The Book of Revelation was my favourite book when I was younger, as it was the most exciting to read. There was drama and action in all the chapters. None of the other books in the Bible were the same. But as I grew older, I realised that the Book of Revelation has a much greater significance - it is apocalyptic, symbolic, and prophetic with visions of the future.
In all honesty, this 10-part sermon series was not easy to go through or to summarise (being part of the Ignite Team). I was on a roller-coaster of emotions as well, feeling varying degrees of shock, disbelief, anger, sadness, fear, yet being comforted, encouraged, hopeful and victorious - throughout the various weeks. As I wrapped up the summary for this last sermon, I could not help but mischievously wonder - if God had given us an opportunity to change anything in the Book of Revelation, what would we have changed?
Tempting, really, and my human nature drove me to make a list.
Would I have removed the letters to the Seven Churches so that our inequities are never revealed and the churches are perfect in image? Would I have erased the trumpets and bowls and the epic episodes of the wrath of God upon the earth? Would I have kept the world as it is? Why could I not just remove all the bad news and more bad news, and connect the dot directly to the coming of Christ and the new life in the new heaven and earth? Why not do away with all the suffering and pain, and persecution, so we have an easier pathway to our eternal home?
Tempting, really, to make it all go away, but my heart was convicted.
Without the letters, we will never have known how we fall short of the glory of God. We will never be rebuked on how forgetful we are on things we should and should not do, how we unabashedly tolerate/compromise with worldly things, and how we often lack commitment to God. If the trumpets and bowls and the wrath of God are absent, we will never learn to live courageously, to endure, overcome and emerge victorious. We will never have adopted a life of living in repentance and in faith. We would never have the courage to surrender ourselves to God, and to give up and let go of temporal worldly things as victory comes through surrender, just as how Jesus surrendered himself on the cross. We will never learn to practise patient endurance, to see the power of unceasing prayers, and to live a life worthy for a cause to reach the lost and the least. In short, nothing good comes from taking ourselves out of God’s sovereign plan.
In all things, the focus is always on Jesus and his second coming. Therefore, be vigilant, be faithful, be fruitful and be fervent. I take comfort in knowing that at the end of it all, God ensures that “All is good”. I hold on to His promise and I will not stop praising “Holy, Holy, Holy, Is the Lord God, Almighty”. I now face the end times with renewed faith, and I am prepared to be blown-away by His unceasing love, grace and mercy.
Father Lord, forgive us that we have at times, never quite fully understood your message in the Book of Revelation. We understand now that it is not meant to intimidate but to encourage us to journey on and hold on to Your promise till Jesus comes. Give us the ability to discern and the courage to remain in the world but not of the world, as we pass through this old earth. As our journey to our eternal home will be challenging, help us to keep our eyes on Jesus so that we live a life worthy for You in these end times. Amen.