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I enjoy sports on TV, but often my schedule doesn’t allow me to watch them live. So I record the games, and watch them in the evening. To keep the results a surprise, I make an effort to avoid the news headlines.
But of course, it doesn’t always work. I remember one occasion when I was in a restaurant that happened to be showing the game I planned on watching later. I made sure to get a table out of range of the TV, but as we left I couldn’t help overhearing the commentator announcing the games result. I decided to watch the recording anyway. Although I knew the final result, it was still exciting. I found myself quite engrossed, looking out for the events that would favor the eventual winner.
The Bible reveals such an event – an event that turned history in our favor. And when I say “our” I don't only mean Christians – everybody, the whole world benefits. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has already won the war against sin and death. Though we haven't seen the fullness of his victory yet, Jesus will one day return and then all will be revealed.
We live in very worrying times, and none of us can stay immune from the world's problems. Financial worries, job insecurity, health concerns and difficult relationships afflict us all. But they cannot prevent the final outcome.
It is comforting to remember that the “end” is already settled. In the last book of the Bible we are told, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
The book of Revelation was originally written to inspire and reassure the first generation of Christians who were suffering terrible persecution. They were encouraged to lift up their heads in hope because victory had already been brought by our Lord Jesus. Nothing can stop his return: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7).
Ever since the first centuries of Christianity, the book of Revelation has been often considered a puzzle that, when solved, will predict exactly when Jesus will return. Perhaps that is understandable – when things get rough we naturally want to know how long the bad times will last. However, all the interpretations, whether scholarly or fanciful, have proven to be wrong.
You see, the last book of the Bible is not a prerecording of specific events that lead up to Jesus’ return. It’s written in what is known as “apocalyptic style.” Through that lens, Revelation tells us that Jesus will return, but not specifically how and certainly not when. It was written to encourage Christians facing hardship throughout the ages. So it is as valid for that purpose today as it was two thousand years ago.
And if Jesus has not returned, it will still be valid two thousand years from now.
God has already shown us the outcome of history, even though we do not have an idea of how much time is left. The excitement of Christ's return still lies ahead, spurring us on through our trials of today. In that respect, life is like a game that we know we are going to win.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of Life.