I was in Costco picking up supplies recently and it was shocking to see hoarding, empty shelves, and limits on what you could buy. This Covid-19 virus seems to be terrifying everyone. Nevertheless people were polite if cautious and those working the checkout line were making the best of it and were quite cheerful.
As I was joking with one of them about the limits on buying he quipped, “well at least there is no limit on the wine!”. It was a good ice breaker which left me with a smile as I left. But later those words came back to me in a surprising way. I realized that his statement was eerily similar to one I have taught about in Revelation many times. I thought about the third seal which is a black horse who says, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”.
Is this the End?
When I thought about this, I laughed. Because, as a teacher, I am usually the one telling people not to base their views of the return of Christ on current events. They change like the weather, and so will these. Now, I still think date-setters are woefully uninformed about eschatology. However, there is a point to all the end times teachings in the New Testament. And that point is to increase our anticipation of the return of Jesus, the King of Kings. These passages are to remind us that this age is not eternal. They remind us that our King could return at any time without warning. And that we must be found engaged in Kingdom work when the King returns.
We are so used to laughing at date-setters and hysterical preppers it is easy to forget that Jesus is actually coming. And without warning. These global catastrophes are “seal events”. They really are. War, pestilence(disease), and natural disasters have and continue to occur. Just as Jesus said. And while these are just the beginning of birth-pangs and the end is not yet. Nevertheless, they are the beginning.
The seals in Revelation actually have more than one function. It’s true that they must all be broken before the book can be opened. But seals also bear the mark of the author. These seals tell us that God is the author and still in control. And that things are progressing according to his plan.
The Appropriate Response
Peter said, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (2Peter 3:10-14 ESV)
And as Paul said, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12ESV)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ was given at a time when the Church was troubled, compromised, frightened, and a bit discouraged much like now. The proper understanding of end times teaching is for us to take courage, get right, and get busy, because the King is coming. God is in control. And we have work to do until the day he returns. Could it be today?
Maranatha! (look it up)
Stay strong there is hope
“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 3:5-6ESV)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.(Matt 25:31-34ESV)