By Dr. Mike Murphy
“What does the future hold?” I recently asked several brothers and sisters in Christ that very question. I heard about as many answers as we have questions. Many told me they saw the soon return of Christ. Several said that the world was becoming consumed with evil, and could not go on much longer. More than one told me they were seeing prophetic events that the Bible foretells coming together at a rapid rate. One man said, “I watch the news with one eye and read the prophecies of the Bible with the other eye. Most days I do not know which eye is seeing which.”
The common theme in most of the replies was one of disgust, concern and anxiety. Most felt they were watching as the world was spinning out of control, with Satan setting the groundwork for a tragedy of events that are to soon follow. They saw the days of Noah approaching, and this earth filled with despair.
It is hard to read a newspaper, turn on the computer, or flip through the channels of the television without seeing the warning signs. But if we look at these signs through the Lord’s eyes, our anxiety soon turns to calmness, and our despair soon turns to hope. In this tragedy, we see the Lord paint us a picture of Good News!
Let us take a minute and look at this picture, and see a couple of examples why our fears of doom and gloom should actually be full joy and encouragement.
God Is, And Will Always Be In Control
In 1867, a young Mark Twain visited the Holy Land. He published his views of this trip in Innocents Abroad. He describe the country as completely desolate, with hardly anything living in sight. He penned these words about what he saw. ” A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.” He described how small Jerusalem was by saying, “A fast walker could go outside the walls of Jerusalem and walk entirely around the city in an hour. I do not know how else to make one understand how small it is.”
Almost one hundred and fifty years ago, before Ezekiel’s dry bones would come back to life(Ezekiel 37:1-14) and Isaiah’s desert would again bloom(Isaiah 35:1), man saw the land of Israel as pointless and barren. Land that no one would want and could not possibly serve any function. But what man saw as desolate and hopeless, the Lord looked on with a purpose.
“The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.”, Proverbs 16:4. This verse tells us that the Lord has made every thing for His own purpose, and for its’ own end. God has made all things for His glory, for His goodness and wisdom, and so that all things might be revealed through Him. We see in this verse that even the wicked are subjective to His purpose. A perfect example of this would be Pharaoh. The Bible gives us verse after verse showing us the rebellion of Pharaoh to the promise of the deliverance to the Lord’s chosen people. Time and time again, the Lord would send a warning, but ten times we watched as Pharaoh refused to heed to the will and promise of God. Even when all was lost, Pharaoh would still not find himself repentant before the Lord. In the end, the wickedness of Pharaoh was easily overcome. The Lord showed the world that his plan and purpose would always be fulfilled, and that no evil could ever stand in His way. Even in the midst of Pharaoh’s evil, God’s name was declared for all to hear. The Lord told Pharaoh these exact words in Exodus 9:16. “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.”
When we see things go wrong in our lives or in the world around us, our first instinct is to ask God “why”. We easily forget that the “why” is a self-serving and pointless question. We can only see things in a finite way, we only see the here and now. But God, in His infinite wisdom, not only knows what we need today, but what is required for His purpose and plan for our lives tomorrow. Nothing in our life does the Lord do by chance, He has a purpose for every event and encounter. We must understand, our limited human perspective often does not allow us to see God’s greater plan.
Our finite mind often confuses us when it comes to God’s plan. We often do not want or wish to know where our free will ends, and the Lord’s sovereignty begins. It is hard for us to realize that His sovereignty does not begin or end, it is all that matters. To deny this does the unthinkable, it attempts to put us in control over God. Our free will cannot and will not disrupt God’s purpose, just as evil will never prevent God’s plan.
We often see evil, or Satan, as a force that is standing in the way of what the Lord’s wants and desires for all of us. The truth is, Satan will never have more influence in this world than the Lord wants him to have. Look at Job for the perfect example. When Satan came to the Lord, he told Him that Job only served Him because the Lord protected him. So God told Satan he could do limited actions in the life of Job, but no more. When Satan wanted to act, he knew he could do nothing unless God allowed it. And look what came from this. The world saw that Satan held no authority over our lives, and that God’s will triumphs above all. The Lord turned Satan’s evil plan for Job into a moment of glory for all to see!
God is in complete control of all things around us. We have example after example in His Word that proves this to us. The Lord’s power is unlimited, and evil can do nothing to limit it. When we begin to understand this and trust this, the future is no longer a desolate place without hope. It becomes a place of great purpose, filled with the plans and blessings the Lord has for each of us. The Lord wants us to see, our future is not a nightmare waiting to happen, but a place that dreams are made of!
We Know How The Story Ends!
I must confess. I have flipped forward to the end of the Book, and now I cannot wait for this story to get there! For those of us who believe, this Book will never end. The Glory of the last pages will be heard in our voices forever. The plotline of this story will last forever, and we have the promise that this fairy tale will be our eternal reality. We will get to see and experience the real big bang theory! This heaven and earth will pass away, but a glorious, new heaven and earth will take its’ place. And in it we will live with Christ forever(Revelation 21:1-27)!
Our future is not one of fear, but one of glorious hope. When we place our trust in Christ, our future is forever bright, one we cannot wait and yearn for. We realize, evil has no hold over our lives. Evil no longer plays a part in our future. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”, 1 John 4:4. It is not us who should fear Satan, but Satan who should fear us.
No one knows the words of the Old Testament better than Satan. The Bible tells us that Christ was “delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God”(Acts 2:23). No one knew this better than Satan. He knew exactly what the birth, ministry, death, and Resurrection of Christ would bring, and knew nothing he did could prevent it. Not one action by the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas, the Roman Government, Pilate, or Judas could do one thing to stop God’s plan. The first chapter of Ephesians tells us that before the Lord even began to create this world, He had a plan for our lives in place. God’s plan of Salvation through Christ was in place before the foundation of this world were laid. God knew before this world was formed that neither Satan’s rebellion, the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the tower of Babel would slow down His plan for us one second. He knew these evil and rebellious events would all fail, and in the end all these events would do nothing but bring greater glory to His name. Just as these rebellious events had no effect on His plan, we can now have faith that the events the Bible tells us the future holds will also not slow down His plan a single minute either.
We can trust what God tells us about the future, because He has proven to us exactly what He did in the past. We are not called to fear this future, but to welcome it. To cherish what the future offers, and to prepare for it in every way. Christ told us He did not come to be served, but to serve(Matthew 20:28). That is the calling that should prepare us for that future. We should answer every opportunity the Lord gives us to reach out to this world today, so as many as possible can share in the excitement that we will experience with Christ tomorrow. We should walk into this world with a message of hope, not one of fear. We know how this story ends, and we want as many as possible to read and experience the story of this Book with us!
So I ask again, “What does the future hold?” One thing about the future is certain, it is surrounded with hope! The future is filled with Good News!
Praying each of your lives is filled with GOOD NEWS!