Like sunshine over a valley, God’s great love spreads out over the whole earth. He is much greater than any human, and his love is much greater than human love. Do not live in fear. Look down across the valley and toward the mountains, and think of the great God who created all things, and who has you in his hand. If you live according to Jesus and his teachings, there is no reason to be afraid. Be faithful to him and to God, and leave all fear behind.
Daniel and all the other prophets – as well as John in his Book of Revelation – speak of the “last days” before the kingdom of God comes, when humankind will have to face heavy judgment. The famines and pestilences of every century, the persecution of the early Anabaptists and countless other small groups, the Thirty Years’ War, and the wiping out of the American Indians are all examples of enormous suffering that already fulfill many prophecies of judgment. So are both World Wars, which held perhaps the greatest horrors humankind has ever seen. The last days have already begun.
We know that we cannot change the world. But Christ can, and so we want to give ourselves voluntarily to him. He demands our whole personality and our whole life. He came to save the world, and we believe that he, not any human leader, will one day govern the earth. For him we live and give our utmost, and for him we are willing to die. Nations are building their freedom and security on the most dangerous weapons that have ever existed. Yet we are called to build our security on something else – that which is of God. And we long that something of God might be given to all nations. It is not enough to lead even the most perfect life of peace in church community. Our longing will be satisfied only when the whole earth comes under the rulership of God, not of force.
I sometimes wonder…whether the distinction between personal salvation and the kingdom is clear enough to us. Both are of great importance. Eternal salvation is very important – it is wonderful to experience the nearness of Christ and to be redeemed by him. But the kingdom of God is still greater!
When we look at the earth as it is now, we see that judgment is inevitable. In fact, we are already bringing judgment on ourselves through our sin. Yet if we consider the words of Christ, we will find that grace, mercy, and compassion will triumph over judgment. We expect a new heaven and a new earth, but we must not trouble ourselves with exactly how and when the kingdom will come. We know only that it is coming. And since Peter says that the church must expect, help, and hasten on the coming of God, we also know it is our task to see that something of his kingdom is revealed and made living among us.
In the beginning, even before the creation of the universe, was the endlessly loving Father, God. At the end of time, too, God alone will rule. Groaning creation will be redeemed and the universe will be joyful. There will be pure joy, love, harmony, and justice. God will wipe away every tear, and there will be no death, sorrow, or pain. The longing for this time burns in the heart of every being, spiritual and human.