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Eschatology has taken on a deeply personal meaning to me in the past week. A few days ago as I passed through the living room, my eyes wandered to bookshelves that hold pictures of family members who have gone to be with Jesus. Perhaps seeing for the first Christmas season the addition of my grandmother’s picture there sparked the feeling, or perhaps the growing factor of my age was the culprit, but suddenly a sense of unexpected longing to be with the people in that group washed over me. To be honest, in that moment I did not want to persevere here anymore; I wanted the journey to be over; I wanted simply to be home and seated at Jesus’ feet now instead of waiting “to be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air” on the Day of His Coming (1 Thess. 4:17).

 I believe the aforementioned experience happened as a means of divine intervention. Previously, eschatology and apocalyptic literature have not impacted me as they have this week. The genre has carried a negative connotation for me up to this point as I tended to focus largely on bleak instructions to “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt. 24:42). Further, the thought of two men working together and one being snatched away has never exactly been a comforting word-picture to me any more than has the mental image of seven-headed dragons roaming the earth (Mt. 24:37f; Rev. 12:1 respectively). I wonder today if it was actual fear of the events that caused my avoidance of the topic of end times or more the fact of facing these unknown events that I did not – and do not and cannot – understand.

 Either way, delving into a Revelation assignment after my “mantle experience” shed new light on my view of eschatology and apocalyptic literature. It has occured to me that it is the essential message of Revelation that matters in our lives. I have found that message to be beautiful this week because, for me, the element of hope that runs through it has come into perfectly-timed light. Pre-trib, post-trib, amillennial, preterist, futurist, literal dragons or figurative bowls: these debates lose much of their steam beside these straightforward facts: God is sovereign (Rev. 1:4,8,17; 2:8; 20:2-7; 21:6; 22:13); Jesus the Lamb is Worthy to open the Book of Life (Rev. 5:1-14; 21:27); and the Kingdom of our Lord and His Messiah will rule forever with Christ-followers in tow (Rev. 11:15; 22:5).

Today, it is these facts and not theological disputes or warnings of inescapable judgments that makes eschatology so fresh and exciting for me. Dr. Rollin Grams states that “out of [Revelation] we gain a perspective of the Church’s place in what remains of the present age of tribulation, the end of this evil age, and a hope for the age to come.” Hope for that age, then, truly does allow us to “encourage each other with [Jesus’] words” (1 Thess. 4:18).