. Or maybe He doesn’t want you to talk to her, so He gets you so engrossed in your current task that you forget all about that flashing light. Meanwhile, God’s also writing out the plot thread that is your friend’s life. She’s feeling really depressed and when you don’t pick up, it only makes her feel more down. Now God presents her with options. There’s another friend she could try to call. Or she could go out. Or she could start drinking. Or she could take sleeping pills. God is constantly putting choices in front of us and we’re reacting to those choices. But they’re limited choices—we can’t select options that God hasn’t given us. You don’t have the option to start flapping your arms and soaring into the air like a bird. You don’t have the option to walk on water. As a character in God’s story, you are bound within the limits of a plot that He is controlling.
How God Always Gets His Way
Often we struggle to understand how God can be totally in control if we really have some degree of choice. Yet once we understand that God is the One defining our options for us, this makes sense. You see, when God first created you as a character in His story about human beings, He didn’t destine you to burn in Hell and He didn’t decide that you’d be forced into Heaven. Instead, He decided to let you choose your own eternal fate by placing a series of choices in front of you and teaching you His requirements for getting into Heaven. Once you understand that you must submit to Jesus as God before you can get into Heaven, you then decide whether you want to do that or not. God doesn’t make you submit and He doesn’t block you from submitting. It’s your choice, and no matter what you decide, God will be pleased, because God likes both of the options He has presented you with. From His perspective, He benefits by taking you to Heaven, and He benefits by throwing you into Hell. They are different kinds of benefits, but He likes variety, so it’s fine with Him when some humans choose Heaven and others choose Hell. But notice that while you’re free to choose your own eternal fate, there are only two fates available. You don’t have the option to create your own version of eternity.
In the world today, many humans like to pretend that this isn’t so—they like to say that eternity will be whatever they want it to be. When we talk like this, we’re trying to put ourselves in God’s place and say that we are the ones writing His book for Him, therefore we have total control of the plot. When people say, “I don’t believe in God,” as if what they believe defines reality, they’re trying to say that they are more than just characters in God’s book. We humans are pompous little things, and we hate the idea of not being in control. So we fantasize that we really are in control and then we come up with ridiculous ideas like relativism.
Relativism is a belief which says we each control our own realities. In other words, every character in God’s book is really writing their own story. There is no master Author—there’s only a world filled with independent little authors who each have total control over their own lives. If you want God to exist in your world, fine: write Him into your plot. But don’t tell me that I have to write Him into my plot, because I don’t want to. In my story, I’ve decided that there is no God. You have your way, I have mine. Live and let live. This is how relativism tries to work, but of course it is utterly absurd. If the individual’s ability to define reality was as real as relativism claims, we’d all be healthy, wealthy, and making the universe revolve around us. If we can really uncreate God by simply refusing to believe in Him, why can’t we manage to uncreate the cancerous tumor that is destroying our organs or uncreate the traffic that is piled up on the road in front of us? Clearly we are not in control, for we find ourselves constantly dealing with problems that we want nothing to do with. Clearly our reality is being defined by Someone else—Someone who is greater than we are and Someone who is forcing His personal agenda upon us. Of course that Someone is God.
Another brain straining fact about God is that He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. He’s already seen your whole life—not just your life on earth, but your entire eternal existence. As Yahweh said through the prophet Isaiah:
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” (Isa. 46:10)
We can understand the idea of God controlling what the future will be, since He is the One writing the human story. Clearly nothing will happen in God’s book that He doesn’t want to have happen. Since God is in total control over how His own plot unfolds, it’s easy to see how Yahweh can say that He’ll do whatever He wants and that His purpose will stand. In other words, if Yahweh says He’s going to do something twenty years from now, His declaration means something because He controls the plot. If He says you’re going to die next Thursday, there’s nothing you can do to stop yourself from dying. You’ll die whenever God decides to kill you off. He controls the plot of His own story.
But then we have to remember the reality of human choice. God says He doesn’t force anyone to go to Hell—Hell is always a fate we choose by refusing to submit to our Creators. So if God doesn’t force Hell on us, how can He know ahead of time what we’re going to decide to do? When Yahweh says He knows the end from the beginning, it sounds like He’s describing the human story like a book that has already been completed and read by Him.
Suppose you read a book from beginning to end. After reading the whole thing, let’s say you magically transport yourself into the world of Chapter 1. There you start talking to some of the characters. Let’s say one of the characters in Chapter 1 is a young woman named Wendy. She really wants to get married. You know that Wendy is going to fall in love in Chapter 8 and then she’ll get married at the end of the book, but Wendy doesn’t know any of this. Characters in a book have no foreknowledge. They can’t look ahead, they can only look back over what’s already been written. When Wendy sighs and says to you, “I wonder if I’ll ever get married,” you are in a position to say with total confidence, “I can promise you that one day you will get married.” When you do this, you’re making known the end from the beginning—you’re telling Wendy about how her story will end while she’s still in the first chapter. This is the position God is in with us. From His perspective, the human story is a book which He has already written. From our perspective, that story is still unfolding. On earth, we’re still in Chapter 1, and as mere characters, we don’t have the ability to read ahead. We can only look back at the portion of the story we’ve already lived through.
Now you didn’t come into God’s book for quite some time. When you read a book like the Bible, you’re reading about chapters of the human story that occurred long before you were even born. As characters in God’s story, He gives us the ability to look back over chapters that we weren’t personally in, but we can only ever get vague summaries of what happened in those chapters. For example, all you know about Moses is what you read about him in the Bible. Obviously there was much more to Moses’ life than what we read in Exodus through Deuteronomy. After we read through those books, we don’t feel like we have a good understanding of who Moses was, how he felt and what he thought. We don’t know what kinds of foods he liked or what he looked like. We’ve never heard his voice. We’ve never seen his face. We just have a very vague sketch of a man who lived and died long before we were ever created. This is the strange position we find ourselves in as characters in God’s story: our perspective is very limited. We can look back and learn about things that have already taken place, but we can’t flip ahead a few chapters and get a sneak preview of what’s coming.
Every once in a while, God tells one of us a few things about what’s coming. When He does this, we call it prophesying. Yahweh prophesied about the coming of Jesus through Isaiah. He prophesied about the fall of Jerusalem through Ezekiel and Jeremiah. God has a long history of telling us about the future, but He only gives us tiny little glimpses. He never reads whole chapters to us—instead, He just drops a few hints. But why? What is God’s purpose in prophesying about future events? To flaunt the fact that He is the Author of our story.
It annoys God when we pretend there are other authors besides Him, yet we’ve always done this. Back in the Old Testament, the Jews worshiped many false gods who were nothing more than delusions. Even though the gods weren’t real, the Jews tried to ask them for advice—how stupid is that? But this is how ridiculous we humans get with our idols. Look around in the world today and you’ll find countless religions that have cooked up some phony god who supposedly created the world and is currently involved in running it. People pray to their phony gods all the time, trying to bribe them with gifts and trying to get a glimpse into the future. But can non-existent gods predict the future? Not hardly.
Yahweh found it really irksome that His chosen people were constantly giving their stupid idols credit for things Yahweh had done. One of the ways Yahweh proved to the Jews how phony their gods were was by prophesying. By accurately predicting what would happen many chapters in advance, Yahweh proved that He was the One who was writing the human story.
“A long time ago I told you about these things; I told you about them before they happened so you couldn’t say, ‘My idols did this, and my wooden and metal statues made these things happen.’” (Isa. 48:5)
What happens when your phony god says something will happen and that something doesn’t happen? Suddenly your god is looking pretty lame. Meanwhile, you hear Yahweh spinning off all kinds of wild and crazy prophecies that He then makes happen to the letter. Hm. Clearly Yahweh is superior to your phony god. In fact, maybe your phony god really isn’t a god at all. This was the logical path Yahweh was driving His people down by flaunting His knowledge of the future. But He went a step further than just claiming to know the future—He also claimed to control the future.
“Long ago I told you what would happen. I said these things and made them known; then suddenly I acted, and these things happened.” (Isa. 48:3)
Yahweh makes it clear that He’s not just peeking over the shoulder of some other god and seeing what that other god is planning to do. God is Author of the book—it’s His own actions that He is predicting. The future is defined by God, that’s why no one can cause His prophecies to fail, yet God can cause the prophecies of others to fail.
False prophets are just speaking a bunch of baloney and God enjoys making false prophets look like idiots by causing their predictions to not come true. Take the end times, for example. Surf through the internet and you can find a ton of prophets telling you what the end times will be like. The problem is that their stories conflict with each other. Check out what we say about the end times, and you’ll discover that what we say conflicts with what all the other prophets say. Clearly there’s a whole lot of lying going on. But who is lying? Maybe everyone is lying. Maybe someone is telling the truth. How can you know? Not by trusting in humans, but by talking to the Author of the book.
God is the only One who knows the future. This is why we always tell you that you shouldn’t believe anything without seeking confirmation from the Holy Spirit. Until the Author Himself says, “Yes, that’s a message that comes from Me,” you’d be foolish to put your trust in it. Sometimes God confirms a prophecy in advance, sometimes He confirms it by causing it to happen exactly as the prophet said it would. Either way, once a prophecy is fulfilled, you know who it came from, and you know who you ought to be giving the glory to: the Author, not some silly human. Human prophets can’t see the future, they can only pass on messages from God. We never want to glorify prophets. Glory is for God alone.
God Lying & Changing His Mind
So if the human story is already written from God’s perspective, is it valid to say God can lie or change His mind? Certainly. Suppose you are listening to a human author being interviewed about a bestseller he just wrote. The interviewer asks, “So it seems like you initially set your character Evan up to be the hero in the story. But then you suddenly killed him off in Chapter 4 and you introduced Riley as the new hero. What happened there?” The author replies, “Yes, it was my original plan for Evan to be the hero. But as I developed his character, I changed my mind and decided he wasn’t hero quality. So I got rid of him and created Riley to replace him.” This makes sense, and it happens all the time. Human writers often feel like their plots take an unexpected turn on them. But the point for us is this: just because God has finished writing the human story, it doesn’t mean He never changed His mind during the writing of it.
In the Bible, we find God describing Himself as changing His mind on several occasions. The one that really stands out as significant is the Flood. In explaining His reasons for washing us all away, Yahweh said:
“I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” (Gen. 6:7)
God introduces the Flood to us as an unexpected plot twist in His story. He makes it sound like He originally intended for the human story to go one way, but then human choices inspired Him to change His mind and spin the plot off in a different direction. So is this really true? Was the Flood some big bummer for God? Not exactly.
We have to remember that God only writes stories that He finds satisfying. God gets pleasure out of sending us to both Heaven and Hell. At the time of the Flood, Yahweh said that Noah was the only man left in the world who was actually obeying God. The obvious implication is that Hell’s population received a major boost as those floodwaters wiped all the rebels away. Was this a big bummer to God? No. God likes both Heaven and Hell. He gave His characters choices, they chose to rebel against Him, so He responded by dishing out consequences which He felt satisfied by. He introduces the Flood to us as an unexpected plot twist, but was God really surprised by the way things turned out? Not really. From His point of view, the world didn’t suddenly morph into some cesspool of rebellion. It slowly became that way as humans continued to make certain choices. If God didn’t like how things were going, He could have made them go differently. If God didn’t want Noah to be the only righteous man left, He could have flooded the place when there were still a hundred righteous men left. Instead, He intentionally waited until Noah was the only guy left, and then He explained His drastic plan in a way that would make sense to our limited human brains. He says He regrets how things have turned out, even though the real truth is that He chose for things to go that way by intentionally postponing His extermination project until Noah was the only guy left. So from our perspective, God drastically changed course. From God’s perspective, the course change was a preplanned event.
In the Church today, we often suggest that God was extremely invested in things going a certain way, then human choice forced Him to alter His plans. For example, you’ll often be told that God never wanted the Fall to happen. You’ll be told that it was God’s original plan for the world to be some perfect paradise, but then Adam and Eve ruined everything by tasting that forbidden fruit. Well, it doesn’t say anywhere that God wanted this world to remain a perfect paradise. It doesn’t say that He was bitterly disappointed or shocked by the fruit sampling. We just read all that into the text because we don’t like how things have turned out. To us, living in a fallen world is a big bummer. Even the term “fallen” is super negative. You can’t fall unless you started off standing up. No one wants to fall. To fall is a bad thing. Yet where does God ever say that our sin was a huge bummer? Sure, He cursed Adam and Eve, but what if that was His plan all along? It’s God story. Does God’s story ever run amuck on Him? Does He ever get pinned into some corner by His own characters? Not hardly. Things go the way God wants them to go. When He describes Himself as regretting things, He’s helping us find some way to relate to Him. We can’t relate to a God who can manage the lives of billions of people simultaneously. But we can relate to the idea of being bummed about something going south. We can relate to wanting one thing and getting something different. In 1 Samuel 15:11, Yahweh tells His prophet:
“I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions.”
This language makes sense to us, and it helps us understand that God doesn’t like it when we rebel against Him. But should we take this statement literally and think that Yahweh views His choice of Saul as some kind of mistake? Is Yahweh trying to teach us that He is less than perfect because He messes up now and then? No, that’s not the point Yahweh is making. Yahweh is explaining why He is about to inflict Saul with a demon and start publicly icing the man. Saul is going to end up in a position where God refuses to talk to him no matter what Saul does because Saul is so rebellious in his heart. When He makes this statement, Yahweh is speaking to the prophet Samuel. Samuel is very bonded to Saul, and Samuel has a very hard time accepting Saul’s demise. By emphasizing His displeasure with Saul, Yahweh is pushing His prophet to stay in alignment with Him. Saul is going to be cast out and Samuel needs to keep up and remember that his loyalties ought to lie with God, not with a human being.
To make sure we’re learning the right lessons from the statements God makes, we always need to consider context—what is happening, and who God was originally speaking to. God is never speaking to you in the Bible—He’s always speaking to people who lived centuries ago. God might speak to you through the Bible, but He’s not speaking to you in it, and that’s an important distinction. When you break open the book of Psalms and start trying to claim random phrases as God’s direct promises to you, you’re leading yourself astray. Many teachers in the Church encourage you to do this—they say the Bible was written to you. This is an utterly absurd statement. The Bible wasn’t written to any one individual. It is a collection of documents which were authored by over forty different men who each had a different motivation for writing what they did. None of those men had ever heard of you, and none of them were speaking to you. It’s important to keep the Bible in perspective. It’s a fabulous resource, but if we’re going to be helped and not hindered by it, we need to stop making it out to be some magical book of spells and promises that suddenly fell out of the sky one day.
So if God knows the end from the beginning and if nothing ever happens that He doesn’t want to happen, how is it valid to say that He lies or changes His mind? Well, we are humans. We interpret life from the human perspective, not from the Divine perspective. From the human perspective, when God says He will do something and then He doesn’t do it, that’s a lie. When Yahweh said He would destroy Nineveh in forty days and then He didn’t, that was a lie. Yahweh didn’t say He might destroy Nineveh, He said He would. He intentionally gave a false prophecy.
Now Yahweh isn’t the only One who tells fibs. All of our Gods lie. In the Gospels, Jesus prophesied that His Second Coming would occur before His twelve disciples could finish preaching the Good News throughout Israel.
“You will be hated by everyone because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matt. 10:22-23)
In Luke 21:32, He prophesies that His Second Coming will occur before the people living in His day have all passed away. So much for those two prophecies. Two thousand years later, we have yet to see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Lk. 21:27). Jesus lied.
From God’s perspective, the human story has already been completed. Yet from our perspective, He is constantly showing up and speaking to us here in Chapter 1. When He says things will go a certain way and then they don’t, then as far as we are concerned, He lied. Sometimes God labels His lying as a change of mind, and that makes it sound less upsetting until we really think about it and realize how ridiculous it is for an all-knowing God to pretend He didn’t know what He was going to do ahead of time. God can’t know the end from the beginning and change His mind about what He’s going to do…or can He? Perhaps from God’s perspective, He did change His mind several times about how He wanted the human story to play out as He wrote it. Now that it’s over and done, He sees all of the decisions He has made. Since God already sees our story as complete, it sounds pretty phony for Him to talk as if He’s still in suspense about what’s coming next. This is what it sounds like He’s doing when He says things like:
“Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. I thought that after she had done all this she would return to Me but she did not…” (Jer. 3:6-7)
So how do we make sense of this? Well, here is where we’ll have to bend our brains a little more.
It’s very strange for us to imagine God viewing the human story as already written when we’re still stuck in Chapter 1. For us, things are just getting started. For God, they are already finished. That’s weird. But further complicating things is that God is constantly changing which perspective He is speaking from when He talks to us. For example, when Yahweh says that He knows the end from the beginning, He’s speaking from the Divine perspective—He’s speaking as the Author who dwells outside of our world and has already completed the human story. But when He talks about regretting things or changing His mind, He’s speaking as if He is standing inside of our world with us and watching things unfold with us for the first time. Saul becomes king. Saul rebels. God is bummed. God regrets making Saul. This is an “in time” point of view. God talks like He is watching our lives unfold for the first time and that He’s surprised and disappointed by the way things work out. Israel rebels. Yahweh describes Himself as giving her time, hoping she’ll get bored with her idolatry and come back to Him. But she doesn’t. He’s surprised and bummed. Why does God talk like this to us? Because this is how we view things.
To help ease the strain on our brains, let’s use another metaphor. Suppose you’re watching a movie with a friend. Your friend has already seen the movie. You haven’t. The movie is filled with surprising twists and turns. When something unexpected happens, you gasp in surprise. What does your friend do? Well, he has two choices. He can either act surprised with you or he can be honest and act unsurprised.
Now since your friend has already seen the movie, why would he want to act like he hasn’t? Well, maybe he wants to share in the moment with you. Maybe he knows that if you know he’s already seen it, you wouldn’t enjoy it as much. Ever watch a funny movie with someone who was in a bad mood? It’s a lot less enjoyable when your movie watching buddy refuses to engage with the film and laugh along with you.
When it comes to God interacting with us, He has multiple agendas. He wants to develop a personal bond with us, but He also wants to teach us that He is an entirely different kind of Being who is far superior to us. The first agenda focuses on building identity, the other focuses on emphasizing differences. When Yahweh claims to know the end from the beginning, He’s emphasizing differences. He’s setting Himself apart as a unique Being who is superior to everyone and everything. When Jesus acts surprised at someone’s level of faith in the Gospels, He’s going for communion. Jesus is never actually surprised by someone’s level of faith, but by acting surprised, He helps that person connect with the depth of God’s pleasure with them. When the Roman centurion found out that Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith”, the centurion would have felt very encouraged in his personal pursuit of God (Matt. 8:10). It was like Jesus was saying, “Wow! You are a real shining star in My eyes!” When God speaks approving words over us, we feel closer to Him.
When Yahweh said that He thought Israel would return to Him, He was emphasizing His longing for her. He wasn’t saying, “Whoops—called that one wrong.” He was saying, “I really, really, really want a relationship with you.” When God speaks to us this way, if we care at all about Him, we will feel drawn towards Him. When God talks about being sad and about longing for us and about being disappointed, it makes us feel encouraged that He is Someone we can actually relate to. In speaking to humans, God moves back and forth between emphasizing differences and building identity. To properly interpret something He said, we have to figure out which perspective He is speaking from: ours or His. Is He talking to us on our human level, intentionally putting things in terms that we can relate to even though doing so results in a loss of accuracy? Or is He talking to us from the Divine perspective and giving us further education about who He actually is so that we can improve the way we are attempting to relate to Him?
God’s View of Time
One frequently cited and highly confusing statement about God and time in the Bible is this gem from the apostle Peter:
Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. (2 Pet. 3:8)
What on earth does this mean? Well, it sounds like Peter’s doing a butcher job of Psalm 90:4, where Moses says:
For in Your sight a thousand years are like yesterday that passes by, like a few hours of the night.
Moses’ point is that Yahweh doesn’t see time the same way we do. Peter is trying to make the same point, he’s just using awkward phrasing. Both men are basically trying to say that “time flies for God.” Well, yes, it does, because God is not in time.
All authors have the ability to speed up the time in the world they are creating. Consider how easy it is for a human author to start a sentence with the phrase, “Ten years later…” In just three simple words, the human author leaps his characters ahead ten years. In the same way, you can open up your Bible to Genesis, then skip ahead to Matthew and you’ll have flown through thousands of years in a mere second from the perspective of the people in the Bible. When discussing time, it’s all about whose world you’re standing in. If you’re standing in God’s world, you can hold the complete account of the human creation in your hands as a completed book which God wrote. If you’re standing in the human world, time crawls as you have to live through each word on the page.
Because God is not a character in His book, He isn’t bound by the timeframe of the book. He can do whatever He wants. He can write Noah onto the ark, drown everyone else, then go have coffee and play a round of tennis before coming back to move Noah through his forty days. God’s reality and our reality are completely separate things. While we are totally dependent on God to create, sustain, and define our reality for us, we have no effect on His reality. We can’t speed God’s reality up for Him or slow it down. But God can change your experience of time whenever He wants.
Ever feel like your workday is crawling while your coworker says the same hours feel like they’re flying by? What you call time is God’s creation and He controls how you experience time. He causes you to experience time differently than other people do. We can all synchronize our watches, but we can’t control how long a particular moment feels. Time is a very bizarre thing, but it’s also very significant to us. Time helps us organize our lives and feel a sense of forward progress. Does God have a version of time in His reality? There’s no way to know. What we do know is that God has some sense of past and present because He says there was a time when we did not exist, then He created us. Are we the only creation God has going on? Not hardly. He has countless others.
God can look over His many creations like a man looking over a bunch of fishbowls sitting on a table. Each fishbowl is a separate reality. The fish inside of each bowl are only aware of the bowl they are in. They can’t see all the other bowls. Maybe some bowls have a glass pipeline that connects them. In the Bible, both Yahweh and Jesus describe Heaven and Hell as two separate worlds which intersect with each other. The creatures in Heaven can see the creatures in Hell. Then there are the angels. If we humans are like goldfish, angels are like tadpoles—we’re two different kinds of creatures that are swimming about in the same realities of Earth, Heaven, and Hell. We know that both demons and humans will end up in Hell. We know that both angels and humans exist in Heaven. Can angelic creatures access other realities that we humans can’t? Possibly. It’s all up to God: He creates every reality and He controls which realities connect with each other.
When God is done with a certain reality, He destroys it. Soon this earth will be destroyed and we’ll all be moved on to either Heaven or Hell. Is it weird to think of ourselves as existing in just one of countless worlds that God has made? Sure, but there’s no need to see this as a negative thing because God is not a human. If God were a human, we’d have plenty of reasons to get depressed because we know humans have very limited attention spans. If God were a human, He couldn’t be focused on us all the time. As soon as He started focusing on some other creation, we’d be forgotten. But because God is not a human, He has inhuman abilities. He can focus on us as well as all of His other creations simultaneously. He can listen attentively to your prayers as well as the prayers of billions of other souls without getting overwhelmed or distracted.
Sometimes God’s otherness intimidates us. He seems like such an alien Being that we feel like we’ll never be able to relate to Him. But then He talks to us on our level and we feel encouraged again. God says He loves us dearly. He calls us His children. He says that when we are sincerely seeking Him, we really delight Him. How awesome is it to think that tiny little creatures like us who are stuck in one little reality could actually delight our Creator? Yet this is what God says, and we’re just going to have to take His word for it because God is not a human. God loves humans. God made humans on purpose and He thoroughly enjoys taking care of us and teaching us about who He is.
Sometimes when we try to ponder the mysteries of God, we get totally overwhelmed. When this happens, we need to return to the basics: our Creators love us dearly. Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are intimately involved in our lives and we can trust Them to take the best possible care of us.
At the end of the day, we really don’t need to concern ourselves with what else God is up to in His God world. We just need to understand why He created us and how we can succeed with Him. He makes succeeding with Him very easy to do. Ours is a truly wonderful God.