The future holds for us great promise and great possibilities. It also holds out the possibility of great sadness and calamity. Nevertheless, we treasure it highly. We value it, especially when it concerns our own fortune or welfare. Some are afraid of the future because it does hold the possibility of misfortune and so they live one day at a time, not giving any thought whatsoever to what might be. There are many others who want to know just exactly what the future holds for them. There is, in fact, a great deal of money made in the industries of fortune telling, horoscopes, Psychic Friends Network, and things of that sort. Of course, none of those things accurately provide a real glimpse of the future.
In the past, however, there were some who were given the opportunity to correctly foresee the future. Adam and Eve were told by God in the garden that the woman’s seed would one day gain ultimate victory over the serpent (Gen. 3:15).
Noah was forewarned that the world would be destroyed by a great deluge and saved his family alive by building an ark after the pattern and fashion God prescribed (Gen. 6-9).
Abraham was told by God that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). On a very personal note, he was told that he would be blessed with a son and that his seed would be as many as the stars in the heavens in multitude and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable (Gen. 15:4,5; 17:16; Heb. 11:11,12).
The prophets throughout the history of Israel foretold them of their future.
In the New Testament, Peter was told by the Lord, Himself, what kind of death he would die (John 21:18,19).
In Matthew twenty-four, when Jesus had told his disciples that the buildings of the temple would be cast down and that there would not be one stone left upon another, they asked the Lord, “When shall these things be and what shall be the sign of Thy coming?” (Matt. 24:3). They wanted to know what was going to happen in their future.
Many times we, ourselves, will make plans about things we want to do in the weeks ahead, even in the years ahead. We may plan many things years in advance. But the writer of Proverbs tells us that this is really all in vain. He writes, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). We do not know what will happen tomorrow or even one hour from now. It may be that tomorrow will be just like every other day we have ever experienced or it may be that another day will bring something totally different. James tells us in James 4:13, 14, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.” We simply can’t tell the future. It may be that we will live another day. Maybe not. Only God knows the future.
You and I can never know with absolute certainty what lies in our future except for that which God has revealed. We know the Lord is coming again, though we know not the time (John 14:1-4). We know that the dead will rise from their earthly tombs (John 5:28,29). We know that the majority of mankind will be lost (Matt. 7:13,14). We know there will be a judgement (Acts 17:30,31). We know that unless the Lord returns, we will all face death (Heb.9:27). We know the lost will spend eternity in unrelenting torment and the righteous in everlasting life (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 20:15; 21:1-8).
We know with absolute certainty that these things will happen. But we do not know when. Mark 13 gives us a parallel passage to the Matthew 24 passage we noted earlier. While Jesus gives His disciples signs for the destruction of Jerusalem, which would enable first century Christians in Jerusalem to prepare themselves for its impending destruction by fleeing, in verse 32 He states, “But of that day and that hour [i.e., the end of time-ELP] knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). Knowing that they will happen, knowing that God has appointed a day (Acts 17:31), ought we not to be prepared? Shouldn’t we do our absolute best to be found faithful to the Lord when He does return?
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (II Peter 3:10-14).
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come…Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:42, 44).
Eric L. Padgett