8. “God’s Version of ‘The End.’”
Introduction A good story needs a good ending! After the author introduces the story’s main characters, the plot has thickened and the story line has worked its crisis, the reader begins to wonder: “How will it all end? Will there be a happy ending? Will the characters live happily ever after? Will there be a satisfying conclusion or will there be some unforeseen twist? Who wins in the end?”
Reading the Bible as The Greatest Story Ever Told, may cause you to wonder, as well? At the beginning of the story, God was faced with a dilemma. How could a holy, just God, bring a sinful, rebellious humanity back into a right relationship with Himself? He began with a promise, and then called a people through whom would come the Promised Messiah, who would bless all the families of the earth. The crisis point of the story arose with the coming of Jesus, who during His thirty three year life, established Himself as God’s Presence, Power and Person. Then, He was killed – crucified on a cross! With His death, all hopes seemed to be dashed. Yet, He arose from the dead! With this miraculous event, the story suddenly becomes Good News! His story assures a dark, hopeless world that there truly is a God Who loves all humanity. This God not only saw our need for His grace and forgiveness, but He acted. By Christ’s Resurrection, we are assured that death itself has been conquered. By Jesus’ death, our sins are forgiven. Now, it is possible for sinful people to come into the presence of God.
But, how will the story end? As participants in history, we are still the actors in this on going story! So, how will history end? How will God bring history to its God–intended conclusion? The answer rests solely on the promises and the power of Jesus who made them. The validity and the fulfillment of these promises rely totally on the credibility of Jesus. Since we have no control over the future, the conclusion of our story relies on the one who controls the future.
Jesus said that He would come again to completely establish God’s rule or Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. We know this to be “the Second Coming.” This includes a time of judgment, as all humanity must give an account. Sin, suffering and Satan with all their evil will be eradicated. God’s presence will be in the midst of His People, and He promises no more pain or suffering. These promises become the Christian’s hope, comfort and confidence.
As you read through the Revelation of Jesus Christ, do not allow the sometimes bizarre and graphic language to detract you. Focus on the fact that Jesus holds the “Scroll of History” in His hands and will bring history to God’s designated conclusion. Because He has been faithful to His promises throughout history, we can rest assured that in His time Jesus will come again!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:1 – 51
Although much of this prophecy of Jesus points to 70 A.D. with the devastating destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple; yet, in the Spirit of Old Testament prophecy it points beyond to the end of history.
What insight does Jesus give in light of world events in history? Mt. 24:6.
What must happen in the world before Christ comes again? Mt. 24:14.
How then should Christians live knowing He’s coming again? Mt. 24:42 – 46.
What We Should Know
As you read the first chapter of Revelation, what are some facts that John records about the glorified Jesus that gives his readers confidence in the midst of persecution?
In chapters two and three, Jesus commends and confronts seven churches. If the church’s purpose is to reflect the light of Christ in a dark world, what do you see as the purpose of these two chapters?
Knowing that Christians will experience suffering and persecution for their faith, how do chapters four and five develop a sense of hope and confidence?
As chapter six opens, it describes in symbolic language the stark reality of world conditions in history before Christ returns. Before all the following events occur, how are the “Servants of God” encouraged? Rev. 7:1 – 17; 9:4.
Even as God’s judgments in history is a call to repentance, what is the sad result? Rev. 9:20; 15:9, 11, 21.
What is the final event that will conclude history? Rev. 20:11 – 15.
With what comforting blessed events and words of hope does Revelation end?
Rev 21:1 – 22:21.
Who We Should Be
Knowing what’s in store for humanity in history, how do Rev. 1:12 – 18 and Rev 4, 5 give you courage and confidence?
If Jesus was examining you (like the seven churches in Chapter 2 – 3) what might He say to you as compliments and/or criticisms?
In light of some of the catastrophic natural disasters described in Revelation, what do you think God might be saying to America today?
What We Should Do
Read Rev. 20:15, has Jesus recorded your name there? How do you know for certain?
How can you prepare yourself and others for Christ’s second coming? Do you feel more ready or less ready after reading Revelation than you did before? Why?