This has been a particularly difficult post to write in more ways than one. Even now, as I type these words, my mind seems to be swirling with so many disjointed thoughts; I doubt one post would suffice or do justice to them. But yet, one always has to start somewhere, so here goes.
A few weeks back, while asking God to give me a revelation to help me understand Him more, He asked me to read the book of Revelation. As flabbergasted as I was about realising Revelation was a revelation, (don’t ask, it just hit me completely anew this time, the play on words, I mean!), I was a bit taken aback. I mean, yeah Lord, I want to understand you more but seriously, Revelation? It is the one book in the Bible that has always seemed a bit too much to swallow. Beasts, serpents, living creatures, angels, phew! There is only so much allegory I can handle.
Yet, since I had asked, I had to follow through. So I began with Revelation chapter one and read all the way through to the end of the book. No, this is not a bragging post about how much Bible I read but rather to help you understand that, for once, that book did not seem too far-fetched. It gripped me and kept me hooked right till the end. For the first time, I began to understand a little of the reality occurring in our world; not the physical one that we see, but the real one that is invisible. God, in His goodness, helped me comprehend, a little, what the end of the world was going to be like.
I can see some of you mentally shutting down right about now; bear with me. We’ve all heard those “fire and brimstone,” “it’s the end of the world” enthusiasts; they are the staple of humorists everywhere. If you ever want to indicate someone is truly cuckoo, you just give them a placard saying “The world will come to an end tomorrow” or something and add a crazy look in their eyes. At the risk of being labelled one of those people, let me continue.
At the end of that read through Revelation, two thoughts in particular remained that I’d like to share with you:
1. Fall down and worship Him: It was amazing how many times John, the author of the book, fell down in awe even though he was seeing a vision. Even the elders fell down every time they beheld God and His glory. Their instinctive reaction when they saw Yahweh was to fall flat on their faces. I mean, think of that for a minute. In our selfie-obsessed age, where looking our best is all-important, and our faces are a treasure we protect and preserve, can you imagine being willing to even kneel, let alone prostrate yourself? We say we should. We sing it – “We fall down, we lay our crowns, at the feet of Jesus…” – but when was the last time we actually knelt in awe? I can count on one hand the number of times when I’ve knelt in church. “It’s too embarrassing,” is the lie the devil whispers when I feel the urge to bow in adoration during worship. Or worse, “People will think I’m acting too holy. So let me just be normal, not hypocritical.” The worst thing is, I have listened to these lies and followed them, instead of realising that falling at the feet of the Alpha and the Omega is a reflection of His majesty and greatness; it’s not about me at all!
And John and the elders and the saints in Revelation weren’t kneeling, they were flat on the ground, because they couldn’t stand (literally, physically stand!) in God’s holy presence. Their act of worship was to fall down. Wow! When have I ever tried to fall down for someone? I only want to impress, make a good impression, keep my head high. But what impression can I possibly make before a holy God? He sees my filth. He sees my sins. There is no good in me. Listening to a message on Good Friday brought this home in a new way. The holy Judge, who sits in judgement, sees me, the condemned, blustering around, trying to find a way out of my death sentence, and knows there is nothing I can do to save myself. And when I, the guilty person, have the audacity to turn around and accuse the Judge of sin, He accepts the sentence. He accepts my sin. He takes my place. Because He knows there is no other way to save me. And He pays the price in full. “…Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…” (Rev 1:5). I mean, comprehending even a fraction of that makes me want to just stay prostrate forever.
We have made God this “best friend” character, who is friendly and helpful and listens to all our problems and have forgotten that He is all that, true, but He is holy too. We have to learn to worship Him in awe again. We have to comprehend His greatness and beauty. Those angels sing the same refrain again and again – You are worthy to receive blessing and honour and glory and power and wisdom… – Words cannot do justice to who our God is. We have to stop bringing Him down to our size. We have to lift our eyes and behold Him in all His majesty.
Which leads to my second point.
2. The Lord is coming quickly: I know, I know. What else did you expect to find if you read Revelation, duh! But let me describe what I experienced just to help you understand why this is my main point and kinda the reason why I chose the title for this post (sorry, LOTR fans!).
There is a passage in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where Mr. Beaver mentions Aslan’s name for the first time –
“They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps he has already landed,” said Beaver. And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different…. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”
In Revelation, Jesus says multiple times, “Behold, I am coming quickly.” And each time I read that phrase, something jumped inside me. I felt everything that Lewis describes and so much more. Joy, unspeakable joy, because Jesus kept reminding me of His imminent return; and fear, because, whoa, this holy God, was coming back and I was not prepared at all ! I’ve grown up hearing about the last days and the second coming and I’d become so blasé about it, I really did not expect it to happen. I mean, I know it will happen one day. Just not in this millennium. One day, far, far, in the future when my great-great-grandchildren are on earth probably. So, imagine the slight horror I felt when I sensed God reminding me that He will come, soon. God did not tell me a date or time, so please don’t label me a nut job just yet. All I’m saying is that I began to glimpse a measure of the wonder and awe that God wants us to have about His return. We should be excited about it! The King is coming back! And this time, He will judge. And we will need to give account for our lives. But He will also wipe away every tear. And we will live with Him forever.
That is reality.
That is the truth.
Instead of the superficial, gimmicky, insincere lives we lead, feeding our craving to be constantly entertained and going to crazy lengths to create it, LIFE will begin, where there will be no more evil, no more pain, no more suffering, but there will be real joy and real love.
Lewis puts it well as he describes the great Lion, “Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
And I just hope we understand a little of who our wonderful Lord is. We have to awaken from our complacency. We need to realise our time on earth is short. This world is hurtling towards chaos and calamity. But even as we see morals decay and society crumble, we have to stand up and speak about the only hope this world has – Jesus Christ. We have to tell the people around us what Jesus said – “Behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work…let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires let him take the water of life freely….Surely I am coming quickly!” (Revelation 22: 12, 17, 20)
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