The Soon-coming of Jesus: A Promise is a Promise
While we are approaching the sixth window in this Gallery of The Apocalypse let’s do what we have done before: reflect on what we have seen so far.
We have seen Jesus, the son of man, now the glorified son of God.
We have heard Jesus, dictating messages to his people revealing his thoughts about them.
We have “entered” heaven and been appalled at the state of affairs on earth during Jesus’ absence.
We have been dismayed at the blast of trumpets: those natural, social, and religious disasters that are omens of his coming, and observed that only a few people, symbolized by just two witnesses, were prepared to proclaim the truth about God in the face of all opposition.
We have gained hope, though, when we saw the pattern of events in the tale of the two cities, Babylon and the New Jerusalem. Babylon has fallen. It is the New Jerusalem that is the city of the future!
We have now arrived at the 6th and final window.
We hear Jesus speaking. Listen. “I am coming soon! Blessed1 is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”
The angel reinforces what he has told us with, “These words are trustworthy and true.”2
It dawns on us that we would not be very blessed, fortunate, well off or happy, if what we have just heard was a lie. Just as the other promises of God have come true, we believe that this one will, too. Believe, and we are happy. Disbelieve, and we are not very happy. At the previous window we were told that unbelievers will miss out!
The Book of Revelation is an invitation to believe — believe the word and maintain a living faith in Jesus Christ. Believing the word is one thing; trusting is the other. John’s great dream has been one of a community who believes Jesus and trust him, just like he learned to do.3
John falls at the feet of the angel to worship who him because he has been showing these things, but the angel resists with, “Don’t do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”4
“Do not seal up the text of this prophecy,” the angel continues, “because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the person who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”5 I’m thinking, “If that is the case, how should I choose to live?”
And now it is Jesus’ turn again. For the second time he says: “Behold, I am coming soon!”6 Then he adds, “My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega7, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
“Blessed are those who wash their robes.8 They will have the right to the tree of life and the right to enter the city, the New Jerusalem.” Who would not want to be there? Peter Jensen puts it this way: “The New Jerusalem [is] perfectly founded, perfectly proportioned, perfectly inhabited, presented as the place where all human hopes and dreams and aspirations have their fulfillment.”9 What an appeal to restless urban dwellers of today!
Outside are dogs,10 those who practice magic arts, sexually immoral people, murderers, idolaters and all who love and practice falsehood.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you11 this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Jesus has just identified himself as the fulfillment of certain O.T. prophecies about the Messiah to come in which the House of King David is pictured as a tree.12 He has also affirmed his identity as the true Light of the world in contradistinction to the king of Babylon.13
The Holy Spirit and the bride, i.e., the New Jerusalem personified, say, “Come!” Yes. We can make our choices, but the Holy Spirit still makes his appeal.
Let us who hear say, “Come!” Yes. We who have tasted something of what the Lord has in store14 will, with the Holy Spirit, also say, “Come.” Enthusiastically we should “go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that [the Lord’s house] house may be filled (Luke 14:23, NASB).”
Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
A warning: If anyone adds anything to this message recorded in the Apocalypse, God will add to him the plagues described in the very same book. On the other hand, if anyone removes anything from this prophecy, God will remove his share in the tree of life and in the holy city.15
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon”16
In the words of the song “Someday (Set the Children Free)” by David Mullen and Michael W. Smith:
Some say, “It’s a vision.”
Some say, “It’s just a dream.”
Jesus says, “It’s a promise, a covenant, a destiny. I will come to set my children free.”
What the young ones have dreamed.
All you’ve hoped and believed
“And I will come to set my children free.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
This has been the hope of believers since the days of the apostles
It is expressed so well in the hymn by John Cennick (1718-1755) and Charles Wesley (1708-1788).
A fitting end to our visit to this remarkable gallery
and a window into the future,
far as human eye can possibly see,
of a vision of the world, and all the wonder that will be. 18
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.
1 Blessed. Gk. μακαριος, makarios = fortunate, well off, happy.
2 Is the angel the guarantee that the message is trustworthy and true? No. The words are not the words of the angel but the words of God! As far as angels are concerned God can be trusted. They believe God. Can we?
What is said of Jesus himself is here said of his message.
• “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s God’s creation (Revelation 3:14).”
• I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11).
• He who was seated on the throne [God the Father (cf. Revelation 5:1, et al.)] said, “ … these words are trustworthy and true (Revelation 21:5).”
3 Like he [John] learned to do.
- But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).
- And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us (1 John 3:23).
- If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints (Revelation 13:10).
- This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus (Revelation 14:12).
4 Worship God. A reminder of an earlier incident recorded in Revelation 19:10. “At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit* of prophecy.”
* Gk. πνευμα, pneuma = the breath, life. Prophecy is dead unless it testifies to Jesus, and this prophecy is dead unless it testifies to Jesus. See endnote 59 in chapter 23: “The Fifth Window.”
5 Compare these words with the words of Christ in the parable of the Tares: “Let both grow together until the harvest” (Matthew 13:30),. Our free will is not being interfered with by the Creator. We are permitted to live the life of our own choosing. In this way our true character becomes apparent.. It is only at the second coming of Christ, that the class in which we belong will be made manifest.
See The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary re Revelation 22:11
6 “I am coming soon.”
This is the blessed hope.
Titus 2:13 — “… we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ …”
Jesus had promised it while he was still with us.
John 14:3 — “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
The angels at His ascension repeated the promise.
Acts 1:11— “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Paul preached it
1 Thessalonians 4:16 — For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
1 Peter 5:4 — And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
And so did James, Jesus’ brother
James 5:7-8 — Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Mark 13:32 — “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
So let’s not get excited about the date. Let’s not put ourselves in the position where we could become discouraged or skeptical if the Lord’s return ever appeared to be delayed. Let’s be patient. Until he returns He is still your Lord and Savior.
7 Alpha and Omega. Gk. α and ω. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
8 wash their robes. The KJV reads “do his commandments.” The SDABC has an extensive note on this clause in Revelation 22:14 and explains that, when the two clauses in the Gk. are compared, “it is easy to see how a scribe may have mistaken the one clause for the other.” One clause emphasizes the importance of accepting the righteousness of Christ as in Revelation 7:14. The other emphasizes obedience to the one in whom we trust.
9 Jensen, Peter, At the Heart of the Universe: What Christians Believe, (Homebush West, NSW: Lancer Books, © Peter Jensen, 1991), 4. Peter Jensen, the 11th (Anglican) Archbishop of Sydney, NSW, was the Principal of Moore College, Sydney, NSW, when he authored this book.
10 Outside are dogs. Deuteronomy 23:18 — You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute [a dog; hence (by euphemism) a male prostitute] into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both.
11 you. Plural, meaning the churches themselves.
12 the Root and the Offspring of David
- Isaiah 11:1 — A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
- Isaiah 11:10 — In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.
- Jeremiah 23:5 — “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
13 The bright morning star
2 Peter 1:19 — And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Revelation 2:28 — I will also give him the morning star.
Isaiah 14:3-4, 12 — A taunt to the king of Babylon, when the news of his fall reaches the covenant people: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”
14 what the Lord has in store. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
15 How might we add to, or remove from, this book?
- Prophecy is dead unless it testifies of Jesus, and this prophecy is dead unless it testifies of Jesus.
- We add to or take away from this Book when we inject a spirit other than that of Jesus in our interpretations or present it while overlooking the role that Jesus plays in this Book.
- Besides, we add to it when we do not allow it to interpret itself but rather use other means of interpretation, and we take away from it when we fail to study or present the whole Book.
16 I am coming soon. Jesus has now stated this for the third time. See verses 7, 12 and now, 20. Soon? The Gk. word is ταχυ, tachu, translated as “quickly” in KJV, NASB, and as “soon” in NIV and NRSV. Strong’s Greek Dictionary: “shortly” (i.e. without delay), “soon”, or (by surprise) “suddenly”, or (by implication of ease) “readily, lightly, quickly.” Considering the Scriptures in endnote 6 above, the word emphasizes the imminence of Christ’s return. The parables of Jesus recorded in Matthew 24:36-51 and 25:1-13 are relevant.
- “Times like the times of Noah”
- “The householder and the thief”
- “The absent master and the wise servant”
- “The girls awaiting the wedding banquet.”
18 with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, “Locksley Hall.”
Artwork: “The Second Coming” (The glory of the Lord’s presence rolls back the darkness of this age) © 2014, Angus McPhee
© 2010, Angus McPhee