This series is about how, when God says the word “until,” we can infer three things. We’ve talked about two of them…
1. The outcome is sure.
2. BUT, though the outcome is inevitable, it is not immediate. “Until” implies a process taking place over time.
And now for PART 3: “UNTIL” Also Means Letting Go
Parts 1 and 2 focused on the outcome, but now I’d like to think about the process that took place “in the meantime.” Let’s look at a few examples…
1. We drove until we got to the restaurant.
2. Bake until golden brown.
3. I held my son’s hand until he could walk on his own.
1. When we go out for dinner, we always drive because we live miles from the nearest restaurant. So driving is a good thing. BUT, only to a point. Once we reach the restaurant, we don’t keep on driving. We park the car and go inside. Otherwise we wouldn’t get anything to eat, unless there’s an old Clif bar in the glove box. And why would we drive across town to eat that?
2. I love to bake chocolate chip cookies. The blobs of dough will never become cookies unless I put them into a hot oven. Here, a 350-degree oven is a good thing. BUT, only to a point. Once the cookies are golden brown I don’t keep on baking them. I have to take them out of the oven to cool. Otherwise they will burn. And “charcoal briquet cookies” just don’t have the same appeal.
3. Back to last week’s illustration of helping a child learn to walk… The little termites need something to hold on to while they gain strength in their legs and get the feel of balancing. So holding their little hands is a good thing. BUT, only to a point. Once they can walk and run on their own, you don’t keep on holding their hands unless you’re crossing the street or something. And, if I may offer a hint: when they get taller than you are, just forget it!
That’s a long way around, but I wanted to bring home an idea… our circumstances are not permanent. They last only to a point. As I mentioned in Part 1, right now we live in a fallen world, full of unfairness and cruelty, but one day that will change. Our fallen state will last only until God brings justice, and then unfairness will never again trouble anyone.
The same is true on an individual level. Last time I wrote about Paul’s words in Philippians 1:6… For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Right now believers are in the process of becoming more like Christ, “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The process includes challenging struggles, but one day this “good work” will be done. When God accomplishes his “untils” he also gets to stop applying the process. When we reach Glory, there will be no more struggle, no more need to change. We will have arrived.
I can’t leave this topic without bringing up one more “until” — something that God has already let go of, to be replaced by something better. I wrote about it last fall, so I’ll direct your attention to the post “Bars and Butterflies.”
Matthew quotes Jesus as saying, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18). Paul picks this up when he writes to the Galatian church, “…the law… was added because of transgressions… until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made” (Galatians 3:19). Later, Paul writes in Romans 6:14, “…sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
God gave the Law to show us our sinfulness, and it still serves that purpose. But Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the Law’s requirements. It allows those who trust him to be forgiven by his mercy and, from then on, to be guided by his grace rather than a list of rules. I thank God for letting go of his own written Law to make way for grace.
I welcome your observations, and hope this series has been helpful and encouraging to you.
Thanks for reading,