December 21, 2022
God's purpose for the universe has always been that He would dwell with man, and that purpose comes to completion in Revelation 21. The resurrection of Jesus gives us assurance that we will some day see the new heavens and the new earth.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God."
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place 1 21:3 Or tabernacle of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, 2 21:3 Some manuscripts peoples and God himself will be with them as their God. 3 21:3 Some manuscripts omit as their God 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. 4 21:16 About 1,380 miles; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits 5 21:17 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Revelation 21 is the great finale of the story of Scripture. It is the final page of the grand narrative that God has written. God's purpose for the universe has always been that He would dwell with man, and that purpose comes to completion in Revelation 21:3: "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man." Genesis 3:8 depicts the presence of God with man as a hope that was lost when mankind rebelled. God walked in the garden, but Adam and Eve hid from Him. Leviticus 26:11-12 makes the presence of God the goal of the whole Old Testament law, but that goal remains a distant dream. Finally, at the end of the story, the hope that was once lost becomes complete. God will dwell with man, and in His presence all sin, death, and chaos are banished. The rest of Revelation 21 is filled with imagery that underscores the presence of God, imagery that reminds us of the garden of Eden or the temple that Solomon built. All of it describes the joyous fulfillment of God's promises.
This is the hope that Christians wait for, but so often we lose sight of the story that we are living in. We begin to believe the cultural narrative of our time, and we drift from the hope that we have. The spirit of our age would have us believe that we are a cosmic accident with no value, no purpose, and no hope. It would have us believe that there are no happy endings. Those only exist in fairy tales.
But this fairy tale is true. And we can know that it is true because Jesus was raised from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is a real, historical event upon which we can ground our belief that we will someday see the happy ending of Revelation 21! What's more, through faith in Jesus' resurrection, the process of new creation has already begun in us (2 Corinthians 5:17)! So, "Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)
1. What Old Testament images and ideas does John use to describe his vision in Revelation 21? What do these images tell us about the new heavens and new earth?
2. What can we do to become more aware of the story that we live in and the role that we have in it?
3. How does reminding ourselves of the hope that we have change the way that we live today?