Look Forward To The Future Promise

“... the Bible points us to something beyond partial enjoyment and tentative hope. Scripture points us forward, to a day when things really will change...”    

In a previous post, I mentioned that New Year’s Day is the only holiday that gets eclipsed by its own “eve.” New Year’s Eve is where the party is; New Year’s Day is where we try to get back to normal despite a sleep deficit.

But New Year’s Day—and the way we meet the new year as Christians—can be more than a groggy attempt at the ordinary. I suggested two ways to celebrate a new year past December 31st: looking back and looking forward. The last post dealt with the first, so this one will help us with the second.

Looking Forward
It’s faded a bit at this point (we’re already two weeks in, after all), but New Year’s is a time when you think of all the possibilities there could be in another three hundred and sixty five days. Yet, if you live through enough years, you start to realize that most things don’t change all that much. If you spend enough time thinking about it, you become like Solomon in Ecclesiastes:

“All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us.” -Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

If this is as new as things get, then the best we can hope for is partial enjoyment. All our hope for the next three hundred and sixty five days, and all the days after that, will be tentative at best.

But the Bible points us to something beyond partial enjoyment and tentative hope. Scripture points us forward, to a day when things really will change:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’

And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.’ ” -Revelation 21:1-6

Jesus promises that he’s not done changing our world. One day he will come and make all things new. Why is this something we need to know? Because our enjoyment will only be full and our hope will only be confident if we look forward to the real change to come. You can only enjoy the newness of the new year—or the newness of this morning!—when you trace them forward to the newness that is to come. We celebrate the New Year by looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth.

When you look back on God’s faithfulness in the past and look forward to God’s promise in the future, you will look at this year differently. You will not be as anxious because you know God is faithful, and you know this year isn’t the end. You will not be as timid because you know God comes through on his promises, and you know that your future is secure. You will not be as frustrated, because you know God has not forgotten you in the past and he won't forget you in the future.

Most of all, when you look back on God's faithfulness and look forward to God’s future promise, you will see Jesus. He is the ultimate example of the faithfulness of God in the past, sending his son to die on a cross in your place and raising him from the dead. He is the ultimate hope for our future, because his gospel is the only way we will be allowed to enter the new heavens and the new earth. So celebrate this New Year by looking back on Jesus, looking forward to Jesus, and living for Jesus now.