It seems as if then is often an excuse for regrets or nostalgia. Some people look back to the past and concentrate on the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. Roy Clark’s song, “Yesterday When I Was Young” is a good example of this. (Google it?) However, Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” seems to have a much more positive outlook, “I believe in yesterday, “All my troubles seemed so far away.” It does appear that when one remembers then moments, one is apt to dwell on the good times and sublimate the bad times. Mortgage paid off VS Cancer operation, Vacation at Disneyland VS Lawsuit, Graduation of children VS Eviction, etc, etc.
Now is such a slippery, wiggly concept. It could be the snap of the fingers or a protracted period of time. Now has a way of turning into then before we know it. When is more of a dream with connections of hope—when the kids leave home, when we can travel to far off places, when one gets that perfect job.
Many of the Old Testament prophets and New Testament preachers reminded the Jews of their then roots (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Stephen, Paul) as a preamble to the validity of the life and message of Jesus Christ. God declares that, “now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2) in order to stress the urgency of obeying His commandments. The Holy Spirit adds His admonition, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Heb 3:8)
The Bible is full of promises for when God’s people reach the promised land and in our time the glory of our heavenly reward. Joshua and Caleb were the two faithful spies who declared to the people in the wilderness, “If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead Us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Nu 14:8) Jesus proclaimed to the church in Smyrna, “…Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev 2:10) The apostle John shows us the glory of our new home in his inspired vision of heaven. (Rev 21: 3-4)
God’s people are encouraged by learning of the then times from our spiritual ancestors and the trials and torture they had to undergo. We are commanded to use the now to share the good news of Jesus Christ and his salvation. We are thrilled to know of the when that is awaiting us in the new heaven.