Do you want to know what happens in the end? I don’t mean the end of the Bible. I mean the end of the whole world—of reality as we know it. No, I’m not being dramatic. There really is an authoritative account of the end of human history.
We come to the last chapter of God’s story—the book of Revelation. Oddly enough, we often neglect it. This last chapter isn’t a distant dream or a fantasy. In fact, its first pages tell us that the pages before it are turning quicker than we may think, and soon the end will come upon us.
In his kindness, God gave us the last chapter of history. He welcomes us to read it. He is a revealing God—a God of clarity and peace, and not confusion (Amos 3:7). Go ahead and flip to the back of the Bible. You’ll quickly discover that we are told to read Revelation, and to read it with others, for there’s a blessing in store for those who do (Revelation 1:3).
When you open this book, you’re not only reading the last chapter of our story, but the first chapter of the story none of us knows—the story of eternity—one far more glorious than what we can imagine here on earth.
Revelation tells us of how God closes the door to our present existence and opens the door to eternity. The close of this age happens as dramatically and decisively as we would imagine. Then, quietly, a new chapter opens: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…” (Revelation 21:1).
More than to provide for the last book in our Bibles, the apostle John wrote Revelation as a letter to seven churches in the first century. His letter does not primarily reveal things to come, but Jesus himself (Revelation 1:1).
The recipients of this letter suffered great persecution for their faith. Although they believed Jesus was God himself, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the one who loved them and freed them from their sins by his blood (Revelation 1:5), they needed fresh vision of him, so that they would not give up their faith. John wrote Revelation to help Christians know Jesus, keep their eyes on him, and trust him even while they endured terrible persecution.
So, what does Revelation show us of Jesus? His glory unveiled. The crown of thorns he bore for us is now a crown of gold. The Jesus who resigned himself to a Roman battalion for mocking (Matthew 27:27-29), now leads a host of thousands into battle to win the decisive victory against all evil (Revelation 19:11-16). The Jesus who left his throne in heaven to rescue fallen humanity, now sits again on his throne, and at his feet millions of angels fall (Revelation 7:9-11).
Revelation shows Jesus as he is—the King who will reign forever and ever. It anticipates the day when Jesus will be recognized as the King, and his kingdom will come in full force—every child of his welcomed home, every evil deed dealt with, and every knee bowed to him.
Revelation tells us of how God closes the door to our present existence and opens the door to eternity.
Hebrews 2:8 says that God has given Jesus authority over everything, yet, “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (ESV). We don’t see Jesus honored as King over the earth. But one day the time will come for God to no longer exercise his patience towards our sin and ignorance—God will finally be revealed to all people everywhere as the true God. Revelation confronts us with a question: Will you belong to the kingdom of King Jesus?
Jesus did not come to help us escape God’s wrath, merely. Jesus came to make us into a new kind of people, a kingdom and priests to serve God our Father (Revelation 1:6)—to restore us to the loving existence we had when we lived to enjoy and worship God before sin entered the world.
The world at present hates God, rebelling against his law. It’s riddled with our treason, and one day, God will put all things right. Jesus came on a rescue mission to lovingly transfer some of us into the kingdom of God, but God’s wrath is still coming upon the whole world who have not turned in faith to Jesus.
There’s an interesting phrase in Revelation: “God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath” (Revelation 16:19 NIV). God never forgets. Nothing escapes his judgments. Jesus came because God could not dismiss even the slightest of our evils. Jesus bore God’s wrath on the cross, but only for those who trust in him. For everyone who doesn’t trust in Jesus, they will bear the wrath due to their own sin at the end of time or in eternity. If you are frustrated by the injustice in the world, Revelation will encourage you that God will put all things right one day.
Many people treat Revelation like fantasy or mythology. Yet more than once, we are told that the contents of revelation are trustworthy (Revelation 21:5; 22:6). God pulls back the curtain dividing our world from the spiritual realm and we get to peek behind the scenes.
Read this book carefully, and you’ll notice it’s loud. Voices like thunder, shouts from saints and angels, trumpet blasts, loud songs of praise rising from the multitudes, and heavenly “roars.” It’s bright. Lamps are everywhere, the Lord shines bright as the sun, everywhere we read of gold and fire, and the color white. And it’s fearful. God’s patience is up (2 Peter 2:8-11). God’s kingdom will not suffer to be incognito anymore. It’s time Christ reigns over all—and the wicked kingdoms of the earth crumble (Revelation 18).
How are we to respond to these things? Well, when the page of eternity opens, will you be found in the kingdom of God, among those who love the Lord Jesus, or will you be part of those he sweeps away to ensure his kingdom is safe from all evil? That’s a sobering question!
Will you be part of the happily ever after? Will you delight in the reign of King Jesus?
“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” (Revelation 1:3).
May you open Revelation, experience the blessing, and take every word to heart.