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Should We Try To Figure Out The Future?

May 21, 2011

So, today is supposed to be the end of the world as we know it (or so we are to believe).

As most people know, Harold Camping an 89 year old preacher from California, has predicted that the rapture (second coming of Jesus Christ) will occur today, followed by the end of the world October 11th.  He is only the latest in a long series of failed predictions that have attempted to set a date for the end of the world.  He won’t be the last, either.  In fact, there is a local man who is predicting the end later this year in September.  Next year we will have to deal with the whole Mayan calendar, 2012 end of the world non-sense.

The question I want to pose is this: why do people feel a compulsion to want to know or to predict the future?  What is behind our desire to want to know what is going to happen?  This goes so much beyond trying to nail down an end of times date.  What is the driving force behind tarot cards, astrology, fortune tellers, crystal balls, mediums and spiritualists, psychics, and the like?

I think the real reason goes back to our fundamental problem of separation from God.  It goes back to the original lie that the Serpent told Adam and Eve in Genesis 3: that God is withholding something from us and that if we could obtain this knowledge, we could be like God.  At its core, this desire to know the future is a desire to be God.  We all have the same sinful heart in us that came as a result of that first sin.  Secretly in our hearts we all want to be our own God, to go our own way, do our own thing, and possess divine knowledge.

Sorcery, astrology, and fortune telling are evil in the sight of God (Deuteronomy 18:9-14, 2 Chronicles 33:6, and Galatians 5:20).  They are ways people try to gain divine knowledge and thus try to make themselves equal with God.  “Biblical” numerology is no different than this.  It is trying to use the bible to gain the knowledge God has reserved for Himself.  God makes it very clear that the future belongs to Him alone.

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, delved into trying to unlock the future for a time.  Here is his wise council about this. . .

“A fool multiplies words, though no man knows what is to be, and who can tell him what will be after him? . . . So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?” ~ Ecclesiastes 10:14; 3:22

The New Testament author (and half brother of Jesus) James, continues this idea . . .

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” ~ James 4:14

Jesus Himself drove this point home by making the amazing statement that not even He (God in flesh) knew the time of the end of the world while He was on earth (Mark 13:32).  Certainly no man ever does if the Son of God didn’t.  Further, when the disciples asked when it would happen Jesus responded with this rebuke. . .

“He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” ~ Acts 1:7

To seek to know the future as a form of human knowledge is to circumvent God.  I believe this is exactly why the bible says the future is sealed up and not for our knowledge.

“I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.” ~ Daniel 12:8-9

This is exactly why in Revelation 5:1-5 no one in heaven or earth is found WORTHY to open the book or read it.  Only Jesus was worthy.  Only God knows the future.

Many of us voice our desire to predict the future in much less obvious ways than contacting physics or setting dates for the end of the world.  But they come from the same heart condition.  Many of us think or say things like, “if I only knew what my career is supposed to be”, or “when will I find a spouse?” These may certainly be things that we need to know eventually, but often our desire is to know them now.  It is our desire for artificially constructed security, instead of relying on God for peace and hope.

Not knowing the details of future events can produce very positive things in our life if we let it.  One is trust.  When we stop trying to figure out what will happen tomorrow and leave it to God, we grow in our trust of Him.  Fear of the future fades to confidence that you are in God’s hands.  A child does not need to know how the bills are going to be paid, the food provided, or how to drive to school…the parent has these things under control.  It is the same thing with us and God.

We begin to rest in the peace of knowing that God has a wonderful future for us and that His way is best.  It may not be our way, but that is a good thing because we are not God. God’s plan for you is good because His character is good.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

When we exercise our faith muscle it grows stronger.  When tough times come, we are not shaken because we have learned and are practiced at leaving it all to God.  There is a song by Mercy Me called Bring the Rain that describes this . . .

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through.
The question just amazes me.
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times.

This is practiced faith.  Leaving the future to God also frees us up to focus on the present.  This is what God wants us to do.  His mission for us is in the present.  Jesus Himself said,

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” ~ Matthew 6:34

When we remain focused on today we align ourselves with God’s purpose for our lives.  God’s purpose is for us to bring Him glory today, where we are at, in the circumstances He has placed us in.  We aren’t wasting energy trying to figure out tomorrow because we are concentrating on what will bring Him glory today.

So many people concern themselves with what God’s grand purpose is for their life.  There are books written about this.  What is your God given purpose?  Is your life “purpose-driven”?  I think it is good to want to know God’s purpose for you.  However, I think we go astray when we expect that God will reveal the whole picture to us.  God does choose to reveal life-long purposes to some people.  However, He may not reveal to you anything beyond today, precisely for the reasons I’ve discussed above.

I have seen this books lead people to become frustrated because they can’t figure out what God’s purpose for them is.  My advice is always that they don’t need to worry about that.  Just seek God’s will today and leave the future up to Him.  God’s purpose for you is in the present.  How will you handle what God has entrusted to you, this present day? How can you use today to bring the most glory to God?  When we live everyday through this lens we begin to live “soli deo gloria”, or solely to the glory of God.

This is the mindset God wants to produce in us.  Many people this week have been thinking about what they would do if they knew for sure the world would end.  A local radio station, Spirit 105.3, had a call in session with just this question.  I think this is the most positive outcome of ridiculous end of time predictions like today’s.  They get people thinking about how they are living their life.

The bible tells us that we should live each day as if it was our last.  The disciples thought that Jesus may return within their lifetime.  Paul repeatedly encourages us to live as aliens in this world because the time is short. This mentality further encourages us to focus on today, because tomorrow is not promised.  This is WHY God doesn’t tell us the time He is coming but instead warns us to be always on alert, because He will come like a thief in the night.

“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” ~ Mark 13:33

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” 1 Peter 4:7

What are you doing with today to bring God glory?  Are you ready to meet Him if He came back now?  Who haven’t you told about the good news that desperately needs to hear it? Live today soli deo gloria . . . and leave tomorrow to God!

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