Lesson 2: Biblical Questions about the Future

God promises a future in JeremiahThe goal was to find some help from Christianity in answering the question, “Is there a future in light of the present world situation?” The first thing that struck me was that the fatalism many of us fight is derived from what is happening around us. How can you be optimistic, considering what is happening?

Christian hope has an entirely different basis. It depends on faith in what is not seen. Hope is ultimately built on God’s grace, not human action.

You can see this when God’s people at every stage of biblical history ask the same question we do in similar impossible circumstances.

For instance, Genesis asks how there can be a future with the violence that has resulted from refusing to live by the laws written into creation (Eden ). It illustrates this violence with brother killing brother (Cain and Abel) and communities competing against one another (Babel).

The book considers the possibility of no future (The Flood) but sees this overcome by God’s compassion for his creation. God turns the desire to get rid of a brother (Jacob’s sons selling Joseph into slavery) into a way to save the family from itself and other forms of evil (famine).

Genesis promises we have a future because God participates in history. God can even use evil to achieve good. Another way to put this would be no matter what we do, God can create a future.

In various forms, that answer is the bottom line in just about every biblical story. God’s people asked how they could have a future when they were slaves facing genocide or when just about every one of their kings was lousy, or when powerful empires carried away their resources and children.

Prophets begin claiming there is no future because every last person refuses to live according to the laws God wrote into creation. They conclude by promising one because God’s loving kindness will provide.

The question is also raised when Jesus is opposed and executed by the religious and political authorities. How can his community have a future when its leader is killed? How can humanity have a future when it rejects God’s son? The answer again relies on God’s grace.

The power of modern technology adds a new dimension to the question. We can literally destroy all life on earth. Still, faith trusts the stories of God’s presence among us that promises a future in which peace, justice, and love will prevail.

Let’s see if looking at some of those stories helps today.

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  1. Kerry says:

    Thanks for this, Fritz. I also think it’s significant that Adam and Eve are “sent forth” from Eden instead of being “kicked out” or “banished.” That gentler description suggests to me two things: we’re sent forth to the adventure of life to discover who we are, and this sending forth, painful as it will be at times, is hopeful: since we’re sent forth instead of banished, we have the hope of return.


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