But when He, the Spirit of truth, has come … He will show you things to come. — John 16:13
Since the beginning of time, mankind has longed to know the future. I believe that this desire was implanted within us when God first made man in His own image. Because of the entrance of sin, many throughout history have sought to quench this God-given thirst wrongly, by tapping into occult spirituality. However, man’s wrong usage does not detract from the Lord’s nature as a foretelling God. He still invites His people to seek Him in this area today.
In the Bible, the Lord spoke to both Israel and the Church of their past, their present, and their future. He also speaks to us about our personal lives in all three of these time zones as we commune with Him in prayer. Christians usually do all right with Him speaking about the past and the present. But, because miracles and present-day spiritual gifts were discouraged by many churches for a long time, some people still get nervous with the idea of the Lord speaking about our future, other than what is specifically recorded in Scripture.
We don’t need to be afraid of seeking God for information about our future. Jesus already told us that part of the Holy Spirit’s purpose for being shed abroad in our hearts is, “He will show you things to come.”
Now, we do need to be careful not to get out of balance with this. God set a precedent of telling us about the future in the Bible. He delights to speak of what is to come. But He also withholds information. Having a constant need to know is unhealthy, so we shouldn’t overdo it. There is a time to know, and a time to walk by faith, not knowing. God uses both to help us grow in relationship with Him.
Sometimes the thirst people have for future revelation leads to being indiscriminate about where they are receiving information from, even listening to evil spirits, thinking it must be God. It has also led to inordinately exalting those who happen to get some predictions right. We have put our prophets in a very unsafe position of feeling pressured to perform, always having to speak about what lies ahead. As a result, unreliable, immature, and wounded prophets have sometimes gained large followings of people who hang on their every word.
Why does God tell us things about the future?
- He likes to share His secrets with His trustworthy friends. Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Because New Testament believers now have the Holy Spirit dwelling within, we can all, in a measure, partake of this promise.)
- He wants us to begin taking preparatory steps to come into His plans for us.
- He is giving us vision toward which we can stretch our faith — because God’s plans are too big for us to accomplish in our own strength.
- He uses revelation of the future to build hope and a sense of purpose in us.
- He wants us to pray into what is yet ahead. As we bathe the future in intercession, we partner with Him for it to become reality in our natural world.
- He sometimes forewarns us of trouble ahead, but with that will also give His assurance that He will be with us in it and that He will take care of us.
Why does God withhold knowing the future from us?
- He has our good at heart at all times.
- Knowing ahead of time about deep struggles and sadness which will befall us would cause us to be fearful and despairing. Knowing these things before their time would steal our joy in the present. God gives supernatural grace in the moment for difficulties we must go through.
- Our immaturity — if we knew many of the wonderful plans He has for us, we might try to rush into them in our own strength instead of waiting for Him to put them together. He knows what we are mature enough to handle at any given point in time, and in His wisdom conceals from us whatever would be too much for our egos to handle.
- He wants us to seek Him more than we seek revelation.
- He wants us to inquire of Him for guidance, which He then doles out as it is needed. Our faith is built as we take one step at a time, holding His hand in trust, letting Him lead us.
- He likes to surprise us with good gifts. He is the God of suddenlies.
As you ask the Lord to show you things to come, keep in mind what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see dimly through a glass, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as I am also known.”
In addition, remember that the Body of Christ sees and knows together. Anytime you hear of a prophet who knows it all, beware. God gives pieces of the puzzle to several, so that together we obtain one big picture. He wants us to depend upon Him and each other.
Next time, we’ll talk about how intercessors can handle wisely what we hear about the future.
Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God, by Lee Ann Rubsam
The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy, by Lee Ann Rubsam