Expectations and God's Timing


Travis M. Snow

The eschatological reading of Scripture is so important if you want to avoid discouragement in this life.

For example, let's take the famous line in Isaiah:

"No weapon formed against you will prosper...this is the heritage of the servants of the LORD." (Isa. 54:17)

This verse has become a cliche in prosperity circles, as though I'm supposed to believe that nothing bad could ever happen to me in this life, and that if it does, I can simply decree and declare an improvement in my circumstances based on God's promise here.

But what about the weapons that have been used against Christian martyrs throughout history? Have these weapons not been successful and prosperous in the hands of their enemies?

Of course they have.

But does this mean Isaiah is simply using overstatement here, or making a false promise? Absolutely not.

Isaiah's point is not that believers will be protected from every weapon or evil circumstance in this life. Instead, his point needs to be understood within the eschatological context of his entire prophetic treatise.

When read from this angle, it becomes clear that what Isaiah is really saying here is that if you trust in God and walk with Him in this life, in the end, like at the end of this age, this promise will be literally fulfilled in your life. You will be raised from the dead, all suffering will be in your rear-view mirror, and you will live in perfect peace and righteousness in God's kingdom. (Isa. 26:19; 65:17-25)

So without a doubt, it is true that ultimately, "no weapon formed against you will prosper." (Isa. 54:17) But this does not mean such a promise applies 100% to your life in this age.

We may, of course, at times see some partial deliverance and fulfillment of these promises in this life, because there is a "now-but-not-yet aspect" to God's kingdom. So I am not saying it is wrong to pray and press into the promises of God now. All I am saying is that you will be much better served if you understand the horizon of God's promises as primarily eschatological (i.e., concerned with the future and the time of the Second Coming).

Unfortunately, there has been an extremely deceptive tendency in western Christianity to shift the focus of Scripture from the eschatological to the temporal horizon, which has made a lot of prosperity teachers rich but at the same time left many of God's people confused and disillusioned over the nature of His promises.

Every beautiful promise you read in Scripture is for you, and you should absolutely trust that God will fulfill these promises in your life. But sometimes we need to change our expectations in regards to timing. This one little shift has helped me read the Bible in a much more fruitful way, especially the Prophets and the Psalms, and I hope it helps you too.