He Brings His Recompense with Him
As Revelation rushes to the end, there are several things which need to be said—encouraging words and words of warning.
First, Jesus himself declares to us, “Behold, I am coming soon.” Unbelievers will mock at this as the Apostle Peter forewarned: “The will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” Peter sums up their ignorance that the God who created the world is the God who can end it; moreover, time does not exist with God for He is eternal and a thousand years is as a day and a day a thousand years (2 Peter 3:1-10). Even believers struggle with our Lord’s alleged “delay,” which is why so many scan Revelation (and Daniel) searching for end time roadmaps. But Jesus tells us he is coming quickly because he might come today, and we must always be ready (Luke 12:41-48).
Our Lord goes on: Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.” Scripture everywhere affirms that we are judged according to our works. Why is this? Because our works are the evidence that we have “washed our robes” and so may enter by the gates and have a right to the tree of life. The “faith alone” by which we are saved is never by itself but always accompanied by the fruit it produces. Christians prove themselves through the Spirit working through them—but they must still prove themselves. And why is Christ the one who brings the recompense? Because he is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end—just as his Father. He is the Son and shares his Father’s divinity.
And who are those outside the gates? Unbelievers, of course. But their works prove them as well. “Dogs” was a common word among Jews for Sodomites (Deuteronomy 23:17-18) but later became a reference to pagans in general given their ubiquitous immorality in the ancient world. Sorcerers, murderers, idolaters, and anyone practicing falsehood are also found outside the gates. In short, idolaters and practitioners of falsehood sum up very well what all sinners are and do, for to sin is to serve a false god (though a real demon) which is to live a false life. A life of integrity is to worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ while living in obedience to God’s word. No matter what the world says, that is living. Everything else is derision, disingenuous, dishonest, and a pathetic parody of authentic living.