Jesus Christ said, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev. 22:10-13, English Standard Version)
After John witnesses the mind-bending events leading to the end of the world, the angel of Christ summarizes what that means for us in the ever-present Today: We will live or die by our choices. One path excludes others, and if that choice turns out to be disagreeable, the only way to get past it is to choose a different route.
Because changing our defaults is hard, most people put it off. But the longer we put it off, the harder it is to make that change, until finally, invisibly, we have crossed a threshold into inevitability: there is no more room for choice. The evildoer will still do evil, and the filthy will still be filthy because they have passed the last opportunity to be right or clean. (Notice the relationship between do and be in the verse above.) But there’s more: the verse does not say, “The evildoer will still do evil, and the filthy will still be filthy, and the lazy will still be indolent, and the undecided will still be hesitant”--because those latter options will no longer exist. The extremity of events will remove any middle ground: there will only be climbing up or sliding down.
You can see the evidence of that invisible threshold on a larger scale. Look at the progression in the Old Testament historical books of Kings and Chronicles: because of David’s obedience to God, his reign was the pinnacle of Israelite power. But with the ascension of his son Solomon to the throne, the decline began.
Following the break-up of the kingdom during the reign of Solomon’s son (into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah), there were no good kings in Israel: they all promoted idol worship with its attendant horrors of cult prostitution and child sacrifice. While Judah suffered under evil kings as well, they experienced corrective periods under conscientious kings who tried to lead the people back to God.
However, by the time of good King Hezekiah, that invisible threshold had been crossed. The country had devolved to the point of no return; there was now no way to stop the coming destruction (per 2 Kings 20:16-18). Not even the reforms of Hezekiah’s righteous great-grandson Josiah could alter the outcome. And it came about: In 586 B.C., the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, destroying the Temple and taking Judah’s survivors into captivity. (The Assyrians had leveled Israel 136 years previously.)
I believe that much of the western world, including the United States, has also crossed that threshold. Our tacit acceptance of infanticide and feticide on the altar of convenience and profit is chillingly similar to the child sacrifice which sealed ancient Israel’s fate (see Isa. 57). And our national policy of appeasing Israel’s enemies puts us in direct opposition to the God of Israel, which is a dangerous place to be.
The good news is, we as individuals still have the ability to choose to do the right thing. There is a reason Revelation does not end with the verses quoted above. Instead, this invitation follows: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” The last opportunity to jump out of a car headed for a cliff is as good as the first, if we take advantage of it. So while it’s still Today, let’s get out and walk a different way.
Those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.