Jesus says, “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” We see the sixth beatitude as another beautiful promise but there is some urgency. Have you heard of FOMO? That’s the fear of missing out. It’s commonly used in marketing to let you know something is coming to an end (like a sale) so you better hurry or you’ll get left behind. That’s a bit of what I feel is happening here. Jesus doesn’t want us to wait to obey, he wants us to do it now! None of us know what “soon” means.
We’ve been reading through the book of Revelation and it concludes with this passage. Whether it’s your first time through or your hundredth, the message is still the same. Follow Jesus, be encouraged in your faith, and trust he is coming soon. Revelation is prophecy, and we explored what that meant at the very beginning. Prophecy can have to do with the future, but it is not the same as a “prediction.” The intention is to always point us toward God, not away from him. As you look back at what you’ve read, I am confident you can see the prophetic nature of this book. It is drawing us back to God, strengthening our desire to be in relationship with our Savior King.
That’s quite a headline! Satan’s Defeat! Hallelujah! Amen! We can all rejoice and be glad. But there are some challenging parts to today’s reading we should not overlook. First of all, Satan is set free from his 1000 year captivity (or however long this represents). There was no prison reform for Satan. In fact, if I were to guess, he came out stronger, angrier, and craftier than ever.
After all of that, we have these words of comfort. “Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Such a fate, it couldn’t have happened to a “nicer” bunch! Forever banished. It makes you wonder why there was the 1000-year imprisonment in the first place. Again, time and space is not literal. God had his reasons.
Jesus comes forth today not as the Lamb, as he has been portrayed up to now, but as a warrior. But not a warrior in the sense of the word as we would imagine. What images come to your mind when you think of a warrior going to battle? Jesus is not covered in armor. There are not tanks or weapons, fighter jets, or any such military might standing by. Jesus is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, with crowns adorning his head. His only “weapon” was the sword coming from his mouth.
He is clearly identified to us in terms we associate with Jesus. “Faithful and True,” the “Word of God,” “King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” We are bombarded with visions, each beginning with John’s words, “I saw.” By now, we know John isn’t describing real events or occurrences but helping us understand using symbols of real occurrences. The victory is sure, but we don’t necessarily need to be expecting a white horse and rider!
I was expecting the final trumpet to bring about something horrible. Weren’t you? Instead, there is rejoicing in heaven. God’s kingdom has fully come! We read, “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” The Book of Revelation could end right here. Since it doesn’t we know there is more to come. What happens next?
The victory has been won! Will we see how the people on earth respond? Will those “of the world” finally repent? Will the faithful be rescued at last?
You can really see the love of Jesus for the church in Philadelphia. This is another church (like Smyrna) who gets no rebuke. They are small and weak, the perfect storm for God to be glorified. When we feel weak and rely on the power of God to rescue us or sustain us, God is glorified. When we can set aside our own ambitions and desire for power or recognition, realizing we are nothing without God, God can work inside us, too.
What did you think about the way Jesus introduces himself to the church in Philadelphia. “This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open.” The “key of David” is our gospel message. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is the one who can open the doors of heaven to us. There isn’t anything we can do to open those doors. If Jesus allows us in, nobody can stop us. So how do we make sure he opens the door for us?