Thursday, July 21, 2016

The phrase in question: The Future is not Promised

I haven't written a blog post in a while, but last night as I lay in bed I got to thinking of two possible posts.

So the first is this one. And again it's about watching our words.

Bible-believing Christians are told that "Life and Death are in the power of the tongue." They understand that words have power to harm emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc. And yet, so often we use certain phrases that just should not be used. I think I wrote a post once about a neighbor who kept using the phrase "My poor son! If it wasn't for bad luck, he'd have no luck at all!" Certainly not a thing to go declaring about one's son.

Watch your word phrase: THE FUTURE IS NOT PROMISED.

Why is it said: It's used by some --mostly Black-- folks to show their gratefulness for still being alive, and it is used when someone unexpectedly dies. It becomes a habit. My mother used to say something similar: "I should make my will, God suffereth not." It was a habit with her but it is totally unbiblical. The Bible says God does suffer.

The (seeming) wisdom of the phrase:
When this phrase is spoken, it makes us aware of the work we still have to accomplish, the fleeting lives of ourselves and of those we love, of the sudden turns life might take...including sudden death. It brings God into the conversation by implying that He has plans for us that we know nothing about.

What the Bible actually says:
1) Don't say "I will go to such a town and make such and such money because we don't know what a day will bring forth."
2) Death and Life are in the power of the tongue
3) Wage war by the promises you received
4) He who hears my commandments will live by them
5) A Man may plan but God's plan succeeds.
6) God tells His prophets what He plans.
7) You will hear a voice which tells you walk in this way.
8) You shall be safe from sudden fear.
9) God's sheep hear His voice.
10) God guides us through dreams
11)  Psalm 91

What is the problem with this verse?
The problem is the word "promised" and the way the phrase definitely states what is or is not promised. You know my dislike of generalities. Generalities create laws. They create expectations, and non-expectations. Of course I know a few folks might say "You're making an awfully big stink about a phrase which even you admit is meant to be respectful; what's the big deal?" Well, that's the danger of certain phrases. Either we believe all our Bible or we don't. Either it's a manual for life or we can pick and choose what to believe.

My biggest complaint about this verse is that it makes God appear sneaky under the guise of saying he is mysterious. And it blames Him for deaths which He might not have ordained. Yes, there is such a thing as someone dying when God doesn't will for that person to die.

We must watch our words or we will curse our lives. Rachel cursed her life and Jacob cursed it as well when he cursed the one who stole Laban's gods. Elisha destroyed his own life when he spared the life of a king God had wanted to kill. Ananias and Saphira destroyed their lives by lying to the Holy Spirit and the church.

God has said that His sheep hear His voice. Is it possible that God warns us everyday about what we should do? Is it possible that God told people what not to eat, where not to go, which friends not to hang out with, what train not to take?

"So why are you bringing a charge against him?
Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?
For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it.
He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they lie in their beds.
He whispers in their ears
and terrifies them with warnings.
He makes them turn from doing wrong;
he keeps them from pride.
He protects them from the grave,
from crossing over the river of death." Job 33:13-18

I will focus only on God's promises, though. In the Bible, St Paul wrote this:

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord's battles. 1 Timothy 1:18

This is an important verse. It means there are certain promises God has made for us personally -- through dreams, the prophets in our church or in visions-- and generally through the Bible. These prophecies are promises. But they are conditional on us fighting for them. If God tells Joseph that his brothers, father, and mother will bow down before him...doesn't that give hope to Joseph that he will rise up out of the well, out of slavery, and out of the prison?

In the book of Acts, we are told that Moses supposed his people understood that he was their savior. Apparently Moses knew some prophecy about his life. Nevertheless, Moses left and lived I the wilderness and only returned when God called Him from the fire.

The place to where the Israelites were sent was called The Promised Land.
The Promised Land is conquered because we believe God promised it to us.
Even if Pharoah wants to keep our goods, our children, our possessions, our spouses, we must say what Moses said: "We will leave this slavery with everything that is ours."

This is the reason why we pray "Thy Will Be Done!" The will of God is not easily done. The devil comes against God's people because of the Word, because of the promises and prophecies of God. The promises must be fought for.

We may not all be promised a long life. God told Samuel that the descendants of Eli would all live short lives. Jeremiah was a descendant of Eli, some scholars have said. So even Jeremiah was fated for a short life.

The Bible doesn't say we are all fated to have 80 years. It was an observation: Most people live to seventy, and if we make it to eighty, we have sorrow and pain. So we can't use that psalm to say that we are promised a long life. But age is just a number. The young and the old can die. And some of the greatest deeds in the Bible were done by people who were very aged. (Caleb, etc.)

The important thing to do is to live as the Bible commands us to live, to hear God's voice, to listen to the guidance in our dreams, and to watch our tongues that we don't curse our lives.

So should we say this phrase?  No, I think not.


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