“He went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. And when He had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
Revelation 5:7-8 NIVUK
In his vision, John sees Jesus take the scroll from “Him who sits on the throne”, God Himself. That very act fired the starting gun on the start of the End Times, which Jesus gave a glimpse of in Matthew 24. Don’t forget that He also said He didn’t know when this would happen. We read in Matthew 24:36, “But about that day or hour no-one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Jesus knew what would happen, and He warned His disciples about it, but the timing was in God’s, the Father’s, hands.
In evangelical circles there has been much speculation about when the End Times will be upon us. I have heard verses describing topical events like wars used as a sign that ”the end of the world is nigh”. We read in Matthew 24:4-6, “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains.” To some, with war in Europe escalating, and consequentially damaging the world economies and food and energy supplies, the end seems near. But there have been wars between nations since time began, so it would perhaps be premature to think that the end of the world is upon us.
Occasionally, someone will make a prophetic statement, claiming some special revelation that the world will end on such and such a date. I can think of the 16th century French astrologer Nostradamus for one. And a Google search will reveal many similar predictions, dates for most of which have passed, leaving an embarrassed prophet in their wake. The one mistake all these so-called prophets make is that they don’t read or believe the words written in the Bible. There is only One person, God Himself, who knows when the end of the world will be, and who holds the power to make it happen. Only He knows when Jesus will return to this world. And He certainly isn’t going to reveal that date to some random so-called prophet when even His own Son, Jesus, didn’t know when it would be.
What do we pilgrims do about this? The key is in Matthew 24:42, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” We pilgrims have to be alert and faithful. It makes sense that we don’t know when the end of the world will happen, because if we did, there would be that temptation to live a sinful life, knowing that repentance at the last minute would be enough to assure our salvation. In Matthew 25 Jesus told the story of the ten Bridesmaids, or Virgins. It was a graphic parable telling His listeners that five of the bridesmaids would fail to enter the place where the wedding feast was to take place, because they weren’t ready. And Jesus ends the story with the verse in Matthew 25:13, “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of My return.” Another reminder for His disciples.
So we pilgrims do the things Jesus has asked us to do. We keep short accounts with Him, repenting of our sins, reading His Word, the Bible, encouraging our brothers and sisters, and so on. We are each on a journey to our promised land, where our crown of life awaits us. And by being faithful we don’t have to worry, or get anxious, about world events. Our Heavenly Father cares for us. We read in 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” We have a loving Heavenly Father who loves us, and in that loving relationship with Him, we can trust Him. The One who holds the future of the world, your future, and my future, is all that matters.
Dear Father God. We are so grateful that You hold everything together in our war-torn world. We thank You for Your care and lovingkindness. And we thank You for Your faithfulness for each one of us even when we stumble and lose our way. What an amazing God You are! Amen.