Sunday, September 27, 2009
NOTE: This is the continuation of the 'Sunday Sermon' series, all entries of which can be viewed by clicking that 'label' below.
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the Bible. Also known to some as 'The Apocalypse' or the 'Revelation to John', the book is filled with symbolism as it unravels the end of times for man's journey here on the planet Earth which began in the Garden of Eden.
The symbolism of the book can likely be attributed to two parts. The first part is one that I believe to be mystical revelation in which God reveals future events to John of a spiritual or heavenly nature with symbols that he can understand and which are left to our interpretation for their exact meaning and nature.
The second part is one that I believe comes from John's attempts to describe future people, places, media, weaponry, technology and events in ways that are understandable to him based on the world of his time. For instance, John describes in Revelation 9:19 what I believe to be tanks as horses. When you read the passage and a few just prior, it is easy to follow this logic.
The Book of Revelation is about two main principles. As the New American Bible describes it "the triumph of God in the world of men and women remains a mystery, to be accepted in faith and longed for in hope." This means that we need to accept with faith that God has a plan for humanity, and that the culmination of his plan for humanity is nothing to be feared, but rather to be longed for.
Many through the ages have wanted to believe that this finale for humanity was upon them and their world. They have seen the end of days, that 'apocalypse' or prophesied time of the imminent destruction of the world and salvation of the righteous, coming in their own lifetimes. Every one of these previous believers was wrong, or was rushing God's hand.
God has laid out certain key events in the text of the Bible that must occur before the events depicted in Revelation will come to pass. Among these were the spreading of the Gospel of the Truth of Jesus Christ to all corners of the world. This has only become realized in recent decades, with the final reaching of missionaries, evangelists and, frankly, the internet into the remotest sections of the planet.
Another key event that the Bible lays out as necessary before the end times fully arrive is the rebuilding of the Jewish temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This was impossible until recent decades, with the return of the Jews to power in the region, the establishment of Israel as a nation, and their subsequent control over Jerusalem itself as a result of a series of wars. Those wars will probably look like small potatoes next to what will result if they actually attempt to build that Temple.
The organization of the European Union is another clear sign that we are moving towards those end days of Revelation. Add in the circumstances of Israel in relation to its neighbors, the budding relationship between Russia and Iran, and the strengthening of China, and any serious evaluator of a Biblical end times theory has to admit that the earthly powers and circumstances are finally aligning as fully as never before in human history to those expressed as necessary by Revelation and other Biblical revelatory books.
Now there will be some who will scoff at any 'end of the world' scenario. There are many non-believers in the world today. Not just non-Christians, but people who refuse to believe in anything beyond their own worldly thoughts and desires. For these people we can do nothing but pray, and hope that as the final years play out they see the light before it is too late.
The fact is that the Bible says there will be many who see these Revelation events unfold before their very eyes, and yet continue to disbelieve. Some will do so out of a hard heart. These are the stubborn people who simply refuse to admit they were wrong, and refuse to surrender their will to that of God. Others will be seduced and misled by the forces of evil that will emerge during these end times, most especially by the anti-Christ, the world leader who will emerge.
Keep in mind the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Jews there. If you see that happen, you can begin the countdown. If you don't see that happen, then anything else is pure fear-mongering. But if that does happen, if you are not a believer by that point you had better start paying attention to Revelation, and in fact to the entirety of Christ's teachings and those of his Apostles in the New Testament.
The end times, whenever they occur, will not be a happy period for Christian believers here on earth. There will be wars, famine, persecution, pestilence, natural disasters, and many other heart-stopping occurrences. The anti-Christ will mislead many into thinking that these are coincidental and that he has the answers. Those of us who know the truth need not fear that time and those events, we only need do two things: remain faithful, and persevere. Remember, we know how it will all turn out in the end.
Until such time, if it even happens in our lifetimes, I would urge you to open up your Bible and read. Try to take the time to read it from front to back. If nothing else, at least start out by reading through the New Testament, from the teachings of Christ to the 'Acts of the Apostles' and on to Revelation. Give yourself a fighting chance by experiencing the ammunition of revealed Truth. And may God bless you and yours as you continue your life's journey.