The End Of Time

Finally, John the Witness is shown the end of the world in a rapid-fire sequence of scenes (346).

  • Jesus returns to the earth with his church and wins an instant & total victory over the forces of evil.
  • Satan is bound for a thousand years, during which time Jesus restores & rules the earth.
  • Satan is then unbound briefly. His inevitable attack against Jesus results in his inevitable defeat; Satan’s forces are totally crushed & he is consigned permanently to hell.
  • All people are judged by God. Those who submitted to Jesus are taken to heaven; those who rejected Jesus are also consigned permanently to hell.

Judgement right left 2

The revelation concludes with encouraging images of God’s heavenly glory.  In Genesis, the first book of the inspired Jewish scriptures, we get a glimpse of God’s created children living with him in an earthly paradise.  At the end of Revelation, we get similar glimpses of God’s faithful children, living with him in a heavenly paradise, beyond the ravages of time.

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At the conclusion of the revelation, John is given several important commands by Jesus:

  • We are to worship God, not men. (Nothing good comes from worshiping men, as the prior revelations have made clear.)
  • God’s people are to rely on God’s Holy Spirit to serve Jesus; that service involves showing & telling other people what Jesus does for us and what Jesus expects us to do for him.
  • We are exhorted to trust the inspired scriptures for understanding the end to come — not adding to them or taking away from them. (The Bible may not contain everything there is to know about God, but those things it does contain are things we need to know about God.)
  • In this regard, we are encouraged to expect that Jesus may come back at any time, to begin the end described in these revelations. As Jesus taught his chosen witnesses, it’s absolutely important always to be ready for his return.

God, please help me to love Showing & Telling people about You.

(346) Revelation 19-22

Trouble On Earth

Continuing the record of his revelation from Jesus, John the Witness writes that he was taken up into heaven, where he was given a glimpse of God’s heavenly glory.  But John was also given an extended series of insights concerning a future time of devastating tribulation, which will be experienced throughout the entire world (345).

  • These revelations echo what Jesus had told his closest followers just before his execution. But they also elaborate our understanding of the trials which new believers will face, after the faithful church has been removed from the earth.  (Among these new believers will be many who previously had been Christian in name only & many who previously had rejected Jesus altogether.)
  • These revelations also emphasize a constant theme: For believers on the earth during this devastating time, the only way out of the tribulation will be to go through it, trusting God for deliverance from pervasive persecution & suffering.

persevere

Elements of this intensive tribulation, as revealed to John, include slavery, war, poverty, plagues, martyrdom & natural disasters – all on a vastly larger scale than ever before experienced on the earth.

trib 1

John is also shown that Satan will continue to attack God’s chosen people, Israel, and that Satan will keep up constant attacks on new believers in Jesus.  Graphic symbolic language — drawn from several parts of the inspired Jewish scriptures — is used throughout this section of John’s record of the revelation.  People will be inflicted with loathsome sores, the seas & rivers will be turned to blood, men will be scorched with fire, people will experience widespread darkness & widespread pain, and the earth will be utterly shaken to its foundations.

trib 2

Babylon is used as an image of institutions of worldly wealth – more concerned with serving themselves than with serving God.  The eventual & total destruction of such institutions is revealed to John; the world will be shocked, he is told.

Despite all this, John is also told that many Jews & Gentiles still will refuse to repent & submit to Jesus, so great & powerful will be their addiction to their selfish sins.

God, please help me to love depending on You for perseverance.

(345) Revelation 4-18

The Second Coming

An important idea that runs throughout the inspired scriptures (& that was emphasized repeatedly by Jesus) is that all people will live forever.  No, our physical bodies will not live forever; in the flesh, we will all experience the adventures of aging.  But our spirits will live forever; we will one day no longer be subject to the ravages of time.  The question is: Where will our spirits live after this earthly life is over?

Near the very end of his earthly life, John the Witness received an extended visionary revelation about the end of the world & the life beyond time that will follow for all people – the living & the dead, believers & non-believers.  At the time, John had been exiled to the Greek island of Patmos, for the crime of being a Christian.  Jesus himself gave John this vision & told him to write it down (343).

Near the end of his earthly life, Jesus had told his chosen witnesses that he would return to heaven after his execution & resurrection.  But he had also promised them that he would later return to the earth.

The revelation given by Jesus to John has been variously interpreted.  But virtually all interpreters agree that, through this revelation, Jesus is giving John more insight into his promised future return to the earth (or his “second coming”).

One of many interpretations is that the second coming of Jesus may occur in two phases.  First, at an unknowable time, Jesus will come to take faithful members of his body to heaven.  He will not have another earthly ministry at this time; he’ll simply come to take his true church to heaven.  The inspired scriptures suggest that people who call themselves Christians, but who don’t live like Christians, will not among those taken to heaven at this time; they will be left behind, along with all those who have openly rejected Jesus.

Then, perhaps just a few years later, after a period of devastating tribulation on the earth, Jesus will again return with the army of his saints, to restore & rule the earth for a thousand years.

second coming

After that, all people will be finally consigned to their eternal destinies, either in heaven or in hell.

Prior to filling in some details of these future events, Jesus first had John record letters to seven churches in various parts of Turkey (344).

churches-order

The general pattern of these short letters from Jesus is as follows:

  • Commendation for things they were doing that brought glory to God
  • Warning about things they were doing that did not bring glory to God
  • Encouragement to persevere in faithful well-doing
  • Promise of reward for persevering in faithful well-doing

These messages, addressed to seven Turkish churches 2000 years ago, remain relevant for all Christian churches today.

God, please help me to love imperfect churches.

(343) Revelation 1

(344) Revelation 2-3

John The Witness

Various traditions suggest that all but one of the thirteen principal witnesses were eventually executed for serving Jesus, by taking the good news about him to the ends of the earth, as Jesus had commanded them.

Their obedience to this command is indicated by the supposed places of their physical deaths:

  • Israel (James)
  • Italy (Peter & Paul)
  • Turkey (Philip)
  • Greece (Andrew)
  • Armenia (Bartholomew or Nathanael)
  • Ethiopia (Matthew)
  • India (Thomas)
  • Egypt (James, son of Alphaeus)
  • Iran (Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus or Judas, and Simon the Patriot)
  • Georgia (Matthias)

Scan

Only John is believed to have died from natural causes, in Greece.  During the last 10 years of his very long life, perhaps 60 or 70 years after Jesus had returned to heaven, John wrote his personal account of the life & ministry of Jesus, three letters to Christian friends, and the visionary revelation of the end of the world which he received from Jesus.

John’s testimony of the good news of Jesus (339) is quite different from the other three gospel testimonies.

  • John’s gospel has a deeply spiritual tone, expressly aimed at inspiring faith in the divine power of Jesus.
  • John places more emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.

love

  • And he places more emphasis on the idea that we are called to show our love for God by loving each other.

God, please help me to love You by loving specific people.

(339) John’s testimony about Jesus is incorporated in previous posts on this site.