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.