The Catoosa County News
Ready or not
Iam often asked when I started writing. I generally get some raised eyebrows when I reply, “As soon as I could spell.” But it is literally true. As a Dr. Suess-raised kid, I was writing short stories using mostly mono-syllabic words from the time I was very young. I was writing poetry by first grade. Not good poetry, mind you, but poetry nonetheless.
But I never imagined that from that humble beginning, God would allow me to author more than thirty books. And I really never imagined that I would get to produce a verse-by-verse study through the most complex and intriguing book of the Bible, the book of The Revelation. But in early December of last year, it went to press. The Revelation: Ready Or Not, became my most successful book launch ever. Out of more than 10,000 New Testament commentaries on Amazon, it made it as high as number 28. That may not seem very glorious to others, but as a certified nobody from nowhere, I was absolutely thrilled.
There is something about endtime prophecy that fascinates everyone, believer and non-believer alike. But for believers especially, the book of The Revelation is more than just fascinating; it is an encouraging set of promises. Mind you, as I covered things like the coming antichrist, the Tribulation Period, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the mark of the beast, Armageddon, and all of the other judgments and trials that will fall on this earth, I could easily see why some people fear to even read this wonderful book. But Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” The book of The Revelation is the only book that God promises a blessing for those who read, hear, and keep the words of it.
So, what blessings are there to be found in this book that many people are frightened to death of?
To begin with, there is the blessed realization that as long as we live and love God, God is not done with us. The Revelation was written by John the Beloved when he was very likely in his mid-nineties. He was in exile on the barren Isle of Patmos; he had no congregation to preach to and had been put there by Emperor Domitian for the purpose of dying. And yet Jesus, whom he had not seen for sixty years or so, came down to Patmos to visit with his dear friend. But not just to visit; he also came to give John a couple of tasks. Not much, mind you, just “write the very last book of the Bible, Revelation 1:19, and be ready to get off of the island and “prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings,” Revelation 10:11. Domitian was done with John, John was probably done with John, but Jesus was not done with John. If you love God and are still breathing, he is not done with you either.
For local churches everywhere that are trying their best to do right, there is the comforting assurance that Jesus sees and knows it. Revelation chapters two and three are seven letters to seven literal churches of John’s day. Jesus told each of them that he was walking in the midst of them and knew everything that was going on. Two of them in particular, Smyrna and Phildelphia, were going through the fire yet were faithful and favored. Jesus missed nothing of what they were doing and had nothing but kind words to say to them.
In chapter twelve, we learn that the devil will not be successful. In fact, he will go down as history’s biggest failure! It is hard to think of a bigger blessing than that. In chapter fourteen, we find that it is possible to be pure even in the worst of circumstances. 144,000 Jewish believers in Christ, 12,000 from each tribe, will stay utterly pure in moral matters. They will be shining testimonies that circumstances never have to dictate our behavior; we can live for God no matter what and no matter where.
In chapter fifteen, we find the saints of God in heaven standing on the sea of glass around the throne. We also find that God’s anger with sin is getting so severe that the sea of glass is now mingled with fire. And yet, those saints standing on it are absolutely at peace, without a care in the world. You see, they know that not one ounce of God’s anger is directed at them; they are redeemed. For the child of God, what Christ did for us on Calvary is all the assurance we need that Christ’s anger will never again be directed at us.
In chapter nineteen, we find Christ coming back for all the world to see. Seven years earlier, he came in the twinkling of an eye for his bride, the church, and the world did not even know. But now he comes in power to clean house on a world that desperately needs it. He came as the sacrificial Lamb the first time, he will come as the King of kings the second, and everything will finally be set in order in this jumbled, messed-up world.
In chapter twenty, we find the Millennial Reign of Christ, a perfect 1,000-year period where Christ rules all the world. The curse on nature will be undone, and though there will be sinners who enter into that time period and produce their own sinful children, there will be no open disobedience anywhere. There will be no murder, theft, rape, or abuse. For 1,000 years, we will get to enjoy a world where even though some people are wrong, all behavior is right. Helping that out will be the fact that the devil will be bound in the bottomless pit the entire time. What a blessing!
In Revelation 20:10, after being loosed from the pit, we find the devil leading another rebellion. We also find that ending with him being cast forever into the lake of fire. No. More. Devil.
And then, in chapters twentyone and twenty-two, we find a little slice of heaven. New Jerusalem, the capital city of heaven, will come down to the brand new earth, which will be many times larger than this current earth. I encourage you to read those chapters; if one little slice of heaven is as grand as these chapters describe, can you even imagine what all of heaven will be like?