Now and Not Yet
I enjoy summer holidays and travels... The excitement of planning a trip to visit family or friends, jumping into the car or flying off to some exotic destination. So much fun. As kids we inevitably asked Dad and Mom the question, “are we there yet?” I used to take our youth group on trips when pastoring in Williams Lake. They too would ask the same question and I would always reply “10 more minutes.” Life can be like that at times. We know that we have begun a journey but we have not yet reached our final destination. Here are a few examples of being in the “now but not yet”; schooling… dating… employment… to name a few. The same is true of our spiritual journey in life. We are living “in between” the times. We are aware of our Christian faith as we walk through life and yet heaven seems so far away.
Here are a few of Scriptural examples of living “in between”:
- The most obvious example is that of two gardens, the Garden of Eden (Gen 1-3) and the Garden in Rev 22:1-2. Mankind now lives in-between paradise lost and paradise restored.
- Nehemiah had a “not and not yet” experience. He had a vision to rebuild the city of Jerusalem but he had to work and wait for the restoration.
- Old Testament followed by 400 years of silence, then the New Testament. The Jewish people were waiting… Luke 2:25-32. Simeon was waiting, devout and righteous.
- Peter lived in this kind of limbo because of what had happened at the time of Jesus’ death and Peter’s denial of Jesus. Peter was heart broken. And yet he experiences Jesus’ resurrection and sees hope restored, but he was still in-between and not knowing what to do, so he goes back to fishing…
The Kingdom of God
Continuing with the “not and not yet” thought, we must ask ourselves this question, “Is the kingdom of God present and experiential today or it is a future reality to be hoped for? The quick and easy answer is yes, both aspects of the question are true. Some “kingdom encounters” are experienced today while we still live under the curse of sin and death. However we know that Jesus is our Soon Coming King who will fully restore the Kingdom to his Father.
All we have to do is to look at the ministry of Jesus to come to a fuller understanding.
- Jesus came preaching - “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt 4:17).
- Jesus tells the Pharisees - “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20–21). In other words, Jesus the King, brings the kingdom.
- There are also passages that make it very clear that the kingdom is not yet present. For example, in Luke 19:11-12, Jesus tells a parable to make the point that the kingdom is not yet here. The people thought he was about to make his move and set up his kingdom in Jerusalem. “While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return” (Luke 19:11–12). The message of this parable is simple, the kingdom is not coming that way now—it would be a long time in the future.
A word picture of being in the “now and not yet…”
I believe there is a contemporary example of this in-between reality right here in Saskatoon. I do not have the full understanding prophetically of the picture of the the Victoria Street Bridge. But I do have some thoughts that I want to share in light of this picture with us to.
- The bridge had served its purpose but is now being rebuilt due to being old and rusty.
- Some of the bridges foundation is being used for the future bridge.
- At the moment it is not a bridge, some day it will be a bridge.
When we apply this word picture to the church I find myself getting excited for the future. The church is the church and has a purpose but there are times that things need to be rebuilt. I see the Courts of Praise being in-between what God intends us to be. We are like the bridge without any ends. We are waiting for Jesus to add to the bridge so that we can fulfill all that God has purposed. We are safe on the bridge as long as we don’t try to move to far one way or the other. We don’t throw out the bridge or the church, but prayerfully and patiently trust God to empower his church once again. Being under construction is a good thing.
What do the missing ends represent? I have prayed about this and several thoughts come to mind. I was talking to a friend this past week about the spiritual meaning behind the Victoria Street Bridge and its construction. He stated quickly the missing ends are the “apostolic and prophetic” ministries. We also talked about the missing ends being leadership being restored and finances being released. Practically, a bridge with no ends is not a bridge at all; with the ends missing some people can become content or safe in their little bubble; this is not good. Once missing platforms are rebuilt the true fulfillment of the bridge is realized.
We live in a day where the kingdom of God has come in part, it is here now. The Scripture tells us “having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:13-14). We are told to pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” I believe it is God’s desire to release his kingdom on earth now but in part or in a measure of his glory. However, one day when Jesus returns the fulness of his KINGDOM will be finalized. The Second Coming will mark a new era of wonders and awes, new heavens and a new earth.
Let’s be reminded that in the last days - the in-between times - scoffers will come (2 Pet 3:3).
Let’s be reminded one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years like a day (2 Pet 3:8). We must carry God's perspective...
Let’s be reminded that the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise but patient. The heart of God does not desire any to perish but for everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9).
Let’s understand that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (2 Pet 3:10).
So then, in the in-between times, what kind of people should we be? Followers of Jesus are called to live holy and godly lives (2 Pet 3:11).