When I converted our homeschool program to a classical form of study in 2004, we discovered the joy of learning history, theology, and the arts linked together and in chronological order. Not only did it imprint upon us the events in the order in which they happened, but it also provided a new framework for viewing history, theology, and art as connected pieces that organically flowed from one event to the next.
Simultaneous to our conversion to classical, I began a chronological study through the entire New Testament. After a dozen years, I’m now studying Revelation. Digging into each gospel and letter, not in the order in which they’re listed, but in the order in which they were written, has allowed me to see doctrine unfold and the church grow within time. I feel as if I understand so much more about the formation of the early church, the doctrinal foundations of the faith, and myself.
This brings me to Revelation with the underpinnings of everything that went before, all the previous mentions of Christ’s return, and the geographically widening impact of His life, death, and resurrection. This makes it remarkably easy to see the big picture presented by this final letter to the churches.
The Revelation of John is about the triumph of the gospel, the conquering of every foe of Jesus Christ and His church, Christ’s fidelity to His church, and the worship and praise due to God because of all this. Every Biblical passage from Genesis 1:1 onward aims and points toward this. Potential end-time timetables are difficult to discern, but they are irrelevant. Only God knows the end from the beginning.
The fact is, Jesus won at the cross and through His resurrection. We will experience opposition today as believers have all through history. We may lose our lives for our faith as has always been the case, but in light of our eternal reign with Christ, the hardships won’t matter when He returns. And He will return.
I’ve enjoyed focusing on what the whole Bible says about Christ’s impact on all of history and on the reality of His return, rather than focusing on charts and timetables. I’m fixed on the Hero’s rescue and His victory, not on an eschatological stance. I’m blown away by God’s passionate love for His church and His promises that He will set everything right.
The big picture of Revelation is about victory and the faithfulness of God’s promises. There will finally be justice for all when Christ returns. Peter summarized. Notice the instructions to us (underlined), the same words to all believers throughout the ages, since no one knows The Day. Our obedience actually hurries the day of His return.
2 Peter 3:3-13
3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. 6 Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. 7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.
8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.
11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.
14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. 15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.
Our anticipatory life choices hinge around faith in action:
- Don’t forget that God views time from outside of time.
- Live a holy and godly life as you anticipate Christ’s return.
- Look forward to the new and righteous heaven and earth that He promised.
- Make every effort to live peaceful, pure, and blameless lives as you wait.
- Remember that God’s patience enables more people to be saved.
No instructions are given about memorizing supposed timelines from various end-time theories. No instruction about shutting down our outreach and hunkering down survivalist style. No instruction about keeping safe at all cost.
Instead, right here, we have enough to keep our hands full, our faces turned toward Christ, and our hearts and minds fully engaged in loving others, sharing the gospel, and growing in holiness.
This is how we are to prepare for the end of the history of our world and the beginning of the wonders God has planned for us for all eternity. I am satisfied. Come, Lord Jesus. Come!
More on being prepared: Who is There to Harm You? by John Piper.