And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. —Revelation 22:12,13
In our lives as God’s children, we sometimes question and doubt. Our faith is weak and lacking. We need uplifting and comfort. John was no different. When he was on the Isle of Patmos, he needed the same encouragement as we do. God did not forget him in his lonely place of watching.
John was placed in isolation on this island because he had preached about the resurrected Jesus. People with hardened hearts did not want to hear this. In his isolation, John saw visions of what was to come: believers in heaven. How incredibly uplifting and comforting this must have been! God commanded John to write down what he had seen (Rev. 1:9–11).
Believe in God’s Promise
From the time of the first human pair, Adam and Eve, to the time of John’s writing, thousands of years had passed. Old Testament believers believed the promise of the coming Savior. Jesus was born as promised, and John himself was able to see and hear Him. On that island, John again heard Jesus’ words: “And behold, I come quickly.”
A long human life might span ninety or one hundred years. Yet even these years are extremely short in God’s time. The Bible refers to a person’s life as a leaf that blooms for a moment and then falls to the ground. Even if we measure human existence from its very beginning until now, that time span is very short in God’s time. Since the text at the beginning of this article was written, about two thousand years have passed, and Scripture tells us that man will begin to think Jesus will never come (2 Pet. 3:3–4). Jesus will come a second time at a moment when no one expects it (Matt. 24:44). It will be a day like any other day when people are minding their earthly duties (Matt. 24:40–41).
Jesus says He will bring His reward with Him when He comes. What reward is He speaking of? For a believer, it is the promise of everlasting life in heaven. It is the fulfillment of promises given to a tired and weary traveler—one who has kept faith and a good conscience and who endeavored to put sin away in Jesus’ name and blood. That day will be a day of great joy and liberty for all who believe! The old portion will be stripped away, and we will be given new bodies. All temporal trials will be in our past, never to try us again. That day will be a day of misery for those who closed their ears to the voice of the Good Shepherd. They will receive their reward according to their works (Matt. 16:27).
Scriptures remind us that Jesus is the first and the last (Isa. 41:4), the Author and Finisher of faith (Heb. 12:2), the Alpha and Omega. John says in the very beginning of his Gospel how the Word was with God. Revelation (19:13) tells who the Word was: Jesus Christ our Savior. God’s Son was present when the earth was created, and He will be here when life on earth ends.
The Good Shepherd Teaches, Invites
For this reason, it is so important that we live according to God’s Word and the teaching of the Scriptures. We cannot find any wisdom or comfort anywhere God is not present. Although God is everywhere, the dark world cannot help us in important spiritual matters during times of need. How can we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in those who serve other gods? We wish to seek wisdom and guidance from God’s holy congregation on earth. There Jesus teaches us in all matters through His Spirit. God’s Spirit is powerful and unerring. It will be our Helper and our Comforter until the very last day.
The world will not end until God’s last chosen one has been called into His kingdom; the doors are yet open. As we look around us today, we see a sinful, evil world, a world which God allows to yet exist. He is a patient God. One who searches for His Kingdom will find it: “Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7). On the last day, no mistakes will be made. If there is even the smallest amount of living faith in the heart, God will see it (Amos 9:9).
No place on earth is more secure than God’s kingdom. It is the only place where truth is found. Only here can we receive comfort and peace through the preaching of the gospel. Jesus has given His children a holy duty to preach forgiveness in His name and blood. “Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13).