Yesterday, Tomorrow & Today
“You shall not go out with haste...for the Lord will go before you and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” - Isaiah 52:12
Of all the assignments I have to compete as pastor, coming up with a relevant and timely monthly message is the most challenging writing assignment. When sharing this fact to others, they often ask “How can it be harder than writing a weekly sermon?” The answer is more about “me” and how I work. As I sat in front of the computer trying to write this January newsletter message, I could feel something inside me telling me to let go and to trust.
We have concluded the year 2020; most have people saying “good riddance” to that year. It was a trying and difficult year with ramifications that will be felt in the years to come. While I am looking to the future with optimism, I must caution one and all that we need to anchor our hope onto something more stable, like a rock. That rock we need is Jesus Christ. But I suspect that single attribute most of us are searching for is security.
In one of the devotionals I read by Oswald Chambers, the last day of the year, December 31, addresses security in three forms: yesterday, today and tomorrow. What does that look like? What does that mean?
The security from yesterday comes from God as He is God of yesterday. With the disappointments, failures and shortcomings of the previous year, how is that a source of comfort? God turns those memories into opportunities for spiritual growth in the New Year. God continues to remind us of the past in order to protect us in the present, as well as in the future. I think most of us realized from the events of this past year that we have very limited control of own security, apart from God’s protection.
Consider the passage above from Isaiah. What does it mean to “go out with haste?” In one sense it is not referencing a hasty or sloppy effort. Clearly, this refers to the Exodus. At the Passover, the people were ready to move. God promises to lead, as he led them in the Wilderness, with purpose, order and a definite destination. Recall the theophanies of God - the Pillar of Fire at night and the Pillar of Cloud during the day to lead the people. When the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites, in the back of the column where the slowest, most vulnerable people were, God provided rescue.
What about tomorrow? We often spend a great deal of time, effort and emotion worrying about tomorrow. Jesus reminds us not to be anxious about tomorrow, but the reality is that we worry. Consider Isaiah’s promise: “The Lord is going before us.” What does that mean? It is a reminder that God always goes before us, just as in the scene from the Wilderness. God is not just protecting us from our past, referenced by the term, rear guard. God promises to go in front of us, with strength and protection while teaching us along the way.
It is said that we don’t really live for today in our thoughts, plans and hopes; we really live for tomorrow. But what about today; do we really live for today? That is where the word “haste” serves as a caution; reminding us not to forget the Lord’s faithfulness in the past and the promise of His faithfulness in the future. What happens when we forget the Lord’s faithfulness? We become hasty in our thoughts, words and deeds. That in turn corrupts our decisions. Here is the challenge. Our yesterdays are gone and our future is yet to be revealed, but in the meantime, can we live in the “now” with Christ, moment by moment?
As we look forward to the New Year, I remind you of the words of Moses to Joshua, a blessing:
“Be strong and be courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore ...to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law…”
I pray that you will draw closer to God, through Christ, this New Year. Be courageous I the Lord and trust in the God of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today.
Happy New Year in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ,