Let me begin by making one thing perfectly clear, I have no idea how the future of the world is going to unfold. I don’t know which countries are going to align to form treaties and alliances. I don’t know how the global economy will impact underdeveloped countries. I don’t know if there will be wars, or famine, or disease. Future events, are in so many ways, unpredictable and indescribable.
After starting with such a bold, if not predictable, statement, let me make one more thing perfectly clear: I know how the future of the world is going to unfold.
As I’ve already stated, I don’t know exactly how that’s going to happen. I imagine there will be wars, and rumors of wars. There will be famine, destruction, and plague. Typical end of world prophecies will take place. Mixed in will be moments of joy and triumph. Good, will at times, conquer over evil. Individuals will share possessions with the poor. Hungry people will find food. Families will smile together. These good things may not happen on a large scale, but they will happen in various cities and towns as signs, or witnesses of the New Creation. I know these events will all take place because I believe in the story of scripture, which is also the true story of the world. God created the world to be in relationship with and share love with the creation. Even though sin disrupted the creation, God has been about, and will accomplish the restoration of all things in the New Creation. God’s purpose for the creation will be accomplished. Thus, I know how the future of the world will unfold. It will unfold toward God’s ultimate Telos.
I know this future, because it’s presented in scripture. The book of Revelation portrays the future of the world. In three successive visions, John is shown what will happen in the progression of the world. These visions do not correlate to specific events in history but instead share an overall picture of what will happen as time progresses toward the end of the world. The heart of these visions can be summed up in ten words: there are two sides, God’s side wins, so choose wisely. John’s vision of the future is a reminder that God will lead history toward God’s intended telos. Even when it may appear that evil is conquering, that history is moving in the wrong direction, or that the ways of God could never accomplish any good in this world, God will ultimately win. God will be victorious. The four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and ultimately the entire creation will come and worship the one who sits on the throne and the Lamb. All will proclaim holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. This ending cannot be stopped, it is guaranteed to take place.
While I don’t know exactly how the future of the world is going to unfold, I know how the future of the world is going to unfold. I don’t know how specific events will unfold (for instance, which specific sickness and tragedies my family will ultimately struggle with), but I know that no matter what happens, God is moving the history of the world toward the new creation, and the renewal of all things. I know that God is in control. Not that God causes everything. I don’t believe God causes war, sickness, or pain. Still, no matter what transpires in the world, no matter what evil may attack, God is still in charge. That truth, gives me hope.
It gives me hope that the apparent randomness of life is not so random. While it appears that life just flows along without meaning and purpose, there is a great purpose in the world: to fully embody the role of the image bearer of God, and to give glory to God in all things.
It gives me hope because pain and tragedy are not the end. Suffering, sickness, and death seem so final. They are reasons to give up; to embrace the philosophy of eat, drink, and be merry. Yet God’s good future means that even in the midst of tragedy there is reason for joy. Not that we will always be happy, but that life can still flourish even in the midst of pain.
It gives me hope because world leaders are not ultimately in control. President Trump is not in control. Putin, Kim, or Johnson are not in control. No world governing body, corporation, or army is in control. God is in control. No matter the evil brought about by the governments of the world, they do not control the future. I can rest secure at night because God will bring the full creation to God’s intended goal.
Knowing how the future unfolds gives hope in the moment. Not that life will always be happy, but that joy can be achieved because our hope is in God.