Morning's Almost Here

A couple of years ago, I studied Revelation at Community Bible Study. I'll be honest and tell you my first reaction when I heard we were studying this book was not so much, "Wonderful. I cannot wait to have a greater understanding of the last book in the Bible," and a little more, "Ugh. What am I supposed to get out of that?"

Frankly, I do not care for the endless speculation and even the educated guessing on what so many symbolic and seemingly confusing things in this particular book of the Bible mean. No disrespect to the Biblical scholar who spent a large portion of his life trying to figure it out and forming his opinion on it, but while I have my own opinions or ideas about some things in this book, I'm more of the opinion "Yeah, we're not going to know all that this side of heaven. Can we please stop having a heated discussion about it?"

There was plenty of discussion of things like the Millenial Kingdom, the Rapture, the seven bowls and seals and maids a milking, but there was something so much more amazing than that...God revealed himself and his Word to me in a fresh light. And, as he so often does, years later, he is still using this Scripture to show me new things and remind me of amazing things that I can't afford to forget.

This has been a week of discussing dark and light from 1 John, and it's also been a week when the dark seems to be taking over. In present day America, we really have very little concept of what it means to be in the dark. Even when we turn out all the lights in our house, the street light shines in my bedroom window. Light is available at the flip of switch...whether it be in my home, in my car, or outside with a flashlight. But true darkness, where no source of light is available, can be engulfing. Darkness can be suffocating and paralyzing. Children are afraid of it without ever having to be told that scary things can lurk there. Seeing a place at night gives a totally different feeling and experience than seeing it in the day. The blackest darkness immediately brings to mind evil and fear.

The only thing that relieves the darkness is light, of course. It's no wonder that God's presence is manifested in light. He brings hope to a dark world and understanding to a blind people. He is good, not evil, and brings growth and life to things which would otherwise die.

But there are days, weeks, seasons when the darkness seems to be unrelenting. It feels overpowering. It takes your breath away, and threatens to steal the joy of the Lord from your heart. You start to question and wonder and cry. It seems as though the darkness might just win out after all. Maybe God isn't who you thought he was. This life is just too hard. You find yourself stumbling and hurting and maybe even think a little part of you is dying. You're in the middle of a nightmare that you just can't wake up from.

Is there anything worse?

And this is where Revelation comes in. It's a book written to the 1st century church...a group of people living in a dark and dying world. A body of believers who were experiencing all the fear and hardship that the darkness could throw at them. A people in need of hope. So, the Lord gives them Revelation.

Well, I'm the first to admit that I don't exactly think of sunshine and roses when I think of Revelation. The images that more readily come to my mind are rivers of blood, scary demon creatures coming and wreaking havoc, and evil running amuck. That's quite reassuring. Thanks, Lord. I feel so much more hopeful now.

But while the middle is quite gory and downright scary at times, it's really bookended by some amazing truth and hope. There are many things that remain unclear to me about Revelation, but one thing stands out as clear as a bell. Jesus is King, he is faithful, he is eternal, and he is going to win this battle once and for all.

What if we were to score an interview with Jesus? Imagine yourself as that reporter just waiting to get the scoop right from the horse's mouth and you say, "Well, Jesus. Thanks for stopping by. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?" John got to have the last recorded interview with Jesus before God put the back cover on the book and declared it complete. Would you like to know what Jesus had to say about himself?

Chapter 1: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Chapter 22: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, and Beginning and the End...I Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

It's as if he says, "This world is a big ball of pain and struggle and hurt and chaos because of sin. But I was before it and I will be here long after it. I hold it all together and will stay the same no matter what happens in between. I hold the worst thing this world has to offer - death - in the palm of my hand. It ain't no big thing to me. I am the Savior that existed before you did, that was promised from the beginning, and that guarantees all this will end well."

Today, it was the last of his words that really hit me. I've memorized this Scripture before and know I must have uttered the phrase, "...and the bright Morning Star" many, many times. But today it stuck out. What a beautiful description for Jesus to use for himself as his last recorded words for his church before his return. Oh, how amazing he is.

He knew how overwhelming the darkness would be. He knew there would be times it was like we were stuck in an endless nightmare. He knew how desparate we would be for hope. And so that's exactly what he left us with: Hope.

The bright, Morning Star is that glorious star that appears just as night is ending and morning is about to break through. It is that signal of the end of darkness and the beginning of a new day. It is the promise of the coming light. Only Jesus is a more wonderful Morning Star than we'll ever see on this earth. He is the Morning Star that signals the coming of an endless day. The night will never return. The darkness will never threaten again. Victory will be complete. Hope will be realized. Light will be here to stay, with not even the smallest speck of darkness able to find its way into his presence.

And so, as he closed his book that he wrote as a gift to his people, living in a dark world, he left us with the image of light. Dawn. Morning. Hope. He is so good.

And we can all say, like John in verse 20: "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." And, one day, he will.

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5


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