The Key and the Book
For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.
Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!— Zechariah 11:16-17
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.— Revelation 20:1
When the Bible addresses the final events of time, not every detail is clear, but what is clear is that God reigns over all and that every person will stand in judgment before Him.
Zechariah shows us that God is the One raising up leaders, even evil ones. He is the One who is also judging them and putting them down. God doesn’t merely permit some wicked to gain power. He actually controls their ascendance and uses it for His purposes, in some cases to discipline His own people. In the end, He brings judgment on these ungodly powers.
In Revelation 20, the key and the book depict God’s control of the cosmos. The key, entrusted to an angel, opens the bottomless pit where the Lord holds Satan confined and impotent. Although he is completely wicked, he is not in control, not even of his own actions and destiny. We also see a book of life with the names of those chosen to live and not suffer the lake of fire.
Think about it
We can have only one of two possible responses to these passages: belief or unbelief. For believers in the Triune God, there is great reassurance that, for us, all will be well.
Unbelievers may dismiss the assertions with ridicule or ponder with terror the possibility that they may be true. Without a Holy God who rules absolutely over all things and Who will judge us in the end, the universe is out of control and life is meaningless. This alternative is unacceptable.
But praise God! He reigns in sovereignty and wisdom. He holds the key and the book. Let us believe Him.
© 2017 John A Carroll Used by permission
More in Through the Bible in 2018
March 19, 2018A Letter I Can’t Read
March 13, 2018Are we there yet? Lessons from a forty-year journey
March 5, 2018A Man Transformed; an Example to Imitate