Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hope Everlasting

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. --Revelation 22:6-21
 Well, then, my response has been: Come, but why the wait? Why not now?
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
  How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
  lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
  I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. --Psalm 13
 Why does the psalmist let God's steadfast love and salvation be enough in his time of trouble? Surely, this is the salvation of the Lord through Christ, and so he is right to rejoice in it, but what makes that enough of a comfort?
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. --2 Peter 3
Yes, he is coming, but he waits patiently in order that some may be saved. He is patient toward you.

But what of those who have been born, some of whom, whether you believe in predestination or not, will surely be among those who die without God? Do they count as nothing? Why not rather end the world, that fewer may be lost? What hope do we have? That by allowing the world to continue on more will be saved than damned? Can you promise me that? I do not want the ungodly destroyed by hell, I want them destroyed in the destruction of Christ, that they may also live in the life of Christ, in whom I also I live.

I can come up with theories that make sense of the world ending, or of the world continuing to be, but of the world now continuing, and yet coming to an end at a certain appointed time? This is too great for me, a glorious absurdity. Why not now? Why later? I can only assume that in this way my God will be shown more glorious, and thus my joy made greater. And I can look to this: when Christ returns, all the pain of suffering, all the sin and death, will not be allowed to blemish anything that is. Indeed, even my memories will be made perfect--not that they will be altered, but that they will be refocused--so that I will see in all that has happened the glory of God, even in what is now evil. What is evil will be made right, the enemy will be slain in fullness, just as we shall live in fullness, and death and sin and suffering will be no more. We will not have amnesia concerning these things, rather, we will see these things rightly, and in light of the light of the world. Now we see little of what God is doing, let alone what he will do. Now we see as things are, then we will also see as things are, but not as they are now, rather, when the end comes we will see things as they are then. Thus, the evil of this time will kill itself, just as Satan killed himself by hoisting Christ onto the cross.

"is everything sad going to come untrue?"--Sam Gamgee
It is for the world as it is for us "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21, so I want to live as long as possible, yet I cannot wait for the time when I will see my savior and my God face to face. So it is with the world, we desire that the world continue on as long as possible, that God's glory and works might be done in it, yet we cannot wait for the time when both we and it are released from our agony and when everything sad will have become untrue.

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