All In Good Time
Every day we see and hear examples of man’s inhumanity to man.
Every day we sigh and cry for the sorrows of the world, and pray more fervently “Thy kingdom come”.
Every day we ask “how long, O Lord, how long?”.
We desperately want to make a difference – but how, when?
The glorious future
The beautiful words of Revelation 21:1-7 set the scene for what God has in store for all mankind:
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Isaiah 35:1-10 fills the heart with longing for God’s kingdom.
1. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
But God’s kingdom is not with us yet. A lot has to happen first, and God has it completely under His loving control. God is not the author of confusion and all will be done decently and in order, in His good time (I Corinthians 14:33, 40).
Sin has always been with us. From the moment Adam and Eve rejected God and His way, Satan became the ruler of this world. His demons (princes of the power of the air, Ephesians 2:2-3, the princes behind the kings as in Daniel 10:20-21) sway and influence all men from the lowliest peasant struggling to find a crust of bread to the leaders strutting the world stage.
It is undeniable that this is Satan’s world. We know that Christ overcame him and that evil will ultimately be vanquished, something for which we are deeply thankful. But the battle is now very personal: we too, as begotten sons of God, have to overcome evil in our lives so that we may be formed into an honourable vessel for our God to use as He sees fit. (2 Timothy 2:20) One day we too may hear the words “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Then we will be ready to make a difference.
The suffering, sins, sorrows, griefs and pains of the world are all too obvious – disease, crime and violence, corporate and political corruption, environmental degradation, injustice, terrorism, wars, immorality and perversion. The list is endless. This is a Satanic world. If God was not in charge, and restraining Satan’s hand, this world would have already rushed headlong to an untimely end. But God has His plan, His time - and things will be done His way.
Satan, the god of this world, (2 Corinthians 4:4) is our adversary, a ravenous lion, seeking whom he may destroy (1 Peter 5:8). Imagine yourself facing a hungry roaring lion, eager to pounce. How much we need God’s protection, guidance, love and mercy to overcome our enemy. And we can! And we must if we really want to make a difference.
What we can’t do now
We cannot change the world, we can’t change society, we can’t change our neighbour, our child, our boss, our husband or wife, our friend, our enemy. We can only change ourselves – and we can’t do that without Christ living in us and submitting willingly and fully to His will.
Have we been lulled into thinking that we can save the world now? It is very human to want to do so, and even to think that we can make a substantial difference. How wonderful it would be to turn even one life around. But one day, not too far away God willing, we will be turning the lives of millions of people around – but when God says it is time.
We are not of this world, though we are in it (1 John 2:15-16). We must take care not to lose sight of the fact that we are awaiting a better citizenship, as Abraham said, (Hebrews 11:8-10) and become deceived into thinking that now is the time to try to bring about change. Abraham recognised that he was a sojourner and understood the long-term purpose of his life. His legacy to the future was the seed of Christ’s line and thus salvation for all. He was obedient and totally submissive to God, and led an exemplary life that still inspires us today. But he was always aware that his physical life was a temporary existence, a training ground for a far greater purpose.
Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac was built on a firm foundation of faith in God and His plan. He was willing to do what God said even though he may have wondered how God’s purpose would be served by such an action. But he trusted His Lord and was prepared to do as instructed, in the time and place God said.
Christ said that He was not of this world, though He was in it (James 4:4, John 15:19, and 17:16). His disciples thought He would help overthrow the Roman occupation and thus usher in the kingdom of which He spoke. Although He could have done so, He knew it was not yet the right time. Part of the last temptation He faced in Matthew 4:8-10 was seeing the world and all the horrors that Satan would continue to bring upon it and yet He had to resist intervening prematurely. How hard and painful that must have been for Him.
Satan’s bottom line is to destroy as many people as possible to prevent them entering that glorious kingdom. His target right now is the begotten sons of God – those who have been shown God’s truths, repented of their sins, and have been baptised thus putting to death the ‘old man’ (Ephesians 4:20-24ff). Those sons and daughters who, having received the Holy Spirit, go on to live a life of growing closer to God, submitting more and more to His will and making His ways and His thoughts their own (Isaiah 55:7-9). Those begotten children being transformed by the very Christ living in them, becoming a new man, that honourable vessel for God’s glorious purpose (2 Tim 2:20).
What we can do now
Paul says in Philippians 2:15 “That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”.
As loving Christians, we have a part to play today in evangelising where we can, in doing good as we see opportunity and so letting our light shine.
We are to love our neighbour as ourself – in other words, treat others as we would wish to be treated. Giving a kind word, a pleasant smile, a helping hand, serving our community where possible, praying for and forgiving our enemies, helping the widow and the orphan (James 1:27) – the basic works of a converted and faithful Christian.
However, these things have to be done from the depths of a sincere and loving heart, not something we have learned to do so as to look good to others. This sort of approach does not come easily. It is from Christ living us, as we do what He did, and with His attitude. We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) as He is lives in us and we respond to His promptings through His Holy Spirit.
Like Christ before us, however, we must resist the temptation to support, or even participate in, this world’s systems and governments at the expense of losing sight of the precious future we have been called to be involved in at this stage of God’s overall plan. How easy it can be to allow ‘good works’ to distract us from doing the real work of God – examining oneself humbly through prayer, study and fasting and learning to submit more fully to God and being made ready for the opportunity of bringing about real change.
We are to be growing in grace and knowledge, (2 Peter 3:18) submitting to our Heavenly Father, and being made ready to bring the whole of His creation to salvation.
It’s rather like the safety instructions on an aeroplane: first, fit the oxygen mask to your own face and then help others. That seems selfish perhaps, but it is the only way to be of real use. We are to be prepared now so that we can truly help later. And we must leave it in God’s hands, to His perfect timing.
The time to make a difference
Judgement is now on the house of the Lord (1 Peter 4:17). It is our time now to qualify for eternal life because we have been given the calling to be part of the first fruits. This is an unbelievable privilege.
In their order and in God’s good time, all will have the opportunity to see the world for what it is and turn from it. We can be there to lead them to repentance and forgiveness and ultimately eternal life.
Let God do it His way and in His time. He has started a good work in us that He will finish (Philippians 1:6) – but He can only do so if we let Him.
We are engaged in a battle for the greatest prize of all – eternal life. We are to dwell with fullness of joy in God’s presence, who has pleasures at His right hand for evermore (Psalm 16:11).