Revelation 6; Nehemiah 8:13-9:37; Psalm 101
Numbers crunchers. Bean counters. Those are names used when discussing people who analyze numbers to help their bosses make decisions. They analyze costs versus income, factor in the expected rise in costs and then give your insurance agent the cost for your policy. The agent gives you the price, and, as you’re recovering from sticker shock, reminds you that the prices are so high because of the bean counters upstairs. You see them on TV during elections when they make projections about winners and losers in certain races and usually someone will talk about how the numbers crunchers work to project that candidate A will win even though less than 1% of the vote has come in and his/her opponent has a 10%-point lead. They crunch those numbers using certain key points and make their predictions. Those whose candidate is losing, scoff at the numbers as so much hocus-pocus. Those whose candidates have been predicted to win, marvel at their wisdom.
In general, though, bean counters and numbers crunchers are usually the bad guy in any story. Rarely do we see the accountant being the hero to any story. Somewhere in any movie or book an accountant comes into play, he or she is bound to utter the words, “boss, I got bad news” (or something similar). The company could only be saved if it still had time to fix the problem. It depends on the available time. As we look at the Revelation Jesus Christ gave to John, they are close to the end of time as we know it. Jesus, the only one worthy to open the scroll and the seven seals, has opened the scroll and unleashed the seals. The world has been visited by Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. The fifth seal is a look under the altar of God. There we see all those who’ve been martyred for the faith. As they are revealed, they ask a question that Christians still wonder about today: “They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.” (Revelation 6:10-11)
I’ve heard a lot of predictions about when the end of times will happen. I’ve heard a lot of rationale for those predictions. The most recent one in 2017 came from a guy who was crunching numbers and came up with the date that no one knows. There’s one number that I’ve never heard used when people start setting dates: the full number of those who are to die from persecution. I know, that sounds like a crass statement. If anyone had a right to ask God when they would be avenged, it would be those who had died because they were living and proclaiming their faith in Jesus. They had suffered horribly at the hands of the Romans. In response to their question about when, though, the only answer they got was that it would be a while longer.
That leaves me with a dilemma about my feelings over the end of the world. Imagine all those people who have died because they were preaching the gospel. It still isn’t enough. Think about those who are undergoing persecution now in other parts of the world. It still isn’t enough. We need more faithful witnesses to the love and grace of Jesus Christ, knowing that faithfulness will result in our deaths, if we do things God’s way. I want to see the return of Jesus. Knowing that it will require a full number of people who died due to persecution though, as much as I want Him to return, I want others to have to pay that price. Maybe, though, I need to be willing to do whatever God asks me to do until that time. Maybe I should be willing to be faithful even should persecution come.
Oh Lord, those are frightening words. Let me be faithful to You, even though the time comes that it will mean my death.