The final chapter of The Story deals with the revelation given from Jesus Christ to his apostle John. This is the big finish where God’s plan comes to complete fruition with the totality of his redemption for his creation. The renewing of the heaven and the earth. Justice and the conquering of death and sin. God’s victory and eternal reign WITH his people. These are all aspects that we know, but someday we will come to see and experience.
As Christians, we long for the day when we shall see our Lord face to face, but we should never let our lives become too focused on the future to miss the relationship we can have with Christ now.
The final book of the Bible can be very tricky to understand and interpret. If we become too fixated on the prophecy within it, we can grow into lame Christians who are simply waiting out this life for the next with no real effect on those around us in the here and now. If we discount the book we lose the full rich portrait of God’s redemptive plan, missing out on the hope that it gives us. Both are ways we miss opportunities to truly experience life with God and his everlasting love for us. We receive fractions of the whole. My hope is that we do not veer to either side so much that we miss what God is doing now or the hope of what is to come.
John begins with the description of how the revelation of Christ came to him. He speaks of the risen Lord in all his glory. A glory that we shall someday see. He transitions to the warnings to the seven churches. These warnings speak to the behavior found within the churches that separates them from the will of God. These warnings could be used to describe many churches today. They are a call to be vigilant in our following of Christ. As followers of Christ we need to consistently check the pulse of our churches as well as ourselves. Are we walking faithfully with Jesus, or have we let some things slip? This only happens when we take the time to reflect on our relationship with Christ and look to him for what is needed. The warnings also speak of the eventual outcomes that will befall those churches who do not make corrections. God will call his people into account.
This section of the chapter is tied to the rest the chapter in two ways. First, we see the churches of that time and the consequences of their behavior but secondly, we also see what is to come. The early days of those churches and future of God’s CHURCH are laid out for us to view. We once again gain a picture of what God was doing at that specific time, and the hope that was to come.
God did not ask them to sit and wait but rather, he called those churches to action. He then spoke of the victory that is to come.
In the closing pages of the chapter we are given a description of the final days and Christ’s victory over Satan. All of the maladies, pain and injustice brought about by Satan and sin are healed and abolished by God. God’s plan for redemption is done. His victory is complete. We see the renewal of the heavens and the earth. It was not by destruction but renewal that God carried about his plan. God has been renewing his creation since the fall. That is what we miss when we focus too much on the prophecy of the end. That is what we miss when we don’t take the time to look at his scripture as a whole. God is renewing his creation even now. He is constantly shaping and re-shaping his creation. As his followers we have the ability to be a part of that. When we are not simply waiting for the end, we have a chance to be a part of this renewal. When we have a more complete picture of what is to come we gain hope, never losing sight of God with us now.