What the church should be doing as we wait for the Day of the Lord

Posted: September 11, 2013 in Bible Study - Revelation, Eschatology
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In Revelation 18 we see a mighty angel take a large boulder and throw it into the sea, declaring:

‘So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more…’

He is speaking of the final Day – the conclusive Day of the Lord when ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’ (Rev. 11:15)

The final judgement and defeat of sophisticated rebellious humanity – in Revelation dubbed ‘Babylon’ – is conclusive. Like a large stone thrown into deep water, the shock and violence of it is great, yet once it is done, it is done, and there is no return. It doesn’t take long for the ripples to subside and the water to cover any memory that the stone ever existed.

What should be our response to this certainty of final judgement? Through five chapters of the Book of Revelation (15-19) we see an occasional call to God’s people in the midst of this devastation. They are both the response that will actually happen at that time, but they are also to shape our response as we look forward to these events.

Worship God for His faithfulness throughout history (15:2-4).

The final day is the day that all of history has been leading up to, and with the eyes of faith we can look at the revelation of this in the Scriptures and understand the faithfulness and justice of God. We are called to be thankful for all that God Has done and to have a thankful confidence that History with be brought to a conclusion exactly the way God has planned, where, ‘…every knee will bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’ This knowledge and thankful spirit is the key to us living faithfully as the expression of God’s family in this world (Philippians 2:1-11)

Be prepared for Jesus’ return at any time (16:15).

In the midst of the sixth bowl, in which the kingdoms of the world are gathered for destruction, we are reminded that we do not know the day or hour of Jesus’ coming as judge. No thief sends an advance schedule to tell his victims what time he will be coming to steal their VCR, but this doesn’t preclude householders being alert and watching for when it will happen. Christians likewise should not become complacent, and think that since it has been nearly 2000 years since His promise to return then He is probably not coming soon, if at all. He could easily come before you finish reading this sentence, because the timing of His return is not dependent upon historical events or our own evangelistic activities, but is in the hands of the Father.

To be prepared for His coming doesn’t mean passively waiting. It means actively serving God: proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, and living a life of service and sacrifice towards our fellow human beings, regardless of whether they are those who stand beside the glassy sea or those who are heading for destruction in Babylon. It is this action of God through His people – ‘the righteous acts of the saints’ that make up the beautiful gown of the bride of Christ. (see  19:8).

Come out from Babylon and be separate (18:4).

There is obviously a clear call here to separate ourselves from the immorality of the world’s standards, and to be an example of the transforming righteousness of God which we have received in Christ. But there is another dimension to this call. In our zeal to serve our neighbours and proclaim the Gospel to the world, we need to be sure that we in no way participate in its actions. This may not seem possible, but it can happen when we try so hard to package and present the Gospel in ways that are ‘relevant’ and ‘easy to understand’ that we actually end up compromising and diluting the Gospel itself. We may leave out the ‘bits’ that are controversial to avoid confrontation and persecution. We may overemphasise or exaggerate the earthly benefits of being a Christian in order to make the Gospel sound attractive. We may rely on humanistic methods of marketing, entertainment and psychology to draw people rather than rely on the power of the Gospel itself to save. We may unquestioningly adopt a cultural expression in the church without noticing the damage it does to our witness to the truth. We may follow the lead of the world in its statements about gender, sexuality, racism, social action and politics instead of leading the world in our prophetic proclamation of the Biblical view on these issues.

What we see today in the liberal arm of the earthly church, in all its compromise of Biblical truth and its partnership with the secular world and its agendas, began three or four generations ago as an evangelistic zeal to reach the whole world with the Gospel, and to present the Gospel in a way the world can relate to. Some current trends in the evangelical community today demonstrate that we have not learned this lesson of history, and are in danger of living in Babylon instead of coming out – fleeing, as Abraham and Lot did Sodom and Gomorrah, without looking back or wondering whether we can hang on to just a small piece.

Rejoice in the justice and vindication of God (18:20, 19:1-5).

God’s certain and coming judgement should and will raise a triumphant shout from all His people. It may appear cruel for us to rejoice over the condemnation of sinners; but we are called here to celebrate the victory of God and His complete vindication of us. Every injustice will be paid for, every sin will be called to account, and those who have oppressed the saints – be they spiritual or human agents – will receive the full due for what they have done. Be assured of this: God will not finally condemn anyone in whom there is still the ‘potential’ for repentance. As we have seen, the impenitent will face judgement acknowledging the truth of Christ’s rule, but they will remain in their anger and the hardness of their hearts right to the end and into eternity. Our call is not to focus on or question their fate, but to celebrate the fact that this defeat of evil assures our place at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

The gaudy, worldly, widowed prostitute Babylon has been dethroned, and in her place stands the pure, beautiful bride of the Lamb.

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