Power of Anticipation
Anticipation really brings some spice to life, doesn’t it? Authors are aware of the selling power of anticipation. Do J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter) and Tim LaHaye (Left Behind) understand the importance of anticipation? Many of the works of Charles Dickens were first published in serial form. Part would be printed and sent out to sellers, and then readers would have to wait for the next section. One of his novels published in this manner was The Old Curiosity Shop. It was published in 1841 and was widely read in both Britain and the United States. Little Nell was the heroine of the story, and interest in the outcome was intense. In New York, six thousand people crowded the wharf at which the ship carrying the final installment was due to dock. As it came close, the crowd’s anticipation grew so that they cried out to the sailors, “Does Little Nell Die?”
The story of redemption is published in installments spread throughout the existence of mankind. From the story of a perfect creation, through the account of the fall, the flood, the faith of Abraham, the history of his sons and grandsons, the promises and mercy of God seen in the Exodus, the giving of the law, the gift of Canaan, the preaching of the prophets, the coming of God, the death and resurrection, and the preaching of the gospel, right up to the present time, the story of God’s love is written.
Anticipation has always been a part of the story. Peter wrote about those who told the story in the beginning. In regard to the salvation of our souls, he wrote:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12)
Now, we wait in anticipation. Our situation is a little different from those six thousand who waited on the dock for Dicken’s book. Instead of knowing the arrival time and being ignorant of how the story ends; we know how the story ends, yet are ignorant of the arrival time.
A young man had been baptized into Christ and in his great zeal to be Christ’s disciple promised the preacher he would read as much of the Bible as he could every week. After the first week, the preacher asked, “What did you read?”
The young man smiled and said “I read Revelation!”
“Oh, no” the preacher thought to himself. “What kind of strange questions am I going to have to answer now?” Preparing for the worst, he asked the new Christian, “What did you think?”
The man responded, “We win! We win!”
The end of the story is that God and his people are victorious over Satan, sin, and death. That’s not going to change. Though the final enemy is not yet defeated and the final battle not yet won, the end is published as fact. We Win!
We don’t know, though, when the end will be. We can’t go to the dock and wait for the coming of Christ. He may come today, he might not. He may come in the year 2004, he may not. He may come while we are alive, he may not. We must simply always be ready, anticipating his coming and our salvation. You know the end, are you ready for it?