When God Says “Until” (Part 1)

Last Saturday (February 25) I had the privilege of speaking at the Women’s Prayer Breakfast at our church. Well, speaking and eating, if you must know. My topic? I passed along some encouraging insights that I had learned in the course of a word study. In fact, I think I’ve found the single most encouraging word in the Bible! So naturally, I want to share it with you here.

What’s the word? I’m glad you asked me that. In my opinion, the single most encouraging word in the Bible is


Of course, that one word alone would have made for a really, really short and not-very-useful talk. So now I’ll tell you what I find so encouraging about it…

The word “until” means “up to the time of” and it implies three things:
1. The outcome is sure.
2. BUT the outcome is not immediate; we must wait.
3. The situation we wait for will replace the situation that exists now.

PART 1: A Done Deal

When you say “until,” the first thing you imply is that the outcome is sure. Consider these statements:

I worked on my blog until 4:00.
He lived on campus until he graduated.

Because these are in the past tense, the “until” shows an outcome that is already accomplished; a “done deal.”

But we often use “until” in statements about the future:

I’ll stay home and read until the repairman comes.
I’m going to keep trying out until I make the basketball team.

Here, the outcome is what we expect to happen or what we intend to do, but we can’t really be sure of it. Some emergency could interrupt my reading; the repairman might never arrive; I’m a lousy basketball player. I could try out for 50 years and never make a team. Any team.

But God isn’t like me, and I’m not talking about basketball skills. When God says “until,” the outcome is based on his faithfulness, his omniscience and his sovereign will. Whether he is speaking about a past or future event, the outcome is a done deal.

For instance, one night he spoke to the runaway patriarch Jacob (Abraham’s grandson) in a dream: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (See Genesis 28:15) God told him this in the place named Bethel, where Jacob’s descendants, the nation of Israel, did indeed settle. God never left Jacob / Israel the whole time; he had kept his word.

A sample of other things that God says “until…” about:

Justice. There is much unfairness and cruelty in the world, and God will ultimately judge it all and set it right. (See 1 Corinthians 4:5)

Christ’s return. The apostle Paul encourages his student Timothy to “keep the commandment . . . until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time . . .” (1 Timothy 6:13-15)

We can’t see the future, but God can. He already sees these outcomes as clearly as if they had already happened. Many of the events he promised have already taken place. And the ones that haven’t? Based on God’s past record, I can reach only one conclusion: they will.

Coming up next, PART 2: Not Immediate, But Inevitable

Thanks to the women at the Prayer Breakfast who listened so graciously in spite of my obvious inexperience as a speaker. And welcome to Rachel Anne and the Company Girls! I hope this series will encourage all of you.
Also, I am linking up with Jen at Soli Deo Gloria. Join us?

Thanks for reading,

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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7 Responses to When God Says “Until” (Part 1)

  1. Janet Macy says:

    I love word studies and I loved this one.

    I would never have thought to do a study on the word until. Thanks so much. How comforting


  2. Gusti says:

    you left us on suspense…for the second part :))))

    I like the insight on the
    outcome is sure.
    is not immediate;
    replace the situation that exists now.

    thanks Jan


  3. Pingback: When God Says “Until” (Part 2) | Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story

  4. Janet says:

    Thank you for the insight! I’ll be watching for that word and the promises that go with it. Happy coffee day!


  5. Diane says:

    It’s the “non-immediate” nature of God’s ways that are often so frustrating to me. I have every confidence He will do what He has promised…I just want it in my time. Deep breath, and a reminder that He exists outside of time, and His timing in our lives is perfect.


  6. Carey says:

    This is really neat. “Until.” One word that means so much if you just stop and look at it. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to part II!


  7. joyceandnorm says:

    Wow, I’ve never thought about this before. I wish I was at that prayer breakfast. I’m sure there was lots of insightful discussion too. I’ll have to come back for part 2 because if you look at the timestamp, you’ll see I should be sleeping.


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