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The 12 Days of Christmas: December 31

December 31st, 2019 | 5 min read

By John Shelton

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Revelation 22.6-21

Our Lord Comes Swiftly

In the beginning of Homer’s Iliad, we hear of Peleus’ son, Achilles, whose legendary wrath “sent forth to Hades many valiant souls of heroes.” All throughout the epic, Achilles is named “swift- footed” (podas tachus), and at the dramatic climax of the story we see this Achilles destroy his enemy and parade his body outside the city.

The Book of Revelation opens with a very different protagonist: not a son of Peleus but “someone like a son of man.” All throughout Revelation, we find variations of the same word: swift (tachus)—in the ESV: “soon.” Jesus Christ, this ‘son of man,’ is “coming swiftly (tachei).” But he is no hero Homer would recognize: closer to Achilles’ victim, Christ “suffered outside the gate,” being flogged and paraded about by the authorities as a failed messiah before his humiliating crucifixion.

In death, Achilles becomes king “over all the breathless dead”—ruling in misery, for he himself is ruled by death. Christ, in death and resurrection, reigns over a kingdom far vaster than Achilles’: he is “Lord both of the dead and of the living.” Even death itself will one day be placed at Christ’s feet, for “death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Unlike Achilles, our Lord did not destroy his enemies but loved us: “freeing us from our sins by his blood.” When we are washed in Christ’s blood, the very meal we receive every week at his table, we sinners outside the gate gain full access to the city of our Lord, and the tree of life for which we were always destined.

So now, on the final day of the year, we await a still more final day when “God shall be all in all.” Joining our voices with the saints, we cry out: “How long?”

Our Lord answers, “Behold, I am coming swiftly!”

A Collect

Hasten, O Father, the coming of your kingdom; and grant that we your servants, who now live by faith, may with joy behold your Son at his coming in glorious majesty; even Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

John Shelton

John Shelton is the policy advisor for Advancing American Freedom. He received degrees from Duke University (M.Div.) and the University of Virginia (B.A), and lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Katelyn, and their children.