“Thankful the Future is Veiled”

Years ago, as a boy, I remember watching a really, really dumb television show in which, through “magic,” a man came into possession of the next day’s newspaper.  He took advantage of it to go to the horse races and bet all his money on the horse named as the winner in the next day’s paper.

To his great dismay, the horse came second.  He assumed the newspaper was a fraud, and having lost his fortune, he tore up his winning ticket and threw it away — only to learn a few minutes later that there was a steward’s inquiry, the first horse had been disqualified, and the horse he had bet on had won.  Too late — he couldn’t recover his ticket, and his savings were lost, anyway.

I think the moral of the story was that you aren’t supposed to try to gain an unfair advantage on other people, which I suppose is all to the good, but I still wouldn’t recommend the television show. 🙂

How often do we wish we knew the future?  How often do we look back at decisions we’ve made and say, “If only I’d known, I could have done differently”?  There is One who does know the future, but He reveals only that which we need to know, that which is truly beneficial to us.  So often, we wish we knew more, but there is another aspect to that picture we would do well to consider.

In his history of the First World War, Winston Churchill described the work of Sir Henry Wilson as Chief of Staff in the last period of the war, when Churchill was serving as Minister of Munitions.  He gave an entertaining account of Wilson’s reports in the Cabinet Room to the War Cabinet.  But then came this sobering paragraph:

We should be thankful that the future is veiled.  I was to be present at another scene in this room.  There was no Henry Wilson.  The Prime Minister and I faced each other, and on the table between us lay the pistols which an hour before had drunk this loyal man’s blood.

In 1922, Lloyd George was still Prime Minister, and Churchill was now Minister for the Colonies.  In June of that year, Wilson was assassinated by IRA gunmen just outside his own home in London.

In so many things, we should be thankful that the future is veiled.  We live in a horribly sin-marred world.  There are so many things, so many experiences, which we can enjoy and from which we can profit, that would be tainted in our eyes if we could see the future, could see what sin (and the suffering it has brought into the world) is going to do to us or those around us.

I ran cross-country in high school, and one of my teammates died a few years later at the hands of a drunken driver.  We had many good times together, times I enjoyed, times which I still remember fondly — but would I have been able to enjoy them if I had known the future?

So many things are better precisely because we DON’T know what will happen.  I enjoy sport, but sport would bring little pleasure if there were no uncertainty, if one knew in advance exactly what was going to happen, and how.

Our God saw fit, in His love, not to tell us much of the future.  Not only would it mar our enjoyment of many of the pleasures of this life, it would lessen our trust in Him.  We would be tempted to try to control things even more than we are tempted now, to make ourselves into little gods, or at least little dictators.

As Christians, we believe the Bible, the inspired Word of God, is sufficient for our needs.  It tells us all we need to know.

II Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

If that is true, if the Scripture gives us all we need to be completely equipped / furnished for our service in this life, then we don’t need to know anything of the future except what the Scripture tells us.

We need to know that He holds us in His hand, and we will never perish, and the Scripture tells us that.  We need to know He is coming again, and that one day we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.  We need to know that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account.  We need to know that He will keep all His promises, and that our inheritance is reserved in Heaven for us.  We need to know that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

These, and some other things, the Bible tells us, and we rejoice in knowing them, in knowing that our loving God made sure His perfect love would drive away our fears, that one day it will wipe away all tears.

As for the rest?  “We should be thankful that the future is veiled.”  A desire to know more than we have been told can drift quickly into impugning the wisdom and love of our Father.  He, in His own counsels, has chosen to tell us that which we should know.  He providentially delays His revelation of that which best remains veiled.  His decisions should be good enough for us.

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
This entry was posted in Biblical Prophecy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to “Thankful the Future is Veiled”

  1. ennio palozzo says:

    Sounds fine, however neither the past nor the future (including Revelation) is clear. Has God the Father confused us? Surely not His intent, so how do we deal with the Bible? Is God the author of so much confusion? That seems to be the question. Perhaps, you could write on this as well (if you have not) in some of your essays/articles.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, Ennio. Perhaps God has told us all of the future we need to know. We’ve been told very clearly that Jesus is coming again, and that we are to live accordingly. We’ve not been told the exact time of that return, nor the precise order of all the events surrounding it, but then, we don’t need to know that, do we? There’s no confusion at all.

      • ennio palozzo says:

        on the past there is argument as to whether Jesus is human or divine, Jesus for example says: “My Father is greater than I”, He prays to the Father before a miracle, asks the Father: “if possible let this cup pass from me” etc. On the future, are we sure about a real “Armageddon”? and about His Church where are His followers to look, surely not on the successor of Peter or the institutional Church…since these hardly seem pure? Thirdly, the sacrifice of Christ…was not Jesus forgiving people prior to the sacrifice, how necessary then was the sacrifice,,,,confusion abounds here for many, I am sure. what use the is the Bible, surely not inspired?

      • Jon Gleason says:

        Hello, Ennio. There is no argument about whether Jesus is human or divine. The Scripture teaches both, clearly. Theologians have called it the “hypostatic union.” I’ve written on this to some extent. The last in the series was https://mindrenewers.com/2015/02/04/word-made-flesh-at-the-core-of-christianity/. It has links to other articles in the series, perhaps you would be interested in this one: https://mindrenewers.com/2015/01/29/word-made-flesh-fully-god-fully-man/. I won’t take any further comments on this post on that question, but if you want to discuss whether Jesus is God, or man, or both God and man, feel free to comment on one of those two posts.

        Are we sure about a real “Armageddon”? Well, I am. I realise that not all Christians have the same view on all of that. But that’s not really the point. I listed the kinds of things about which there is no doubt what the Bible is teaching. A real “Armageddon”? That’s only a vital matter for those who are alive on earth when it comes.

        About the church? How about if we look for those who truly follow His teachings? He said that His sheep would know His voice and follow Him. He also said that all would know His disciples by their love for one another. Where you find true followers who love and obey Him, and who love one another, you’ve probably found a true church.

        “Confusion abounds here for many, I am sure.” Indeed it does, but the problem is not with the Bible, but with those who do not want to honour God as God or be thankful. Romans 1:20-21 describes the problem. People are confused because their foolish hearts are darkened. It is a dangerous thing to reject the truths that Almighty God has clearly made known to us.

  2. Rod says:

    Hello Jon, Your article sort of reminded me of a light hearted news item I recently watched. The news story was about the “Back to the future 2” movie made in the 1980s which was set in 2015 and the discussion on whether that movie accurately depicted the world today we live in.

    The verdict was a resounding no, Flying skateboards, images coming to life etc, you get the idea! My point is that man cannot predict the future whether its hollywood, philosophers, Nostradamus etc, In fact, the only real thing they actually show is that man will be sinful in the future as he is in the present.

    Would it be fair to say Paul speaks to us about time in the present ?

    (Eph 5:16) Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

    (Col 4:5) Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

    Regards, Rod

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, Rod. Sorry for not responding sooner, it’s been one of those weeks. Good thoughts as always.

      Yes, Paul does tell us to have a focus on the present. As did our Lord, telling us not to take thought for the morrow. Yet, Paul also told us in Colossians 3 to set our affections on things above. So, our life in the present is to have a heavenly view, a full awareness of where we are going. Nor should we be so present-minded that we forget to be vigilant, for we have many instructions to that effect as well. When we apply the whole counsel of God, we have a solid view of our relation to time in this life, don’t we?

    • ennio palozzo says:

      Thank-you for your answer, I shall try to read your articles as soon as I can. Just wanted to agree with you on the question of “The Church”, you do seem to reflect what I think, that is, that it’s made up of people of good will, except I would extend it even to those of other faiths.

      (text removed by Jon)

      If the Bible is God’s word we should expect it to be clear, the fact that people are confused by so many concepts demonstrates the human (impefect) hand in its compilation…nothing to do with wanting to deny God, but rather wanting to know the truth, including on Armageddon which if it were to occur would make all other battles in history merely rehearsals for this one.
      thank-you for taking the trouble to listen and reply,
      regards,
      Ennio

      • Jon Gleason says:

        Hello, Ennio. I’ve removed part of your comment. If you wish to discuss the deity of Christ, please do so on one of the articles I linked above, it’s off-topic here.

        As to the church, “people of good will” of other faiths are not part of the church of Jesus Christ. He would not call them that nor would they call themselves that. He said His sheep know His voice and follow Him — those of other faiths do not know His voice and do not follow Him.

        It does no favours to anyone to label as “Christian” those who aren’t Christian and don’t want to be. It’s an example of the modern spirit of being “open-minded” and “everyone is the same,” but it is actually a nonsense. Certainly, we may have some things in common with all people, including those of other faiths, but they aren’t part of the church of Jesus Christ.

        As to people being confused by the Bible, you are being somewhat illogical here. People are confused by truth all the time. When I was young, I was confused by calculus. The problem was not with calculus, but with me. If people are confused by the Bible, that hardly proves that there is anything wrong with it or that it is not God’s Word.

        We are discussing here what theologians call the perspicuity of Scripture. I have written on that topic previously as well, in these three articles (in order):
        https://mindrenewers.com/2012/02/15/rightly-dividing-and-perspicuity-responsibility-and-possibility/
        https://mindrenewers.com/2012/02/17/rightly-dividing-and-perspicuity-plain-but-not-always-easy/
        https://mindrenewers.com/2012/02/18/rightly-dividing-and-perspicuity-love-for-dummies/

        That also is pretty much off-topic to this post. If you want to discuss the perspicuity of the Scriptures, please comment on one of those articles, and save this thread for discussions of the topic of the post. Thank you.

  3. ennio palozzo says:

    True, a Christian would have to be a follower and believer in Christ’s message/Gospel, the problem however is one that the Gospel is really not clear, for example is man saved by works or by faith in Christ’s sacrifice, and why the sacrifice anyway? (God could just have forgiven us without the sacrifice, and it must be so difficult to think a baby is born with an inherited spiritual disease!). Secondly, a seeker of truth and a person of good will is surely not going to be condemned. Goodness is one and many roads will lead to it, Christians will not be the only ones at that “Wedding feast”!
    Thank-you for the many references to your writings, I will try to check them at some stage,
    kind regards,
    Ennio.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, Ennio.

      The Gospel is so clear and simple a child can receive it.

      Man is saved by faith in Christ’s sacrifice. The sacrifice was necessary so that the salvation would be just. If God forgave without the payment for sin, it would not have been just and holy. https://mindrenewers.com/2013/01/24/justification-just-as-if-i-never-sinned/.

      You said, “A seeker of truth and a person of good will is surely not going to be condemned.” True. Sadly there is none such. Rom 3:10-12 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

      Even those who appear to be people of good will are selfish and going their own way.

      You said, “Goodness is one and many roads will lead to it, Christians will not be the only ones at that “Wedding feast”!” This is a nice idea, but where did it come from? Can you provide one shred of evidence to support it? Why would God send His Son to die if there were other ways? What a waste that would have been.

      Jesus said (John 14:6), “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” So who do we believe, Ennio, who says there are many ways, or Jesus, who said there is only one way?

      You see, you are seeking truth, but not really. You may be one of those “people of good will” but you are only seeking the truths that fit with your own preconceived notions. You’ve decided that there are many ways, that Jesus can’t be the only way, that He isn’t really God, and that the Bible isn’t inspired. As a result, you just don’t get what the Bible says. The sacrifice of Jesus makes no sense to you because you’ve got your own ideas that get in the way of understanding it. You may claim to be a seeker of truth but until you are willing to take the Bible on its own terms you aren’t going to really get it. You’ll say it can’t be inspired because it doesn’t make sense, but the problem is you aren’t willing to see the whole picture of what it teaches, so it never will make sense to you until that changes.

  4. ennio palozzo says:

    thank-you for your answer, I reply immediately…unafraid that I may contradict myself.
    It’s not true that I try to manipulate truth, I did hold on to the idea that Jesus was divine for a long time, until, it really did not seem to make sense to the intellect/senses any longer. I could say many “Christians” are subject to manipulating the truth because they wish to feel secure or to feel that they are saved and have that as a certainty. It takes more courage to be where I am, more work perhaps.
    I know that the Bible says Jesus is the only door to the FATHER (God), but that is like saying being honest or truthful. The Bible is not credible as a source of total divinity. recall Joshua 6:21, surely not God’s order to kill all in Jericho (even the children..Jesus appears to believe in the story of Noah – the children again victims.., the Bible does not seem to condemn slavery (and where is the church today on the problem of refugees?), The Bible was for a long time a book for the Jews, adultery was a woman’s problem etc etc…I guess you have chosen the religious life, and I hope what I say will not torment you, depending on your attitude towards the truth, salvation is yours also or in my view can be, but, if you think I am selfish spiritually, I think you are very much mistaken…recall that parable of the talents? profiting the most might be what you do with your mind…(we need to do our homework…that’s how I came across you, I was checking on views as to the inspiration or non inspiration of the Bible)
    bye for now!
    (Ennio)

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, Ennio. There are answers to everything you say, but the purpose of this blog is not to answer every challenge of the skeptics. You can Google “Christian apologetics” and find sites that deal with these questions.

      You have many times revealed that you do not really understand Biblical Christian doctrine, so how can you give a reasonable analysis of it? That would be like someone trying to analyse the theory of relativity when they reveal a lack of knowledge of physics. You have rejected without understanding, whether you think that is what you have done or not. You are curious and interested in other views, but that is not the same as being open-minded.

      I wish you no ill. I would be doing you a disservice if I did not say these things to you.

      • ennio palozzo says:

        it’s really too bad when you view those who question certain views like yours as closed minded, selfish, perhaps in league with the opposition and who knows what else, my views are not just mine, they are widespread and increasing. In the past reformers where opposed, and scientists persecuted…many still are. I do understand Christianity very well including its doctrines, I thought you would have been a better listener and more able to deal with some questions, slight mis-judgement on my part I guess, kind of expected though! It’s been an interesting exercise nevertheless. I too would be untrue to myself unless I expressed some of these views to you.
        ‘bye for now. (God might have more in mind- here or there!)
        Ennio

      • Jon Gleason says:

        Hello, Ennio. In one of your comments, you said that Jesus can’t be God, and cited the human limitations under which He lived while on earth. That revealed that you had no real knowledge of the doctrine of the Incarnation, for the Biblical doctrine acknowledges fully the humanity of Christ and that His exercise of His divine attributes was limited.

        This is just one example of cases where you have argued against Christian doctrine while revealing that you don’t understand it. I referred you to articles I had written on that and said I was willing to engage with you on that topic on those threads, but you’ve not done so.

        I reiterate that the purpose of this blog is not to answer every question of the sceptics. If you want to discuss something on which I’ve written, and ask me questions on what I’ve written, I am certainly willing to engage with you, within the purpose of the blog as laid out in the About page and the Comment Policy (both linked at the top of the page). But I don’t have time to answer every question you might think of asking, and I don’t want to distract from the purpose of this blog, either.

  5. ennio palozzo says:

    I understand, I shall try to read your articles when I have more time. But, I must simply respond and repeat that I do understand Christian doctrine. I am aware that the New Testament does also try to present a divine Christ, my point would be 1), This gets confused with the solely human layer/presentation and God the Father would not try to confuse us surely…and look at Christendom today!, 2). There was no necessity, Jesus was forgiving before His sacrifice,and the Father could have done also.
    About “answers”, often these are simply replies but not real answers. Sorry if you find this challenging, and I do sense that you wish to send me away, it’s not a problem with me, my house is built on rock.,
    ‘talk to you again some day, maybe!

    • Jon Gleason says:

      I am happy to discuss on-topic questions with you, but I do ask that you keep it on topic to the article at hand, especially when I refer you to another article that addresses your question.

      If you do understand Biblical doctrine, I would ask you not to ask me questions that have already been answered by basic doctrinal teaching. If you know what the Bible says in answer to your question or argument, it seems rather pointless to ask me the question again. The question of how Jesus can be God when He is also clearly man has been answered many times before, and if you know Biblical doctrine, you would know that.

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