God’s Mysterious Plan

“Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand toward heaven. He swore an oath in the name of the One who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and everything in them, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it. He said, “There will be no more delay. When the seventh angel blows his trumpet, God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as He announced it to His servants the prophets.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭10:5-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We return to the picture of the huge angel standing astride the sea and land. He raises his hand to Heaven and swears an oath in the name of God. And he then made an announcement, that “God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled”. Do we swear oaths in the name of God? I suppose the nearest we get to such an event is in a court of law, when we take the witness stand. And raising a Bible in our right hands, we declare an oath, “I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. There is something significant and solemn about such an occasion. And the angel declared an oath in God’s name, affirming without doubt that “God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled“. This event was to take place when the seventh trumpet is blown.

In Ephesians, Paul wrote about what God intends to happen one day. Paul called it a “mysterious plan”  and that description continues in John’s writings. Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:9-10, “God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfil his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.” So the angel’s announcement that “God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled” implies that this must be the “right time” referred to by Paul. All those End Times prophecies in both the Old and New Testament are about to be completed.

We all make plans but they are hardly a mystery. We plan our holidays. We plan our lives. We plan the week ahead. And once the plan has been made, we communicate it to those around us, those who will be affected by it. Before the foundation of the world, God made a plan. We read in Ephesians 1:4, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” God could see that one day sin would enter the perfect world that He had made and He needed to make provision for mankind to be reconciled to Him. And the plan was absolutely amazing. Who would have ever thought that the Creator of the Universe would plan to allow His Son to come to this earth as a human being and end up being crucified on a Roman cross, to redeem the sins that had so blighted the world He had created? God didn’t tell anyone about this part of His plan right at the beginning, but instead revealed that the Messiah would come through His prophets, warning the peoples of their times about what was to come. And their prophetic voices continued with what would happen after the Messiah had returned to Heaven. The Book of Daniel is a fascinating read.

Paul revealed more about God’s “mysterious plan” in Ephesians 3. We read “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:10-11‬). God’s plan didn’t end with the coming of Jesus. As mankind embraced His Son, the plan continued with the creation of the Church, to be His Son’s bride, holy, spotless and unblemished, free from sin and wickedness. And at the Time of the End, the Kingdom of God will finally reign supreme. Jesus spoke much about His Kingdom during His time here in Planet Earth. He taught during His short time here on earth that His Kingdom was near. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” Isn’t it both humbling and amazing that pilgrims like us are instrumental in bringing about the end times through our sharing of the Gospel? Through sharing our messages of hope, our testimonies, with our neighbours and friends. In our communities and nations.

But we look around us in our wicked and war-torn world, and wonder if the End Times have already started? Hmmm..

Father God. We thank You that Your plan for mankind is still in process and that You have graciously allowed us time to become part of Your family. Once again I pray that we would have more opportunities to share Your Good News with those around us, giving them the chance of joining Your family as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Jesus Took the Scroll

“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.