And so we come to the end of this journey through our Bibles. Out with a bang describes today's reading quite accurately, I think! This is an incredible finish to the story ~ and to human history.
Though I desperately DON'T want to have to endure through the Great Tribulation, I wouldn't mind getting to experience the thousand-year reign of Jesus here on earth before the New Jerusalem appears. At least, the way I read it this part sounds quite literal, and as such, it sounds absolutely, perfectly idyllic. Unfortunately, this time appears to specifically be sort of a reward for those saints who've persevered through the Tribulation, not for all believers across the span of history. Somehow this says to me, the Great Tribulation is SO much worse than we can really imagine. It sounds truly awful, but if they're granted a thousand years of peace in paradise with Jesus as King over all the earth even before eternity even really starts, the Tribulation must just be an unfathomably horrifying period of time to have to live through.
On second thought, maybe I don't want those thousand years so badly after all...
The rest ~ the believers from the beginning of time up until the Great Tribulation starts (or so it would seem) ~ they get to join the fun only after the thousand years are over and Satan is disposed of permanently. Initially, this seemed a bit unfair to me, but going back to the previous paragraph and thinking of it in that light, I've decided I'm okay with it if God decides to do it this way! In any case, whether this will literally transpire or if this is merely imagery of what is to come ~ HOWEVER it all comes to pass ~ God gets to call the shots and we will see His glory the way He wants us to, how He has prepared us to.
I think the picture of the bride finally being fully prepared to meet her Groom is just beautiful. I can't wait to be a part of that! A few weeks ago when we were dealing with predestination/sovereign election, I was listening to this MacArthur sermon (part 3 of a four-part series) and I just have to share his thoughts here with you about the amazing story of the promise of God to provide a bride for His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
The Father made a promise to the Son. The whole of salvation comes from God and is all about His own purpose and it is granted on behalf of Christ. So what you have then to understand this great doctrine of election is this, the Father at some point in eternity past says to the Son, "I am going to redeem sinners and I'm going to do it for You. I'm going to do it for You." Why would God do that? Because He loves the Son and the seventeenth chapter of John, as we'll see later, the Son celebrates the mutual love that He has with the Father, and love gives. And the Father determines in His eternal love within the Trinity that He will express His love for the Son by giving the Son a gift, and that gift essentially is going to be a redeemed humanity. If you will, He gives His Son a bride.I'd never thought about it that way, but that image has stuck in my head ever since hearing that message and it just sprang to mind as I read today's passages again. It is INDEED a staggering and glorious truth.
In the ancient world, fathers chose the brides for their sons. That's the way it was done. Nobody chose for themselves, that was the father's responsibility. And here you have the divine pattern as God determines that He will choose a bride for His Son. It's a way that the Father could express His love to His Son. It's a way He determined to do it, that He would give to His Son a redeemed humanity. Follow that thought to the sixth chapter of John, a section of Scripture that we refer to often in our studies in the Word of God because it's so foundational. In John chapter 6 verse 37, this is critical, "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me." This is where it has to be understood. Every saved person is a gift from the Father to the Son. The Father determined in eternity past that He would give to the Son a bride, that He would give to the Son a redeemed humanity. The Bible tells us that He actually wrote their names down in the Lamb's Book of Life knowing that even before the foundation of the world the Lamb would have to be slain to pay the price for that redemption. There was always a price paid for a bride, paid to the father by the one who took the bride. In this case, the Father had to give up His own Son, the Son had to give up His own life to pay the price to purchase His bride. Every saved individual is a part of that bride. Even the Old Testament saints are engulfed into the bride and take up residence in the New Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven as a bride adorned for her husband, becomes the capital city of eternity, the bridal city. The whole of redemptive history is about the Father pursuing a bride for His Son and the Father determined before the foundation of the world who the bride would be and He wrote down the names so that every person who comes to Christ is given to Christ by the Father. It's just a staggering and glorious truth.
Come, Lord Jesus.