Read with Me

Revelation 21:5-8 (HCSB)
Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

 Listen with Me

In view of all that has been revealed to John in this series of visions, each meticulously recorded in this letter, John’s mind was still troubled as to what the purpose of all this pain and suffering might be.

But God revealed to him that His purpose in allowing all that suffering was not simply to allow it to happen. He always has a firm purpose in mind. It was not just the restoration of something old, healing old hurts and restoring persecuted people to their stolen lands and homes. Instead, He revealed that He was using all the events that had transpired to make all things new.

During the time of horrible persecution, the people who claim the name of Jesus were divided into two broad categories: those who stood firm, even in the hottest part of the persecution, and those who had turned away from God to either save their lives or the lives of their families, or to simply lessen or avoid their pain and suffering. Those who chose to turn away showed their true allegiance and character and, since they had rejected God, turning back after they had put their hand to the plow (Luke 9:62), showed that they were unworthy of eternal life and thus were rejected by God.

But for those who stayed faithful to God, the fiery trials they had gone through had refined and purified their souls like fire refines gold and silver (Zechariah 13:7-9). Those were the overcomers who were now offered water from the river of life, and who would now be welcomed into the joys of God’s presence for all eternity.

As in everything having to do with God’s kingdom, there is a sharp dichotomy. Far from the myriad shades of gray that so many try to impose on God’s word, God sees things in stark black and white. A person is either a sheep or a goat (Matthew 25:32-33) – there are no hybrids. A person gathers with God or scatters (Matthew 12:30). A person bears good fruit or bad fruit (Matthew 7:17-20). A person obeys God’s commandments, or he does not (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 3:4-10). And on the basis of that dichotomy, a person’s destiny is either that he or she will be God’s son or daughter for all eternity, or they will be consigned to the lake of fire for all eternity, the second death. There is no third option.

Pray with Me

Father, this sounds harsh to our ears and unloving to our modern sensibilities, where seeing only in dichotomies, black and white, good and bad, strong and weak, is seen as narrow-minded and bigoted. But You are the one who sees all things clearly, while we see as in a darkened mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12). So, You are worthy to judge us on Your own scale as simply Yours or not, good or bad, worthy or unworthy. And we can rest in the knowledge that Your judgment will always be 100% correct. Thank You, Lord, for this reassurance, and also for the knowledge that we don’t have to try to fit ourselves into the right category. If we rely on You completely, You can purify us, strengthen us, and empower us to be all we need to be and to do all we need to do in order to end up with You for all eternity and to glorify You forever. Amen.