Can You Forsee the Future?
You and I live in a world that marches along one second at a time. In a very literal sense, neither you nor I can tell what the next second, the next minute, or the next hour may bring. By inspiration, James wrote,
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:13-14)
We truly are trapped at a pace of moving through our lives one second at a time.
With that being said, it is very possible to anticipate events based upon established patterns. A great example of this is seen in the study of weather patterns. With our modern day technology, meteorologists are able to predict or anticipate weather patterns. We may receive a warning today of a storm that may move through our area on Wednesday. As we approach the day of the anticipated weather event, the meteorologists will be able to refine their weather related predictions. However, despite the meteorologist best efforts, the weather patterns can still change unexpectedly.
While we cannot know for certain what tomorrow may bring, we can, however, certainly anticipate outcomes or consequences based upon established patterns of righteousness and wickedness. To show this possibility, let us consider the example of the Israelites’ relationship with Jehovah. Prior to leading the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Lord established a clear pattern of behavior and consequences. In Deuteronomy, we read,
“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)
From this point onward, the people of Israel would always be able to see the future in general details. As long as the people served the Lord, they would know the Lord would bless them. However, they also knew that if they disobeyed the Lord, they could expect cursings to rain upon their lives.
Under the new covenant of Jesus Christ, the same expectations hold true. According to the teachings of Jesus and His inspired writers, Christians can expect blessings when they obey the Lord and punishment if they disobey the Lord. Let us consider a few New Testament passages showing these teachings.
- Beginning with Luke 11:27-28, we see Jesus responding to a woman who said,
“Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” To this woman, Jesus said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28)
- In His discussion with His apostles, Jesus taught that obedience brings fellowship with God. Jesus said,
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; . . .” (John 14:23-24a)
- The apostle Paul, in his letter to the saints in Rome, taught that God would “render to each one according to his deeds.” Paul wrote the following:
“. . . you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (6) who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: (7) eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; (8) but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness–indignation and wrath, (9) tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, . . . (10) but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, . . .” (Romans 2:5-10)
- James 1:25 reads,
“But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
- The apostle John wrote,
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14)
We need not be surprised when the consequences of sin and unrighteousness fill our lives, both in physical and spiritual ways. If I choose to rob a store, then I must expect to spend time in jail. If I choose to walk in sin, then I must expect the local church to withdraw their fellowship from me if I am unwilling to repent. If I lie to and deceive people, then I must expect others to know me as a liar and for people to no longer trust me. If I engage in any sin, and I refuse to repent and change, then I must expect to spend eternity in hell. I can clearly foresee these outcomes resulting from living an unrighteous life.
Let us all pay close attention to our actions and ask ourselves the following question: “If I go through with this act, what will the future bring?” Remember the words of the apostle Paul when he wrote,
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)
Look to the future and foresee the results of your actions today.