J. Lee Grady
Terrorist bombings. Middle East turmoil. $3.95 gas. Killer floods. Moral breakdown. Fragile economies.
No wonder Charlie Sheen is going crazy!
Seriously, there’s a lot of bad news out there. Negative headlines make people fearful, agitated, addicted or even sick. But from what I’ve read in my Bible, Christians should not freak out every time a gloomy cloud settles over us. We, of all people on earth, should be full of hope.
A few days ago a friend asked me what I thought about a prophecy from a well-known Christian leader. This man has predicted a financial collapse in the United States by sometime next year. Other Christians have foreseen terrorist attacks, assassinations, bread lines and even the total breakdown of society. My friend asked me: “What are you hearing from the Lord about the future?”
I’m not a fancy guy, and I don’t pretend to understand the intricacies of the federal deficit or the real meaning behind “climate change.” I’m not privy to what al-Qaida is doing inside the United States or who is pulling the strings behind the protests in Yemen, Libya or Bahrain. (And I’m not sure our lawmakers in Washington understand these things either.)
But I do know the Bible is a book of hope—and the last book of the Bible (which is often viewed as pure doom and gloom) is actually a message of triumph. Recently I’ve been finding comfort and encouragement in Revelation. Here’s what I know about the future based on the apostle John’s amazing vision:
1. Jesus will remain on His throne. Revelation opens with a glorious vision of the triune God on His throne (see 1:4-6) and it ends with a scene of the restored Eden—with a river flowing from God’s throne (see 22:1-2). The Bible does not end with gloom or destruction. It ends with restoration and grace. This is God’s ultimate plan for us.
Never lose sight of the throne. You can bank on it. It is solid and secure. No matter what the devil or sinful men devise—terror plots, nuclear bombs, stock market crashes—in the end Jesus overrules the wicked. And He has the last word: “Yes, I am coming quickly” (22:20).
2. His kingdom will continue to advance. I know many Christians who have a Chicken Little mentality. Like the faithless spies who were frightened by Canaan’s giants, Christian pessimists view the world with a glass-half-empty perspective. They focus on what the devil is doing rather than on how God is working by His Spirit.
I want to shake these people to wake them up. Look around! Missiologists believe China will be a Christian nation by 2035. Churches are growing at record rates in India and parts of Africa. Before long a wave of missionaries from the developing world will descend on every unevangelized region of the world. And I’m convinced one of the greatest spiritual awakenings in history will take place in the Middle East.
I’m not saying wicked people won’t get worse, or that banks won’t fail at times, or that we should adopt a Pollyanna worldview that ignores the threat of evil. But please read your Bible! We win!
God is not the kind of builder who starts a project and then leaves it unfinished. He was serious when He commissioned us to take the gospel to the whole world. He will supply the grace, the manpower, the strategy and the funds to get the job done. In the end, a “great multitude which no one could count” (7:9)—will be redeemed by Christ. This hope stirs my heart every day and gives me the strength to press on.
3. His grace will see us through every challenge. The first Christians who read John’s message in Revelation faced lions and gladiators in the coliseums of Rome. Throughout history, Christians have been beheaded, hanged, stoned, drawn-and-quartered, burned at the stake, tortured, starved in gulags, shot, banished to work camps and denied human rights. Yet these people appear in the book of Revelation. It says of them: “And they overcame [the devil] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (12:11).
Please don’t abandon your hope. Don’t let the headlines—whether on CNN or Fox News—turn you into a Christian pessimist. If the martyrs of the ages can sing a victory song, surely we can maintain our joy when we face the uncertainties of our future.
J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady.