The Old Testament has 17 books of prophecy (5 Major Prophets and 12 Minor Prophets). It is here that God’s messengers gave many warnings of what troubles and destruction would come to those who didn’t repent and live a life pleasing to God. Many (though not all) of the prophecies recorded in these books have already taken place: destruction of ancient Israel and Judah, restoration for a remnant and the coming of the Messiah.
Similarly, the New Testament ends with one book of New Testament prophecy – the book of Revelation. And in it we read many warnings to those who don’t repent, accept Jesus and live a life pleasing to God. Most of the prophecies recorded in this book have yet to come: destruction of the ungodly, the 2nd Coming of the Messiah, and restoration for the godly in the Coming Kingdom.
God sends this series of revelations to John (by way of Jesus and an angel). He writes of what must soon take place and says, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (1:3).
In chapters 2 & 3 the seven churches in Asia are individually commended for what they were doing right (hard work, perseverance, not tolerating wicked men, etc…). And, they were then challenged to work on other issues which required repentance and renewed commitment to truth and purity (not allowing false teachers and immorality, etc…). These words are very applicable to us today. We would be wise to consider what we as a church are doing well, as well as what we need to repent of and change. Each church is challenged to listen well to what the Spirit has to say to the church, and promised that overcomers would be rewarded.
Then the vision turns to the throne room of God where a lamb, looking “as it had been slain” (5:6) breaks 7 seals from a scroll unleashing war, famine, and other disasters on the earth. A dragon and two beasts, allied against God, arise to demand the worship of earth’s people who have not been killed in the earlier catastrophes. Seven bowls of the wrath of God (reminiscent of the plagues on Egypt) bring disasters such as darkness, the most severe earthquake ever and huge hailstones. The upheaval destroys Babylon the Great. Next, the heavens open and the Savior, Messiah, King Jesus, also called the Word of God, appears on a white horse ready to lead heaven’s armies in destroying evil. For 1000 years Christ reigns on earth while Satan, “that old serpent” (20:2) is bound and kept from deceiving more. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released briefly to instigate a worldwide war, but never fear – it says as they surround the camp of God’s people fire from heaven will devour the enemy and Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire. God unveils a new heaven and a new earth. The new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, and God will dwell with men. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (21:4). There are so many more beautiful descriptions of the coming Kingdom on earth found in the last 2 chapters of Revelation. It is truly something you don’t want to miss. But, we know that many will, because of the decisions they are making today.
Just as Moses laid out for the people blessings and curses depending on what the people did, so too, John’s Revelation includes good news and bad news. What will you do today to prepare for a Coming Kingdom?
Be an Overcomer