Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good ways is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls…”
The modern view we have of the future is that it is something that lays ahead of us, with the past being behind us.
We see this illustrated in phrases such as “facing the future”, “stepping into the future” or “pushing into the future”.
However the Hebrew view of the future and the past is opposite to our view today.
The Past and Future from the Hebraic Perpective
The “past” is expressed with the Hebrew word תמול (temol, Strongs #8543), which literally means “yesterday”. It is derived from the Hebrew root מל (mul, Strongs #4136), which means “in front of”.
The “future” is expressed with the Hebrew word מחר (machar, Strongs #4279), which literally means “tomorrow”. It is derived from the Hebrew root אחר (achar, Strongs #309), which literally means “to remain behind”.
So the Hebrew view is that the past is “in front of” and the future is “behind”.
The Hebrews faced the future backwards – whilst moving forwards in time their eyes were focused not on what was to be, but on what had already been.
This is completely different to how we think today. Today we focus on what is to come as opposed to what has already been.
Why is this important?
Our Modern Day Perspective
The world ahead often looks daunting and scary. When we look into the future, without referencing the past, the focus of our decisions is based on our own understanding of “good and evil”. Decisions can be said to be made from a position of “fear” – that through using our knowledge of “good and evil” decisions are made to prevent undesirable outcomes, or figuratively “death”.
Applying the Hebraic Perspective Today
However, when we adopt the Hebrew way of thinking our focus shifts from reliance on our own understanding to the faithfulness of God. Decisions are not made from a position of “fear” but one of “faith” – securing “life” rather than avoiding “death”.
When we walk into the future backwards our eyes are fixed on the faithfulness of God and His righteousness. We see the continual faithful and loving action of God on our behalf. We see that Christ has laid down His life for us, so that we can be reconciled to the Father and made His own children. We see that God’s hand has been upholding us through all our previous trials, just as He upheld the nation of Israel when he saved them out of Egypt. We see how God has always been faithful to His people.
When our vision is focused on that which has been we can step into the future in hope.
We maintain our vision on Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, and who’s love for us will not change. This gives us our hope.
Even though we may tell ourselves that we can, we can not see into the future. It lies behind us. We can see, and more importantly know, what is in our past as this lies in front of us.
The past tells us the same thing over and over. God is for us, He is not against us, and come what may absolutely nothing can seperate us from the love of Christ.
Seeing and knowing the past faithfulness of Christ we can step out confidently in faith trusting our future into His providential care.
Let this backwards view reconfigure how we look to the future.
When we come to that cross road in our lives let’s fix our eyes on the ancient path. Let’s not make our decision based on our fear of that which man can do to us, but let’s make our decision firmly based on the faithfulness of Christ, who holds the future in His hands and so find rest for our souls.