Knowing the future
Jeremiah 25: Once the seventy years is up, I’ll punish the king of Babylon.
It’s pretty clear to me that the prophets like Jeremiah are mostly involved in proclaiming God’s message to their contemporaries. However, once in a while they do what we often associate with the ministry of the prophets: telling the future. This prophecy doesn’t contain hidden terms and double meanings. Instead, it’s a clear statement about the future. God is angry, Jeremiah says, and the new king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, is going to be used to bring judgment on the people of Israel. That judgment will last for seventy years. After that Babylon itself will be judged. In this message Jeremiah’s naming names and setting dates. Some people say this is an example of God seeing the future, but I think it’s better understood as God telling what he’s going to do in the future. After all, if the Almighty says he’s going to do something I can take it to the bank. I think there’s much about the future that hasn’t been foretold because God hasn’t set a specific agenda for it. Mainly, he wants me to trust him and believe that no matter what happens he’ll see me through. I also think that the big themes are already decided; some very specifically and some in more general terms. For instance I believe that Jesus is coming back, the dead will be raised, Judgment day is sure, and everyone will spend forever somewhere as a result of that Judgment. I don’t need to sweat the details any more than Jeremiah has to detail every single event leading up to the judgment of Babylon, over seventy years in the future. He’s given an outline of the future and that’s what he tells. I also have an outline of the future, though it’s not as specific as was Jeremiah’s. My responsibility is to prepare for that future, and to live through the unknown details of every day with an eye toward the known “big day.”
Take Away: We don’t know all the details of the future but we do know about the big stuff – and it’s the big stuff that we’d better get ready for.
Knowing the future