And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Revelation 22:12–13

There is nothing quite like a torrential, booming thunderstorm! I have always been fascinated by rain-heavy clouds and changing winds, the sound and smell of the lightning, and the calm before a storm.

There was one particularly strong storm that came through northern Jersey when my kids were young. I remember opening the garage door and sitting safely inside the garage with my kids, watching sheets of rain race across the driveway; trees swayed back and forth with the winds and the lightning flashes lit up the darkened sky. None of my kids were frightened through the duration, I think because I built their anticipation as the storm gathered and the thunder approached. I was with them while the storm was at its most demonstrative and then we stayed as the storm passed beyond the hills.

For obvious reasons I think the approach, the fury, and the passing of a summer thunderstorm is illustrative of the book of Revelation. The body of John’s book is filled with world-changing events, thunderous judgments, a convulsing world, and craven people. Man’s evil heart is highlighted, and God’s sovereign control is underscored. Troubles and trials arrive with the storm but the rays of God’s sun shine through at the very end. Through it all God’s providence is evident to those who trust Him. The first words are “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

As with the summer storm, there is relative quiet both before and after the body of John’s writing. Interestingly, John has several topics that he repeats in both the first and last chapters of Revelation. These topics derive their force from the fact that they remain after the passing of the judgment of God on fallen mankind. The topics are not just for those who are on the other side of the storm, but they are for all who see the storm approaching.

The first topic is the testimony of Jesus Christ: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel…who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ.” “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.” Jesus’ witness to the truth is here presented. It stands though the earth will be replaced. It is the one sure thing upon which we can rest our faith!

The second topic is the proclamation of blessing. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it: for the time is near” (1:13). “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (22:7). While there are other blessings in the book (14:13, 16:15, 19:9, and 20:6), none is so poignant as that found in 22:14: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city [the New Jerusalem].” True happiness is only God’s to grant.

The third topic is the mention of the immanence of these events. “Things which must shortly take place.” “’Behold, I Am coming quickly…Behold, I Am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me’…He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I Am coming quickly.’” God does not lie. Believers throughout the church age have been universally well-served for living in expectation of His soon return.

The fourth topic is the revelation of the wisdom encompassed within our Savior Jesus Christ. “’I Am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” The meaning being conveyed is the fact that Jesus is God, Sovereign, all-knowing, all begins with Him and ends with Him, and all truth is revealed and found in Him. Just as the alphabet is used to form all words that convey meaning, so “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom!” Know Him and know truth.

The final topic is the emphasis on the written, prophetic Word. “Who bore witness to the word of God…blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it…I, John…was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ…Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” “These words are faithful and true…blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book….”

During what remains of the Church Age, while there is the quiet before the approaching storm, always keep your heart concentrated on the principle topics: Jesus’ testimony for which you dare, the blessings of God which you share, the soon return of Christ of which you are aware, the truth in Christ you bear, and the Word of God which you hold with care! Trust and obey.