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The End and the Beginning

For all of its confounding imagery and puzzling allusions, Revelation ends -- and finishes the Bible -- with a clear and direct promise from Jesus: "Surely I am coming soon." (Rev. 22:20) This simple proclamation reminds us readers that we are still living in the "not yet" period of our eternal life. We are living a life under a promise similar to our Old Testament brothers and sisters that anticipated and looked forward to the Redeeming Messiah.

For us, redemption has already come. The Bible tells us this means that Jesus, wholly human and wholly God, paid the penalty for our sins that separated us from God, our Creator. After the penalty was paid with His death on the cross, He left us the Holy Spirit with the promise to come again. Now, like our Old Testament brothers and sisters, we wait and anticipate, only this time we are waiting for the Consummating Messiah, the one who will finally break the grip of sin and evil and usher in a magnificent age of wisdom, literature, history, art, politics, science, and worship all centered on the pleasing and glorification of the ultimate Good and Truth in the universe: God.

"Surely I am coming soon." As I mentioned earlier, this wonderful phrase -- apart from John's closing benediction -- closes the Bible. As a writer, I love pieces of literature that have a chiastic structure, where you begin and close a story (or poem or any text, really) with ideas and themes that deliberately echo each other. This creates symmetry, and the Bible is FULL of this narrative device.

Here in Revelation 22, the Bible closes with Jesus speaking. How does the Bible open in Genesis? With God speaking. He speaks creation into existence. He talks to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. He rebukes Israel through the Judges and the Prophets. He sings, laments, and teaches through the Psalms and Proverbs. His word - logos - literally comes to life through the birth and life of Jesus Christ. Even death still cannot stop God from speaking, for after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the Holy Spirit arrives to speak. God then clarifies and inspires and teaches through Paul, Peter, and John. Finally, in Revelation, Jesus reminds us that He is, "the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Rev. 22:13) Everything finds its beginning and its end -- symmetry, you see -- in and with God, including, fittingly, the Bible.

"Surely I am coming soon." The original Greek for the word translated here as "surely" is the word nai (pronounced as nahee), which means a strong yes. It adds certainty and truthfulness to a phrase, like "Yes, this WILL happen for sure!" What a great joy it is to understand that in this statement, Jesus is saying that we can absolutely count on His coming back. It WILL happen.

So, here we are, waiting for Jesus' statement to manifest, anticipating the end of this age and the beginning of a new one. What do we do while we wait in this "not yet" period of eternity? We remind ourselves that God has not stopped speaking. The marvelous mystery of the Bible is that it is literally the Living Word of God, and we need to read it again and again and again so that it shapes, enlightens, teaches, and speaks to us. We come to Revelation 22:21 and then turn the back to Genesis 1:1, just like December turns back to January every year:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen. 1:1)

~ Matt Aggen

December 23rd Readings
1 PETER 5:12-14
2 PETER 1:1-3:18

December 24th Readings
1 JOHN 1:1-4:6

December 25th Readings
1 JOHN 4:7-5:21
2 JOHN 1:1-13
3 JOHN 1:1-15

December 26th Readings
JUDE 1:1-25
REVELATION 1:1-2:29

December 27th Readings
REVELATION 3:1-6:17

December 28th Readings
REVELATION 7:1-10:11

December 29th Readings
REVELATION 11:1-14:20

December 30th Readings
REVELATION 15:1-18:24

December 31st Readings
REVELATION 19:1-22:21