For years I have had the discipline of daily bible reading. It started in high school when my friend Dave challenged our youth group to start reading from the bible everyday. I took up the challenge and haven’t stopped since. While admittedly some days I am simply going through the motions, the practice has been a true blessing in my life. Time and time again I have received a word from the Lord just when I needed it to bless my life.
One of the interesting points of reading always comes as I start to reach the end of Revelation. It is a satisfying moment as I realize that I have read through the Bible cover to cover, that I have seen the story of God and how he interacts with the world over multiple centuries. I have watched as God created the world and put everything in its place. I have seen how he claimed Israel as a people and called them to be a light to the nations. I have witnessed the exodus and the return from exile. I have beheld the virgin birth and the star that led the wise men to the baby Jesus. I stood silent as Jesus went to the cross and died and was buried but rose again triumphantly Easter morning. And I have looked forward to the final victory when the slain lamb opened the scroll and heaven and earth were reborn and God reigned victoriously. It is humbling to hear the story from beginning to end and to recognize that I am now apart of the story, living as a witness to the Kingdom of Heaven and anxiously awaiting the consummation of history.
And while the story is inspiring to hear again, the most interesting thing is what happens in my daily reading. One day I am reading in Revelation and listening as the Spirit and the Bride share the invitation to come and take of the free gift of eternal life and the very next day I am an innocent bystander as I witness God, all alone, creating the world. It seems weird to go from the end of the story back to the beginning. To go from the final victory and eternal home with God back to creation and the Garden and the introduction of sin that provides the suspense for the Bible story; how will God restore relationship with his creation? For some reason it seems disjointed.
Unless…unless I use the end of the story to interpret the beginning. Unless I come to understand that the end of the story is what gives me the desire to make it through the story to begin with. The story of scripture and God working is not some fairy tale that I hope turns out alright, it is true, it is real. And while the battle is going back and forth between good and evil, between the righteous and the wicked, and while I wonder what side will I end up on, what side will any of us end up on, I am reminded that the winning side has already been crowned. Even though the story has not played out all the way yet. Even though the consummation of history is still yet to be realized, it has already been determined. God is victorious, sin and its consequences are done away with, relationship is restored. And all we have to do is choose the winning side.
I wonder, how would our lives change if we lived with the end in sight more? If we realized that ultimately we were going to be victorious, that we had a place at the great Messianic Banquet already reserved for us. How would our outlook on life change if we lived as if we had already won? I wonder if it would be easier for us to deal with the ups and downs of life because we knew where we would ultimately land? I wonder if we would have more peace and less anxiety because we were secure in the ultimate outcome. That’s the way I want to live. I want to live already knowing the outcome and have joy and peace because of it.
And so as December moves to January I will read from Revelation to Genesis. But I’m not just starting over, I’m reading the ending first and using the ending to give me strength for the story and the journey ahead.