Thirsty

“It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give free water from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty. (Jesus, quoted in Revelation 21:6b, NCV)

I am thirsty, Jesus.

On the last and most important day of the feast Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says.” (Jesus, quoted in John 7:37-38, NCV)

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Revelation: The Power of True Prophesy

About 2,000 years ago, a fisherman banished to a lonely island because he believed his friend had been resurrected from the dead and was God, wrote down visions he said he’d seen of his friend and what would happen at the end of the world.

These visions have been called Revelation. Not “revelations”, but Revelation–the final prophesy of the Bible, the final book of God’s Word, the final Scripture we have.  2,000 years have gone by, and though some people have tried–and some people have tried mightily–no further words have ever been added to the Holy Bible.

What we read today is what John the fisherman wrote down about 2,000 years ago–only in English of course (for me).  For my friends in Bangladesh, the Words have been translated to Bengali.  For my friends in South America, Spanish.  For my friend in Togo, French.  And for my friend in India, well, she can read English, too, but they’re also in Hindi.  The words of Revelation have been translated into languages around the world–and the translation process is far from halted as more and more people groups are reached with God’s Word in their own language.

I don’t know any other book of prophesy that has had close to that kind of success.  This isn’t because Revelation is one of the best fiction books ever written.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m reading what I think is a nonfiction book, and I find out it’s actually fiction, I don’t want to reread it and give it to others to read.

I also don’t know any other book of prophesy that has been so deliberately misused.  It’s undeniable–lots of people are out to make a profit on the book of Revelation.  Fortune-telling makes money, and there are a heap of people in the world who want to use anything they can to try to forecast their way into peoples’ wallets.  The tragedy is, if these people actually understood the book they were trying to prophesy about, they would never try to twist the words in Revelation to build their income empire.  Instead, they would flee from all scams and get right with God asap–now, pronto!

One of the most common misunderstandings about Revelation is people (and some who are not con artists) look for an exact date for when Jesus will return.  But if they were to actually find that date, they would be contradicting the words of Jesus Himself, who says:

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32, NIV)

Can I possibly think that I can know something Jesus Himself chooses not to know?  Not a chance.  (Jesus is not less God because He did not know the date, because He chose not to know the date.  I don’t know whether He still chooses not to know or not, now that He is ascended to Heaven.)

If I read Revelation in humility and not thinking I can solve the mysteries of God by my own “brilliant” brain (ha ha ha), I know there is no way I can “crack the code” of Revelation.  For one thing, I can’t even fully understand Jesus’ Words in the Sermon on the Mount, or when He told the parable of the lost sheep, or when He forgave the soldiers who were mocking Him and spitting on Him.  How on earth could I say that I fully understand God?  It’s not just that I’m mortal.  I’m a mess.  And it’s more than that, too.

How can I say I can relate to the love of God?  No way.  I can’t do that.  I wouldn’t send my child to die for a group of hateful, ugly people (I’m talking about all of us here) who would be the ones to kill Him.  I wouldn’t create a master plan that would mean I would wait thousands of years for just the right time and then come to earth to be tortured.  Understand that?  Oh, there’s no way.

I can’t understand the wrath of God, either.  I don’t know how deep sin runs.  I’m used to sin.  I’m in sin.  I don’t get how destructive or everlasting it really is.  I can’t forecast the consequences.  I can’t get my brain around Hell.

Steven Curtis Chapman says it: “God is God and I am not.”[1]  What would make me think I could master any of the Words of God, when He is my Master?

Sometimes when I see the efforts of people to try to explain or depict Revelation, I want to cringe.  Our best understanding is just weak.  That’s all there is to it.  One of the writers of the New Testament, a man who spoke to Jesus Himself, recognized how far apart we are from the Lord Jesus’ understanding of things:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV)

Other people go a whole other route.  They want to stay away from Revelation altogether.  Revelation seems so hard, so intricate, so overwhelming, that they would rather stay out of end times.  This is usually where I’ve found myself.

But this is a problem, too.

Revelation stresses again and again to listen, listen, listen.  God doesn’t command us to listen because we can’t understand.  Even though I feel like I probably have only a speck of understanding in Revelation, I do have a speck.

I get that the coming Judgment is going to be the most catastrophic thing that has ever happened or will ever happen to us.  I understand that the word terror doesn’t even begin to explain what’s going to happen to people who will face God without Jesus as their intercessor.  I understand that bad times are coming (and have come) for those who believe in Jesus.  I understand there’s going to be the worst battle ever, and that people who call themselves Christians but don’t really love the Christ they claim to know are going to fall away–and Christians who hold true are going to be in for the night before the dawn.

I get that there’s going to be an epic battle that’s going to make every epic battle that’s ever been portrayed in a movie melt away in comparison.  And I know that Heaven is going to be unimaginably, unfathomably, unforeseeably, mortally unspeakably, forever unmistakably great.

But it is just as the Scriptures say,

  “What God has planned

   for people who love him

   is more than eyes have seen

   or ears have heard.

   It has never even

   entered our minds!” (1 Corinthians 2:9. CEV)

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Acknowledgement: The idea that Revelation is the Revelation and not “revelations” is something I never realized or thought about before hearing from a childhood pastor, Doug.

[1] “God is God”, Steven Curtis Chapman

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

The Rapture

There seem to me to be many reasons why a person should not bank on coming to salvation after the rapture (after the point when Christians are drawn to Heaven):

  • Some people believe the rapture will not happen until the end of the world, meaning there will be no time to call upon Jesus after the rapture has happened.
  • If the people who believe the rapture will happen before the end of the earth are correct, there is no guarantee that people left on the earth will still be able to receive salvation.
  • People can resist God for so long, that they become hardened to Him, no matter how miraculous the events they see.  (See the Gospels and the book of Revelation for more info.)
  • Whether or not people can receive salvation after the rapture will not be important to the person who dies before the rapture.  God has revealed to us that we do not know when He will return.  Any of us could die before the rapture.  We don’t even know if we will live for the next 5 minutes.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Jesus, quoted in Mark 13:32, NIV)

I fear that a lot of people have a view of end times that is largely constructed from people’s hypothesis rather than what is promised in Revelation.  What we all know from reading Revelation is that unsaved people will go to Hell.

If you are unsaved, waiting to believe until your Christian friends are raptured is incredibly dangerous.  You are playing with your soul.  God could wait 100 years, or a 1,000 years, or 10,000 years to come back.  We just don’t know.  Or, He could come back this very minute.  We must all be ready to face Him now.

If Jesus doesn’t come back in my lifetime, that doesn’t mean I won’t be meeting Him.  One day, I will stand before Him, fully accountable for everything I have ever thought, said, and done.  That is a terrifying thought–absolutely petrifying.  I don’t feel any need to worry about the rapture or even the end of the world when I think that there will be the end of me in this world someday.  I will die and stand before God, unless God comes back first.  Either way, I will be meeting God.

The question is, Do I belong to God?  This is a fearful question.  I don’t want to die or get to the rapture to face the answer to that.  I want to look at that question right now–instantly!

If you are reading this and don’t know Jesus, salvation is one decision away.

“You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (Jesus, quoted in John 8:23b-24, NASB)

Can any of you prove that I am guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? (Jesus, quoted in John 8:46, NCV)

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s unique Son. (Jesus, quoted in John 3:18, ISV)

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (Jesus, quoted in John 1:10-14, ESV)

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.