How do you respond when someone says, “I have good news and I have bad news”? Several times in today’s Bible reading, Jesus does just that.
He talks about the Last Days and His return. In the way He describes things, it would be very easy to be anxious. But that’s not why He tells His Disciples about the end times. Instead, He gives them this information so they would be encouraged. As they see things happen in the future, instead of being anxious, they should be encouraged, knowing that the end and Jesus’ return is coming soon.
Note: The “End Times” isn’t something that will happen sometime in the future only. When Bible teachers talk about “the End Times”, they’re talking about the time that began when Jesus arrived preaching His good news. In other words, we are in the “End Times” now. Yes, we are closer to the end than when the church was birthed in Acts 2, but we have been in the “End Times” for almost two thousand years. We are in an overlap of this Present Age and the Age to Come. A time of “already, but not yet”. Some of the things Jesus prophesied have already been fulfilled, such as the fall of Jerusalem that occurred in AD 70 and prophesied in today’s reading. (Mark 13:2) But Jesus hasn’t yet returned in all of His glory to take His bride — Believers — to her eternal home with Him. 26-27)
Are you ready for Jesus’ return? What does it mean to be ready? It means to live with an expectancy that Jesus will come soon. It means to live an obedient life, telling other people how they, too can have an eternal hope.
Several times in the Gospels, Jesus tells His Disciples — and us — that we should always be ready because no one knows when He will return. Even He doesn’t know when His Father tells Him to bring His children home. If you’re one of His children, He will come for you, so you want to make sure that you’re always ready.
As we continue reading through the Gospels and Revelation during this year, it’s important to see Jesus’ warnings as both good news and bad news.
Spend some time today thanking God that He has a plan to bring His chidren home to live with Him for eternity.
We finish our reading through the New Testament with today’s Bible reading. John describes heaven as the Garden of Eden revisited, with only the Tree of Life, not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What was lost in the Garden of Eden has been remade in the new beautiful City of heaven. Where Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day, God’s people will once again see Him face to face.
Having seen and described what he saw, John hears an angel tell him what must soon take place. The angel told John the same thing in Revelation 1:1-3. Over and over, Jesus tells John that He is coming soon. God’s people are to remain close and clean. It’s a good reminder for John. And for us.
Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Let anyone who hears, say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come.
Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:17 (CSB)
Both God and the church invite anyone who would come. No one will be admitted into heaven who doesn’t want to be there. There is a universal offer. And everyone who comes will be welcomed in. The water of life is free for the taking for anyone who is thirsty.
Yes, there’s a universal offer, but God is not a universalist. No one will be made to drink. Only the thirsty will come. Only those who are drawn will come. And all who come will come through Jesus alone.
As you have read through Revelation, I hope you found comfort and assurance that God is in control. If not, I hope you have been confronted by God’s Word and made adjustments accordingly.
In today’s Bible reading, we read of the coming of the perfect new heavens and new earth. The perfectly-adorned bride of Christ is revealed. There’s no more sin or anything associated with it. There’s no more crying. There’s no more death. God dwells with His people. An angel measures heaven with a gold-standard. Everything is perfect. There’s no need for a sun or moon, for God Himself is the light. There’s no need for a temple because God Himself and the Lamb (Jesus) are the temple. Even the people there are perfect:
Nothing unclean will ever enter it,
nor anyone who does what is detestable or false,
but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 21:27 (CSB)
The central idea behind Revelation 21 is, “Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life.'” Revelation 21:6 (CSB)
When God says, “It is done” He uses the perfect tense, meaning that it has already been done. There is nothing left to continue doing in the present or to do in the future. It’s complete. It’s perfect.
One of the hallmarks of the Gospel message is the completion of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection accomplished everything necessary for us to be right with God. It is so complete that we can’t add anything to our salvation (as if we had anything to contribute anyway!).
And that’s great news!
In today’s Bible reading, John uses the term “a thousand years” to describe several things. This is the only place in the Bible that mentions “a thousand years” with regards to the End Times.
One of the most important things to do in reading, studying, interpreting, and ultimately applying the Bible is to read it in its context, including its literary genre. We can easily run into problems when we apply one genre to another. For instance, when we read the book of Acts in the history genre, we need to realize that Dr. Luke describes what happened in the early church. Paul, on the other hand, prescribes how things are supposed to be done.
For example, when reading Acts 28:3 and see Paul shaking off a viper that attached to his hand, some people see that as prescriptive. There are churches in backwoods Appalachia that actually round up venomous snakes to handle in their church services in order to prove that they are “spiritual”. Just because Luke describes what Paul did doesn’t mean that Believers are supposed to do the same. Can God protect Believers today from succumbing to snake venom? Absolutely! God can do whatever He wants. He’s God! But usually, we should follow the prescription to not put God to a test. (Deuteronomy 6:16)
Why go into this here? Given the fact that The Revelation is in the apocalyptic genre — which uses figurative language and lots of word pictures — when we read “a thousand years”, we shouldn’t expect to start a stopwatch the moment the thousand years begins and know when it will end. Instead, we should realize that God is outside the confines of time and to Him, there’s no difference between a day and a thousand years. (2 Peter 3:8) The point of John’s using the term is to say that this will happen over a long period of time, but this time will end; it isn’t eternity.
We must be careful when reading books and commentaries on Biblical prophecy, especially those whose authors try to explain everything in Daniel and Revelation. Some of what Daniel and John recorded may not have a one-to-one correspondence with what we want it to be.
And realize that not all godly people understand these books the same way. Some godly people believe that most of Revelation has yet to begin. Other godly people believe that the entire book has already been completed. Eschatology (the study of the End Times) is not a primary theological issue so we should extend agree-to-disagree grace to all Believers, regardless of how they understand these things. These books are not in the didactic genre where teachings are spelled out. Read Daniel and Revelation with the thought of apocalyptic genre.
In today’s Bible reading, there is great rejoicing by a vast multitude of people even before the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords defeats the beast and his sign-performing false prophet.
Over and over, John hears the cries of God’s people, “Hallelujah!” as they praise God, hailing Jesus as the conquering King.
“After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous, because he has judged the notorious prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality; and he has avenged the blood of his servants that was on her hands. A second time they said, Hallelujah! Her smoke ascends forever and ever! Then the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who is seated on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah! A voice came from the throne, saying, Praise our God, all his servants, and the ones who fear him, both small and great! Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying, Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself.” (Revelation 17:1-7 CSB)
How spontaneously do you respond in worship when you encounter the Word and works of God? If you are not at least occasionally staggered by the awe and wonder of God, you may need a fresh taste of Him in His greatness and majesty. Take a look at a post I wrote a few years ago.
Maybe you need to step up your game in expressing your worship outwardly. Now, this is not a plea to emotionalism, but rather to express your worship for God in a manner similar to how you worship in other contexts.