Hebrews 13:8 tells us that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’. It is not hard to recognise what God did yesterday. There is much evidence and there are many witnesses. We can point to times and places and say, ‘God was here’… he did this’. Neither is it so difficult to see what he will do in the future. At some unspecified point in the future, God will recover all losses, right all wrongs and remove all evils. But what about now?
History is littered with examples of his acts. You can’t move through the past without stepping on them. And all the hope of which the human spirit is capable, is focussed on the assurance of what he God plans for tomorrow. There will be no curse – tomorrow. There will be no disease – tomorrow. There will be no tears – tomorrow. And all of this is true. Some things have only happened in the past and will not come again. Some things must wait for the future to be unlocked by the one who holds its keys. But what about today?
The enemies of God do not fear the past; although they should. Nor does the future threaten them; though it ought to. No, what really scares the enemy, what has him waking up in a cold sweat, is the possibility that God might do something today! The world can tolerate a Christianity which has its best moments in the past. It will pay its respects to the history, the buildings, the art, the literature. It can afford to ignore a Christianity which keeps all its most powerful events for the future. But Christianity has always upset the status quo and provoked the strongest reactions when it has leaked-out into the present.
Of course it matters what God was in the past – it is our foundation. Of course it matters what God will do in the future – it is our hope. 1 John 3:3 tells us how important this hope is, because of its purifying power. But it is what God will do today which evidences what he was yesterday and prophecies what he will be tomorrow. Look at Jesus in the synagogue. When he read of what God planned to do, all listened and nodded agreement. When the scripture spoke of good news being preached and captives delivered, all endorsed the reading. When he sat down, more was expected. And that was when he spoilt it all. He said, ‘this scripture came true today’ and before the sermon was over, there was a lynching planned for the guest preacher.
You see the scripture was revered, but not recognised. It was the appointed reading for the day. It was supposed to remind you of what God planned to do sometime, somewhere. Just not there and not then. The same can happen all too easily to us. No one gets into trouble for talking about what God did for them long ago. No one comes to grief by speaking about what he will do for them in the future. But the moment someone says, “God is doing this for me, right here and now”, they are in trouble. The past can be contained and the future postponed but the present is too close for comfort.
Think about Martha in the story of Lazarus, (John 11:23-4). She fully expected that her brother would rise again on ‘the last day’. She believed in the resurrection of the future. Jesus asked, ‘do you believe the resurrection is here today?’ (John 11:26). That was different.
We should respect what God did yesterday: we should put our hope in what he will do tomorrow. But unless God also does something today, pretty soon there will be no past to respect and then where will our hope be? After all, it may be yesterday to us, but it was somebody’s today once! And it is what God does today which is the living link between past and future, yesterday and tomorrow. The past educates us to God’s true nature and the future inspires us to God’s true purposes. But unless we have something of God today, the past is a museum and the future a dream. ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever’. He stands unchanging between past and future because he is the God of the now.