Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.”
We are obsessed with the future. We plan for it and look toward it and try to build it. We talk about making it better. And we somehow have the impression that it will be superior to the present once it arrives.
As a much younger man, I looked forward to the future with a sense of awe. Science-fiction was the canon and sci-fi writers the prophets who promised us both wonders and terrors. Anyone who has read science-fiction knows that some writers were uncannily accurate *cough-Jules-Verne-cough* while others missed the mark completely. Some promises were fulfilled—e.g. submarines—while others languish still — Where’s my hover car, science? I have become somewhat disappointed that the science-prophets have proven an unreliable bunch. However, I’m quite content to let their promises of terrible worlds fall flat.
As a not-so-very-much younger man, I was into industrial music (still am, to an extent) and its accompanying scene. One artist in the throng is VNV Nation who wrote a song called “Tomorrow Never Comes.” While some, like my much younger self, look forward to the future with awe and trepidation, there are others who look toward the future with a sense of fatalism. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps on this petty pace from day to day and there are those in the industrial crowd who ask: “What if it doesn’t?” To be fair, these folks exist in every crowd, but they’re vocal and accepted in the goth/industrial scene.
What does that little walk down memory lane have to do with the price of tea in China? In short, it outlines the two camps regarding days to come. There are those who look forward to those days, whether in fear or in anticipation, and those who wonder if those days even exist. Jacob/Israel calls his sons to him while on his deathbed and tells them what will happen in days to come. There are teachers who have read through chapter 49 of Genesis and seen prophecies and those who want to claim it’s nothing more than a father blessing his children. Verse one agrees with the first group. Jacob agrees with the first group. Yes, he is blessing his children, but what are blessings for if not the days to come? Jacob here does what God will do all over the place in the rest of scripture: tells the future.
What will befall us in the days to come? What will befall me? Good. How can I make such a categorical assertion? God promised it. God promised that all things would work together for good to those who love Him (check) and are called according to His purpose (double check). What will befall me in days to come? Good. Will I recognize it as good? Probably not. Sometimes good comes wrapped in difficult. Becoming a good swimmer—in those bygone younger days—came wrapped in hours upon hours and exhausting practice. Becoming a good husband to my wife is an ongoing process that requires focus (something I’m not so great at maintaining over long periods) and deliberate planning (something at which I am terrible) and it is exhausting and challenging and oh-so-worth-it when it happens.
Back to the future (heh). God has laid out His plans. He isn’t keeping secrets; isn’t jealously guarding his plans. God had His people write His plans down. His people got in touch with other people and … well, let’s just say that not every interaction between God and man (or people claiming to be God’s people and people not claiming anything of the sort) has gone as well as anyone would have liked. The simple fact of the matter is that there are days to come and God has outlines His plan for those days. Where I go wrong is if I think that plan is the right motivation for people to come to salvation. God’s plan for days to come is meant, by its revelation (heh), to spur me on to Godly conduct and character. God’s demonstration of His love for mankind is what is meant to draw men to Him. Telling someone in love with this world that God’s going to waste it is not conducive to them loving said God. Telling a person that God died to redeem us and wants to save us from the coming destruction … that packs a bit more punch.
The constant in days here and days to come is God’s love for His creation.