Revelation 21, 22 (Ps. 48) Lynne McCarthy 12/24/21
Observe: John sees a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more. (21:1) The terrors of the last judgment lead to new Eden, our perfect home. The new beautiful Jerusalem descends from the heavenlies, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (2).
The big surprise: And I saw no temple [church, cathedral, chapel] in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. (22). We are the Lord’s bride-church. Light radiates from the Lamb, the glory of God, with no darkness, no locks on gates, nothing ugly or false. The city is perfect even in its structure; a cube, golden, jewelled as the ephod of the high priest, a reminder of the Holy of Holies in the Temple past. The Testaments merge as the names of the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles are written on its walls and foundation.
The river of life has its source at the throne of the Father, the tree of life yielding twelve kinds of fruit, its leaves for the healing of the nations, recalls Psalm 1. Eden is restored, God’s gracious Presence ripples through its centre. Those called by the name of the Lamb will see God’s face, forever.
John attests to the truth of his prophetic vision in the epilogue (22:6,8,16), warning those who add or subtract from this Word of consequences – plague or removal of their share in the life of the holy city. Daniel, told to seal up the words of prophecy (Dan 12:4,9) is the opposite for John. (10) Patterns of behaviour, either unbelief or faith, will become irreversible -- something to consider deeply. (11). And John ends with a blessing of grace. (21)
Interpret: Beginning a new life is difficult when one has to leave everything behind. Think of refugees/survivors in those terrible camps or flimsy boats, of people who have lost everything in environmental catastrophes, of believers under threat of death meeting with others in secret.
Scripture, according to a Bible Project blog, is “the epic story of God and his creation, of blessing, temptation, sin, exile, and salvation. … reading this today, we have the advantage of knowing the entire story was leading to Jesus.” We won’t complete this epic until Christ’s return -- a new epic.
Creation for humans to cherish is marred by sin and the wrecking hasn’t stopped. God’s redemptive movement from Abraham to David to Christ, (second Adam/son of man/son of David/son of God), pushes evil away. The Church (Jew and Gentile in Christ – all of us!) is now a bride. What we have all been waiting for: the new heaven, the new earth, life eternal with Father, Jesus the Lamb and Holy Spirit, our fellow saints and the heavenly folk, is all so new we won’t want to remember what we were, where we came from. Death is gone and we are eternally alive with and to God.
Already, but not yet. While in this body we long to be freed, and it will happen. John groans, Come, Lord Jesus. He responds, Behold, I am coming soon. And that is grace and hope.
Apply: So -- “no small feat” (remember the posters? the videos to study the Word? Pastor Dave’s coffee? Feels like a long time ago.) We’re finished, but not. Now we go more deeply into the Word, new things to learn in renewed faith and love for God, always something we didn’t notice in our first, fourth, tenth readings. Our 2022 study and Psalms blogs bring a new focus: real transformation. We must remember He is coming sooner than we think.
Ask: Has my faith deepened this past year? Do I know Jesus, His love, His desire to have His church as His bride? How do I prepare for citizenship in this new country? Am I willing to keep on with Him?
Pray: King Jesus, until we are in Your kingdom, keep us praying, praising, loving, longing for You. Strengthen us when we meet adversity and adversaries because You are our strength. Make us one in You, that Your Kingdom of peace may come, Your will be done among us and beyond.
Sing: City of the Great King - Jason Silver
New Jerusalem - Jason Vermeulen
Revelation 22:20,21 - The Corner Room
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.