From the very beginning of humanity, the end has been in sight. God’s purposes have been clear. The victory has been certain (Genesis 3:15). At times in the history of God’s people, the way has seemed veiled and mysterious, but God never has been vague about the fact that his chosen ones would be secure. Salvation would come them, and so would a Savior.
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near …” Time always has stood between God’s people and the final fulfillment. Time remains in the way today, although we don’t know how much of it. The first coming of the Messiah came as a surprise to many, and the second coming will be the same way.
But the end is certain, even if it seems distant sometimes. God will emerge victorious, and his people will be saved from every enemy, human or spiritual. Sin and death will be cast away, and the chosen nation will dwell secure in its own land – a new heaven and earth.
All of these things remain in the background of our lives. We must not forget them as we do the things we must do today. We have goals that we seek to accomplish in this life. Kids need to be raised. Projects need to be completed. Anniversaries need to be celebrated. Retirements must be enjoyed.
But we must not lose sight of the end. To keep the end in view, and the uncertain nature of “not now” and “not near,” means we might pursue the things of our lives differently. We might take more time for some things and less time for others. We might check and double-check some of our work more closely, knowing it is important in light of the end. And we might leave some tasks unfinished, knowing they will make no difference at the final appearance of the “star” and “scepter.”
What we must not do, after learning of God’s final and perfect end to this redemption project, is what Balaam and Balak did. They went away, back home to their old lives. They seemed to resist the truth that this story was a story they ought to join – that this end of things was one that ought to dictate the rhythms of their own lives.
What would it have been like if this prophet and king had come down the mountain and humbly approached the tents of Jacob, not to curse or to attack, but to join – knowing God’s end for His people even better than the people themselves?