City of Destruction. We think of Apocalypse as of the end of the world. So my word would mean end of the world city or city of destruction. But what apocalypse means originally apart from our cultural influences is a revealing from the other side. It is revelation from the heavens into our dimension. We see this in Daniel and Ezekiel and the apocryphal book of Enoch. We get the end of world being an apocalypse from the book of Revelation because we assume the idea is simply about an ending with a lot of death and suffering, but really the Revelation is revealing God. It is only terrible because God is responding to our living as if there wasn’t another dimension to reality and then finding out how wrong we really were.
The Revelation is more apt to define the apocalypse as it is literally God revealing the dealings in heaven and his intentions with the earth. We are welcomed to view something that we would never know without someone else with access sharing it. It is like being shown the inner working of the Government and the series of behind the scenes decisions that we will never know happened. It is like the Matrix, the truth would never been reveled without someone with access sharing it with the rest.
God has revealed to us beforehand how he will respond to our defiance. What do we his creation do with this knowledge? We continue our defiance while continuing to build our cities doomed for destruction. The initial revealing of Christ goes unheeded and so the future revealing instead of informing and causing us to turn from our ways, creates a meme for the end of the world that does not impact us at all. We make movies about it but we do not think much beyond it as entertainment. I can’t as a Pastor refrain from mentioning what the Bible is telling us will one day happen. If we as Christians avoid talking about it because it sounds negative then we are poor ambassadors of Christ.
Many have said that there just isn’t enough definitive information for God. Well there has obviously been enough information spread to even have this discussion in the first place, so shouldn’t a little personal responsibility come into play at some point?
God is absolutely waiting till the end to give us more information, but rest assured he has left enough behind to come to some conclusions. The fact that we know this is ever instructive. This is why the revealing is so harrowing. We were supposed to learn, we were supposed to respond, we were supposed to feel something. Furthermore as Christians we were not supposed to let it come as a surprise. We are messengers, but have we retired our calling for a simpler more comfortable life?
The Apocalypse is only death and destruction and horror because we have largely ignored his previous revelation in his Son. God is showing us in the end that we should now pay attention to what he has previously said. In a similar manner when Jude and Peter write about the coming judgment they point back to the very vivid pictures of Sodom and even to the flood itself. But just in case, for some reason, that is not enough he gives us a glimpse of the future.
Revelation is a revealing of the future. God is coming again, and not everybody will be treated the same. Sheep go to heaven and goats go to hell, as the prophet-band Cake reminded us. A time is coming and all the reasons and excuses for not believing and refusing to consider the possibility will be extinguished. A time is coming when God will show up and then after the collective gasp, a reckoning.
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17)
This is why we need to redouble our efforts at the Gospel. More people need to hear and understand the very real position that they stand in. Our cities can be pinnacles of hope, beacons of lights in the darkness, or they can be massive grave yards for the walking dead. The people want to convince themselves that they have arrived and the lack of need for redemption is because they know better and we have evolved from such archaic thinking. But there will be a day, when the roles will be reversed, our weeping will be made rejoicing and the other way around for those who have rejected the King from his right to rule.
It would be so easy to simply put up our feet and wait for the day, but we have been charged with being the thorn in the side of an amoral society that wants desperately to pretend that there is no one keeping the books. I wish that people would take the message as a concern that drives us to warn. I wish they would appreciate that we want them to share the good news. Hell should move us to compassion for the world.
We may want justice and accountability but when these concepts are thrown off then the time for punishment sounds simply tyrannical. Righting wrongs sounds mean. Our preoccupation with rehabilitation rather than recompense means we do not understand a Holy God. So we will instead gather armies to fight him and the valley of Megiddo will be filled with blood.
A herald of doom will always be laughed at until it is too late. This is why the Gospel is good news, it is news in spite of the doom. It is good news to the backdrop of calamity. The purpose of an escape hatch from the destruction. As much as it means we are raving lunatic to the masses, we cannot simply be silent. We would be completely abdicating on our responsibility.
I am reminded of a discussion we had recently at a small group about how our behavior would change if we had an actual countdown or date for the apocalypse. I remember thinking that I would switch from the long game of evangelism to a very short one. But it makes me think that if the slowness of friendship evangelism would fly out the window with knowledge of the event horizon, then is that really the best method to share the truth of God’s return?
A city in ashes should prompt in us a bit more urgency shouldn’t it?
How should ministry change without becoming the crazy man with the End is Nigh sign? Or does he have the right idea? Well the message should always have hope, so let’s start there.