In the movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy” Rex Harrison plays Pope Julius II. The Pope commissions Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. He was, perhaps, concerned about his legacy. While the painting is going on, there are many mishaps, at least in the movie. Globs of paint fall in the middle of worship services. Scaffolding disrupts the normal flow. The Pope is upset with all that is happening. He wants the painting of the Chapel to be finished. He constantly asks Michelangelo, played by Charlton Heston, “When will there be an end?” Michelangelo’s reply of “When I am finished” was never satisfactory. The end result, all fictional commentary aside, truly is stunning and was worth the wait.
I am sure that many Christians are looking forward to the end of times. Those who are being persecuted might especially be concerned about the end of times and the return of Christ. Some religious groups were created in the midst of a belief that Jesus was about to come, or had come in a different way than spoken of by the angel in Acts 1:11. Even those of us who are not being persecuted see the evil in this world and may call out to God, “When will there be an end?” In God’s infinite wisdom, His answer would most likely sound like Michelangelo’s: “When I am finished.” When that end time comes, though, wow! “He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.’” (Revelation 21:6-7)
The glories of Heaven begin with something that seems simple to us: a drink of water. If you have ever been in parts of the world where water can only be drunk from bottles because of the impurity or where you can’t even get any clean water, this would make sense. People who were in a perpetual state of thirst will first of all see their needs met. Those who are victorious because of their commitment to Jesus Christ will inherit the Kingdom of God. He will be our Father. We will receive our inheritance while God is still alive. It is throughout the rest of the chapter that we see the glories of the city, with one verse of warning for those who will not be welcomed into Heaven. Precious stones and metals will be common in Heaven because it will be the most beautiful place imaginable. How easy it would be to sit back and dream about this amazing place where we will spend the rest of eternity.
The problem is that there is still work to do. The end won’t come until God is finished. He uses us to be His voice in a world that can’t seem to hear anything because of all the background noise. It is our responsibility to show others the grace and mercy of God. The beauty of our inheritance isn’t that more people inheriting doesn’t make our share less; the beauty is that the more people who enter the Kingdom of Heaven makes each of our inheritances better and more joyful. We are called to invite all people to come to the water and drink. Many will reject our call because they are more enamored of other things and will refuse to turn back to God. Many will recognize their need for God and turn back to Him. It is His amazing grace that will bring people into a relationship with Him and give them the promise of Heaven. There will be an end when God is finished, but until that time, we have a job to do. Today, find just one person with whom you can share the love of God. Then do the same thing tomorrow and the next day and….
Oh Lord, how I long for the day when Jesus comes again and there is an end to sin and death in this world. I long for the inheritance You’ve stored up for me. Please remind me that I have work to do while I am waiting for that joy, and encourage me to share Your love and grace with others.