The Bureau of Meteorology uses computer models based on data collected in the past to predict the weather. These predictions often prove to be quite accurate, but they are certainly not infallible, and they cannot tell me precisely when and by how much it will rain at my place tomorrow morning. It is always like that when trying to look into the future. We make estimates on the basis of known facts. We cannot be precis in every detail, but we can make reasonable guesses as to what will happen. And it’s not different in the Bible. Over and over, we come across attempts to say what is going to happen in the future; for example, on the basis of God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt we have predictions of God’s deliverance of Israel from foreign oppressors in later centuries, or on the basis of the establishment of Jerusalem as the religious and political capital for God’s people we find references to a coming New Jerusalem where God’s people will be gathered from all over the world. From the beginning, Christians have made predictions about the future based on the one great reality to which the Bible attests – Jesus the Christ. These are expressed in symbolic images and poetic descriptions. They lack precision and verifiability. Take for example the expectation that Christ will return to complete what he began during his earthly life; no one can say when and where or how this is to happen, but it gives us a framework within which to live and it assures us that God’s saving and reclaiming action in Jesus will win out in the end. Scenes of a new creation and God’s kingdom of light hold out promise, on the basis of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, that, in spite of all the evils in the world, this is the way we should live.
- What are some things that you expect to happen in the future on the basis of what has happened in the past?
- Christ’s return should not be used as an excuse for not facing up to the issues of today. How does Paul express this in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13?
- In Luke 21:5-19 we have Jesus’ prediction about the coming destruction of the Jerusalem temple and warning to his followers that trouble and persecution can be expected before God’s Kingdom is fully realized. How relevant is this for us today?
- Jesus told his followers that they could expect opposition and persecution (Luke 21:12-19). What is your experience?