What an invitation!
Revelation 4: Ascend and enter.
Having received messages for seven churches John looks upward to see an opening door providing an entrance into Heaven. He hears a voice, issuing to him a command and a word of permission. He’s been invited into Heaven and is immediately filled with a sense of deep worship as he finds himself gazing on the very Throne of God. Everything’s overwhelming and, as he tells us about it, human language fails him. There’s worship going on and we’re left with the feeling that this is business as usual at the Throne. Heavenly beings sing “Holy, holy, holy” and those with crowns of righteousness cast those crowns at the feet of the One seated on the Throne. What’s business as usual in Heaven is all too rare on this side of that door. I’ve had some wonderful moments of blessing, some too precious for me to write about. They haven’t come nearly often enough but when they have come I’ve tasted just enough to long for more. Still, I’ve received an invitation to that place. I don’t know when it is that I’ll hear “Ascend and enter” but I do know that that command and word of permission will come someday. I’m sure I won’t like the process of getting there, but once I do, it’ll be worth it all.
Take Away: We’ve received that wonderful invitation to “ascend and enter” so let’s live as invited people, preparing for that day.
No one will wonder whether or not it’s the Second Coming
2Thessalonians 1: He will be exalted by his followers and celebrated by all who believe.
The second letter to the church at Thessalonica picks up right where the first left off. Paul’s friends there have some questions about the Second Coming of Jesus and the events associated with it. In fact, his first letter may have been misunderstood resulting in the writing of this second, shorter, more to the point letter. One thing Paul wants to make perfectly clear: Jesus is coming back and when he does there’ll be no doubt that “this is it.” Twenty years earlier Jesus warned his followers that people would panic, causing some of them to rush here and there, trying to be at the right place for his return. Now, Paul deals with this same topic. Jesus will appear “in a blaze of fire” accompanied by “strong angels.” On that “very same day” he’ll be exalted and celebrated by those who believe in him. In other words, Christians won’t have to go searching for Jesus and none will be left in the dark concerning his return. As I read these words I’m reminded that those who teach a “secret rapture” don’t necessarily have it right. I’m friendly to the view, but I don’t think it’s the only way to talk about the return of Jesus. Either way, the most important thing isn’t getting the details all worked out. Rather, it’s being ready. As Paul puts it, “pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be.” Passing a theology quiz isn’t required for entry into heaven.
Take Away: While it’s nice to think one has a handle on some of the more difficult portions of Scripture, it’s even better to live in a right relationship the Lord.
Ready or not, here it comes
2Kings 11: Athaliah, oblivious to his existence, ruled the country.
Jehu’s purge nets both Joram, wicked king of Israel, and Ahaziah, the king of Judah who has become a partner with Joram in his sinful leadership. Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, takes her son’s place, not only on the throne but also as one committed to evil. Her first act is to kill anyone in her family who might contest her claim to the throne of Judah. It appears her plan has worked, and it would have, except for the bravery and quick action of Jehosheba who hides the infant Joash from his own grandmother’s murderous intention. Now, six years later, it’s time to act. Intrigue abounds as plans are made to dethrone the pretender Athaliah and elevate Joash to his rightful place as boy king. As this takes place we’re told that Athaliah is “oblivious” to it all. I think the Lord often works like this. Ordinary people and even the wicked pursue their goals, pressing on, thinking everything is working out as anticipated. Meanwhile, God is at work in the underground. Big things are coming and we’re “oblivious” to it all. For Athaliah it means that her hijacking of the throne of Judah is soon coming to a bloody end. For followers of the Lord, it means that we’d better keep our eyes on Jesus and be ready for — well, be ready for “whatever” comes next.
Take Away: Even when we can’t see it, the Lord is at work, preparing for the next big thing.