But sometimes, beginning with the last chapter can actually work in our favor.
Jumping to both the end of the Old Testament (Malachi) and New Testament (Revelation), brings us to the same place. First, it brings us to Jesus, but also, it brings us healing, restoration, reconciliation—and it brings us to a new creation. Even Psalm 150 offers a triumphant ending to the end of days. The correlation between Malachi 4 and Revelation 22 are astounding. In the same way, the correlation between Revelation 22 and the first 3 chapters of Genesis are equally astounding.
Most encouraging of all, we read in Revelation that “no longer will there be any curse.” The curse that Adam and Eve brought upon themselves and us in the garden of Eden will no longer apply. No more death. No more crying. No more hunger or pain or sickness or weight loss programs or insomnia or awkward moments…anything that affects us through the curse will no longer exist.
We also learn that we won’t be spending eternity in heaven. Instead, we will live on the new earth (see Revelation 21). The present earth gives us glimpses of what it will be like, but someday, we will enjoy the earth and life the way God intended at the beginning of creation. And we will live in an unhindered relationship with God.
I can’t wait!
So why is it helpful to begin with the last chapters? They gives us a glimpse of what life will be like someday. Knowing how good it will be gives us strength when we encounter the various facets of the curse that Adam and Eve handed down to us.
Someday, life will be perfect.
So what do we do while we wait?
Without a doubt, Jesus knew we’d be asking that question. Three times in the final chapter, Jesus says “I am coming soon.” Obviously, “soon” according to Jesus’ definition is different than ours because 1900 years after he gave this promise, he still hasn’t come. But perhaps he gave us this promise because he wanted us to live as if he were coming soon. It means living with the end in mind. Better yet, living with eternity in mind.
That is the life God has called us to.
Sounds like a good way to begin the new year!
*As you probably already know, the format for A Daily Bible Conversation will change in the new year. However, if you’d still like to read through the Bible using last year’s posts (as some of you have already request), you’ll be happy to know that we’re going to keep them online.
Also, I invite you to read my few parting words a little further below in “The Final Word.”
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Malachi 3:1-4:6. In the beginning of Malachi 3, God tells the people to return to him. And what does that “returning” look like? Returning to God what rightfully belongs to him in the form of tithes and offerings. While the concept of tithing is scarcely supported in the New Testament, we can look at this as generosity toward God. And really, our generosity often reflects the state of our heart. That’s why Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34).
Amazingly enough, the book ends with a smooth transition to the Gospels as we read about the prophet Elijah who “will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). This prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10-14 et al). Luke 1:17 describes John the Baptist this way:
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
THE FINAL WORD
Over the last 13 years, God has allowed me to write 14 books for other people or myself. When people ask me what it’s like to write a book, I tell them, “Writing a book is the second hardest thing I’ve ever done.” When they ask me, “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?” I tell them, “Being married.” Marriage is a great deal of work.
But now, with daughters #2 and #3 in their teenage years, I’d have to say that parenting teenagers is the second hardest thing (although it’s vying for number 1!), pushing book-writing to number 3.
But on a consistent basis, blogging ranks up there with writing books. In fact, the amount of writing between Eugene and me is equivalent to about one book every month.
A year ago, I launched A Daily Bible Conversation by writing a post every day of the week. Every day of the week! Initially, friends would tell me, “Mike, I really enjoy your blog—but I can’t believe you’re writing every day. That must be a lot of work!”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” I would reply.
But it was.
And by the beginning of the summer, I was wearing out. In fact, I planned to shut everything down by the end of June because it was not only consuming too much of my time (15-20 hours a week), but it was also draining me emotionally and creatively. All this without any compensation.
The excellent movie Julie and Julia (which began as a book), comes to mind. In the movie, Julie Powell decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s famous cookbook Mastering The Art Of French Cooking in one year’s time—and blog about it. In order to accomplish her goal, she would need to cook at least one recipe every day. She begins strong, but midway through her pilgrimage, she wears down and nearly loses her marriage. Somehow, she crawls to December 31 and achieves her goal.
Although my life didn’t reach the low ebb of Julie Powell’s, I could certainly identify with the movie.
So, in the effort to save the A Daily Bible Conversation, I decided to ask my co-pastor and aspiring writer Eugene Scott to contribute. Interestingly enough, the same day I was planning to extend him an invitation, he offered to jump in and contribute. I feel incredibly blessed to work beside him. Eugene, thank you.
At various times, Mike Mullin, Mark Benish, Jeff McQuilkin, and my wife Kelley contributed as well. Please accept my sincerest thanks.
But I also want to thank all of you for the last year. A Daily Bible Conversation has grown significantly since last January 1, 2010. As of the end of this year, our posts are now read over 4,000 times in a month by people in North America, Australia, and Africa (if other countries and continents are represented, please let me know!). I’m also thankful for the many people who have offered the nearly 600 comments. Elna Dreyer, who lives near Cape Town in South Africa, has been our champion comment-er. Thank you Elna—and the many others—who have made this a Bible conversation.
So for the first time in a year, this blog will be silent over the weekend. Then Monday, we will begin The Neighborhood Café: A Faithblog Community, an extension of A Daily Bible Conversation. You don’t need to find us on the Internet because we’ll remain at the same web address. Eugene and I will offer posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—along with our friend Jadell Foreman. The format will look slightly different, but you’ll still read stories and reflections about where our faith intersects with life, all firmly grounded in God’s word. We hope you’ll like it!
Well, that about concludes this final post of the year.
May God bless you richly in the New Year in unexpected ways—as he has in the past and as he will in the future. This is our hope.
Michael J. Klassen
- How has God spoken to you or changed you over the last year by reading his word?
- What insights stand out to you?
- What does “living with eternity in mind” look like in your life? Do you live that way right now? Why or why not?
- How can you live with eternity in mind in the new year?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.