Prospect and Retrospect

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
How different oftentimes is the anticipation from the result! Conjuring up bright visions of the future, man looks forward with eagerness to what fades away as he approaches it, like the mirage of the desert; or, if the event expected really happens, the reality falls far short of the conception. The happiness anticipated either eludes the grasp, or comes alloyed with some bitterness, the fruit of man's sin. Eve desired the fruit of the tree to make her wise. She got it, and discovered her nakedness. Gehazi carried home the garments and talents, and found himself and his house burdened with the leprosy of Naaman forever. Judas received his price, but found life insupportable. God gave Israel "their request; but sent leanness into their soul" (Psalm 106:1515And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. (Psalm 106:15)). Yet we are to live in anticipation of the future. There is more to be enjoyed than we have yet entered into. We are saved in hope (Rom. 8:2424For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (Romans 8:24)). The Lord would have His sorrowing disciples embrace the hope of His return to sustain them during His absence. And this, the expectancy of a future of blessing, has characterized God's people in all ages. Man's visions of the future are often visionary indeed. What God has promised will surely come to pass. For though "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1 Cor. 2:99But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)), He has revealed them by His Spirit.
There is a future then before His saints; they have a prospect, not a mere creature of the imagination, a phantom conjured up by the brain, but a solid substantial reality. Who can express what the joy of it will be? But the hope is none the less sure for that. So with the remnant of Israel in the latter day, but with this difference: their blessings are on earth, so can be described in words. Ours are in heaven, so what language can express them? We may enter into their joy at going up to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, chanting His praises in Zion, without fear of man. But who can yet enter into the joy of being in the Father's house? Separated by God's Spirit acting on their hearts from the apostasy around them, the remnant are taught by the same Spirit what to desire; and, their expectation being according to God, they pour out their hearts in full confidence to Him about it. This is what we have in Psalm 65. Psalm 66 is the telling out to the earth and all that fear God how fully He has responded to their desires. From the one we learn their prospect; in the other we have a retrospect.
As the righteous in Israel, their first thoughts are for God and His house. "Praise waiteth for Thee in silence, 0 God, in Zion." (J.N.D. Trans.) Such is the condition of matters in the city of the great King. A change will, however, come. "Unto Thee shall the vow be performed." We learn in Psalm 63 how the soul can be filled with marrow and fatness, even in the wilderness. But present personal enjoyment of God is not all that the godly soul desires. Has not God confided to such a one His counsels? Shall the soul, made the depositary of such knowledge, be "..z. content till all is accomplished? In the wilderness it may find refreshment as it remembers Him; but what of His honor, His glory, and the place associated with the display of His power? Till all that God has spoken of in connection with His manifestation as King over the earth is fulfilled, the godly soul cannot rest satisfied. The altar profaned, the house desolate, the worship of God stopped, are no light matters, even though he may realize the presence of the Lord where -4 he is. Is there not something here for believers of the present day? Is my soul's salvation the ultimate end to be desired? Am I then to be satisfied, or am I also to wait God's time, but wait, expecting till the Lord takes His place on His own throne? In a word, am I to be content with knowing I am delivered from wrath, or am I to look forward desiring the advent of His kingdom, that He should have His place, His inheritance?