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The best of men have need to be awed into the discharge of their duty

Now to Paul's famous last words to Timothy. The apostles last will and testament. Before them comes a sober warning about life. This is the coffee to clear your head and prepare you for what comes next. Books abound that tell us how to live our best life now. How to have purpose on earth. But here is ultimate reality, revealed in 4v1. Paul peels back the curtain so we can see reality:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and kingdom, I give you this charge: Maybe you're familiar with that scene at the start of the book of Job – where we see the throne room of heaven. From Job's angle we see his life falling apart but from the throne room of heaven we're told what's going on.

There's another in 2 Chronicles 18 about a prophecy to judge Ahab. God sends a prophet to trap the God-hating king. It looks like a random death in a battle but Ahab was tried and convicted in the courts of heaven. That is where the real decisions happen... We might think that Parliament is seat of power. I might imagine that my Team is run from the tiny office at the back of my house where I wrote this talk. No! The seat of power of the Universe is the presence of God. Israel knew that. The model God gave showed the Lord seated on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant in the Most Holy Place, where the blood would be put to atone for their sin. All authority is with the slain lamb, Jesus, seated on his throne.

As the Dutch Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper put it – there is not once square inch of all creation which Jesus does not look at and say 'mine!' Jesus will come again and all will be resurrected. The elect to life, and the rest to judgement. The future dominates the NT writers thinking. Peter and the writer to the Hebrews both say that the great problem is that having neglected God's past activity people disbelieve what he has said he will do in the future.

If only the current inhabitants of planet earth realised what the future holds. The end will come – not in a blaze of global warming but in the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus to renew all things. And Paul charges Timothy in view of this. As Matthew Henry put it – the best of men have need to be awed into the discharge of their duty.

Timothy can like Paul, v8, look to the crown of Jesus righteousness being given to him – secured in the promise of God before time, and in history by the blood of Jesus' cross. Nonetheless as he reads these words the enscripturated charge comes into his life, carrying all the shock that God's voice always carries in it's syllables. What is the charge, feel the weight of glory as v1 gives way to v2. How will the church stride forward?


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