“When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way, they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.” (Luke 9:52-56)
Jesus is heading to the cross while James and John think its time for judgment. Having met Moses and Elijah, I imagine the sons of Thunder are not in the mercy mode (i.e. the Good Samaritan) but hoping to channel Elijah’s use of firepower on the prophets of Ahab. God’s future Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:8; 8:57-58) isn’t on the apostle’s spiritual calendar. Jesus’ rebuke reminds us of the deadly sin of presumption. Knowing God’s plan isn’t about yesterday or even yester-minute. The will of God is right now.
Knowing God’s plan isn’t easy (even if you are standing right next to the King). Don’t you wish there was a how-to guide to the will of God? Of the 23,000 verses of the Bible, only a few mention the will of God. On the one hand, Psalm 115:3 writes, “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” but Psalm 16:11 also states, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Hope in God isn’t a series of charts detailing mankind’s future. Jesus predicted, “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” In the verse immediately before, Jesus warns of the horrors of eternal punishment (cf. Luke 13:29). The only last day Christians should worry about is our own last day. “Today is always the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Psalm 87 offers a high-level perspective of the three major prophetic themes of Scripture.
- The ‘eternal city’ theme: (Is. 2:2–4; 26:1–4; 54–55; 60; Heb. 12:22–24). Man’s first attempt to organize the world without reference to God resulted in a city (Gn. 11:1–9) and the Bible pictures the consummation of the recreative work of God as his coming world-city (Rev. 21:1–2, 15–27).
- The ‘new birth’ theme. When Nehemiah wished to populate his new Zion, its would-be citizens had to prove that they had a birthright to live there (Ne. 7:4ff., 64; cf. Ezr. 2:59, 62). This corresponds to the ‘new birth’ (Jn. 1:12–13; 3:3–8).
- The ‘book’ (of life) theme: (Ex. 32:32; Ps. 56:8; 69:28; Ezk. 13:9; Dan. 12:1; Lk. 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 3:5). Isaiah 4:3 is important as linking the ‘book’ theme to Zion. (Motyer, J. A. (1994). The Psalms. New Bible commentary )
What is God’s prophetic plan for me?
He wants me to have a future in the eternal city. When I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, God opens up my heart and mind and He connects His mysterious prophetic calendar with my life. When I am born again, I have the necessary birthright to live in His city. God’s goal for me is to stay the course, finish the race and find my name in His book of life always recalling what Jesus said to the apostles, “rejoice that your name is written in the book of life.”
God wants His life to be so obvious in our lives that “ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of our garment and say, “Let’s go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” Zech 8:20-23