10 December 2018

Revelation 21
Psalm 133

Revelation 21. Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22, creation and new creation, are the bookends, the framework in which the story of sin and salvation is set. Without them redemption has no meaning. God created the earth as a home for humanity and all God’s creatures, fit for purpose and abundantly fruitful. Nothing was lacking except Adam needed a wife so that they could begin to fill the earth with image bearers, God’s appointed rulers, who would study and take care of the earth and develop its potential for the benefit of all. But before that could happen Adam and Eve succumbed to the serpent’s temptation to be like God, to act autonomously. They disobeyed God’s word, becoming sinners prone to violence.

We know the rest of the story: God judged them but promised a child that would defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Eventually that led to the call of Abram, the nation of Israel and the birth of the Messiah, who defeated Satan and sin at the cross (Colossians 2:13-15), triumphing over death. Jesus then sent His apostles to tell all peoples this good news and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). By Revelation 21 this is a reality: ‘I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.’ (Revelation 7:9 CSB). Satan and all his followers have been judged and cast into the lake of fire, the second death. The first heaven and earth – tainted by sin – has passed away and the sea, symbolic of chaos and the destructive forces of evil, is no more.

John sees a new heaven and a new earth. He sees ‘the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband’ and hears ‘a loud voice from the throne’ declaring: ‘Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away’ (Revelation 21:2-4).

Redemption has reached its climax in the new creation: God now lives with humanity forever in the new Jerusalem. On the throne is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 21:6 cf. 22:13), Jesus! We shall see Him face to face (Matthew 5:8 – the beatific vision!). He gives us the water of life (Revelation 21:6). The glory of God and the lamp of the Lamb will fill the city with light and the nations will walk by its light (Revelation 21:23-24). And, surprisingly, ‘the kings of the earth will bring their glory’ into the city, together with ‘the glory and honor of the nations’ but ‘nothing unclean will ever enter it’ (Revelation 21:24, 26-27). What we do for Christ has meaning and a place in the city of God!

What shall we say? The promise of Genesis 3 is fulfilled. The child has slain the dragon at the cross. Sin and evil have vanished. Now we live by faith in hope: a city of light and love is coming, where we will live with Jesus and all those who love Him. Knowing that can sustain us through all our hardships, our disappointments, our losses and darkest days. This life is not the end. But remember, only those whose names are ‘written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Revelation 21:27) will enter the holy city. So put your faith and trust in Christ now.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that this world will have a good ending because of Jesus, that we will see Jesus and live with Him forever. May this hope give us strength and keep us faithful to Jesus all our days. Amen.