[Dec 31]—Happy Endings

            Well, this is it. This is the last new TAWG Blog posting I’m planning on posting. To anyone who’s actually read any of this--whether it’s been one posting or all of them since day one—I thank you and really hope the Lord has used this to draw you closer to him. And on this last reading of my postings, what else could we talk about except the last chapter of the Bible?
            The Bible has a lot of negative material in it. I heard a preacher once say that it’s appropriate for a Bible to be printed with black leather, since it deals with sin, death, judgment, heartache, betrayal, and a host of horrible subjects. The book of Revelation is replete with narratives of things like the entire earth (for a time) openly worshiping the Antichrist and millions dying in plagues and wars. There’s a reason why this book is listed in the “Apocalyptic” genre.
            But that’s not the end of the book! That’s not how the story ends. If you stop reading a book because you can’t bear any more, you miss out on the ending. As we face horrible things in this life, we have to keep in mind that we haven’t made it to the end of the book yet. Tragedy and heartache and loss and sin are not the end of our story. This is.
            The first five verses could be summarized as “The curse reversed, and then some.” When our first parents sinned, they were cast out of the Garden, which was more than a geographical exile. We were banished from his intimate presence into a world of sickness, pain, suffering and death. The Lord (in his mercy) set a guard around the Tree of Life, which would provide immunity from death. But in the New Jerusalem, our new home, there are no angels with swords to bar our way from the Tree. It’s open to all. And most important, the Presence from which we had to flee before will then be like warm sunshine after a long winter, warming us from the inside-out. Oh, and as a side-note, we’re going to reign with him forever.
Some final notes:

·         Three times in this chapter, the Lord Jesus feels the need to tell us “I am coming soon!” In the first instance he issues a blessing on those of us who pay attention to the words of this scroll (Revelation). The second is a warning: He’s coming soon, and he’s bringing his reward with him. He’s going to reward his faithful followers, and he’s going to punish rebels finally and fatally. He’s going to be either the best Friend you’ll ever have, or the worst Enemy you could ever dream of. And then we have vs. 20, the last words of Jesus to the world: “Yes, I am coming soon.” That’s the last official word we’re going to hear from him until he. . .well, comes.  

·       I find it quite fitting that the last few words of God’s book to us include an invitation. First Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who “wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Like the invited wedding guests in one of the Lord’s parables, we must get clean robes handed to us in order to have access to this Celebration to end all celebrations. Then in verse 17, John passes on three invitations to everyone reading this. 1) The Spirit says “Come!” just like he always has and always will, until the Door is finally shut. 2) The Bride says “Come!” as she proclaims the Good News-- really the Best News—to the lost. 3) And finally the one who hears says “Come!” If you believe in Christ, you're part of this. You have a corporate responsibility (as part of the Church) and an individual responsibility to say “Come!” to people around you. In both your words and actions, you should be saying “Come!” to those who don’t know the Savior.

·       What is this invitation? Well, the Savior is “coming soon,” so you need to “come” right now to him before he “comes” to you. You can either know him as Savior now or as your Judge later. If you’re thirsty, come to him. If you want salvation, take it. Freely take the free gift.

·      We get a final warning in vss. 18-19. The words of this prophecy--which are the last words of Jesus to the world and his church--close the canon. We don’t remove anything from God’s word, and we don’t add anything to it. That’s a warning that everyone needs to take seriously. As a teacher, that’s been my obligation over the last three years, and as God as my witness, I’ve taken it extremely seriously.

·      To Jesus’ last words to the church and the world—“Yes, I am coming soon,” John just has one response: “Amen, let it be so. Come, Lord Jesus.” That should be our prayer as well. 

·      Genesis started out with goodness, then judgment. The rest of the Bible has a mixture of grace and judgment, but the literal last sentence of his word is a word of grace: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.” Let it be so.

Soli Deo Gloria. I really mean that. Anything that's been worth reading and acting upon comes straight from him, and anything that deserves to be thrown in the "circular file" comes from me. God bless you all.

Two last nuggets of wisdom from C. S. Lewis (you knew that was coming, right?):

          What most people aren’t familiar with concerning him is that he wrote a sci-fi trilogy. The second in the series, Perelandra, is set mainly on the planet Venus. The hero, Elwin Ransom, is having a conversation at the end of the book with Tor, the king of the planet. Tor alludes to some future events which sound like a universal Apocalypse.

“And that,” said Ransom, “will be the end?”
Tor the king stared at him.
“The end?” he said. “Who spoke of an end?”
“The end of your world, I mean,” said Ransom.
“Splendour of Heaven!” said Tor. “Your thoughts are unlike ours. About that time we shall not be far from the beginning of all things.”

“But can it be, Friend, that no rumour of all this is heard in [Earth]? Do your people think that their Dark Lord will hold his prey forever?”
“Most of them,” said Ransom, “have ceased to think of such things at all. Some of us still have the knowledge: but I did not at once see what you were talking of, because what you call the beginning we are accustomed to call the Last Things.”
“I do not call it the beginning,” said Tor the King. “It is but the wiping out of the false start in order that the world may then begin. As a man lies down to sleep, if he finds a twisted root under his shoulder he will change his place—and after that his real sleep begins. Or as a man setting foot on an island, may make a false step. He steadies himself and after that his journey begins. You would not call that steadying of himself a last thing?”

And then in The Last Battle, he has Aslan welcome the children into their new home with these words:

“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

“And for us, this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”  

Further up and further in. 
And of course, I want to end with our final cry set to music: 


Yes, Lord Jesus, please come quickly. And when you do, please find me ready. As it always has been, by your grace. 

No comments:

Post a Comment