If I were more savvy to the Internets, I would have posted this last week to coincide with July 4th. But my reflections are slow and it takes awhile for thoughts to form. You see, over the last week, I’ve been thinking about finales.
A deluge of near Biblical proportions postponed July 4th fireworks in Richmond this year. As a consolation to our children who had been prepping for pyrotechnics all weekend, we allowed them to watch fireworks on television.* As soon as the fireworks began my six year-old son began saying, “I think this is the finale.”
Obviously, he was excited about the firework finale. I couldn’t blame the kid. And I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the display would continue for at least 15 minutes. (Plus, it was pretty funny to hear his self-assured ‘finale’ refrain every twenty seconds.)
Part of the magic of good fireworks is that they exceed expectations. The scale, the sound, the beauty, the feel— it goes beyond what we think it ever could. Even adults are tricked into thinking the finale has arrived before it really has.
All this thinking about finales got me thinking about God’s finale. The finale (or to use the theological word, consummation) of God’s work of salvation will be beyond our wildest expectations. Like a fireworks finale to a six-year-old, it will be an astonishing audio-visual spectacular. And there will be signs and preludes to the finale that many will mistake for the end. We will be caught saying ‘This is the finale’ before the true end. And when the true end comes, we will be floored by its magnitude and majesty.
The last book of the Bible—Revelation—offers a few glimpses of God’s glorious finale:
A multitude will cry out in thunderous and booming voice, like the conclusion of a fireworks show or like the roaring waters of Niagara falls. It will be deafening. Visceral.
“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.'" (Revelation 19:6)
The sight of it will be brilliant, shining light into darkness, the brightness of noon in the middle of the night.
“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.” (Revelation 21:23-25)
A Good Finale
Finally, like an effective fireworks finale, the consummation of salvation history will be good! It will be stirring and reassuring and comforting. People walking away from a good fireworks display are joyful. They’ve been awakened, stirred, moved by the power.
For those with faith, God’s salvation finale will be overwhelmingly good. In that moment faith will be translated into a palpable sensation of God’s goodness and presence. And then, all present, united in wide-eyed astonishment, will agree in one voice: “This is the finale.”
*Admittedly, televised fireworks lose something in translation—namely the booms that explode in your ears and reverberate in your chest.