January 2022

 

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

by Tom McLemore

 

        As we begin the new year, we would do well to consider three important and significant days: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  The Bible has much to say about these days that should be of great interest and concern to us as human beings and as Christians.


 

YESTERDAY

 

        Yesterday speaks to the recentness of our arrival and its implications.  In Job 8:8, 9, it is written, “for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing, for our days on earth are but a shadow.”  Still, it will be said by some, “I was not born yesterday!”  Yesterday also describes the immenseness of God’s existence.  We may proclaim to God what the psalmist declared in Psalm 90:4:   “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.” 

        There are indeed YESTERDAYS which were once TODAYS, but they also have meaning for the TODAY that is now and for all TOMORROWS.  This would include the day of Christ’s manifestation as the fulfilment of prophecy. In Luke 4:21, we are told, “Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”

        Also in this category is the day of Christ’s resurrection and vindication.  Paul announced it in Acts 13:33 (Psalm 2:7). “...[H]e has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’” See also Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5.

        There is also the day of our Lord’s triumph.  In Luke 23:43, when the penitent thief asked Jesus to be remember him when he came into his kingdom.  Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Cf. 1 Peter 3:18ff. which speaks of Jesus’ announcement of his triumph to the spirits in prison).

 

TODAY

 

        TODAY is the only day of opportunity.  Yesterday is past; tomorrow is uncertain.  Today is the day of salvation.  It is the day of salvation for Zacchaeus.  According to Luke 19:5, 9, “When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today... Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.”  Today is the day of salvation for all (2 Corinthians 6:2).

        TODAY is the day of supplication and exhortation.  “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice...As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion...again he sets a certain day—“today”—saying through David much later, in the words already quoted, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’” (Hebrews 3:7, 15; 4:7; Psalm 95:7).  “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).

 

TODAY and TOMORROW

 

        In some respects, while we are in today, we may anticipate what will happen tomorrow, if tomorrow comes.  Jesus said, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30 || Luke 12:28).    He also urged, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34). 

        When Jesus was warned by the Pharisees that Herod was intent on killing him, “He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.”’ Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:32, 33).

        When I was younger, I recall hearing a popular song, the refrain of which said, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here.  It’ll be better than before.  Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.”

        However, we may not know with certainty that tomorrow will come, either for us, or at all.  In fact, it is possible that we will not complete today.   “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’ Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13, 14).

        Nevertheless, the Christian knows who holds tomorrow.  A Christian may sing, “I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day....For I know what Jesus said, and today I’ll walk beside him, for he knows what is ahead...Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand; but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand” (Ira Stampill).

 

TOMORROW

 

        There is indeed a wrong approach to tomorrow.  In Gone with the Wind, Scarlet O’Hara said,  I’ll think about that tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day.”  There is an old adage that has much value:  “Do not put off until tomorrow what can be done today.” The sage of old concurred: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1).      Tomorrow may be transformed by the gospel.  Paul wrote, “If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Corinthians 15:32).  Christ is raised, and if those who obey him die tomorrow, they shall have served him yesterday and today joyfully in hope.

        Someone wrote, “Tomorrow cannot be found on God’s calendar.  Tomorrow sounds so innocent, but it is life’s most dangerous word.  Tomorrow is the road that leads to the town called NEVER.  Tomorrow is the barred and bolted door that shuts people out of heaven. Tomorrow is Satan’s word.  Those who expect to repent tomorrow usually die today.  Don’t count on tomorrow.  God has promised forgiveness to your repentance today, but not tomorrow!”

        We conclude our consideration of these three days with a reminder of the continuity of Jesus through all the days.  We should have the proper awareness of, and attitude toward, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  But we should never lose sight of the fact that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

 

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