Come Lord Jesus

“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.”
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭20‬-‭21‬ ‭NLT

So we arrive at the very last verses in the Book of Revelation. It has been a roller coaster of a journey, taking us over six months to complete. But we have finally arrived at the end, with Jesus providing the last word. He reminded John that He has signed off the contents of this book, and He then said, “Yes, I am coming soon!”. 

If there is ever a witness with the absolute capability to be totally right, it is Jesus. He not only walked on our planet, assuming a human form, but He also has lived for all eternity with His Father in Heaven. A unique position, and because of it He is the only One who can reliably inform us of all the physical and spiritual events that have spanned more than time. They have spanned eternity itself. So His claim to be “the faithful witness” can be totally trusted.

As we journey through the highways of life, we pilgrims need a Guide, and the Revelator, Jesus Himself, fills that role exactly and totally. We follow Him. We obey Him. And, of course, we love Him. And amazingly, the Holy Spirit, writing through John, reminds us in the last sentence of this Book, of one attribute that God has, and that gives us hope for the future. His grace. The unmerited favour He has poured out on us. As the acronym says, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Only Jesus has the words of eternal life, and because of His sacrifice at Calvary, where He, the very Son of God, gave His life for the propitiation of our sins, He gave us an escape route from the sin and wickedness of Planet Earth. A staircase into Heaven for those who embrace the grace and become a member of “God’s holy people”. 

John also used the word “Amen”. So be it. May it happen. And it will. Just as Jesus said it would. We echo the amen and tramp on, inspired, full of joy, and with our faces glowing, reflecting God’s light, love and presence, and by it illuminating the lives of those around us. What a Saviour. What a God!

Dear Father God. What can we say? On our knees we worship You today and every day. Amen.

A Solemn Declaration

And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭18‬-‭19‬ ‭NLT

We have here a warning. Nothing must be removed from, or added to, the prophecies written in the Book of Revelation. And there are dire consequences in store for any who do. We read earlier in Revelation 22:6 the following, “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””. So we know the contents of Revelation are sound. God-inspired. The contents of this Book can be trusted. So it begs the question, “Who would want to change the contents of this Book?” I suppose it is likely that people would want to remove the difficult bits, and perhaps add something that they think will be a better wording, or provide a description that better fits the narrative. But this is a sober warning to be seriously heeded. 

Does the warning extend just to the Book of Revelation, or does it apply to the whole of the Bible, including both Testaments? In Deuteronomy 4:1-2 we read that Moses said to the Israelites, “And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you”. And again we read something similar in Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar”. I suppose some people question the authenticity of the Bible and its many translations, concerned that the truth contained within has been violated. But the Bible is an amazing collection of sixty six individual books. Although they had many authors, there is one over-riding influence, and that is the Holy Spirit. So when we read in Revelation 22:6 that everything written is “trustworthy and true” we can be assured of the dependability of what we read.

Also of concern is the emergence of sects that have added or changed some text in the Bible to suit their own ends, citing the inspiration of a “prophet” and revelations given to him. According to what we have read in Deuteronomy, Proverbs and Revelation they are heading for an unexpected but certain demise. But for me the traditional Bible has stood the test of time and we echo with Paul what he wrote in his letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work”. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

So what do we pilgrims think of the Revelation warning? We consider it carefully and soberly, ensuring that we read the Bible properly, even the difficult parts. And we pray that the Holy Spirit will bring to our attention anything we need to “prepare and equip” us for our pilgrimage to the future Holy City.

Dear Father God. We thank You for Your wonderful, and only, written work, The Holy Bible. Please help us to expound its truths at every opportunity. We praise and worship You today. Amen.


“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭17‬ ‭NLT

Just a few verses before in Revelation 22, Jesus had given John an invitation. He said, “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭12). And now the invitation rings out again. Loud and clear. There can be no excuse that people never heard it. After Jesus it is the turn of the Holy Spirit to say, “Come!”. And just to make sure, the bride also says, “Come!”. Of course, we know that the bride is the church – we have read much about the Bride of Christ in previous Revelation Scriptures. So we have an alliance, a partnership, between the Holy Spirit and the Church; an invitation from Spirit-filled churches is powerful. And the next invitation in verse 17 is from all who hear the “Come” and repeat it to those around them. 

But those who respond to the invitation have to be thirsty. And the thirst must relate to the “water of life”, freely given by our wonderfully generous God. This “water of life”  is the same drink Jesus promised the woman at the well. He said in John 4:14, “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Jesus gave the invitation again in John 7:37-38, “On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart’””. The invitation is there to be accepted. But as the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. Unless people are thirsty for this living water promised by Jesus, they won’t drink it. They prefer the worldly drinks, even as the woman at the well discovered, finding out that anything of the world never satisfies and leads to a life of enslavement to drudgery.

Verse 17 in Revelation 22 starts with “The Spirit and the bride”. Notice that it is not the church on its own extending the invitation. Neither is it the Holy Spirit who is just saying “Come”. It is a joint invitation from the Holy Spirit and the Church. This may be an obvious point, but without the Holy Spirit, a church cannot effectively ask people to come and drink of the living water offered by Jesus. This is a because a church without the Holy Spirit won’t have a supply of living water. It will be as dry and arid as any natural desert. Sadly, the Holy Spirit left many churches long ago, but the dwindling and elderly congregations are still offering what they don’t have. And those in the world find out that there is nothing there for them. Perhaps all churches should ask themselves the question, “Would we know if the Holy Spirit left us?” The answer to that question could fill a book on its own.

So we pilgrims, those of us who have already responded to the invitation to “Come”, who are already drinking of the life-giving water, must extend the invitation to those around us. There are plenty of thirsty people around – I meet some every day on my morning prayer walks. We pray for the opportunity to connect people’s spiritual thirst with the life-giving water. Only Jesus can turn on the tap. And only people can propagate the “Rivers of living water” that flow from God’s throne. 

Dear Father God. We pray for a fresh filling of Your Holy Spirit today. We know You have more than enough living water to quench our thirsts. We are so grateful. Amen.

The Bright Morning Star

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus confirmed the reason why John had been given this vision, that we have been reading about in the Book of Revelation. It was a “message for the churches”. And what a message! As we have been following it, our tortuous journey has taken us through many different scenarios, some easy to understand, others not so. But through it all, Jesus’s concern and care for His church shines through, a Royal thread sealing the contents for eternity.

In today’s verse, Jesus starts by confirming that it was Him who sent the angel to be with John, an angel acting as a projectionist, as though rolling the films that have made up the End Time story. Interspersed with the visuals there were moments of audio, podcasts declaring Jesus’ messages. And Jesus then declares once again, as if we didn’t already know, who He is.

Jesus said He is “the source of David and the heir to his throne”. He, of course, was referring to the Jewish King, who ruled in Israel around 1,000 BC. Right at the beginning of the New Testament, in Matthew 1:1, we read, “This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:”. So Jesus was confirming His human lineage right back to David and even before. But He mentioned David, because it was through a vision given to him by Nathan the prophet that confirmed Jesus’s Royal status, to come at the end of time. We read part of Nathan’s prophecy in 2 Samuel 7:12-14a, “For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son….. ”. Jesus didn’t just “pop-up” in history, with no pedigree, no mandate. God had ordained His future role – it was part of His plan for mankind, for peoples blighted by sin and wickedness. And the reference Jesus made to David confirmed His humanity, as well as His divinity.

Jesus continued to inform John that He is “the bright morning star”. For those astronomers amongst us they will know that the morning star, the planet Venus, appears at dawn, just before the sun rises. Some Bible interpreters have concluded that this means Jesus will return first for His church before returning for His people, Israel. But whatever we decide, when He appears in the sky it will precede something significant.

So the usual question. What does all this mean for us pilgrims? We must carefully consider the messages contained in Revelation. There are many. This is, at first sight, a rather scary and complex book, but interspersed through it there are nuggets of gold, designed to correct us, to encourage us, and to guide us. We need to read it frequently, and discern the times.

Dear Lord. Thank You for Your care, Your love, Your provision. The spiritual food contained in this book will sustain us on our journey through life. We thank You. Amen.

Wash Day (2)

“Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.”
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭14‬-‭15‬ ‭NLT

John’s brief list of sinful acts ends with a strange reference to “all who love to live a lie”. What is that all about? When we were children a favourite pastime was to dress up in clothes, giving us the feeling of being someone we weren’t. When my wife and I were foster parents, we kept a box full of what we called dressing up clothes, and the children occasional pulled them all out and had a dressing up session. As an aside, we had one 4-year-old boy who loved to wear little girls’ clothes, and particularly a tutu and ballet shoes. I’m not sure what the psychiatrists would make of him today, but it was just a phase he went through. He grew out of it.

To a certain extent we all live a lie. We hold within ourselves our feelings and what we are really thinking, preferring to display a “face” telling a different story to those around us. And we all have skeletons in cupboards somewhere, tucked away in dusty recesses in our minds. We all have history. But we don’t have to be defined by that. I know we have memories, terrified that someone might find out something about us we don’t want to disclose. But when we repent of our sins, bringing them under the spotlight of God’s grace, He wipes them out. He remembers them no more. We read in Hebrews 8:12, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins”. There are other Scriptures too that say the same. But the one I like is in Psalm 103:12, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west”. It doesn’t get much further than that. God forgets but, sadly, we don’t. And the memories lurk there in our minds, emerging now and then, often with the devil’s prompting, causing us pain. And just in case we had forgotten to confess a sin, we repent again. But God says “What sin?” And so the cycle continues. Someone once said these memories are the stain of sin. When satan come a-knocking, trying to torment me once again, I refute his accusations, reminding him of my blood-bought status and that I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m no longer the man I used to be. James very perceptively recorded in 4:17, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. And so he does.

We don’t have to live a defeated life, tormented by every memory. Instead, we can stand boldly before God free of conviction and a guilty conscience. We read in Hebrews 10, 19,21-22, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus …. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”‭‭‭‭

So living a lie needn’t be the case because before God we are an open book. He will gently lead us on our journeys to Heaven, exposing and dealing with our issues and sins step by step. And with our fellow Christians we can be honest and open too, though in the process being careful about not disclosing too much information. A “need to know” approach is best. The next time we walk through the church door or sit at our desks, and someone asks the question, “How are you today?”, we can respond with a faith-filled statement. We may not be “Fine”, but we will be, once we allow God’s love and grace to flood over us.

Dear Father God. We thank You for Your encouragement, sustaining us through the trials and tribulations of life. Only You have the ways of fixing broken and tormented souls. Amen. 

Wash Day (1)

“Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.”
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭14‬-‭15‬ ‭NLT

It looks as though people wearing dirty clothes will not be acceptable in the Holy City. They were instructed to wash them, a process that will result in blessings. A strange situation until we understand what this washing is all about. We read earlier in Revelation 7:13-14, “Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.” The blood of Jesus is extraordinarily and fundamentally significant in the lives of Christians, denoting as it does the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross at Calvary for our sins. We read in Ephesians 1:7, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” We also read in Hebrews 9:12, “With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” So the significance of washing our robes is clear. Only people who are saved through Jesus’ blood will enter Heaven. 

Once inside the Holy City, the redeemed people of God, His holy people, will enjoy eternal life, eating from the fruit of the tree that has been around ever since God created the world. It has been hidden for all time as we know it, but it has not been extinct because we find it again on the banks of the river that flows from God’s throne. The tree of life. We read earlier in Revelation 22:2, ”… On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.” The same tree of life that we read about in Genesis 2:9.

Once again, John reminded us of who will not be able to enter the Holy City. In fact, these people will not be in Heaven either. These are the people who have not “washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb“. The sorcerers and murderers are clearly exhibiting behaviours that Christians agree will exclude them from Heaven. But what about the sexually immoral? Sadly, there is much unnecessary debate and angst amongst Christians about this, with biblically-defined offenders encroaching on traditional values and taking on roles in some churches because the leaders think they should be moving with the times. But there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth on the Judgement Day. Liberal theologians will find that our God is the “same yesterday, today and forever”. He never changes. And neither does His laws and precepts.

John also highlights the demise of idol worshippers. The picture emerges in our minds of statues of Buddha or similar, but an idol is something that replaces God as the focus of our worship. We know the commandments. As a reminder, Exodus 20:4-5a reads, “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” I would add to that anything man made, that replaces God in our lives.

So we pilgrims wash our robes, the blood of Jesus cleansing us from all our sins. And we move on in God’s grace, with grateful hearts.

Dear Lord. We humbly praise and worship You today with grateful hearts. Your love knows no bounds. Amen.

Pay Back Time

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
‭Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭12‬-‭13‬ ‭NLT

As if John needed another reminder, Jesus took over from the angel to tell him that the time was short. Jesus said that He will be returning soon. The angel had given the same message to John just a few verses earlier. But Jesus said more. He said He will be rewarding all people “according to their deeds”. 

What will these rewards be? They will not, of course, be anything that is materialistic. No elaborate engraved clocks for the mantelpiece here! Neither will Jesus be rewarding us for the good deeds that we do for their own sake. These come under the category of “works”. But we know that our salvation is based on God’s grace alone, not anything we claim to do for Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it”. In many ways, it will be reward enough to leave this life, with all its difficulties, and instead be with Jesus in Heaven. But Jesus has more for us when we get there. Jesus gave us a hint with the parable of the talents. Matthew 25:21 (AMP) reads, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master’”. So there is one reward we will receive, the joy of knowing that Jesus will be pleased with what we have achieved. Perhaps the closer we are to Jesus in this life, the closer we will be to Him in the life to come. Rewards enough.

When will Jesus repay people “according to their deeds”? After Jesus comes again there will be a time when we will stand before Him, to be judged. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” Note that the judgement here is for the deeds not for salvation. That comes later at the event we refer to as the Great White Throne judgement, when the Lamb’s Book of Life is consulted and everyone’s life is replayed in God’s presence.

Jesus finishes his conversation by reminding John of His eternal presence. He is the Beginning and the End. There’s something reassuring about knowing that God is more permanent than anything around us. One day this world will end in a puff of smoke, but God will still be there. As I write the war in Ukraine still rumbles on. But God is still on His throne. We may have questions – lots of them – but knowing that our God is always present, always has been, and always will be, somehow makes the questions not quite so important. But because God is the Rock on which we stand, that is in itself an answer to our deepest yearning. Knowing God is who He says He is, somehow empowers us pilgrims to get on with the life, the calling, that He has assigned to us. The prophet Habakkuk declared before God the following, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk‬ ‭3‬:‭17‬-‭18‬). He also knew that God is the Beginning and the End. And that was all that mattered to him.

Dear Father God. You are the Alpha and Omega. Your presence is eternal. And we are so grateful that even though much comes against us, only You are relevant. Thank You for the joy that fills us. Amen.

Don’t Close the Book

“Then he instructed me, “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near. Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.””
Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭10‬-‭11‬ ‭NLT

In the days before paper and books, writings would be recorded on scrolls, and they would be rolled up and sealed to preserve the contents. We saw this back in Revelation when we read, “And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?”” (Revelation 5:2). Jesus eventually stepped forward to open the scroll. He was the only one found worthy enough to break the seals and unleash the consequences on the earth. Well, now we’re at Revelation 22 and John was instructed not to seal the scroll. Today, we would say keep the book open and make it available for all to read. So this was to be no library book, removed from the shelf and relegated to a storeroom somewhere. This was no book to be placed in a box at the back of the attic. The angel was saying that events were about to come to fruition, just as described in the book. So keep it handy for reference. It was almost as though the prophecies were to form a checklist, with boxes to be ticked as the events happened, implying that the prophetic words contained within Revelation were going to happen just as described. And “soon”.

The angel continued with a strange statement. What did he mean by saying that existing behaviour must continue, whether good or bad? John’s prophetic vision about what was to happen had finished. The angel was now gently bringing him back to the present. A world populated by good and bad people. Perhaps the End Times were about to be completed so quickly that there wasn’t any time left for personal revisions of human behaviour. People were to continue carrying on as they always had done until the final day arrived. Jesus warned us that this would be the case, as we read in Matthew 24:37-39, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realise what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” It is sad to think that mankind has become so arrogant that warnings about the future are disregarded, people preferring to live their lives in a sinful way. Of course it was not necessarily wrong to indulge some of the social practices that were happening. It was all about where God was in them – elevated or ignored? In it all, were the people’s lives harmful and vile, or righteous and holy?

Is there any significance in the descriptive words the angel used – harm, vile, righteousness and holiness? Possibly not, because there were many other character descriptions possible to describe how mankind behaves. The message for us pilgrims is to “keep on keeping on”. As we wait for the final days to come, we must continue to do the things God has asked us to do. Sharing our messages of hope. Living our lives as we should. Following Christ at every opportunity. Aspiring to true righteousness and holiness.

Dear Father God. Thank You for Your faithful servant John, who so diligently wrote down everything presented to him. Please help us too to be diligent in the tasks You have set us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Being a Servant

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!””
‭Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭8‬-‭9‬ ‭NLT

John was so overcome with his conversation with the angel, that he felt the urge to fall on his knees before him and worship him. What was there about the angel that induced that feeling in John? But John had been there before. We read in Revelation 19:10 about another time when he felt he had to worship an angel. We read, “Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God.…..””.

What is there about angels that can perhaps invite their worship? It may have been a problem in early church days, because the Apostle Paul warned the Colossians church about it. We read in Colossians 2:18, “Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud,”. Angels are created beings, but they are eternal and they have the powers to travel through space and time. They serve God continually, and they have a form that is supernatural and beyond our understanding. Many books have been written about angels, and the Bible is full of references about them. We may even be able to sense the presence of angels, keeping us from danger. But mankind has a tendency to be wowed by something amazing, and that perhaps initiated John’s feelings of a need to worship. 

The angel claimed that he was a “servant of God”, just, as he said, like John and his “brothers the prophets“. But in what way did the angel serve God? In the case before us, God had obviously assigned him the task of showing and explaining all that he did to John. And he did it with patience, gentleness and kindness, threads we see throughout the Book of Revelation. But what about the brothers, the prophets? How do they serve God? Paul gave us insight, in Colossians 2:23-24, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” There is a connection here between living our earthly lives and service to God. Many church people have claimed to do “the Lord’s work”, preaching, teaching, being missionaries and so on, but the reality is that serving God can be a job as mundane as cleaning the toilets or drying the dishes. We read in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticise you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” That’s serving God in the way He expects.

In our societies today, we don’t tend to think of worship as something we do outside a church building. But we pilgrims know what it means to worship God. And we do so continually. We must worship only God, and not one of the false gods that can sometimes wheedle their ways into our lives. We see people worshipping on a golf course, at football matches, polishing a piece of metal in their driveways. The list of false gods is endless. We make something a god when we elevate it higher than the true God. We need to pay attention to who and how we serve, and who or what we worship. Get the priorities right and we won’t go far wrong.

Father God. We need some help here. You know our tendency to get caught up with false gods and how we grumble and complain. Please help us! Amen.

Coming Soon

“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.