Judgment Day Is Coming!
Dearest Jesus—You are my Savior, my Lord, and my King! You have redeemed my soul and sent Your Spirit to draw me into Your kingdom by creating faith within my heart. You now dwell within that heart and rule there through Your Word. Strengthen me this day, so that I might serve You with ever greater joy and faithfulness. Amen.
This Psalm, probably written after God’s Old Testament people returned from captivity in Babylon, reflects the joy that all faithful Christians can have as they look forward to Christ’s return and their ultimate release from the captivity of sin and sorrow in this world!
Jesus calls upon us to be faithful stewards of everything He has entrusted to us, as we await His return at the end of time. When Jesus returns, those who have been faithful will enter into His joy, while those who have been unfaithful will be cast into outer darkness!
Text: Revelation 22:12-21
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
ForI testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
In Christ Jesus, the Lord of lords, the King of kings who is coming, dear fellow redeemed:
“The end is near!” When do you hear or see such words? You might hear them spoken by a street corner preacher in a big city, but more than likely you will read them printed in the comic section of a newspaper. In our modern day, when many think they are too sophisticated for such a message, or are simply too harried to take the time to think about its meaning, we hear very little about the end of time—the fact that at some point in the future Jesus is planning to return and the present universe will cease to exist. My dear friends, JUDGMENT DAY IS COMING! God will keep His promise! The approaching end of time, however, is not something we as Christians need fear. Rather, the message that JUDGMENT DAY IS COMING is a call for reflection, action, and anticipation!
The words of our text—the final words of Jesus’ Revelation to John, which serve as the concluding words of our Bible—are intended to aid in all three. Jesus’ opening testimony ought move us to reflect upon the manner in which we choose to live. Jesus’ warning that follows is a call for us actively to preserve and proclaim His Word as a means of securing life both for ourselves and for others. Finally, Jesus’ promise is intended to move us to sweet anticipation of Jesus’ return and the end to all of sin’s sorrows. Yes, JUDGMENT DAY IS COMING! Therefore, listen carefully to Jesus’ testimony, Jesus’ warning, and Jesus’ promise!
Jesus’ testimony confirms both who He is and what He intends to do. Let us reflect on their meaning for us and our futures. Jesus testifies to the fact that He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Jesus, thereby, identifies Himself with His heavenly Father. He is not merely a man, a teacher, or a prophet as many in our world today insist. Rather, Jesus is true God! The LORD God tells us through Isaiah: “I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God!” (Is. 44:6) There can be only one first and last! Jesus, therefore, identifies Himself with the LORD God! As such, the Bible testifies that He was directly involved with the creation of our universe. The apostle Paul writes: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth” (Col. 1:16a). The Bible also assures us that Jesus will be involved in the destruction of this universe when He returns to judge the living and the dead (cf. Mt. 25:31-46; Phil. 2:9-11).
Jesus goes on to say: “I am the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Here at the end of the New Testament Jesus references the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, emphasizing the validity of the Bible’s description and identification of Him with the Savior promised by God. Jesus did fully accomplish God’s plan of salvation! We need not fear that anything was left undone! As Paul writes the Colossian Christians: “You are complete in Him (Jesus), who is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:10). The continuity of Scripture, therefore, testifies to its truthfulness and reliability. Jesus brings us the knowledge we need to enlighten the paths we are to walk in this life!
Consequently, our futures depend upon Him, for as He testifies: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Jesus will come—suddenly, unexpectedly, without warning…as “thief in the night” (cf. 1 Thes. 5:2). His reward is the gift of everlasting life. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” He promised us before ascending into heaven (Mk. 16:16). He will “give to every one according to his work!” Jesus is not here reneging on the biblical teaching of salvation by grace, but rather emphasizing the importance of a living faith and the necessity of a fruitful faith. As Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b-13).
John, reflecting on Jesus’ testimony, then assures us in our text that as we strive to live a godly life and fulfill our Savior God’s will we can rest assured that we will “have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city,” that is, we will go to heaven! He announces to us as the Evangelist “par excellence”: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely!” How wonderful! Yet, John warns, those who wantonly defy God through sorcery, sexual immorality, murder, and idolatry—those, John says, who love and practice a lie will remain outside! Let us listen carefully to Jesus’ testimony!
Let us also listen to and heed Jesus’ warning! Jesus once said: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (Jn. 12:48-50). It should not surprise us, then, when Jesus issues this warning in our text: “ForI testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Jesus is serious about His Word—the Bible—for He together with His Father sent the Holy Spirit to inspire the holy writers to record just what He wants us to know for our blessing and in order to secure our futures. Peter reminds us: “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21b) and assures us: “The word of the LORD endures forever!” (1 Pet. 1:25a) Consequently, we are to act and react to God’s Word with reverence and respect.
It was my privilege several weeks ago to participate in a seminar hosted by Messiah Lutheran Church in Eau Claire. It focused on the differences that exist within Lutheranism today. Those differences are in large part a matter of how we view the Bible. Is it God’s Word from which we reverently learn, or is it man’s word from which I pick and choose what I want to believe? It is my privilege currently to be involved on a committee established by the President of our Church of the Lutheran Confession to plan a free conference in Germany next summer. The main topic of that upcoming free conference is likewise the proper approach to God’s Word—the Bible. If the Bible is indeed, God’s Word, as it claims to be and as it demonstrates so convincingly that it is, then we do not want to add to it or subtract from it. What it says about God’s will as recorded in His law must stand, for society’s opinions cannot and do not change God’s immutable will. If that law is not maintained and preached, then the sweet gospel of forgiveness and life becomes meaningless and undesired. JUDGMENT DAY IS COMING! Therefore, Let us listen to and heed Jesus’ warning!
Finally, let us listen to Jesus’ promise! Jesus’ final words to us conclude the Revelation and our Bibles. They compose a simple promise: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Jesus is coming! He will return in judgment and we shall see Him, just as the angels said when Jesus ascended. As the disciples watched Jesus disappear into a cloud in Ascension Day, the Book of Acts records these words: “While they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).
There are many people in our world today—no doubt the vast majority—who do not believe the words of those angels or of Jesus. They point to the fact that it has been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus uttered those words and conclude that if they were really going to happen, Jesus would have already come. How mistaken are such thoughts! Jesus’ failure to return at this time is not a sign of impotence, but rather of patience. Peter warned long ago in his Second Epistle: “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:3-9).
Jesus will return at just the right time, when all of God’s elect have been brought to faith and introduced to His kingdom. John punctuates Jesus’ promise to come with an “amen!” Yea, yea, so shall it be! We need not fear that Jesus’ promise is not true, or that it will not be kept! Jesus will keep this promise as God has kept all of His promises. JUDGMENT DAY IS COMING! Therefore, dear friends, let us join the apostle John in his concluding prayer: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Amen.
--Pastor Paul D. Nolting
To God alone be glory!