Do any of you do this? Do any of you before you choose to read a book flip to the end of it and read the last page or pages just to see if it’s a book worth reading? Anyone here do this? If you think this is a good idea, I’m just going to be honest, I think you’re nuts. What a way to ruin a book. Now you know how that story ends, so what’s the point of reading it? Where is the mystery? Where is the fun when you know the end? I bring this up because here today in God’s Word you and I are flipping to the end, some of the last pages of the Bible, and here is a place where knowing the end, well, it makes the rest of the story that much greater, the end doesn’t ruin the story, it is the story.
Maybe think about the end of this book called the Bible in this way. When something momentous happens in your life, it will often take some time for you to get used to this “new normal.” For instance, a man who is newly married must get accustomed to being a husband. When a woman has her first child, she has to adapt to a life of motherhood. When a loved one dies, a person will need to figure out how to live without them. When you graduate or relocate, it takes time to acclimate to that new period of life. These are all major moments when a person will leave behind the old and, day by day, week by week, settle into a new situation.
But, notice how all these “new normals” are us adjusting to something that happened in the past. Today, right now, you are getting used to what happened, yesterday. But, when we turn to the end of the Bible, this last chapter of God’s Word from the book of Revelation, God’s people – you and I – discover that we live our lives not based on what happened yesterday, but on what will happen tomorrow, on what will happen at the end.
Now, this brings up two very important questions, One, what is this end and what will it be for you and for me? And, two, what do I do with this knowledge of the end, how do I use it, and how do I make sure I’m ready for it. The answer to those two questions can be found here in Revelation chapter 22, in this vision that John shares with us.
John hears twice that someone is “coming soon” and also that the “time is near.” In the very last verse of our lesson, we meet this person who is coming soon, and he describes himself in this way, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning – and notice this – and the End.” Who is this end? Well, if we were to read a little further, in verse 16, the End reveals himself; this is Jesus.
The end is when Jesus will come to bring us to himself. The end is when we are united with him – raised with him – in eternal glory. This is your end in Christ Jesus. And here is the kicker, here is what you need to know. That last hour of that last day of that last year, the end, has already happened
When God entered our world, when Jesus was born and then went on to die and rise from the grave, he brought the first day of this world and the last day with him. Sure, in our time, Jesus was crucified and rose around 30 AD, but in God’s time Jesus was the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8). And, yes, in our time our bodies will be resurrected on that last day – at the end – but in God’s time he has already “made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places” as Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:5-6. In God’s eyes then, the end has already happened. In Jesus, you are spiritually alive. In Jesus, you are raised from death to life. In Jesus, you have a seat in eternal glory. This is the end, and all of it is found in your Savior Jesus.
You have flipped to the end of God’s creation, and you have seen the end, what will happen tomorrow which means, now you live your life based on that end. Now, an eternity is what you must adjust your life to, and a future resurrection is what you must settle your current life into. You don’t see that end, you definitely don’t always feel it, but it is there waiting for you. So, what do you do with this end? That was my second question. What do we do with this knowledge of the end, how do we use it, and make sure we are ready for it.
In verse 6, John writes, “The angel said to me, these words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” Look what the angel says about the words that John is hearing and writing down for us. The angel said, “These words are trustworthy and true.”
Sometimes people will say that the logic of Christians is circular. “Why do you believe the Bible?” Because it’s true. “How do you know it’s true?” Well, it says so. “See! That’s circular logic” Okay, well, how did you sitting before me today know that the chair you plopped down in would hold you? You could find the chair model and look up its weight limit, but then you’d have to trust that the company who made the chair is being honest. So, you could do that, or you could test it. You could sit in the chair. Well, anyone can test God’s Word. Go ahead and look up every prophecy about Christ made in the Old Testament and see how Jesus fulfilled it. Jesus himself said, “If you want to test me, if you don’t think I’m whom I claim to be. Watch me as I’m killed and rise three days later. Check my tomb!” And, of course, Jesus wasn’t there. He rose and showed himself to hundreds of people. What Jesus promised he fulfilled. So, here is Jesus and he’s telling you and me that there is an end – what do we do with this? How about we trust this one who has passed every test.
At the end of verse six, we read that John is seeing things that “must soon take place.” In verse seven, we get this outburst, “Look, I am coming soon!” In verse 10, we’re told that “the time is near.” And then again in verse 12, “Look, I am coming soon!” If you didn’t catch it there is a sense of urgency here. So, let’s act like it; let’s believe it! Jesus is coming! And listen to what he is coming to do, the second half of verse 12, “My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”
What have you done? All of us in this room know that a day of Judgment is coming. All of us know that on that day our God will be righteous judge and send the unbeliever to hell and the believer he will bring home to heaven. So, what have you done with this knowledge? Look what John is told to do with this knowledge. In verse nine, he’s told to “worship God!” It looks like you and I can check that one off our list because here we are, right? Well, so what? Anyone can come and sit here for an hour on a Sunday. But is your life one of worship? Here you know the end – your end! – but does your life reflect it? Do we worship God in all we think, say, and do? Maybe hold off on checking this one off your list…What else do we learn from John?
Look at verse ten, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll because the time is near.” If at the end of a movie or a book, you were left just amazed, you likely wouldn’t hesitate to recommend and share that experience with others whom you know. Here God teaches us that this end should be no different; we are to share it, not seal it up and hide it. And, while it’s true that not everyone wants to hear about this end, not everyone wants to believe that a day of Judgment is coming. Denying it, ignoring, and rejecting it, won’t stop it. And maybe you and I sometimes just need to hear that simple truth too. There will be a judgment for me, I don’t get to escape that and, yes, even my sins deserve hell. Yes, even I need a Savior. And so I don’t want to be caught at the end, like John writes in verse 11, doing wrong rather than doing what is right.
So, you take this all in. This thought of worship, this sense of urgency, and then this reality of the message we bear and what it all means, and maybe knowing what is coming tomorrow, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And yet, when I stand at the grave site of a loved one, when life just stinks, when inflation and political discord and family problems weigh me down, when I’m sad and feeling unloved…there is an end. And, on the flip side, when things are great, when your life is pretty good, and your loved ones are healthy, when you’re happy and content…well…there is still an end. So, the question is this: at that end, when God calls you home or Jesus comes back like in this vision, where will you go? Will you go with him, or will you depart from him? Heaven or hell for you? I hope that’s an easy question for you to answer, but sometimes we hesitate. Sometimes we’re not so certain.
Ah, what did the angel say? “These words are trustworthy and true.” Do you believe that? Do you trust these words from Jesus that he is coming with that reward and that it’s for you? Maybe you doubt you deserve it, maybe you truly don’t deserve it, but that reward Jesus brings you, is just that, a reward. Because what you and I have done…it wasn’t that we were perfect. It wasn’t that we lived up to God’s standard, no, what we have done, what you have done, is believed. You believe that Jesus is your Savior. You believe that Jesus is “the Beginning and the End.” And, by faith, you know that your life began and will end with him. Right, now you have that life he promised. One day you’ll see it. So, for now we trust and pray, “Come soon , Lord Jesus!”
Until he comes, by his grace and mercy, by his power, live today knowing what will happen for you tomorrow. It will be glorious. It will be heaven; you will be with him forever. And that…that’s the end. Amen!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen