The more I study the book of Revelation, the more I love it. It’s like the movie Back to the Future. When we read it, we go back in time to a moment when God Himself revealed to us the future He has established for this world. What we read is not what might happen or could happen. It is what absolutely 100 percent will happen. God is not just guessing about the future. He already knows. He’s watched the film; He’s streamed the video. In fact, He wrote the script and directed the entire movie.
In Revelation, God is showing us the trailer of what is to come—the movie preview. We don’t get to see all the details, but we learn enough to know the plotline. It’s going to be an action movie with a lot of violence. But it is also a romance, complete with a wedding and a huge banquet. But there is one problem with this preview—the Director gives away the ending! But while in the film world that’s a box-office no-no, in this case, knowing how it all ends should make us even more excited to watch the plot unfold.
Why does God give us the spoiler that reveals the end of all things? It’s not simply to quench our curiosity or so that we can show others that we know more than they do. It is so we are aware of the destinies of both believers and unbelievers. It is to encourage those of us who follow Christ in a world that is so evil. Do you feel beaten down by the rampant immorality and anti-God attitude of our culture? Take heart—God has a plan that He will implement in His time for our benefit. And that time is near!
Now, why do we think that the events described in Revelation are near when John wrote it 2,000 years ago? How can we say that today might be the day of Christ’s return? If this hasn’t happened by now, can we still believe that it is ever going to happen? At some point, doesn’t a rational thinker have to step back and say, “Well, obviously we got that interpretation wrong”?
The answer to these questions goes back to our understanding of time. For us, it seems like it has been forever since John wrote Revelation. But remember: God experiences time differently. He is outside of time. He is not late. Instead, as we see in 2 Peter 3:8-9, He is longsuffering. He is giving the people of the world more time to repent. One of the benefits of the COVID pandemic is that it has spurred many people to reevaluate their lives—to look at what is important to them and examine how they use their time. People have slowed down enough that they are asking themselves about where they stand with God. “What will happen if I get this virus? What will happen if I die alone in a hospital room? Is that all there is? Am I ready for when this life ends?”
While we should never celebrate a pandemic, we can be thankful for how God has used it. Judgment time is near. “As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). We live, we die, then judgment. Once judgment comes, that’s it. There are no second chances. What peace comes from knowing that the Lord is a righteous judge! However one might be punished or rewarded, we can be assured that it will be completely fair and will be based on the grace, mercy, and justice of the perfect, sovereign God.
Soon the Restrainer will be removed and God’s wrath will be poured out upon this ungodly world. It’s time to tell the full story and keep nothing from anyone. This is the essence of the book of Revelation. We must remember that much of what we read is them versus us. In other words, it is not about us as believers; rather, it is about them—the unbelievers. The tribulation is not about us as the church, but them—Israel. Church-age Christians will not remain on this earth to experience the judgments. But it is still for us to know what will take place. Otherwise, the information would not have been given to John to write. Revelation is for believers to read and understand because we are the ones God intends to bless through the book. It was also given by God because He wants us to understand that He is aware of what is going on around the world. He knows how bad things are and that they will continue to get worse. And He will do something about that.
We need to hold on to these truths. Jesus is risen, as promised. He will return to take us, as promised. He will reign over the world, as promised. And He will judge all peoples, as promised.
(This blog post is an excerpt from Israel and the Church by Amir Tsarfati.)