Wednesday, June 18, 2003

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

All Things Made New

For those who would like to start at the very beginning of this series on the book of Revelation, click here.

Here is a quick review of the structure of Revelation:

  • John's Vision of the Son of Man
  • Seven Letters to Seven Churches
  • The Throne of God in Heaven
    • Seven Seals
    • Seven Trumpets
    • Seven Persons
    • Seven Bowls
    • Destruction of Babylon
    • The Return of the King
    • The New Creation
  • The Throne of God with Men

This post, which concludes this briefest of Revelation studies, will look at this New Creation. Here are the essential elements:

  1. The New Creation--"And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” Then he said to me, “Write it down, because these words are reliable and true.” He also said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the one who is thirsty I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life. The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:5-7)"
  2. The New Jerusalem--"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven final plagues came and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb!” So he took me away in the Spirit to a huge, majestic mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. The city possesses the glory of God; its brilliance is like a precious jewel, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper. (Revelation 21:9-11)"
  3. The River and Trees of Life--"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life—water as clear as crystal—pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2)"
  4. Attestation of the Truth of this Prophecy--"Then the angel said to me, “These words are reliable and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.” (Look! I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book.) I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them I threw myself down to worship at the feet of the angel who was showing them to me. But he said to me, “Do not do this! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets, and with those who obey the words of this book. Worship God!” Then he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy contained in this book, because the time is near. (Revelation 22:6-10)"
  5. The Time is Near--"(Look! I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to pay each one according to what he has done! (Revelation 22:12)"
  6. The Alpha and the Omega--"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end!) (Revelation 22:13)"
  7. Blessings and Curses--"Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can have access to the tree of life and can enter into the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the sexually immoral, and the murderers, and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood! “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendent of David, the bright morning star!” And 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 wants it take the water of life free of charge. I testify to the one who hears the words of the prophecy contained in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. (Revelation 22:14-19)"

This entire section of Revelation, at a minimum, begs us to make two comparisons. The first is to compare Babylon and the New Jerusalem. The second is to compare the Garden of Eden with the New Jerusalem.

That we are to compare Babylon and the New Jerusalem can be gleaned from the parallel invitations of the angel:

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me. “Come,” he said, “I will show you the condemnation and punishment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters, (Revelation 17:1)

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven final plagues came and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb!” (Revelation 21:9)

Whether it is the same angel or not, we do not know. But the very structure of these two calls to "Come, I will show you..." tells us that laying these two cities side by side is appropriate. Here is what we can see:

Babylon Jerusalem
  • A Prostitute
  • Dressed in Scarlet
  • Sitting on the Beast and Waters
  • Kills the Saints
  • Corrupts the Nations
  • A Bride
  • Dressed in White
  • Descending from Heaven
  • Is the Home of the Saints
  • Heals the Nations

 Simply put, we are looking at the fact that the entire world system will one day change hands. It will be new and completely different from what we face today. This is a matter of rejoicing and hope. The will not be the corrupting influences that we fight against day in and day out. The influence that threatens us and our children will be no more. Instead of death and fear there will be life and hope.

The Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem have many parallel elements:

Eden Jerusalem
  • A river flows out of it.
  • Contains a Tree of Life and a Tree of Knowledge.
  • The curse begins.
  • Gold and gems are outside.
  • The Lord visits.
  • The river of life flows out of it.
  • Contains two Trees of Life bearing fruit.
  • The curse ends
  • The gold and gems are inside.
  • The Lord inhabits.

In Eden and Jerusalem there exist two trees. In Eden they were two different kinds. In Jerusalem they bear the same fruit. In Eden the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the object of commandment and disobedience. We failed and the way to the Tree of Life was blocked, less we eat and live forever as people who sin. The trees in New Jerusalem both heal and grant life.

The mercy of God is such that the restored has more glory than that which had not yet fallen. It cost Him dearly to do this. The Lion became the Lamb and died to purchase this restored glory.

This is what we set out eyes on. To fully apprehend this end and our place in it is motivation to press on and overcome.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

Jesus endured because of the joy set before Him. The New Jerusalem and the New Heavens and the New Earth are the joy that is set before us. Surely we can overcome and triumph:

But remember the former days when you endured a harsh conflict of suffering after you were enlightened. At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and afflictions, and at other times you came to share with others who were treated in that way. For in fact you shared the sufferings of those in prison, and you accepted the confiscation of your belongings with joy, because you knew that you certainly had a better and lasting possession. So do not throw away your confidence, because it has great reward. (Hebrews 10:32-35)

Again, this better and lasting possession provides motivation and perspective so that we can overcome and press on in the face of great difficulty. This is what Revelation is to inspire and build in us. Think back to the seven letters and how each one ended with a reward for overcoming. Each reward pointed to this new beginning.   

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendent of David, the bright morning star!” And 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 wants it take the water of life free of charge. (Revelation 22:16-17)

Indeed! Come Lord Jesus!

Thursday: Fahrenheit 451: How Books Came to be Burned 

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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