Blessed Are Those Who Read These Words
By Dr. Jody Bowser, Senior Pastor
I’ve been reading and meditating on Revelation chapter 1 lately.
The Apostle John writes this from an island in the Aegean Sea called Patmos, off the coast of what is modern Western Turkey. I just Googled some pictures of the island and it looks stark (largely treeless and volcanic) but scenic. But two thousand years ago in the late first century, Patmos was a place where prisoners were sent (think Alcatraz without the prison). Early Christian historians (Irenaeus, Eusebius, and Jerome) tell us that John was exiled (banished) to Patmos in AD 95 during the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian and released a year later when Emperor Nerva took the throne.
What’s more important, though, is what John writes. The entire book is a prophecy—words and visions revealed by God—that takes the form of a letter. This revelation is uniquely and authoritatively called the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (v. 2). And we, right here and right now, are considered by God to be “blessed” for “hearing” this prophecy AND FOR TAKING TO HEART WHAT IS WRITTEN IN IT.
Why are we blessed? We’re given the answer in verse 3: “Because the time is near.”
What time is near? The answer to this is in verse 7: Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of Him.
My goodness is this packed with important Truth. The passage is clearly talking about Jesus, the One who was crucified (pierced) on the cross, and the One who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood (v. 5). But more, Jesus is unmistakably described here as coming with the clouds in an obvious and global way (every eye will see Him).
So why is it that many people on earth will mourn when this happens?
For starters, I believe it will be because they didn’t “hear” (weren’t made aware of ) this prophecy. And if they did hear it, they didn’t take to heart what they heard. They didn’t believe that Jesus would actually appear in the clouds (who in their right minds would believe that????). They chalked all of this up as a bunch of religious nonsense. Or perhaps they viewed it as a myth, or a fairytale … something only right-wing religious nut-cases believed.
But let me ask again, “Why do these masses of people MOURN?”
I think there are several specific reasons. First, I believe they will mourn out of sheer dread and fear. We so easily, and even casually, think of Jesus as our friend. So many imagine him as the meek and mild long-haired guy in all of the paintings, if they think of Him at all. But that’s not what we’ll see on the day Jesus appears with the clouds. He will return as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He will come with awe-inspiring GLORY. It will be impossible to even stand in His presence (every knee will bow, Philippians 2:10). Let us not forget that it was Jesus who said, “Let there be light” and there was light. All of the nuclear bombs on earth are a simple kilowatt of the power that Jesus possesses. We truly cannot even begin to imagine what that day will be like.
A second reason I believe the masses will mourn will be out of regret. When Jesus appears in the clouds, He will call all true believers to Himself. We see this in 1 Thessalonians 4:16- 17: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Everyone who is “in Christ” at that moment will be called up into the presence of God, where we will be with the Lord forever. And what of those who aren’t in Christ? As the popular book title simply states, they will be left behind. But not left behind for a day…or until they can catch the next flight out. Left behind for good. Forever. I know there are some who think that there will be second chances even then. I hope so. But I don’t know. And nobody in their right mind should bank on it. I can tell you that those who live through that moment aren’t thinking about catching the next flight out tomorrow. They’re mourning. The Truth is hitting them square in the face. The Koran wasn’t right. Buddha wasn’t right. The Book of Mormon wasn’t right. Humanism and godless philosophies weren’t right. Hollywood wasn’t right. That professor in college wasn’t right. My “gut” wasn’t right.
The Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ is right. Unmistakably. Unarguably. Undeniably. Right. TRUE. No more talking heads to argue the point on CNN. Jesus, the One who bore our sins on the cross, is right— and will forevermore be right.
Blessed are all who hear these things and take them to heart. Might this cause us all to seek the Lord while He may still be found. Might it light a fire in us all to share the Gospel with others. Jesus is coming back. The time is near. No kidding.