In the World But Not of the World

fire-covering-up-the-sunThe Forever Day and Night

One cannot read The Book of Revelation in the Bible and still maintain that God is some white-haired, jolly grandfather figure winking and chuckling at the transgressions of naughty grandchildren and all the while doling out candy into their dirty hands. Great portions of The Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ almost read like a horror story; and indeed, if a person – whether a believer or not – can read this book without his heart starting to race and pound with the fear and horror of its contents, his heart is truly seared.

The Book of Revelation is, appropriately, the last book in the Bible. It is the final word regarding the outcome of mankind and of the cosmos on which mankind lives. Not to state the obvious, but the Bible begins with the beginning, and ends with the end. And there is a lot in between. The “in between” is about one thing: God’s Glory seen in the eternal redemption of His people and in His warnings of eternal destruction to those who refuse to bow the knee. Since I have used the word “eternal” (eternal redemption, eternal destruction), you, my astute readers, may want to raise a question when I state that the last book of the Bible is describing “the end.” If the Bible speaks of eternal redemption and eternal destruction, why, then, do we speak of “the end”?

This is an important question. All of us, physically, have an end. How many billions of people have seen their physical end since the beginning of time? How many people are experiencing their physical end as you read this? And how many are rapidly approaching their physical end? When is your physical end; when is mine? Yes, there will be a physical end of you and of me. The physical world – cosmos in Greek – will also come to an end. An untold number of people will have experienced their physical end before the cosmos does. However, according to the Scriptures, the world will still be inhabited by mankind at the hour of its total destruction. Here is the end of which I am speaking, the end which affects every single one of us (whether our bodies have already journeyed to the grave, or whether our hearts are still faithfully pumping away in those very last days), because eternity will not be fully realized until this end comes.

A careful and (recommended) repeated reading of The Book of Revelation will reveal that the earth’s timeline, from its beginning to its end, is presented over and over, with each successive description manifesting an exponential increase in wickedness and a corresponding exponential increase of the manifestation of God’s wrath. Chapters 17, 18, 19 and 20 express the climax of God’s unmitigated wrath (this is grandfatherly?) on Satan and his ungodly human host, all culminating in these horrific words: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone….and shall be tormented day and night” (Rev 20:10), and “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15). The words of holy horror found in these chapters are almost too much to bear, and it is a great relief to the heart (of the believer) to be bathed in the words of light and life found in the Chapter 21,

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

The collective breath we had been holding, as our minds took in the graphic descriptions of the utter destruction of the utterly wicked, is blessedly released.

Here is the end. And yet…here is the beginning, an eternal beginning. How many times in The Book of Revelation does God encourage His children to be patient, because at the end, there will be an eternal beginning? An eternal beginning not only for His children, but also for their persecutors:

“If any man worship the beast…the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev 14:9-12)

“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” (Rev 7:13-15)

Dear Reader, in a few weeks, we will know who, in God’s Providence, will be our next president. An honest assessment of the state of our country and of the world will reveal that the last bastion of Christianity appears about to crumble. And the very timely question, “Will the next administration push toward the total destruction of Christian freedom?” is on many hearts. A young man, with whom I was having an interesting fb discussion regarding current presidential politics, accused me of wanting to see Armageddon come, seemingly to insinuate that I would relish the day of this great battle for my own sake and pleasure. We never discussed what he actually meant by Armageddon, and I do not know if he even has views regarding the last things. He is an aetheist or at least an agnostic with minimal Biblical teaching in his background. Nevertheless, it was interesting that he would have some idea of what a Christian may be thinking regarding what is happening in America right now. Furthermore, in the past several months, I have had many discussions with faithful believers – all of whom attend different denominations – and these Christians, indeed, are viewing the developing events of today as a precursor to the end. I tend to agree, but not in the rejoicing way that my fb friend would like to believe of me. However, I am seriously viewing today’s world in light of the vision given to John in The Book of Revelation. And though my heart often wants to lean heavy on the side of fear, I remember the promise of God that the end is the beginning of forever, and then my heart says,

“Come Lord Jesus, quickly come.”clouds-in-blue-sky

(Photo credits: Rachel Blake)

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The Forever Day and Night

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