The Bible: The Past, The Present, and The Future (Part 2)

FOCUS: The Bible provides a fascinating look at world history based on the lives of the descendants of Adam, primarily through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God did not sugar-coat His message to mankind. Instead He recorded ‘sin in action’ and ‘the gains of good,’ showcasing the countless flaws of human nature. He challenges us to learn from the past, put what we’ve learned into practice in the present, and understand that He has a plan for the future.

FOUNDATION SCRIPTURE: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 3:8).

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version 1984, unless otherwise stated.)

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: Promises for the Present

A. When the Lord God commissioned Moses to save the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt, He spoke to him in the PRESENT TENSE …

“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses! … I AM the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’  At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

“The LORD said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’

“And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’

“Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.”‘

God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, “The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.” THIS IS MY NAME FOREVER [“Yehovah” in Hebrew], the name by which I AM TO BE REMEMBERED  from generation to generation.‘” (Exodus 3:1-17)

B. Jesus referred to Himself in PRESENT TENSE …

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me … Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me”  (John 14:6,11).

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

C. When Jesus spoke through an angel to His beloved friend John, He identified Himself in the PRESENT TENSE  

[John speaking] “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me….  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'” (Revelation 1:12-18)

“‘Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End….  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:12-16)

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

The Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel IS living and moving in our world in the PRESENT TENSE. Jesus Christ was, in a sense, His “avatar” sent into the world in human form to CONNECT with those who were created “in His image.” Before Jesus left Earth and returned to the Father, He issued a challenge and made a promise: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me…. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am…. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you…. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:1-3, 16-18).

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

It’s important for us to learn from the past and plan — as best we can — for the future. But we must LIVE IN THE PRESENT. And we can do that more effectively when we trust in the presence and guidance of the Spirit of truth … the Counselor, sent by the Father to fill the physical void that was left behind after His Son was called back to the heavenly realms.

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THINK ABOUT IT …

It’s easy to become self-centered when we live in the NOW. But that’s not what Jesus did. As circumstances were drawing Him closer and closer to His destiny — brutal humiliation and death by crucifixion — HE PRAYED: “Father, the time has come [THE PRESENT IS HERE]. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” (John 17:1)

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