12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
This morning we’re going to cover a lot of ground. We’re going to be making a whistle-stop tour of the top five major events in world history in twenty or so minutes, but we will be making this tour with the Bible as our guide, rather than the History Channel or National Geographic, because as interesting (or not) as you might find that kind of history, all that’s really essential for us to know is in the Bible, and the Word of God.
History is His Story, and hopefully today we’ll be reminded once again about how deeply God is involved in and interested in each of us. The unspoken question in every human heart is, “Do I matter?” Read the Bible and you will soon see that the answer to that question is an unequivocal “yes.”
“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God cared enough to send His Son – we celebrated the incarnation of God just a few days ago, but we need to be reminded constantly of the message of Christmas, regardless of the time of year.
There are five critical events in world history that we must know and understand, and today we’ll look at those events and see their significance, not only for the whole world, but also for each of us as individuals.
1. God created the heavens and the earth.
World history begins with God. The first 4 words of the Bible are among the most profound words ever written: “In the beginning, God.”
He is the pre-existent, eternal God who exists above and beyond time itself. There has never been and never will be a time when God is not. Before the heavens and the earth existed, God is. When time, space and matter as we know it ceases to exist, God will be.
The concept of eternity confuses us, as our minds can’t truly grasp this concept, but God is over and above all things, including time itself.
Genesis 1:1 places this timeless, eternal God before the beginning of all things and then goes on to proclaim creation. God created everything that exists. In the beginning, He was already there. Before there was a heaven and an earth, God was already there. He was never created. He existed before there was a creation. God created the universe, the earth, the plants, the animals, and His greatest creation, mankind.
Genesis 1:27 says “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
The Bible makes no effort to disprove the lie of evolution, because there is no need to. There is no evolution - there is no crawling out of the slime.
Human beings are a direct, divine creation of Almighty God. He created us for His pleasure and for His glory. God created man for His fellowship.
So what is the significance of this first critical event in world history?
It shows us that God is the author and the director of history. It is His Story. He began history and He is actively involved in the continuation of history. It shows us that God alone is in control of the universe and the direction of history.
It also shows that humans are not God, despite the fact that we like to think we are at times. We are created beings, created by an uncreated God. Created in His image we may well be, but God is infinitely superior to us, and as His created beings we are accountable to and responsible to Him. We owe Him our very lives, for the simple reason that that He gave us the gift of life in the first place.
Job had it right when he said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.”
So the first critical event in history is that in the beginning, God created.
2. Man sinned.
Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Our first parents directly transgressed God’s commandment as we read in Genesis 3:6-7. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
God makes the rules. It is His creation. We are His created beings, and that gives Him the right to set the boundaries. Why are good old-fashioned morals eroding in the modern world? It is because we refuse to submit to the God-given boundaries clearly set out in Scripture. What happened in the Garden of Eden all those years ago continues to this day. The pattern has repeated itself on a daily basis throughout history.
God gave Adam a command not to do something. And His rules are not random and arbitrary. God, in His love and concern, sets rules that are best for us. He knew what was best for Adam and commanded him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But we broke God’s rules.
Influenced by satan, Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God. And satan knew exactly which button to press: “You will be like God.” That has always been the attraction of sin – it’s my life and I will do what I want to do.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and took matters into their own hands.
That is essentially what sin is. It is disobeying and rebelling against the God who created us. They rebelled against the rule of God. They were given a choice, and they chose badly. The result is that sin came into the world, which meant that death was also brought into our lives.
What is the significance of this critical event in world history?
Sin came into the world and sin continues to be in the world. Man rebelled against God and that rebellion continues today. Death is still the consequence of sin.
But despite all of this, despite the tragedy and awful sadness brought about by sin, it didn’t catch God by surprise. He knew we would fall.
Sin didn’t throw God’s eternal plan off track, and world history was and still is in His control.
As a result of sin we all live under the curse of sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
And we have to pay the penalty of that sin, which is clearly spelled out for us in Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.” Because of our sin, everything changed. Man sinned - the second major event in world history.
But then comes the good news – the third critical event in world history…
3. Jesus came.
Even before creation, let alone the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, the Lord had a plan in place to conquer sin and its consequences. We looked at God’s great plan of salvation last Sunday. The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross for you and me was not ‘plan B’. The plan of redemption is as eternal and as timeless as God Himself.
1 Peter 1:20, speaking about Jesus, puts it like this: “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”
Before God created the heavens and the earth, He already had a plan to conquer sin. And that plan has a name: Jesus Christ.
Jesus came – God Himself came in human form, and He gave Himself on the Cross of Calvary for our sins. The Gospel is the good news of God’s glorious plan to reconcile His holiness and His love with sinful human beings. God is holy and sin cannot exist in His presence.
But at the same time He is love and doesn’t want any of us to perish.
So His plan for us was that a sinless Jesus would be the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that He lay down His life for His friends.”
But why did He do this? Was it just so that we can be forgiven, and then feel a little bit better about ourselves? No.
Remember that He is the eternal God, so He sees everything from an eternal perspective. Because we are finite beings, we only have a limited view.
Forgiveness of sin is not the final part of God’s plan. His ultimate plan for us is that we will live eternally with Him. We had this amazing gift in the Garden of Eden, but it was only temporary as a result of sin. God had to do for us what we could not do - reverse the devastating effects and consequences of our sin and restore us to what and who we are created to be.
Now, because of Jesus, and His atoning death on our behalf, the awful penalty of sin – death – has been paid.
And Jesus’ resurrection means we’ll also be resurrected. Eternity with the eternal God is what it is really all about.
When we turn to Christ in repentance and are granted the free gift of salvation, we are freed from the penalty of sin. By the sanctifying work of His Spirit, we are a freed from the power of sin in our lives, and one day in glory, we will be set free from the presence of sin forever.
What is the significance of this major event in world history?
The Lord has made a way for man to come out from under the curse of sin. And the plan is simply brilliant and brilliantly simple. God gave Himself to overcome the sins of man. In essence He says to us, “There is nothing you can do to reverse the penalty of your sin, but I love you so much that I will do whatever is necessary in order for you to spend eternity with me. I will pay the price.”
Jesus Christ is that price, and He provides a way – the only way - for us to receive forgiveness and be reconciled to our Creator.
4. Jesus will return.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 says “The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.”
The Bible not only records past world events, but it also gives us a peek into future world events.
One day, the Lord Jesus Christ will return. One day He will descend from heaven and we will see Him in all His glory. The first time He came it was as a fragile baby, and most of the world didn’t notice and didn’t care. In fact, countless people today still miss Him. But when He comes the second time, there will be no mistaking just who this is.
One day an angel of the Lord will give a great victory shout and the trumpet of God will sound around the entire world.
Jesus will take those who are His home to be with Him for all of eternity. Those who have chosen to believe in Him and accept the forgiveness He offers will receive the most precious gift of all: eternal life.
If your name is written in the Book of Life, the promise in Revelation 21:3-4 is for you: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
If you are a Christian, then know this and believe this. The reward of your faith in Christ will be eternity with Him. 1 Peter 1:8-9 says it so beautifully: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” If you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ, His word to you today is to persevere and to take courage. The struggles and evils of this world will pass.
But there is a frightening alternative for those who do not believe.
At the end of Revelation 6 there is a dreadful prophecy of what will happen to non-believers when Jesus returns in all His glory. “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)
Make no mistake – when Jesus returns, everybody will know that He is the Son of God. This is what Paul was writing about in Philippians 2:9-11. “God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Those who have chosen in this life to reject Jesus will be granted their wish for eternity. They will spend it in a place where He is not.
A question often asked by non-Christians is “How can a God of love send anyone to hell?”
The answer to that question might surprise you. God will not send anyone to hell. Every person in hell will be there because they have chosen to be there. Just think about that for a moment. There are people who have chosen in this life to say, “I don’t need Jesus.” Hell is the place where that wish will be granted them. Forever.
Jesus will return.
What is the significance of this critical event in world history?
It tells us that history is linear, not cyclical. World history has a definite beginning, and it will also have a definite end.
History and life, time and space, as we know it, will cease at some point in the future.
Those who trust in Jesus Christ will live forever in a place with God called Heaven, and those who don’t trust in Jesus Christ will live forever in a place without God called Hell.
The first four major events of history are God created, man sinned, Jesus came, and Jesus will return.
The fifth major event is…
Today is the most crucial day ever for you.
You are a created human being, created by God Almighty. And as a created being, you answer to Him, whether you like it or not. God created you, He gave you life itself, and because of that you are accountable to Him, and are called to live within the rules and parameters He has set for you. The reason we don’t like that idea is simple: It’s called sin.
We chose to reject God’s love and would rather do things our way, thank you very much. That is what rebellion is all about. However, that choice leaves us with a problem. As a human being, you live under the curse of sin, and the wages of your sin is still death.
But Jesus came for you. Jesus went to that cross for you. He died that horrible death so that you might be free from the chains of sin.
He provides a way – the only way – for you to be forgiven and reconciled to a Holy God. And one day Jesus is coming back again.
He’s coming to take all those who trust in Him home to heaven.
The rest will be condemned forever in hell.
What is the significance of this major event in world history?
The decision you make about who Jesus is will decide your history forever.
If you know who Jesus is, but have yet to bow the knee, confess your sins and proclaim Him as Lord, then all I can say is this: Stop wasting valuable time. You are one heartbeat away from eternity.
In 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah when he says, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, ‘In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.”
Human history is full of triumph and tragedy. Countless books have been written and there is an almost endless supply of movies and documentaries which trace the stories of the rich and famous.
But history is really His Story, and when it’s all been said and done and you draw your final breath in this life there will only be five events which really matter: God created, man sinned, Jesus came, Jesus will return, and today.
What will your choice be today?