by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman
The world can be a frightening place for a child. My husband and I both remember the days of atomic bomb drills at school, cowering under desks with hands over our heads. (I’m still not sure how effective that would have been in the event of an actual nuclear attack.) We lecture our children on the dangers of strangers. We brief them on escape plans for our homes should fire break out. Even the environment is a threat, as children are being taught climate catastrophe is just around the corner. Despite this all being preparation for what may never happen, it can give a child the impression that things are spinning out of control.
Sometimes reading biblical prophecy can be just as scary. There is much in the future still to be played out, according to Scripture. And much of that future reads more like an R-rated movie than a happily-ever-after fairy tale. The judgment of God will come someday on a world which has turned its back on its Creator.
Why does God spend so much time warning about His coming judgment? Why all the chapters and chapters about things we may never experience in our lifetimes?
Foremost, of course, God is concerned for our salvation. He does not want any to perish (1 Peter 3:9). Knowing what eventually lies ahead for this world is excellent motivation for us to reach out to Him.
There is a second purpose served by prophecy. When we read the plans of God, we are left with a lasting conviction: God controls the destiny of the world. Everything is going according to plan (and it all works out in the end). We also see so much prophecy already fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus Christ. What is still in our future will be just as painstakingly orchestrated. We can live our lives in hope, because we live for a powerful God who holds the future in His hands.
So, on days when I am discouraged, hopeless, or wondering if the news could get any worse, I count on God’s promise: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NASB).
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a story of a ship and its occupants moving perilously close to the rocks in a violent storm. The ship’s passengers huddled on the deck below, terrified that their lives were about to end. One brave man volunteered to go above deck to seek out the captain and ascertain the situation. With great difficulty, he made his way to the pilot house. There he found the captain, chained to his post, hands confidently on the wheel. Seeing the passenger’s terror, the captain gave him a reassuring smile.
Upon his return below, the man gave his fellow passengers his hopeful news. “All is well. All is well. I saw the pilot’s face and he smiled.”
I had a similar experience on a bumpy flight to Hartford. I was seated in the same row as a uniformed pilot who had caught our flight to get to his next assignment. While turbulence usually makes me nervous, this time I watched him. If he suddenly hunched over into a crash position, I would know it was time to panic. However, while he calmly sipped his coffee and read his magazine, even while the plane bumped along, I knew all was well.
I believe that this is the reason we are allowed to glimpse the future of the world in prophecy. In the midst of seeming uncertainty and conflict, we as people of God can rest secure in the knowledge that He has it all in hand. Nothing happens that surprises God. Beyond the conflict and agony of this life, we have the hope of certain victory in Christ.
The story is already written. All is well.
The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.” Isaiah 14:24 NASB
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
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