Back in 1947 the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created The Doomsday Clock. The hands on the face of this ominous symbolic clock countdown to the midnight of worldwide global disaster. The closer the Clock hands move to midnight, the closer the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science Security Board believes the world to be to global disaster. Since its beginning, The Doomsday Clock hands have been moved 20 times in response to dangerous international situations. On January 14, 2013 the hands of the Doomsday Clock were set to five minutes before midnight (11:55 PM). An announcement about whether the hands will move again will be made January, 2014.
Originally, the Doomsday Clock reflected the perceived eminence of the threat of global nuclear war, but in 2007 additional criteria was added to the calculations reflecting the presumed impact of life science developments such as climate change.2 Interestingly, the closest the Doomsday Clock hands were ever been moved to the midnight of human disaster came in 1953. At that time the clock was updated to two minutes before midnight (11:58 PM). The greatest number of minutes ever added to the clock came in 1991 when 17 minutes were added because the United States and Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
If I may take the liberty, it is as if when the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science Security Board issues their yearly Doomsday report they are saying "these things must soon take place, for the time is near"! Everyone pays attention to the warning and no one demurs because the predictions of previous years did not end with the obliteration of mankind by the blasts of an intercontinental thermonuclear holocaust.
No, the warnings contained within the report of those who set the hands of this clock are taken seriously by the world's intellectual and political elite. Certainly no one ever questions the relevancy of the prophetic voice of the Doomsday clock even though it has been stuck at 17 minutes to midnight or less for the past 66 years.
Yet the prophetic voice of the Book of Revelation speaks with an authority greater than that of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists about a coming time of great turmoil and harm for mankind and the planet earth. Likewise we are warned again and again within the pages of the Revelation that these things will soon take place (Rev 1:1; 2:16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:6; 22:7; 22:12; and 22:20). But let me ask, does it bother you that "He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."" (Rev 22:20) but he hasn't come yet? What does soon mean?
By way of shaming us I'm going to point out that no wastes one second of worry when the end doesn't come soon because the hands of the Doomsday Clock are set at 2 minutes to midnight. And no one doubts the seriousness of its promised catastrophes and threats. There has been no end, on the other hand, to the weakening of our faith in the trustworthiness of the Holy Scripture because Christ has not yet returned -- all because that word soon was included in the Revelation of Jesus Christ! Why do you doubt (Matthew 14:31)? "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9)".
On the other hand, we are conditioned by a relatively short life span (I suspect that even living to the age of 100 seems all to short when you arrive at its end), by calendars, and clocks, and seasons, and deadlines to think about the word "soon" as being something that is near chronologically speaking. And it is; but we should keep in mind that time can also be relative -- it can seem to speed up or slow down depending on the nearness or importance of the events to us personally.
In the previous post we briefly discussed that the revelations given in this book must happen, now we turn our consideration to the fact that they are to surely happen shortly-- that is the revelations of this book would begin to come to pass very shortly and the whole of it will be completed in a short time.3 I am certain that the people in the churches at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea did not doubt the meaning of the word "soon" either in terms of the trials "soon" to befall them or in terms of the promised rewards that awaited them. Now, I should also note in this context that the promise of the soon return of Christ is given in 22:11 (and no, I do not doubt that the seven churches doubted the chronological soon-ness of His return). This is why we can have confidence that not just parts of it but the whole of it will come to pass soon.
Eschatologically speaking, the time when the whole thing will be completed is not only soon, but very soon. The Apostle John told us in 1 John 2:18 :
"Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour" (emphasis added).
And we know from Scripture that the last hour began with the death and resurrection of Christ (Hebrews 1:2):
"but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world (emphasis added)."
(This may be a good time to read other related passages showing that the we live in the time of the end: 1 Peter 1:20; Hebrews 9:26; and Acts 2 are all good places to begin. Be sure to read the entire context of these passages to!
This is a topic we will continue to take up from time to time as we continue through the Book of Revelation. And each time we do we will find that we should and can have absolute confidence in every word of it. It is the last hour and let us have the same great comfort in His soon coming as did those who first heard the reading of this Revelation!