All year I have been struggling with balancing my normal routine life with my commitment to read the entire Bible for the first time in my life. It has been a difficult challenge and I wish I could say that God spoke to me with his big booming “God” voice and made me feel all warm and squidgy.
But he didn’t. I need to look elsewhere.
So what have I learnt, in brief?
The Old Testament is not a series of chronological descriptions of prophets having conversations with the Almighty. It is a series of events in more or less chronological order, but then continuing with the Lord speaking to the prophets about what Israel is doing wrong.
It is hard NOT to draw parallels with modern-day Israel and the politics of the Middle East. Some people might say that Israel is still doing wrong and will be duly punished. But there are some in Israel itself who are struggling to make their voice of compassion and equality heard. Time will tell if they manage to succeed. Peace is still a long way off, but if everyone on all sides could agree on a compromise, then life would improve for all.
The New Testament contains some challenging words from Paul and the other epistle writers. It is difficult to follow their instructions sometimes. Many of the things they wrote about are directly opposite to our modern way of thinking.
As the Church of England chose its first female Bishop, one can only imagine the horror that Paul would feel. Or would he? If he were alive today, would he think more like us? In a way it is not even a question. We cannot change what’s in the Bible just because we don’t like it. Picking specific passages to support our arguments is very thin ice, theologically.
Much safer to say what I liked most. I have enjoyed Zachariah, which I didn’t quote because I’d already decided to just concentrate on Revelation in December. There were many connections with the Easter story. Life from death. Easter: a time of re-birth and renewal. A time of starting afresh. A sort of spiritual Happy New Year. And perhaps that’s God’s message to me? A Happy New Year!
Which brings me to the final quote. Thank you for reading, I hope you found some of it interesting. God bless you.
“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 there will be two classes of people. Those whose deeds have earned them a place in the Book of Life, and those whose deeds have not.
“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I am about to tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
‘But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars – their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.'” [Revelation 21:5-8 NLT]
He says he is the Beginning and the End. Note the capital letters.
In the Beginning, who was there? Remember Genesis? Before the earth was made, before the stars, before everything…
And at the end, when the earth is finished and the stars start to go out, He will be there as well.
But who will join Him in the Holy City?
The one on the throne sets out his stall for all to read. If you are on the list, you will be saved. But of your deeds have meant that you are not in the Book of Life, you are heading for a second death. Look at that list again. Can you say with all honesty that you are in the clear?
The countdown is over. It’s time for you to decide.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon – that old serpent, who is the Devil, Satan – and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations any more until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while” [Revelation 20:1-3 NLT]
Way back in the year 2000 people were predicting the end of the world. It does seem like the number 1000 is significant. But if we’ve learned one thing it is that we cannot interpret anything here literally.
The phrase “a thousand years” is intended to convey a long period of time.
But we can be sure that the end is coming. Judgement Day is nigh. But if we can’t pin God down to a definite date, can we say what will happen?
John’s visions are clearer on that. The one who is sitting on the white throne will open the Book of Life. First of all, he will judge the dead. This judgement is based on how each person has lived their life. If you are on the list, you will have a place in His Holy City.
It’s not based on what you might have said or thought about saying or didn’t say. It’s based on what you actually DID.
And the good news is that it’s not too late. As I have read the Bible this year, I have learnt that the Lord is always willing to give us another chance. If we are willing to take a risk, he is willing to reach out to help us take that step.
Whenever we feel like we are sinking, he is there to pull us up again.
Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself.
From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress.
And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue.
Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. (from Revelation 19:11-12, 15, 20-21 NLT)
The final battle between good and evil. And the evil one finds himself burned alive.
There are only three days left of the year. Have you kept up to your resolutions? Were they too difficult, or unachievable?
What are your resolutions for next year?
Think about it…
He gave a mighty shout: “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul and dreadful animal. (Revelation 18:2 NLT)
“Babylon” was a real place. Perhaps it still is. But the one referred to here is symbolic. It’s a metaphor for a place of luxury and opulence.
Only a tiny percentage of the population of the earth hold the majority of its wealth. Most of the humans on this planet are poor. Some are starving to death or decease ridden.
While the rich sit in their palaces and ivory towers, bought through their own shady deals and criminal acts, the poor eek out a meagre existence.
That’s not right. It’s not fair.
Communism has come and gone. It failed because humans are, at heart, self centred.
We need something new if we are, as a species, to survive.
If things do not change, we will become a minor footnote in the earth’s history. All our achievements will count to nothing unless we start taking better care of the weak and vulnerable.
Together they will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them because he is Lord of all lords and King of all kings. And his called and chosen and faithful ones will be with him.” (Revelation 17:14 NLT)
So which side are you on?
Are you going to war against the Lamb, or has he called you?
And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.
And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon.
Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And a great earthquake struck—the worst since people were placed on the earth. (Revelation 16:13, 16, 18 NLT)
There is no possibility of Bruce Willis helping out here. This is not a fictional end of the world. This is IT.
I didn’t realise that Armageddon was a place. I had always thought it was just the name of the end of everything. But it is all going to play out here.
Only 6 days to go.
And you don’t want to miss a thing…
I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them. (Revelation 15:2 NLT)
You know when watching TV shows like “Casualty” than the opening scene will usually include some poor souls who are destined to meet a sticky end.
They are in a precarious situation and yet they don’t seem keen to mend their ways.
That’s how I feel about the souls in this verse. They are stood on a sea made of glass and fire. And what are they doing? Playing harps!
Do you remember that song by the rock group Europe?
It’s the Final Countdown!
We are almost there. It has been a long road, and a rocky one at times. The end is not quite in sight, be we know it is coming.
And John has seen a vision of the harvest. That should have capital letters. It is THE HARVEST.
The time when God will take everyone who is still left and gather them all up.
“Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.” So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested. (Revelation 14:15-16 NLT)”
Are you ready? Have you packed your bags? Have you cancelled the milk? Have you got your tickets and passport?
No? There might still be time, but you’d better hurry.
Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful. (Revelation 13:10 NLT)
Even if it means dying. Beacuse, as we have read so many times, death is not the end.