All Things New

Reflection on Revelation 21:1-4

“Then I saw a new heaven and earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold!  God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe away ever tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Some of the details of Revelation may be hard to understand but the message of the book is simple:  Jesus wins.  It may not look like it right now but Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, has decisively conquered sin and death and the devil.  He promises, “I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:12a).  When he returns in glory, it will be like the garden of Eden, only better.  As you can see from Revelation 21, God will once again dwell with his people, in a renewed creation where there will be no more death – which implies there the presence of sin will also be no more.  There will be no more ‘sea’ – in other words, no more chaos (which is how the sea was viewed). 

Here’s one encouragement and one challenge from this passage:

  • Encouragement: no matter how bad things get now, our future is gloriously bright.  No matter how many tears you weep now, a day is coming when God himself will wipe them away (if you’re His).  The old order – sin, death and devil ruling – is on its way out!
  • Challenge: will we be ready for that day?  Jesus will return to save his beloved bride, his people, and make war against all who oppose him.  Those who are His are those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14b) – who are trusting Jesus’ death for us for cleansing from sin and whose lives are therefore starting to change because we’re now under his loving rule.   Jesus’ bride in Revelation 19:8 is given “fine linen, bright and clean, (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.”)  If our lives don’t adorn the gospel – they’re out of step with the gospel –  we should not “try harder.”  We should ask ourselves 1) “am I truly trusting Jesus as my Saviour” and 2) “am I eagerly looking forward to his return?”  If our lives are not future-oriented, we can fall back into living like the world without this glorious hope.
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