This might be a strange topic for the Christmas season, but something I wanted to share. I have been studying the book of Revelation this year in my Bible study class, and so we are taking a close look at “end times”. Biblical prophecy is a complex matter, often with elements that have been fulfilled, and some “not yet” fulfilled. The matter is further complicated by the differing opinions of the scholars. There are so many different beliefs on the same passages, it is hard to form a solid understanding.
But that is exactly my prayer this year.
I want to know, and take to heart, what the Lord would have me learn from this year. I am praying for concrete, tangible take-aways from all intangible, often symbolic, complexities. Mostly, I want to know what I need to know to live my life effectively for Him – now. Today, and every day, until the end comes; one foot in front of the other.
When the study began, my first thought is that studying the end is not so different from studying the whole, and, specifically, the faith required is the same faith required to believe any of it. I am not sure why, at first, it appears to be so different and complex. If we believe Jesus is the Son of God, prophesied as “the child born to us” (Isaiah 9) at Christmas, Jesus the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), Jesus who rose from the grave (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20), and ascended to heaven (Matthew 28, Acts 1), then why do we struggle to embrace the Jesus described in Revelation? He is the same Jesus. All the other things recorded about Him have been true, and happened just as the Word of God said. Why do we question or doubt the certainty of a final end – judgment of the earth?
Our leaders have been talking about the “certainty of judgment” the last couple of weeks. They have also acknowledged the hardship in looking closely at the fact that judgment is real, and coming. It is difficult to think that the world as we know it will be destroyed, and all who reject Jesus will perish. It is a sobering and unsettling reality. But it should unsettle us. It should ignite a fire under us in how we are living life today. Who are we telling about this? Who needs to know? But this presents a whole host of other problems, doesn’t it? We don’t want to be an alarmist, labeled a fanatic. We fear rejection, ridicule, and scorn. Don’t we? I have to admit that I do.
I believe understanding Revelation is critical to “growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord” (2 Peter 3). This is not an area where we can rely on others to interpret. Just as faith forms in concrete ways from studying the other parts of the Word, so it must be with Revelation. I would encourage you to get into the book of Revelation. For local friends, Bible Study Fellowship offers classes for men, women, and children. We have a welcome class the first week of every month. Please consider this for the first of the year, we are only on chapter 7 this week. There is plenty to go, and learn.
Last week, my group was talking about the fear we all have in the increased violence and killing in our world. We talked about how fearful we are to be in public with our families, and how God has called us to be a light and hope to others as the terror increases. We prayed for one another to get free from our fears by focusing on Jesus – the Sovereign Lord – who rules and reigns over every aspect of every life. In the middle of this discussion, the Lord brought to mind a concrete visual (just as I have prayed). I thought of the Scripture we cross-referenced this week in Zechariah 14, as we talked about the “great and terrible day of the Lord”. It says, “Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south”.
In this country, we talk a lot about whether or not we should send troops to the Middle East to address the savage terrorism there. We look to political candidates for leadership and actions. Who will put the “boots on the ground” in the conflict?
Jesus is coming, and His boots will split apart the mountains when He sets His foot upon the Mount of Olives. I want you to think about that. Jesus Christ, with His nail-scarred feet that shine like bronze glowing in a furnace (Revelation 1:15), will set foot on this earth again. And when His boots hit the ground, the battle belongs to Him. All terror and sin will be removed from the earth in its final judgment.
Let this thought encourage you, and terrify you in the fear of the Holy Lord. Let this thought stabilize you because He has set our feet upon a ROCK – that cannot be shaken. Though the mountains give way, His covenant of peace will never be removed (Isaiah 54:10). If we belong to Him, we have nothing to fear in the day of judgment.
This Christmas, as you behold the tiny toes wriggling in the manger, see the feet that will crush the head of Satan when Jesus once again sets foot on this earth.