It seems wrong to even say, “Looking Back!” After all, we are generally instructed to look ahead. There are three instances where we are taught in the Bible not to look back. In spite of these warnings, looking back has some advantages.
Here are the three warnings:
# 1. Luke 17:32
Remember Lot's wife.
Remember Lot’s wife – this is a warning from Jesus when He specifically taught the disciples not to look back.
Jesus also said no man putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom.
# 2. Luke 9:62
But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."
And then Paul taught us to forget what lies behind and press forward.
# 3. Philippians 3:13
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.
“Anywhere provided it be forward.”
For years the motto of my ministry was a quote that I used by Dr. David Livingstone, missionary and explorer to Africa, “Anywhere provided it be forward.” I called my ministry Forward Ministries in honor of David Livingstone. Later, I changed the name of the work from Forward Ministries to Global Ministries and Relief. Note – I did not change the name to Retreat Ministries!
I am all about moving forward, advancing and yet at times, it is essential to look back. To highlight this principle, I teach that a car rearview mirror is small but the size of a windshield is very large in comparison because we don’t naturally drive in reverse. I also instruct my students that where we look is where we will go. Therefore, don’t look back except for the specific reasons that I will address in this subject.
I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
We see in Psalm 77:11-15 that the people remembered the past; they recalled where God had brought them out of bondage and into the Promised Land. The people were explicitly instructed to remember and to talk about the Lord’s deliverance. They were to recall and discuss these past events where God had done a great work on their behalf. They were going to face situations in their future that were going to be challenging to them. They would recall how God had worked in their past and that He was able to deliver them again…and again!
1 Samuel 7:10-12
And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Then Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us."
We sometimes have to look back at these stones that we have placed in our lives where God has shown up to deliver us. These memorials are not meant to be idols where we worship the rock but where we honor God for what He has done. We can’t live in past experiences, but we can draw from the power of those encounters and remind ourselves that He will do it again. We look back to remind ourselves of significant God-breakthroughs to encourage us for the
present situations that we face.
And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: "Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, 'Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.' "
Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: "Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?'
Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever." And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day. So the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua; and the people hurried and crossed over. Then it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over, that the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people. And the men of Reuben, the men of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses had spoken to them. About forty thousand prepared for war crossed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life. Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, "Command the priests who bear the ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan." Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, "Come up from the Jordan."
And it came to pass, when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord had come from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet touched the dry land, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before. Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: "When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, 'What are these stones?' then you shall let your children know, saying, 'Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land'; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever."
Two heaps of stones were set up as memorials of Israel's crossing of the Jordan River: twelve stones at Gilgal, and twelve stones in the midst of the river. They were witnesses that God honors faith and obedience. These heaps of stones were reminders that God worked on behalf of those who placed their trust in Him and a promise that He will do it again in the future. To an unbeliever, the heap of twelve stones was merely another pile of rocks, but to a believing Israelite, these were a perpetual reminder that Jehovah was their God, working His wonders on behalf of His people.
- The stones were a reminder of the benefits of faith and obedience
- The stones were a reminder of God’s miraculous intervention
- The stones were a witness to future generations of the goodness of God
We never want to arrive at a spiritual state where we can only talk about what God has done in the past without being able to testify about what He is also presently doing. History is important, and we can learn from it, but we don’t live in the past. We live in this present world; however, we can look back in history and say that God will do it again.
The chorus, God can do it again, written by Don Moen says,
God can do it again…again
He’s the same God today as He always has been
Yesterday and forever He’s always the same
There’s no reason to doubt God can do it again
(Copyright 1976 Integrity's Hosanna! Music)
God is the unchanging God! Our confidence is found in the nature, the character and the integrity of God’s Word. He is not “I was” (past tense) but “I AM!” (present tense)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Regardless of what you are going through you cannot look at your circumstance, you must listen to God. When you face tough times rather than focus on the situation, you must look at the pile of rocks where you previously received a God-intervention. During challenging times, remind yourself of what God has done for you in the past, and then stir yourself up in your most holy faith and declare that God will do it again.
Look at the Word – it is also a pile of rocks where you can see what God has done for others.
- When you read the Word of God, your faith is cultivated and developed.
- When you read the Word about past miraculous interventions, it is here that you can
celebrate the promises of new breakthroughs.
As you lay hold of the promises found in the pages of Scripture, then the unchanging God will make a way for you.
In this Blog, you have seen that in fact, you can look back:
- You can view what God has done for you in the past. As you recall the previous God-
interventions, you can then activate your faith for the situation that you face today.
- When you read the Bible, you discover what God has done in past times. He is the
unchanging God, and you can then lay hold of the promises for today. All the promises
in the Word are not only a declaration of what God has done, but is also a present
reality. These Bible promises are your yes and amen for today.