The Perfected Kingdom
Everybody always wants to know how the story ends. The book of Revelation gives us the opportunity to flick forward to the final page, in order that we might walk towards the end of history with greater faith, confidence, and joy.
Scripture is very clear that all of history is moving towards a final goal. This is a matter of extreme significance; God has created men and women to know that something exists beyond death. Indeed, He has set eternity in our very hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Every religion and worldview attempts to make sense out of history. Hinduism, for example, teaches that the reality in which we find ourselves is not moving towards a destination but is actually going round in circles—that history is cyclical. Atheistic naturalism argues that there is no pattern to history and no purpose or end goal; history is simply the tale of atoms rearranging themselves (and so are each of us). Christians, however, recognize that the Bible shows history to be linear: there was a point of beginning, there will be a point of ending, and there is purpose to its direction. Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and return are the central theme of all of history. All of humankind’s story must therefore be viewed within that framework. Jesus will return; He will complete God’s eternal plan of salvation, and He will usher in God’s perfected kingdom. He will make all things new and perfect.
What is the perfected kingdom that Jesus brings in? It’s a kingdom that centers on His cross. It’s a kingdom that changes hearts and lives, and its citizens bow before Jesus as King. It’s a kingdom of love and justice, of compassion and peace. This kingdom is growing and reaching out to the ends of the earth—and at the appointed time, which is unknown to us, God the Father is going to give His Son the nations as His inheritance (Psalm 2:8).
Even now, God is working out His sovereign plan and the mystery of His will. When John writes concerning the end times, he reminds us that “salvation belongs to our God” (Revelation 7:10). If salvation belonged to another or if it were left to chance, God’s plan might not be fulfilled. But He is the author of history and the ruler of the future. He has purposed to save His people, and He will. One day we shall hear Him say, “It is done” (21:6).
God has begun the work of our salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and one day He will bring all things under one Head, Jesus. Therefore, if we are united with Christ, “we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37), enabled to reign forever with the Son. How do we respond? With faith, confidence, and joy! For while we do not know how our lives will go, we do know how the story ends—and how our eternity begins. So we pray with eager anticipation, “Our Father in heaven … Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:9-10).
The Future Glory of Israel
1Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
5Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,1
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
7All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
and I will beautify my beautiful house.
8Who are these that fly like a cloud,
and like doves to their windows?
9For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the Lord your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.
10Foreigners shall build up your walls,
and their kings shall minister to you;
for in my wrath I struck you,
but in my favor I have had mercy on you.
11Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.
12For the nation and kingdom
that will not serve you shall perish;
those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
13The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14The sons of those who afflicted you
shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the Lord,
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
a joy from age to age.
16You shall suck the milk of nations;
you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
instead of stones, iron.
I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
18Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
19The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;2
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.3
20Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
21Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified.4
22The least one shall become a clan,
and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the Lord;
in its time I will hasten it.
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