God can do anything He decides to do, so can He travel, or make humans travel, backward or forward in time? Is there anything in the Bible about time travel?
God created time, which in part is marked by the movements of the sun, moon and heavenly bodies (Genesis 1:14). But the Creator God Himself transcends time as we know it—He “inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15).
For a creature like me, who has known nothing but the linear passage of time, punctuated by beginnings and endings, it can be hard to imagine eternity. But it seems like a lot of us can imagine, and are fascinated by, the concept of time travel. What if we could go back in time, or go back to the future?
You may have read or watched some of the many stories, shows and movies that deal with time travel—everything from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine to Back to the Future to The Terminator to Tenet. I am intrigued by such ideas, and I’ve wondered if God, as the Creator of time, could time travel.
Does the Bible tell us anything about time travel and God’s control of time?
First, let me say that nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 1:37), and I believe there is no reason the Creator God couldn’t reverse time or do anything He wants with time. But does He time travel? Does He interrupt, reverse or jump ahead in time?
Joshua’s long day
The Bible certainly shows that God can lengthen a day, as He did when Joshua prayed for more time to defeat five Amorite kings.
This is often called Joshua’s long day, when Joshua prayed, “Sun stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon” (Joshua 10:12).
God responded with a miracle, and “the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it” (verses 13-14).
Can God turn back time?
Perhaps even more amazing is what is recorded in 2 Kings 20. Hezekiah had been told he was going to die, and he had begged God for a longer life. God heard him and changed His mind. God told Hezekiah he would now live 15 more years! And God also promised to protect Jerusalem from the Assyrians. To reassure Hezekiah, God promised to give him an incredible sign.
“Then Isaiah said [to Hezekiah], ‘This is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing which He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go backward ten degrees?’
“And Hezekiah answered, ‘It is an easy thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.’
“So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the LORD, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz” (2 Kings 20:9-11).
God added to that day, extending it by perhaps 40 minutes. I say perhaps 40 minutes because the marks on the sundial might not have been degrees like we use today, with 360 in a circle. I imagine the marks could have been an even larger amount of time.
Of course, some point out that God could have just made it appear as if the earth had moved backward in relation to the sun. But really, is it any harder for God to control time than space—or both?
A number of prophecies of the Bible also involve a vision of the future. God provided a portal to a time centuries and millennia after the prophet’s own time.So, we have so far considered a miracle when it appeared time stopped and a miracle when it appeared the heavenly bodies that mark time went backward.
But besides these miracles, performed to help people, is there any reason for God to reverse time? He gets everything right the first time; His timing is perfect. His plan is perfect, and He doesn’t leave anyone out. So I don’t think He has any reason to time travel into the past or to change the time line. My conclusion is that God doesn’t need to travel back in time.
Time travel through the Bible
Still, I believe the Bible is a time travel book. It allows us to travel to the past—and the future!
“Well-written history is an invitation to time travel.” (That sounds quotable, but I couldn’t find anyone who said that, so I guess you can quote me on that.)
The Bible is full of history that invites us to imagine and learn. And when you are traveling to the past, remember this wisdom from L.P. Hartley: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”
The point is that we shouldn’t judge people in the past by modern ideas and standards. We should read the history of the Bible as if we were traveling to a foreign country, and learn from the differences—and the similarities.
So the Bible allows us to travel in our minds into the past. But what about the future?
Visions of the future
God tells us that He knows and controls the future. “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Part of this is the fact that God can make anything happen. “Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (verse 11).
But a number of prophecies of the Bible also involve a vision of the future. God provided a portal to a time centuries and millennia after the prophet’s own time. Daniel saw visions of “the time of the end” (Daniel 8:17). Ezekiel saw visions of Jerusalem and a millennial temple after the return of Christ (Ezekiel 40:2; 43:1-7). Peter, James and John saw a vision of Moses and Elijah with the transfigured Jesus Christ in His Kingdom (Matthew 16:28; 17:1-9).
In the prophetic book of Revelation, the apostle John explained what God did to reveal the end-time events of the book to him.
In Revelation 1:10 he wrote: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.”
The Lord’s Day, in the context, is the same as the phrase Day of the Lord mentioned 24 times in the New King James Version of the Bible.
God gave John visions of many things: of the heavenly throne, of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, of the Beast and false prophet, of the seven trumpet plagues, of the seven last plagues, and of the return of Jesus Christ, the Millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment and the New Jerusalem! (Study this further in our booklet The Book of Revelation: The Storm Before the Calm.)
In vision, John was there and saw and experienced things that haven’t happened yet—and he did it almost 2,000 years ago!
We can time travel along with John and other prophets as we study these prophecies.
Faith is our time machine
The Faith Chapter gives us more information about time travel in the Bible. Hebrews 11:1-3 says:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
“For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
Faith is our time machine. It takes us beyond this space-time continuum.
Abraham, we’re told, “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (verse 10). And he’s not the only one who envisioned the Kingdom of God and the New Jerusalem.
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth . . .
“Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (verses 13, 16).
Bible prophecy helps us see the shadow, the outline, the vision of the future. It may seem far off, but it is getting nearer. And with every year we rehearse it, we can see it more clearly and embrace it more dearly.
So embrace your Bible and your faith. Then you will have the chance to travel to the wonderful future God has in store for you and for this whole world.
Discover and imagine more about this in our free booklet The World to Come: What It Will Be Like.