“Surely the Lord GOD does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.”
Amos 3:7 NASB1995
God is not the God of surprises. He is the God of all comfort, and though we may often be delighted by the ways in which He lovingly plans our lives, yet He is not the God of chaos. When things around us swirl, it is good to remember that nothing takes Him by surprise, and neither should they cause us alarm (Psalm 46:1).
God’s ways may be incomprehensibly high (Isaiah 55:8-9), yet the verse above tells us something important about how He has chosen to interact with His people: He doesn't do anything without revealing His counsel to His servants, the prophets.
This is an incredible privilege.
As an example, in the book of Exodus, we see on multiple occasions that God made known His ways to Moses: long before the plagues began, the Lord warned Moses how Pharaoh’s heart would have to be hardened before he let the people go. And again, after delivering His people by plagues, He warns Moses that Pharaoh will pursue them.
The sad thing is, in both cases, despite having been warned (Exodus 3:19-20, 14:4), yet the people still panicked when things unfolded exactly as God had told them they would (Exodus 5:21, 14:10-12).
God Revealed His Secrets to Us by Christ
What bearing does that have on our lives today? We have been told in the New Testament, specifically of these people, that “These things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
1 Corinthians 10:11 NASB1995
We too have been told in advance of the things that are coming, and woe to us if we follow the same example of unbelief, and panic when what has promised surely comes to pass.
As we look ahead to 2021, it can be easy to be swept up with the chorus that the world is presently singing, “Good riddance 2020, finally, our deliverer the vaccine has come. Let life get back to normal now!” And just as we look back to 2020 knowing it would be totally disobedient and unbelieving to have been frightened by the fears that plagued the world (Luke 21:25-28), in the very same way, it would be wrong to naively look forward with the attitude that “the dark days are behind us” now that 2021 has dawned.
In His last conversation with His disciples before the cross, Jesus Himself, our Great Prophet, spoke of the last days by saying, “But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them...”
John 16:4a NASB1995
He wanted us to remember something, to not be like the Israelites who quickly forgot His warnings and couldn’t comprehend His ways. When Jesus exhorts us to remember, is He referring to a plague, like COVID? No, but rather of an hour coming when true Christ-followers will be outcasts from the religious establishment and even be killed in the name of righteousness (John 16:2).
So yes, the plagues may be behind us, to borrow a not-too-distant analogy from Exodus — and for sure, let’s thank God for His deliverance and protection. But there’s still a “Red Sea” in front of us, and there will be chariots bearing down upon us, too. The people faltered and fainted despite having been warned in advance, and ultimately perished in the wilderness because of their unbelief.
I want to begin 2021 with a sober estimate of what the Lord has revealed about what the future holds, and trust the Lord to help us trust Him completely to help us endure to the end by the power of the Holy Spirit. We need not fear, but rather, renew our hope in Jesus Christ, and reject all false hopes of temporal changes in these last days.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NASB1995
“When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
Mark 13:11-13 NASB1995