On September 2, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur led the Allied forces’ delegation aboard the USS Missouri to accept the surrender of Japan and bring World War II to an end. Given the lack of computers, social media, internet and cellular phones, this news of surrender took time to reach all the Japanese soldiers stationed around the world.
One particular soldier, Hiroo Onoda, had been stationed by himself on a small island in the Philippines. Several weeks after the surrender, word reached Onoda that Japan had surrendered, but he refused to believe it— believing instead this news was false Allied propaganda.
For the next 29 years, Onoda lived off the land on the remote island of Lubang, raiding villages and gardens to sustain himself. Several times, airplanes flew overhead, dropping leaflets to inform Onoda that the Japanese were now an ally of the United States—news he found too disturbing to believe.
The search for Onoda took many years, involved 13,000 men, and cost nearly a million dollars in expenses. Finally, in 1974, he was tracked down, brought before his old commander, and read the terms of surrender. He was 22 years old when he was first stationed on the island. At the age of 52, he surrendered his rusty sword and returned home.
Our world is full of people who need to surrender—surrender their plans, their agendas, their lives—to God. It remains our high privilege to make every effort, use every available person, and invest all the money we can to spread the news of the gospel—the ultimate message of surrender—to our world.
This month, we have studied the coming, future, and final judgment of God on all unbelievers. This judgment first comes for those who are alive during a Tribulation period; the judgment culminates in a final courtroom scene where Jesus Christ, seated on a great white throne, will individually try every person according to their deeds, actions, thoughts, and motives. As a result, every unbeliever will be rendered “without excuse” and given the final verdict.
In this special edition of Heart to Heart, we’ve also been encouraged and challenged by the example of the apostles, who lived with a sense of urgency that Jesus could come to rapture His church at any time and trigger this Tribulation period.
The rapture could take place any day—even as you are reading this article.
Beloved, the stakes are high—the eternal destiny of millions of people are our special mission. Our calling is equally clear—we are to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
Last month’s edition of Heart to Heart focused on Jesus commissioning His disciples to take the gospel to Israel—and beyond— as diligent workers of the harvest field. Allow me to close this edition with a similar, concluding thought.
At the end of his Revelation, John writes:
“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” (Revelation 22:17).
You could call this, John’s final “altar call.”
Yes, Revelation is all about Jesus; and yes, Revelation gives believers an amazing preview of the Heaven that will be ours; but to properly understand Revelation, we must see it as a direct extension of the Great Commission.
We cannot read the description of Jesus and only think of Him as our Savior, but as Someone we must share. We cannot read the description of Heaven as just our future home, but as a destination toward which we point everyone we meet.
God did not call us to be citizens of Heaven only, He called us to be ambassadors of His coming kingdom in the places where we live, work, and play.
I’m struck by this continued imagery in Scripture of lost souls being “thirsty.” In fact, here as the Bible reaches a profound conclusion and issues a powerful invitation, the apostle John invites everyone who is thirsty, to come.
In Jesus’ day, the Feast of Booths involved a ritual where a priest would take a golden pitcher, walk to the pool of Siloam, fill the pitcher with water, and then walk back to the temple where he would pour the water on the altar. As he walked, all the people would follow him and chant the words: “you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation,” taken from Isaiah 12:3.
When Jesus visited Jerusalem during the Feast of Booths, He stood inside the city of Jerusalem and called out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him to come to me and drink” (John 7:37).
For many people today, they are attempting to fill their pitcher with the dry wind of religion. Others attempt to fill their pitcher with themselves, their social media following, their body image or their careers.
Is it any surprise that the Spirit of God concludes the Book of Revelation—and the entire Bible— by echoing the invitation of Jesus to those who are thirsty to come to Him as their only source of fulfillment in both this life and the one to come?
That invitation is still open today. It will remain open from now to the rapture and continuing through the entire period of the tribulation, where we know that many people will come to Christ even amid natural disasters, demonic power, and the unprecedented persecution of God’s people.
But keep in mind that this invitation has an expiration date. One day the final judgment of God will arrive, and it will be eternally too late.
Let me ask you a question, who needs to hear the invitation of Christ today? Who can you invite to the water of life; who will you encourage to put aside the temporal and consider the eternal?
Who might you invite today to drink the refreshing water of salvation?