After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’” (Acts 15:13–18)
The problem of living in the great succession of time - minute passing on into minute, hour to hour - is that the future can take you by surprise. The past can give you clues as to what might happen in the time to come, but even then things unforeseen take place. It often seems that experts simply make mistakes with greater confidence, and who would dare say what the weather will be like in a month’s time. Or next week?
One of the extraordinary aspects of the Bible is the great arc of prophecies which find their fulfilment in Christ, events which relied on the actions of so many others. There in the Old Testament are prophecies that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and would be able to trace his lineage back to King David. All this relies on the actions of others well in advance of Jesus’s birth, and yet things were so ordered.
Isaiah speaks of the Messiah being whipped (Isaiah 50) and being killed between thieves (Isaiah 53:12). The same prophet also speaks of the Messiah being buried in the grave of a rich man. All these prophecies rely on the actions of others: they could not be manufactured by a man pretending to be some Messiah. Or a man with a Messiah complex.
From his vantage point in eternity God knows all things, and is not trapped as we are in the narrow tunnel of time. To trust in God is not to place your hopes in one who will be surprised by a turn of events. It is to trust in one who already knows. It is to trust in one who writes his great plan of redemption on the fabric of time, and who brings to fruition plans laid centuries before.