Comfort in the midst of conflict: Revelation 21 and 22
Timothy J. Westendorf
It’s been 1,900 years since John recorded the words of Jesus in Revelation 22: “I am coming soon!” (vv. 7,12,20). Soon? Really? How are we to react to those words and this last chapter of the Bible?
I am coming soon
“I am coming soon!” If texted by the neighborhood bully, those words bring fear for the little kids. If written by a collections agency, they arouse panic and dread in the heart of the man buried in debt. But if those words are emailed by a loving husband and father who has been deployed for a year, they bring hope to a longing family. If promised on speaker phone by Grandma, they awaken excitement and anticipation to the grand kids. If yelled by a first responder at the scene of an accident, they bring a sense of relief to the driver trapped in the wreckage. Our relationship to the speaker makes all the difference in how we react to those words. So what should we think when Jesus says, “I am coming soon”? If we think of who we are on our own and who Jesus truly is, we would have reason to be anxious, terrified, and full of dread. We are sinful mortals. We know the darkness of our own hearts and how far short we fall from God’s glory. This is the mighty and majestic King of kings! This is the holy and righteous Lord God! He is coming soon? Gulp. If those are our thoughts when we think of Jesus’ promise, we won’t want to entertain them in our minds too often or for too much time.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus
But that’s not how Jesus wants us to hear his promise! It’s not the way John heard those words of promise. He responded by saying, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (v. 20). How? It wasn’t that John was any less aware of Jesus’ holiness and his own sinfulness. But he heard these words as a beautiful promise from his loving and gracious Savior. Jesus would have us hear them that way too. The One who promises to return is the One who came once as a tiny infant to be our brother in the flesh. He is the One who took our place under the burden of God’s holy law to complete it fully on our behalf. He took all human sin and sinfulness on himself and suffered its curse, once for all. He has assured us in his Word and comforts us in Holy Communion with the promise that all is forgiven and completely forgotten in God’s eyes. His coming for his loved ones means only deliverance from this world of sadness and death. So, when we hear him say he’s coming for us, we have every reason to feel hope, excitement, anticipation, and relief. In faith we can join our hearts with John and say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” And we trust that soon really is soon in his time. And as we patiently wait, we hold to his words of promise.
Reflect on Revelation chapters 21 and 22
- Read 2 Peter chapter 3. What insight do you gain into Jesus’ promise that he is coming soon?
First, Peter tells us that the Lord’s return is certain even if it appears to be delayed. Jesus didn’t forget. We should remember, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (v. 8). Second, because the day of Jesus’ return will come as a “thief” in the night, we should make every effort to be found as faithful disciples whenever it comes. We should “live holy and godly lives” (v. 11).
Third, his coming also means that the world we take for granted will be dissolved and burned up. What will last is the Lord’s love and the eternal life he promised, “a new heaven and a new earth” as John reminds us in Revelation 21.Peter concludes the chapter with an exhortation to be on our guard so we do not fall away.
- What does the return of Jesus mean for you? Why can you always say, “Amen. Come. Lord Jesus”?
Jesus’ return means that my tears, sorrows, and pains are gone. I will rest from the earthly struggles I must endure. I will join loved ones who trusted the promises of Jesus, and together we will praise him forever. I deserve none of the promises of God, but by grace he gives them to me and to all believers. I long to be with the One who loves me so. I can anticipate his return now with the prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus,”because I need not fear the great catastrophe of the Last Day and the judgment of all flesh. I belong to Jesus by grace; my name is written in his book of life.
This is the final article in a 12-part series on the book of Revelation.
Author: Timothy Westendorf
Volume 106, Number 11
Issue: November 2019