Written by: Rachel Chai (Photo by: Ronald Lim)
Are we ready?
When I was 7 years old, “Psalty’s Kids Bible” became a mainstay in my academic life. I particularly remembered how I would read the passages aloud in preparation for my oral examinations. My go-to book was “Revelation” — even though I could barely comprehend the events that were described, let alone grasp the allegorical meaning behind them, the stories from the book piqued my imagination.
From all the time I had spent reading the final book of the Bible, a perception of the day Christ returns soon formed: A procession of angels sounding trumpets, followed by a red carpet descending from Heaven that would stretch across the earth. Then, bursting through the clouds comes Jesus riding in majestically on a white horse, with me sitting right behind Him, as I had already put in an advance request.
It took me a few years before I realised how inappropriate my request was. Jesus was not returning as a rider on a white horse to attend a welcome party — for “from His mouth [would come] a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations…” (Revelation 19:15 ESV) While my ignorance could pass off as innocence, most of us still choose today to live a life that is oblivious to what the second coming of Christ holds for creation.
In 2017, I believe that it is imperative for us to grasp what Jesus’ return entails, and how our lives change in light of this truth. Jesus’ words — “Behold, I am coming soon” — were repeated three times in Revelation 22 alone. We cannot remain ignorant to the urgency of the hour. As I meditated on what the new year holds, God laid upon a few revelations upon my heart as I encountered His Word. (My sharing will not expound on the eschatological viewpoints nor cover the second coming of Christ in its entirety.)
2017: The Revelation of the King
As the year 2017 begins, it is interesting to note that the Jews welcomed the Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) on 3rd October 2016. The new Hebraic year, 5777, is also known as Ayin Zayin, where the numerical values of those Hebrew alphabets are 70 and 7 respectively. A particular symbolism that stood out to me was how the ancient Hebrew pictographic script depicted Ayin as an eye and Zayin as a sword. As the pictograms evolved into the Hebrew script, the letter Zayin today resembles a crown on a nail.
The depth of the Hebrew language astounded me as it dawned upon me that a translation of these pictograms reveals that 2017 will be a year where we will see the sword coming forth from Christ our resurrected King (as seen in Revelation 19:15). While 2017 may not be the year where we witness Revelation 19 coming to pass, I believe it will be a year where the Bride of Christ is impregnated with the revelation of Christ as the coming King.
Many of us would know of Jesus as the Son of God — the Word made flesh — who was born in a manger and dwelt among mankind (John 1:14). We look to Him as our Saviour — the Author and Perfecter of our faith — who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross (Hebrews 12:2). We also see Jesus as the ascended King — our Chief Intercessor — who now sits at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34).
Yet, we cannot overlook the truth that Jesus is returning as a betrothed King — a Bridegroom who will redeem Israel and marry His Bride. We, the Body of Christ, are both His Bride and His end-time army. The hour is now, where the Bride must prepare herself to receive her Bridegroom King in the fullness of His glory.
“Then I saw Heaven opened, and behold, [a white horse was standing there]. The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems… and the name by which He is called is The Word of God… [On His robe at His thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.]” (Revelations 19:11-16 ESV, with additions from NLT)
What shall be our response?
As we behold the revelation of Christ as our coming King, these are a few convictions that we could carry:
- Living in Intimacy
In the days leading up to Christ’s return, God has declared that He will once again shake the heavens and the earth in order that only “the things which cannot be shaken [will] remain” (Hebrews 12:27 NKJV). The principalities of darkness shall make valiant attempts to deceive creation. As the Bride, we are to wage warfare against darkness from a position of intimacy. In the womb of intimacy, the Church is being prepared as the pure and spotless Bride and will emerge as an army ready for war.
These two imageries — the Church as the Bride of Christ and the Church as the end-time army — are not mutually exclusive. They are one and the same. It is in intimacy that the Church establishes her identity as the Bride. It is through intimacy that the Church understands her role as the army in the end-times.
As the day of the Reckoning beckons, we do not need to live in fear of the things that are to come. We can hold onto our blessed hope — Christ the King — who will return in victory to restore all things. Our greatest strategy is to stand in intimacy and declare the truth of who He is, thereby enabling the “Bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16) to dispel all darkness.
- Living in Surrender
Every time I read the book of Revelation, I am presented with questions that I do not have answers to. I have found myself posing to God these questions: How long more do we have? How many years do I have to enjoy my earthly marriage and our home which we have just purchased and renovated?
I lamented about the earthly possessions I stood to lose, losing sight of where my eternal home was. I did not understand that I was a citizen of heaven and not of earth. It struck me recently that I had treasured the things of the earth far greater than the things of heaven.
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our Heavenly dwelling.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2 ESV)
In the year ahead, I believe that we, the Bride, will be awakened to a glorious revelation of our eternal home that Christ had promised when He declared that He was going to “prepare a place for [us], [and He] will come again and will take [us] to [Himself], that where [He is, we] may be also.” (John 14:3 ESV)
With this revelation, we will truly learn that the things of the earth will fade away in the light of His glory. We will no longer seek to preserve our Self. Instead, we will only seek to live in surrendered obedience to the King. Obedience could mean making decisions that run counter to societal norms, such as relinquishing a higher-income job for a job that might not contribute to our CPF or Medisave. Obedience could also require us to remain right where we are, being faithful in the little. Not all decisions made in obedience involve an outward transition. At times, it could be an inward transition of the heart.
May 2017 be the year where we halt our pursuit of amassing earthly treasures and throw off our need for worldly security. Instead, let us yearn to amass for ourselves “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust [can destroy]” (Matthew 6:20 ESV).
When Christ returns, He will not return to Bethlehem as a baby in a manger. Neither will He return to dwell in Nazareth as a carpenter’s son. He will return to Jerusalem, crowned as the King of kings, to claim the kingdoms of this earth as His inheritance. As the year begins, let us set our hearts to behold our triumphant King. For surely, He is coming soon.