The Future

Norbert Lieth

“Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me” (Isaiah 45:11). A biblical forecast for Israel, the nations, and the Church.

The end of the world should have been December 21, 2012—at least, according to predictions of the Mayan calendar, which ended on that day. But the event didn’t materialize. There are institutes devoted to “futurology,” whose focus is predicting future trends. They are frequently incorrect. Of course, forecasts for a post-Covid world are also circulating. Examples include an increase in isolation, financial collapse, growing unemployment, governmental overreach, more control over citizens … we’re sleepwalking into a surveillance state, and politics is likewise sleepwalking on ahead of us.

Looking back, we can see that forecasts for 2021 were also completely wrong. All sorts of dubious predictions didn’t come true. But, interestingly enough, nobody predicted the coronavirus pandemic, and countless conspiracy theories have failed to come true in its wake. No, there’s only one person who can reliably convey the future to us: the One who determined and described it in advance, and who has a plan for the world and each person in it.

God has revealed the future to us through the Bible.

Hundreds of prophecies have been proven as fulfilled, so we have good reason to believe that those awaiting fulfillment will also come true.

“The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…” (Ps 33:10-12). 

When you apply this truth to your life, you’ll immediately gain a completely different perspective…

The Future of Israel 
Amnesty International has recently called for renewed international pressure on Israel. However, the nations that publicly advocate for Israel’s annihilation weren’t mentioned. The discrepancy (which is exhibited by many of Israel’s critics) was noticed by columnist Sascha Lobo. He called out the German Green Party’s anti-Semitism, stating: “It’s against all discrimination, unless it affects Jews and Israelis.”

81 years have passed since the Wannsee Conference took place in Berlin in 1942. That’s where the systematic murder of eleven million Jews throughout Europe—the “Final Solution”—was planned. Years ago, I was able to visit Wannsee Villa, which has since been turned into a museum. Visitors can see the original papers and notes from the conference. Thank the Lord the Germans lost World War II and the Nazi Reich perished wretchedly. Germany was literally devastated. The Nazi henchmen talked big, but were eventually murdered or executed themselves. More than six million Jews had been brutally murdered, but roughly the same number of non-Jewish Germans died. This also proved the truth of God’s Word: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Gen 12:3a).

On May 14, 1948, three years after the Holocaust and the fall of Nazi Germany, the Jewish State was proclaimed in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv means “Old New Land,” and the name has a future perspective. When the State was founded in Tel Aviv, David Ben Gurion said, “We waited 2,000 years for this—and it took only half an hour to do it.”

“The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Ps 33:10-11).
I’d like to take up three points from the New Testament that explicitly testify to Israel’s future:

1. A small word with great importance: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt 23:38-39).

The Lord gave this prophecy on Tuesday of Holy Week. The people had cried out something similar, when Jesus publicly entered Jerusalem as the Messiah on Palm Sunday, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee…” (cf. Matt 21:4-5). “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matt 21:9).

Consequently, it concerns a twofold, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The first time was when Jesus originally entered Jerusalem on a colt (Matt 21:5). The second time will be when He returns upon a white horse (Rev 19:11). This is exactly what the Bible prophesies. Interestingly, the same statement is made twice in Psalm 24, and one might wonder why.

The first time: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle” (Ps 24:7-8).

The second time: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory” (vv. 9-10).

Why is the same thing said twice in a row? The first time refers to Jesus’ first coming and His entry into Jerusalem (Matt 21). The first time, He fought on the Cross at Calvary, defeating Satan, sin, and death. The second time, He’ll come visibly as the Lord of hosts, and will enter Jerusalem as such (Ps 24:10; Rev 19:14).

2. Proof of Israel’s deferment and acceptance: “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:13-18).

These verses reference the Church from among the nations being grafted in. Typically, the order of things was: first Israel, then the nations. First the Jews, then the Gentiles. First “…the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24). But this time, it’s the other way around: first the nations, and then Israel. First, from among the nations, one people (that is, the Church of Jesus). After that, at Jesus’ return, Israel’s spiritual renewal. The prophets didn’t speak of what came next (cf. Amos 9); that’s a New Testament revelation. But it agrees with what Amos said in the context of New Testament events (Acts 15:15).

Eventually, after the Lord’s return, the other nations in the messianic kingdom will also be converted. This has always been known. These are the nations of the Great Tribulation, which will be confronted with the Gospel at this time. It’s evidence that God’s purposes for Israel weren’t abandoned, but that the Church was grafted into them for a time.

The promise for Israel and the Gentiles that the kingdom will come, has not been rescinded.

3. The mystery: “For would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom 11:25-26).

What is this mystery about?

It was no secret that Israel was hardened. Isaiah had already spoken about this, as had the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul (Matt 13:14-17; Isa 6:10; 29:10; 44:18; Rom 11:8). It was also no secret that Israel will one day be saved; the prophets had also spoken about that. The mystery is the salvation of a full number from among the nations.

The question is, how long will the hardening last? When will Israel be accepted again? What is the prerequisite for them to be saved? The answer is that in His foreknowledge, God had a mysterious plan for Israel’s hardening. He wanted to form Jews and Gentiles into a new people in an olive tree: Unbelieving Jews were broken off, and Gentile believers were grafted in (Rom 11:19-20). When the full number of Gentiles (a figure known only to God) is grafted into the olive tree, the Church Age will end and the Church will be raptured. At that time, God will turn His attention to Israel’s coming salvation. Jesus returns to Zion (Rev 14). “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29).

I could make further arguments from the New Testament for Israel’s salvation: the fig tree; the twelve thrones of the twelve Apostles, to judge the future Israel on earth; Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1); the Olivet Discourse; the reasoning from Revelation … but I want to remain within the scope of this article.

The Future of the Nations
Michelangelo once said, “God didn’t create us to abandon us.” God became man to be with us forever. He’s one of us. If He gave up on us, He’d be giving up on Himself. The nations have a future.

No matter what the peoples of the earth are planning, the counsel of the Lord comes about in the end. That’s a great consolation. “This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working” (Isa 28:29).

We see numerous examples of this in the Bible, in history, and in biblical prophecy.  Abraham lived in the aftermath of the Tower of Babel. Joseph’s rejection meant salvation for Jacob, his family, and the world at the time. Israel’s bondage in Egypt ensured that the people came to the Promised Land, and many prophetic promises were fulfilled. Emperor Augustus’ approach to registering the population, fulfilled the prophecy that the promised Redeemer would be born in Bethlehem. The rejection of Israel brought us salvation. World War I prompted the purchase of land in Jewish territories. World War II resulted in the State of Israel. The Great Tribulation and its sorrows will bring about the return of Jesus and the new life of the Millennium.

Even the events of our day are serving to fulfill God’s plan. We can rejoice in that.

1. Looking ahead: Hope is like a bridge that carries us to the other shore. Isaiah 2 shows us that at the end of days, Jerusalem will be exalted above all other nations. The nations will stream to the mountain of the Lord, coming to be taught (this is the fulfillment of the Great Commission: they will become disciples). The Lord will judge between the peoples, and they will unite. Swords will be beaten into plowshares; there will be a great disarmament with no more war drills; and then, the nations will want to walk in the light of the Lord (cf. Zech 8:2-23).

Finally, the goal has been reached, which the nations could never have achieved without Him. It becomes clear to everyone that only the divine Lord can bring renewal. Justice and peace will reign, along with rest and security (Isa 32:15-20). Creation is liberated (Rom 8:18-25). The climate is renewed (Isa 49:10). Wild animals will no longer pose any danger (Isa 11:7-9).

2. Jesus’ first and second coming in a single vision: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zech 9:9).

This is the first coming. He will come again after His resurrection, ascension, and enthronement at the right hand of the Father. And since Zechariah 9:9 (which speaks of the first coming) and verse 10 (which speaks of the second) belong together, we know that the Lord will return to Israel. Everything will be completed there, the site of His first coming.

“And he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth” (Zech 9:10b; cf. v. 14).

This is the second coming. The current Age of Grace/Dispensation of the Church is not yet seen or considered in these verses; it takes place between them.

3: The wedding guests: The Lord will return to earth to reign. “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Rev 19:6b). And the marriage of the Lamb will come with this rise to power. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Rev 19:7).

This marriage, then, takes place on earth, not in heaven, and Israel is referred to as the bride. Otherwise, there would have to be a wedding in heaven before the Lord’s return in glory, at the same time the Great Tribulation is happening on earth.

The nations are also invited to attend the wedding feast: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9). This refers to the nations that share in Israel’s blessing in the Millennium: “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things” (Acts 15:17; cf. Amos 9:11-12).

The Future of the Church
Peter Hahne stresses: “Christians don’t need to fight for the future, because it was already won on Calvary.”

On the other hand, a poster for a bank shows a young woman with this phrase beside her: “She has a retirement account, but no plan for the future. That’s entirely normal.”

Really? That’s the norm? This poster expresses the great dilemma: that the world has no hope, nor can it offer any—just some trivial plans that are supposed to comfort you, and at most, last only until death. God, on the other hand, has an eternal plan for the future, and He is carrying it out. He also has a plan for your future. You can take this one to the bank, because without God’s future, all human precautionary plans are doomed to fail.

A manufacturer once proudly showed some visitors his factory and the adjacent property. He emphasized that everything that they could see in all directions was his, and that he had earned it. Then, one of his guests spoke up. “It’s remarkable that you own so much along the four points of the compass. But, may I ask,”—and he pointed upwards—“what do you own above them?”

We should be taking hold of eternal life and “Laying up in store for [our]selves a good foundation against the time to come…” (1 Tim 6:19). Anyone without this foundation steps into the future without hope.

On September 2, 1998, SwissAir Flight 111 crashed off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two hundred twenty-nine people from 44 different nations died. One of the pilots was from the place where my family and I were living. The fatal accident was probably caused by a short circuit in a cable with broken insulation, which belonged to the in-flight entertainment system. It was just a spark, but it was enough to bring down a plane and kill 229 people.

The hopelessness of the grieving families was tragic. People saw their lives and futures as completely destroyed, and they were no longer capable of happiness. This terrible suffering is also a picture of eternal hopelessness. Consider sin, our broken relationship with God. People are looking elsewhere for entertainment and distraction, not realizing that they are falling. Many times, it’s “just” a single spark that brings great suffering to us and our fellow human beings. 

Christians also mourn—quite a bit—and our past can repeatedly revisit us. But the grief of those who believe in Jesus is different from that of people who are apart from Him. Christians may mourn, but they do so with hope. Christians have a fundamental peace that comforts them in their sadness and more.

Hopelessness is like a dehydrated person dreaming of a drink, and then waking up still thirsty and emaciated. The Christian’s hope, on the other hand, is fulfilled. It is oriented toward the hereafter, to the heavenly, spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph 1:3). “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col 1:5).

Our hope isn’t based on this earth, which is limited: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof…” Our hope is based in heaven, so it’s limitless. As Christians, we have every reason to look to the future with hope. Christians can attest to what painter Salvador Dali once said: “I prefer to remember the future.”

As someone put it: “Hope is like a bridge that carries us to the other shore. God hasn’t forsaken us; Jesus is standing on the other side waiting for us.”

Therefore, our lives don’t have to be one crisis of faith after another. Instead, a confidence of faith can set in. For our hope isn’t subject to corruption, but is an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance in heaven (Col 1:5; 1 Pet 1:4).

We should be considering this life more from a perspective of the hereafter and heaven, according to our position in Christ. Then, things will be easier for us. The Church’s future is to be taken to heaven, to later appear with Christ: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20). “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col 3:4).

Jesus gave His blood for redemption, and rose from the dead as the firstfruits. He is the guarantee for our future. Jean Jaurès said, “The greatest people are those who are able to give hope.” There is no doubt that Jesus is the greatest human being to ever exist, because He is still alive and giving hope.

Look to your future: It’s in the Bible. It’s founded in Jesus Christ. Don’t get lost in doubt and self-doubt. Don’t be discouraged; persevere, and don’t give up! Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. Look at this life from the perspective of the next one.

The Mayan calendar was wrong. But what we do know about Jesus is that the prophets said He would come, and He did. Jesus said He would die, and He died. He said He would rise again, and He rose from the dead. The Bible says He will return, and He is coming again.

Midnight Call - 09/2023

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