The future of government must be considered from a variety of perspectives. It is not enough to consider only the civil dimensions of government. In biblical terms, Government is multifaceted and multi-jurisdictional. The future of government must be considered in all of its dimensions, beginning with the individual and including civil affairs. If individuals abdicate responsibilities in the areas of self-, family, business, and church governments we can expect an increase of power and the claim of absolute authority by civil government. Thus, the denial of multiple governments opens the door to the leveling of society by the State. There is no future under such a system, only a god-like State imposing its will on everyone.
Moreover, the Christian’s view of the future determines how he lives and works in the present. If he believes the future to be bleak, his pessimism will be reflected in a variety of ways, usually by capitulating to the endeavors of competing worldviews. The family will not be trained to consider the wider aspects of dominion as they relate to successive generations. Education will be present-oriented, with students obtaining an education merely to secure the necessary credentials for a job. While Christians might establish schooling for children in grades 1-12, very little will be done to set up colleges, universities, and graduate schools to prepare generations of Christians to influence the world for Jesus Christ (Psalm 78). One reason students find it difficult to apply themselves in school is their inability to work for a purpose, which in turn is largely due to many Christians’ neglect of their divinely ordained duty of dominion: to create a Christian civilization.
A pessimistic view of the future, with the State embracing all other governments, fosters economic theory and practice that incites a buy-now and-pay-it-later philosophy. Why worry about debt when there may not be a future, and I may not have to repay my loan? Moreover, why consider leaving an inheritance when there will be no earthly future to inherit?
For too long Christians have believed the future should be considered only in terms of heaven or the events that lead to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Concern about the time “in between” receives little consideration. Because of this false idea, many Christians abdicate their responsibilities toward economics, education, science, and civil government. This conception of the future has accelerated the debilitating doctrine that the end of all things is near, leading to further inactivity on the part of God’s people. God instructed His people to influence the world:
The apostle Paul had to rebuke some of the Thessalonians for ceasing to work simply because of the possibility that the Lord might return immediately (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). Christians since then have often been notorious for embracing escapist attitudes toward work due to their eschatologies [doctrine of the last things]. Rather than aggressively moving forward to take dominion over the earth, the Church has all too often lapsed into an irresponsible passivity, approaching her commission with the attitude: “You don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.” Jesus, however, instructed us to take the opposite approach. In the parable of the ten minas (Luke 19:11-27), the master gave each of his servants money and told them, “Do business with this until I come back.” In this story, Jesus commands us to take the offensive and “do business” until He returns.1
The biblical view of the future presents the truth that history is moving forward, and every Christian is responsible before God to show himself a good and faithful steward of his God-given gifts. God requires an accounting.
The pagan idea of time presents history as a series of never-ending cycles with little, if any, purpose. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon dreamed vividly about a future with purpose and development, not a series of never-ending cycles confining man to the impersonal forces of nature. The king understandably was confused about his dream because it did not fit the pagan cyclical view of the future. After the age of iron, the age of gold should have reappeared. At the dream’s conclusion, however, a new dimension was added to this pagan ruler’s understanding. Time is not governed by cycles, but by God. Time is linear, with a purpose. Time is governed not by forces of nature, but by the sovereign decree of God. Nebuchadnezzar tried to adapt his pagan view with the “revealed” view. He built a golden statue, seeing himself as the one who would change the pagan cyclical history and avoid the inevitable judgment through the accomplishments of his power and authority.
The kingdom of God has purpose because God directs its every movement. History is not bound by a never-ending series of cycles, with God powerless to intervene and govern. The future, as Nebuchadnezzar came to realize, is governed by God. Earthly sovereigns who fail to recognize God’s absolute sovereignty will be destroyed:
“You [Nebuchadnezzar] continued looking [at the statue] until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Dan. 2:34-35).
The pagan idea of the future is a myth. The future belongs to God’s people and Christians are not trapped in futile historical cycles.
The Christian’s view of the future determines how he lives, plans, and works in the present for the future. Even during Israel’s captivity under Babylonian rule, the nation’s darkest hour, the people were told to plan and build for the future:
“Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease… For I know the plans that I have for you, ‘declares the Lord,’ plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:5-6, 11).
God’s words seemed contrary to what people saw all around them. Destruction and captivity awaited the nation, yet God commanded them to prepare for the future. In spite of every pessimistic view, God wanted the people’s desires and hopes to be future-directed. Build for what will be. The psychological benefit of such a mindset does much to spur the church of Jesus Christ to greater kingdom activity. A preoccupation with defeat brings defeat by default. Why would anyone wish to build for the future when there is no earthly future hope? Who would invest in a losing proposition? Why should anyone work to establish a godly home, school, business, or civil government when all such institutions seem doomed despite our efforts?
Christians must become confident of their earthly future as well as their heavenly future. We must take God at His word as did Joshua and Caleb (Num. 13-14). Things looked bleak for Israel (13:32-33), but God’s promise of victory allowed Joshua and Caleb to look beyond the apparently negative circumstances. God, on numerous occasions, promised Israel they would possess the land: “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel…” (13:2). Since the majority refused to believe God, they died in the wilderness, never seeing the Promised Land. Like Joshua and Caleb, we must trust God’s sovereignty and be future-oriented:
We must become optimists concerning the victory that lies before Christ’s people, in time and on earth. We must be even more optimistic than Joshua and Caleb, for they were only asked to spy out the land of Canaan. They were called to give their report prior to Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary. Why should we be pessimistic, like that first generation of former slaves? Why should we wander in the wilderness, generation after generation? Why should we despair? Why should we adopt the mentality of slaves, or the mentality of the beleaguered garrison in the last outpost? It is Satan’s garrisons that are defending the outposts. And when Christians recognize their responsibilities for building the kingdom, master the law of God as a tool of dominion, realize a vision of freedom through self-government, and lead their fellow believers into battle in every area of life, Satan’s troops will find themselves defending their last outpost. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against God’s church.2
The hope of the future is real because the Christian knows that God governs the affairs of men and nations (Psalm 22:28; 47:8; Daniel 4:35).