This is about the end of the book that is at the end of the Bible. It’s the last installment in a series of articles on the book of Revelation, at the end of the Bible. Revelation is a future description of the end of this age in history. Christians are supposed to read this book, but too many of us are satisfied with a few pictures like 666 (chapter 13 and verse 18) and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (chapter 6), and Armageddon, the great final battle (chapter 16 and verse 16).
The pictures are interesting, but we are told to read the whole book:
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud 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)
We are supposed to make sense of this book, and to understand where we are in history.
So, think about something that makes you angry, or someone who has that effect. Now calm down if you need to, and here is a question. Is that person or thing real? I have tried that question on people and I get strange looks and comments like “Yes, that’s why I’m angry!”
Here is another question. Why are so many atheists angry? For example, some Atheists recently complained angrily about at few words from the Lord’s Prayer on the wall of school.
If I traveled as a tourist to some exotic place, I might see interesting religious buildings, like ancient temples, or Mayan pyramids. I don’t believe, and for sure I don’t support human sacrifice in a pyramid temple, just like you. But I am not angry, and I don’t demand that those tourist attractions should be torn down. I would just get on the tour bus and take pictures.
We can choose to not believe, or we can reject; the two are very different. Rejecting makes people angry.
There are 2.2 billion people who identify as Christian, in the world today, in a total population of 6.9 billion. I don’t believe those 2.2 billion are all devoted followers of Jesus, but they have all made some decision. We can add to that all the people who made a decision about Jesus, and chose ‘no.’ Rejectors and acceptors together are probably about half of the population of the world. Of course anyone can revisit a decision and change their mind, but I want to make the point that billions have made a decision at least once, about Jesus, and that has never happened before.
That is how close we are to the end.
The final chapters of Revelation shows the cleanup after a war, ‘World War Final.’
In Revelation, there are no benign agnostic atheists, just angry rejectors and faithful followers. For example:
They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (6:16)
“Hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.” (16:21)
Jesus will come for us after we come for Him. Revelation shows a world at war with God, not some weird and intrusive second coming event. We are the masters of our own destiny and we bring on the end.
The final chapters in Revelation are like the end of World War Two, with a defeated enemy and occupying armies. The great rejecting enemies of God are called “Babylon” and the “Beast”. When they lead the fight against God, the end is easy to predict.
“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!” (18:2)
“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.” (19: 19 and 20)
[Read Revelation chapters 17, 18. and 19]
After the war, the world has a thousand years of peace, the “Millennium” followed by the Resurrection, Judgement Day, and Hell. To understand Hell, note that people go there if they choose. People who emphatically reject God go to a place where God is absent.
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.” (20: 12 and 13)
[Read chapter 20]
The end is the restoration of a destroyed world. This is our source for the utopian words “a New Jerusalem.”
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” (21: 1 and 2)
And then the story ends, and the ending is happy. In Revelation, humans are the driving force for the action, and the masters of their own fate. We choose and God responds.
“Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” (22: 11)
[Read chapters 21 and 22]
And that is the picture of our destiny; we will destroy and God will restore.
I hope I have inspired you to read the whole book of Revelation, in the Bible, and not just look at the pictures. It is one of our greatest resources for living as Christians in this world.
I sincerely hope that God will bless you from this overlooked part of the Bible.
More in this series: