In this second post of our five-part series on Revelation chapter one, we’re going to talk about time… how God sees time differently than how we see time. Christians all over the world are waiting anxiously for the return of our Lord, wondering “what is the holdup.” But there’s no hold up. Not at all. God has everything on a set timetable. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen and not a day sooner. We’re going to talk about the phrase, “for the time is at hand,” and how we are to relate to it.
REVELATION CHAPTER ONE
Second in a Five-Part Series
By Karen Thompson
Blessing to Those Who Hear and Keep These Words
Rev. 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
The very next thing John did was to pronounce a blessing to anyone that “readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy.” The people that read and/or hear the words of the prophecy will be blessed. But the blessing was conditional: the condition for the blessing is that those who read and hear the words must also “keep those things which are written therein….” Throughout the Bible, you’ll find that every blessing comes with a prerequisite of obedience.
This is the first of seven blessings in the book of Revelation—whoever hears and keeps the words that are written therein will be blessed. In the last chapter of Revelation, we are told again that whoever keeps the sayings of this book is blessed: “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:7).
For the Time Is at Hand
Now let’s look at the very last phrase “for the time is at hand….” This is the second time we are told this vision would be fulfilled soon. Verse one told us the things in the vision “must shortly come to pass…” The Greek word for “time” is kairos, and it could mean either a fixed and definite time, due measure, or the right time.. John said these events would “shortly come to pass” and that “the time is at hand.” Two thousand years have passed and these events have yet to be fulfilled. How can this seeming contradiction be reconciled?
It can be reconciled due to the fact that the perception of time is relative. Human beings have a limited life expectancy on this earth. Consequently, our perception of time is different than God’s perception, who lives in eternity where time does not exist. The phrase “must shortly come to pass” has a different meaning to a human being than it does to an eternal God.
The believers in the early Church had this very same problem; many of them wondered why God’s promises had not yet come to pass. In 2nd Peter chapter three, Peter wrote to those believers who were on the verge of becoming doubters and reminded them of the words of the “holy prophets and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (v. 2). He said there would be scoffers in the last days saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (v. 4).
They too had people that had become skeptical about the prophetic words of the prophets coming to pass. They wanted to know, “Where is the promise of His coming.” Why was it taking so long? Peter’s answer was to remind them that the perception of time between mortal humans and an eternal God is different. Quoting Psalm 90:4, Peter explained, “Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” A thousand years is nothing but a day to the Lord. Peter reassured them that God “is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness…” (2 Pet. 3:8–9).
The Bible is full of examples that illustrate the difference between mankind’s perception of time and God’s. Take for instance, God’s promise to Abraham that he and Sarah would give birth to a child. This promise came when Abraham was 75 years old! Sara’s womb had already dried up. This was not a young couple. Humanly speaking, one would think God would have fulfilled that promise quickly. But it took a full 25 years before Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to Isaac.
When Noah was 500 years old, God told him to build an ark because He was going to send a flood. So according to God’s specifications, Noah began to build an ark. Year after year after year passed and there was no flood on the earth. The flood didn’t come until 100 years later when Noah was 600 years old! That’s a long time to wait.
Do you remember God’s prophetic word to the serpent in the Garden of Eden? The serpent successfully deceived Eve into eating from the forbidden tree. God spoke a promise to Satan about his future: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). What this prophetic word was saying is that some day a woman (Mary) would give birth to a child (Jesus, her seed) who would bruise the serpent’s head (Satan). It was Jesus, the Messiah, who fulfilled this prophetic word by His death and resurrection on the cross when He took from Satan the keys of hell and death. It took four thousand years for this prophetic word to be fulfilled.
The prophet Habakkuk encouraged people not to lose patience but to wait for the appointed time: “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Hab. 2:3). If God said He will do something, He will do it. Though it might take a long time to manifest, God will always bring to pass what He has promised. Very often, patience is required when waiting for God to fulfill His Word. He may not come when we want Him, but He’s always right on time.
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