I pray that your summer has been a blessed one so far. Methodists are so funny. July is vacation month, we all run to the beach, or the mountains, or both. Get some rest, enjoy your families, and we’ll all gather by the river in August.
Today we will continue our look at the book of Revelation, a book of prophecy regarding the Return of Christ. I will continue to share my thoughts, along with those of Dr. M.R. DeHaan from his fine book, Revelation: 35 Simple Studies In the Major Themes In Revelation.
One reason that I chose Dr. DeHaan’s book, other than my trust in his theology, is that this book, for the most part, avoids the trap of slipping into needless details within Revelation. These details are there to help prove the reliability of the Truth contained in Revelation. The details are important. Doubters can choose to debate and argue the minutia of details. I do not. I believe, so I am not so concerned as to how God brings about Christ’s Return, as much as I am concerned that Jesus does return. This book by DeHaan focuses on the themes within the book of Revelation.
For example, I am not concerned about predicting the time when Christ does return. In fact, scripture teaches us to not focus on this, but to focus on building one another up. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11,
“Now, brothers (and sisters), about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers (and sisters), are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all (children) of the light and of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet (guarding your heart and mind). For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. There-fore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you have been doing.”
Paul is teaching us to not worry about these details. If you believe, that’s the concern. If you don’t believe, sure that’s the true concern. In fact, if you don’t believe, all of Revelation seems a major concern, because it is. When Jesus returns it is judgment time. Satan knows this, the world knows this, the dark powers aligned against God know this, and the stubborn portion of humanity who refuse to believe understand this.
When Jesus returns our eternity will be locked in. It will either be an eternity in heaven or an eternity in hell.
The doctrinal standards of the UMC, in the Confession of faith, explicitly affirm that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead as a prelude to the revealing of the new creation (earth).
Talk of a “rapture” or a “Great Tribulation” visited upon those “not raptured” is not part of what Methodists believe.
Here, M.R. DeHaan and I disagree. He believes in the rapture and the Great Tribulation. I’m OK with this difference. I am friends with other Christians who believe this way. I do not. You may believe this way if you choose. But I do not argue over this.
Methodists tend to be patient in our waiting for Christ’s second advent, focusing on living out the teachings of his first coming and making a difference in the harvest for the Lord. We focus on the now and our calling from God. I focus on sharing the Good News of Christ and helping as many as possible avoid the White Throne Judgment. This is what I believe, this is what I endeavor to do.
I trust God, that as the world gets worse, Jesus will come at just the perfect time. God’s timing is always perfect in our lives, even though we may prefer something different. Most of us can testify to this perfect timing of God. God always does what’s best for us eternally, and since most of us are not focusing on the eternal view, as we are living day to day, our idea of timing is much different from God’s timing.
Let’s not get bogged down in the millennium either. Such as premillennialism, postmillennialism, amillennialism, dual-millennialism, or pan millennialism. This refers to the thousand-year reign of Christ. I do not care about when this happens, the timing, any more than I care when Christ actually returns. I trust God with these details, and speculation is, well, just that, speculation. To me, this is wasted energy. All that I can say about the timing of Christ’s Return is that I believe that we are closer to his second advent than his first. I base this on the fact that we are living in the time of the last church in Revelation, the Church of Laodicea. We spoke about this last week.
I tend to focus instead on the blood of Christ and what that means for all of us. If you get confused in Revelation, as you read, regain your focus by focusing on the blood of Christ. Revelation 19:13,
“He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”
His garments are bloody as he comes from heaven. People throughout history have tried to escape the blood of Christ but a Christ without blood can not be our Savior.
When Jesus came the first time he died in blood and agony. In the garden, as his burden was ever increasing, his sweat was like great drops of blood falling upon the earth. Blood flowed as he was scourged and a crown of thorns was squeezed onto his head. He was then pierced with huge nails that held him to a cross. Finally, last of all, after his death the soldier plunged the spear into his side causing the blood and the water to flow.
The blood that flowed resulted in his death, but it is the cleansing blood by which all of us live.
We cannot avoid the blood of Christ. We can not evade the judgment of his blood. You may reject it, ridicule it, water it down, tread it under foot and despise it, but Christ’s blood remains the witness of God either for or against you. If by faith you receive him, his blood will cleanse you from all sin and save you forever. If you reject his blood now, you will have to face it later for when he returns as he will come clothed in “a robe dipped in blood”.
Either you accept the blood of Christ or he will require your blood. For it will be your blood on his robe if you choose to deny him.
Isaiah tells us that he will stain his robe with the blood of his enemies. You are either for or against him. There is no other choice. If you make no choice for Christ, your decision has been made by default, and it is against Christ. It has nothing to do with denominations or what church your family has been attending. Nothing about what preacher you watch on TV or whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. Nothing about social standing, likes on FaceBook, financial wealth, or whether you're woke or not.
The question is this: Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?
This may shock you, but it is clearly the teaching in the Word of God.
Do not underestimate the strength and power of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is not a weakling. He is a tender and compassionate Savior to all who believe in him, but he is also a righteous and eternal judge of all those who reject him. He is love, but Jesus is also Justice. Without a doubt, he deals in infinite mercy with those who believe in him. However, he also deals with infinite justice and righteousness with those who have turned their backs to him. For this reason, Isaiah prophesies that upon his return Jesus will wreak vengeance upon the wicked, Isaiah 63:1-4,
“Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in greatness of his strength? ‘It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Why are your garments red, like those of one treading a winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. (I used to have trouble believing that no nation would stand with Christ. After seeing what has happened to the U.S. and the world in the last few years, now I understand.) I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come.”’
So, let’s not get caught up in the timing of Christ’s Return or the timing of the millennium. Stay focused on the blood of Christ. I unrepentantly plead the blood of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that you do too.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC