What does the future hold?
This evening I want to talk about the future. Wouldn’t you just love to know the future? [P] It would be a great advantage to have that insight. I remember a science fiction program on TV once – you know, one of those ones where somebody travelled back in time. They had to correct some event in the past for the future to work out right. It was the typical thing; this guy travels back in time and he falls in love with a girl but has to return to his own time. So what he does is travel forward in time a week buys a paper with the results of the Grand National and then goes back and bets on the outsider who he knew was going to win, thus providing financially for the girl he has to leave behind. Imagine what you could do if you knew the future! No doubt each of you has plans for the future, plans for what you will do when you get on the outside. What does the future hold? We go to considerable lengths to find out what the future holds. For instance, we pay people to be meteorologists, so that we can know what the weather will be like in the future. They have limited success – they might get tomorrow’s weather right but things get very inaccurate past 2 or 3 days. What they do is look at the past conditions, track the trend and extrapolate it into the future. But it only works if things continue on as they are doing – no one predicted an earthquake was going to hit. It was a one off, an unexpected event. Things don’t always continue on the way they always have. Sudden, unexpected, out of the ordinary things take place. It is a fallacy to think that the past is the key to the future. Think of those who went to work every day in New York in the twin towers – they did it every day, they knew the routine – no one expected September 11th to be any different! But no one had ever flown a plane into a skyscraper before! This is a big mistake people make: they think that things are going to continue as they always have – the Bible speaks of those who mock the predictions of the Bible of a coming day of judgement: [2 Peter 3:3-4 First of all, you must understand that in these last days some people will appear whose lives are controlled by their own lusts. They will mock you and will ask, “He promised to come, didn’t He? Where is He? Our ancestors have already died, but everything is still the same as it was since the creation of the world!”] Everything carries on the same as it always does – but this is not case. It is impossible to plan unless you know the future. The one who knows the future is at a distinct advantage – in the past rulers and leaders spent considerable resources trying to gain the advantage of knowing the future – they employed astrologers, men who could read omens, examine livers etc. Even today you find the government spends considerable sums getting people to provide fiscal and economic forecasts – they want to know the future. But predicting the future is an inexact science – no one knows! Well not quite. God claims to know the future! [Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember what happened long ago; acknowledge that I alone am God and that there is no one else like Me. From the beginning I predicted the outcome; long ago I foretold what would happen. I said that my plans would never fail, that I would do everything I intended to do.] Isaiah 45:21 Who predicted long ago what would happen? Was it not I, the Lord, the God who saves his people? There is no other god.] In fact the Bible has 100% accuracy record in its predictions of the future. That is pretty impressive! Why do we trust the weather-man more that we do the Bible?! It predicted that the Messiah would come, and minute details of Jesus’ life were written about hundreds of years before hand – they were fulfilled exactly. [Joshua 21:45 Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.] Everything God promised would happen, took place. [Joshua 23:14 “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.] What does the Bible say about the future? Not only did it predict the coming of Jesus, it speaks far more frequently about His coming again, His return. One of the big things we know for certain about the future that Jesus is coming again! [John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, so that where I am, you may be also.] The Bible describes Jesus going back to heaven: [Acts 1:9-11 After saying this, He was taken up to heaven as they watched Him, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They still had their eyes fixed on the sky as He went away, when two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them and said, “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw Him go to heaven.”] We don’t need to be in the dark about the future, the Bible gives us insight. Those who disregard it have no clue, they are in the dark. We know that Jesus is coming back – it is called “the day of the LORD”: [1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 There is no need to write to you, brothers and sisters, about the times and occasions when these things will happen. For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief comes at night. When people say, “Everything is quiet and safe,” (they are not expecting it) then suddenly destruction will hit them! It will come as suddenly as the pains that come upon a woman in labour, and people will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness, and the Day should not take you by surprise like a thief.] Jesus is coming again – what will He do? What will it be like? He is coming as King! [P] He will rule! [Isaiah 32:1 Behold, a king will reign righteously and princes will rule justly.] [Daniel 7:14 “And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.] We have a monarch, but the queen is really just a figure-head. She doesn’t make laws or command what should be done. We have no idea what it is like to have a king! What he says goes and He will utterly quash all opposition: [Revelation 19:11-17 talks about Jesus coming back: And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. (He goes out in a military operation that destroys those that are against Him) …. His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. (I don’t know how that fits with you picture of gentle Jesus meek and mild) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS!] It will be a totally different regime – it is hard to conceive, but there will be no more evil and its consequences. The implications are massive! No police will be needed, no prisons. I work in the health sector, but no one will get sick – so no doctors, nurses, hospitals. It will be vastly different to what we are accustomed to. What do we do with this information about the future? – the wise thing is to get on the winning side. We know from the Scriptures which that will be. We know whose side to back. It pays to be submitted to the King. [Psalm 2:11-12 Serve the Lord with fear; tremble and bow down to Him; or else His anger will be quickly aroused, and you will suddenly die. Happy are all who go to Him for protection.] We are used to politicians with their schemes and agenda – but He will rule in righteousness and justice: [Psalm 97:2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.] Justice is carried out by a judge. Jesus is not only coming as King, He is coming as judge. [P] [2 Peter 3:3-7 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by. His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men!] They avoided the fact that God had judged the world before by destroying it with a flood, and He is going to judge it again with fire! You all know what it is like to stand before a judge – but this judge knows everything you have done, and also thought – your motivation behind all that you have done! He will judge with righteousness and equity. He will consign the guilty to eternal torment. Only the righteous will enter His Kingdom. But who is righteous?! Who meets God’s standard?! There is only One: Jesus. That sinless one was put to death as a criminal – He wasn’t a criminal; He died for the crimes of the world, took the wrap for sinners like me. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. [2 Corinthians 5:21 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.] In the mercy of God, the one who believes in Jesus’ death and resurrection is given the righteousness of God. We can stand righteous before the throne! Hallelujah! We all want justice – but justice will destroy us. Look what justice did to you – it landed you in prison! What we need is mercy! Mercy is available now, but there is coming a judgement day – again the certain future event predicted by the Bible. On that day it will be too late – the time when mercy is available will be over – there is the prospect of merciless absolute justice. It pays to be prepared beforehand – now is the time to get things sorted. The Bible has told us the future, not to tell us an interesting tale, events to be speculated over and discussed. We are told for a reason – so that we can be prepared before it takes place. We know the future, we have no excuse. Jesus is going to reign as King. Bob Dylan sang: “You gotta serve somebody – it may be the devil or it may be the LORD but you gotta serve somebody”. Who is it going to be? We sang: [P] “I lift my hands to the coming King, to the great I AM, to You I sing, for You’re the One who reigns within my heart” Does He? What is the consequence of Him being King and Judge – we serve Him exclusively! He is a jealous God who tolerates no rivals. He will tolerate service of no other! The consequence of Him being King is that: “I will serve no other gods, nor any other treasure” place nothing before Him in my affections. Serve the King and Him only. Joshua said many years ago: “Choose you this day” Joshua 24:15 “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”] Jesus came, and the Bible tells us that He is coming again – we need to be looking, alert for the certain future event that the Bible tells us about: [Mark 13:34-35 It will be like a man who goes away from home on a journey and leaves his servants in charge, after giving to each one his own work to do and after telling the doorkeeper to keep watch. Be on guard, then, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming—it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise.] Turn from living for yourself, being on the throne of your life; and serve the coming king.