“Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.” “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book. ””
Revelation 22:6-7 NLT
The old Apostle John is coming to the end of his Lord’s Day vision. He has a final conversation with the angel that God had sent to walk him through everything he saw and heard. And the angel reaffirmed what John already knew, that the audiovisual presentation he had received was “trustworthy and true”. John must have been saddened that the experience was coming to an end, but also excited that he would soon be joining His Master in Heaven.
In our verses today, the word “soon” was mentioned twice. We apply a temporal understanding to this word, expecting that something will happen in the next few hours or days. But here we are, two thousand years after John wrote down what he saw and heard, wondering what “soon” really means. The use of this word implies that we must be ready, as though the something we expect to happen is due imminently. If we don’t we are in danger of becoming lethargic and complacent, deferring what we should be doing to some undefined time in the future. In modern parlance, “kicking the can down the road”. But in a sense, compared with eternity, our “soon” is our life span. We don’t know when we will pass over the Great Divide, but it might be ”soon”. One thing is for sure though. The events of John’s vision will happen just as he saw them, because the angel, God’s messenger, said they were “trustworthy and true”. Sadly, many people try and dismiss the Revelation story as being difficult to understand so, consequentially, it can’t have any relevance. Some consider it the ramblings of an old man, and wonder why it was included in the Bible at all.
But in the same way we wonder about what “soon” means, we also wonder about that other temporal event, the End Times. When will it start? Or has it already started? Nowhere in John’s vision does it say how long it will take, running through all those plagues and disasters. Neither does it say anywhere in his visions when the End Times will start. Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the end of the world and in Matthew 24:3 we read their question, “Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?””. Jesus’s reply was, “ … Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.” (Matthew 24:4-8). And in Matthew 24:36 He confirms our dilemma, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
Jesus told us that the End Times events were to be preceded by wars, famines and earthquakes. Perhaps preparing the ground, as it were, for the devastation yet to come. Jesus’ return could be “soon”, in our lifetimes, or it could be in hundreds or thousands of years in the future. We don’t know. Only God knows. But the events outlined in John’s vision were “trustworthy and true”. We ignore them at our peril.
The angel finishes his epilogue with the assurance that if the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelation are obeyed, then blessings will follow. We could turn this round and say that those who are disobedient to the Revelation prophecies will, at best, not be blessed, or, at worst, end up cursed. The angel was saying that God went out of His way to give John the visions he received. He took it seriously. So must we.
Father God. We confirm our allegiance to You today. Only You have the words of eternal life. Only You know the beginning and the end. We praise and worship You today. Amen.