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Listen to these words of Jesus taken from Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible:
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
“Yes, I am coming quickly.”
The great thing about the end times is that Jesus is coming back. One of the last sentences simply says, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Isn’t this what we really want? Everything about our faith is predicated on the coming of Jesus the first time. All of history turned with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus doesn’t come the first time, imagine what our world would be like? Then, imagine what our own life would be like?
Sometimes, Christians are so concerned about Jesus’ second coming that they forget that he came the first time. What we really want out of the end times is Jesus. He is the reason we even care about the end, He is the reason we have a hope and future, He is the reason we have life and life more abundantly.
Don’t overlook the person of Jesus and the wonder and greatness of his first coming. Oh, how we needed him to come the first time and oh how we need him to come again.
“Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”
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I have never read Revelation. I might have started it once when I was a kid to see what all the fuss was about but since then I have not just failed to read it like I might have failed to read Habbakuk but I have intentionally avoided it.
As with most things involving my spiritual life, my main excuse is fear. I am afraid that I will read Revelation and not understand it and that will frustrate me and I will not want to read it. But what I have learned through the first seven chapters is that Revelation might be the most exciting book in the Bible from a strictly entertainment point of view. The imagery is beyond my imagination, the drama is incredibly cinematic, and the writing is poetic.
But it is more than just sensational reading, the key for me as I have read it is that I am not trying to figure any thing out. I am not trying to interpret the symbolism or the prophesies. I am not trying to create charts and graphs to help me understand how Revelation is connected to other apocalyptic pieces of the Bible (I am attending a study that does that). I am reading for spiritual growth and I can’t read the last half of Chapter 7 and not be inspired.
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’[a]
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’[b]
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’[c]”
At this point, I am not worried about who these people are and if I am included in this group or some other group. I am simply taken aback by this God that I love who “will lead them to springs of living water. And…wipe away every tear from their eyes.” I want to serve this God and be close to this God and worship this God. I am challenged to become a more devoted follower of Christ. For me, this is essential.
I wonder what else in the Bible I need to be reading?
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I despise the end times obsession that is prevalent among American Christians. If I started a class today on how to do the things that Jesus taught and it was scheduled at the same time as a class on the end times, we would be outnumbered probably six to one. This doesn’t make sense to me and makes me angry to think that Christians are just like the rest of the American culture – seduced by the sensational.
Because of these strong feelings, I have resisted studying eschatology and even the book of Revelation. I know, it is kind of childish, but I plan to change that. I am participating in a study on the end times from a very knowledgeable and scholarly teacher and I am trying to faithfully follow the reading assignments through Revelation.
Because my leanings are towards discipleship and spiritual growth, I would like to point out what I have learned from a spiritual growth perspective while reading Revelation. Today, while reading Revelation 1, I come across Jesus placing his hand on John and telling him, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last.” This reminded me of when Jesus tells Peter to not be afraid after Jesus provides a weeks worth of fish in one catch. Jesus’ sentiment is the same – I am here, things are different now, I possess what you need.
What a good reminder for me as I bring my prejudice, fear, and skepticism to the study of Revelation. I don’t have to be afraid because Jesus knows what is best for me to learn and he wants to teach me. He is the first and last and the Lord of all.