Today’s readings are from Revelation 22:6-21 and 2 Chronicles 7:11-22
As I read this final passage from Revelation I was moved by its intensity. I read about these verses in MacLaren’s Exposition where he wrote: “The last verses of the book of Revelation are like the final movement of some great concerto, in which we hear all the instruments of the orchestra swelling the flood of triumph.” A very appropriate description!
That analogy resonates with me as I love listening to a piano or violin concerto. The coda of a concerto traditionally has a final flourish with spectacular effects written for the soloist, interspersed with contrasting voices of the orchestra, which leaves everyone breathless as the beautiful tones enfold the listener before dissipating.
These verses of Revelation have a number of voices – sometimes John, sometimes an angel, and sometimes a deeper tone from the Throne, that of Christ himself.
Christ’s voice rings out with the words, “Behold, I am coming soon.” I wonder when that will be. There have been so many generations since Jesus’ death and resurrection so I muse, “How long Lord, how long?” The words of Peter, the apostle, remind me, “Beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Pet 3:8. Even though John is ordered by the angel, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near,” the end will be in God’s perfect timing.
The angel’s pleading voice rings out a dire warning in verse 11. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. These words suggest there is an unchangeable state in God’s people, either one of righteousness or wickedness. Jesus’ cry in verse 12 Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done suggests that this is so.
In an encouraging way, Christ’s ringing tones also remind us, multiple times, that he is offering the free gift of eternal life, wanting his people to be saved. Verse 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
At the Gospel for the Gong seminar a couple of weeks ago, the speaker, Di Warren, encouraged us that “while the world is spinning means the gospel will be accepted.” We all have a part to play in our own small circle of family and friends to unashamedly talk about this free gift, the water of life, without diluting it or making it more “palatable” to our selfish world. We need to be praying for them, and for others we don’t know who need to hear about this amazing offer so they can decide whether to accept his free gift or not. We need to be ready to give an answer when we are asked about our faith and why we are different.
May the final strains of this beautiful, and ominous, passage continue to resonate in our hearts and minds today, and always. The final chords sound the joyous reassurance that Jesus will come again. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.