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Gems in the book of Revelation
(Authored by Roger Kirby)

Part 151 - Revelation 22:1-21
Come, Lord Jesus

So we come to the final chapter. The key word of this last chapter is ‘come’ but before we get there, John has some further thoughts on the glories of his vision of the last things. This is where we expect to arrive after the second creation, the recreation of this world of ours. It is the time when it connects with the other world in which the Lord God and Jesus live.


To explain it he borrows the vision of Ezekiel from his 47:1-12. The river in Ezekiel’s vision flows from under the door of the temple, where the Lord was thought to dwell more specially than anywhere else. John changes that to be a direct flow from the throne of God and the Lamb. As with Ezekiel’s river the emphasis is on the fertility that it brings to all on its banks.

We have no cities in this country where water flows down open gutters at the sides of the streets all the time. Yet they are a wonderful feature where they do exist. We have seen them in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan where they bring a delightful freshness to the feeling of the street. But those gutters are at the side of the street; John’s water flows down the very centre of the main street of the city. This water is more important than anything else. The emphasis is on the fertility flowing from the tree of life for ‘the healing of the nations’ (22:2). That seems to suggest that many will be healed that we might not expect to be. Not everybody will be healed. There is an awful list later in the chapter of “the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” they have to remain outside for ever. But the basic picture does seem to suggest we may get some real surprises when we see who has been healed and is reigning for ever and ever.

We are coming to the end of this strange and wonderful book. There is so much about heaven and the new earth we can never understand however it is explained to us. John has done a wonderful job in showing us as much as he can and challenging our thoughts and imaginations, stretching them to their outer limits. As he says his words are trustworthy and true (22:6). This chapter is a mix of words from John, an angel and then, from 22:12 to the end, actual words of Jesus himself.

Before we get to those final words we have some warnings. 20:11 suggests that there is an eventual cut off point after which no one will be able to change their destiny. If we have set out to follow Jesus there is no moment when we may say ‘I’m done’. We should seek to follow him to the very end of our lives. As an old song says in quite different circumstances ‘keep right on to the end of the road’.

The other warning-which is a rather worrying one for anyone who, like me, sets out to try and help other people to understand this book. Hopefully, as I have not tried to include everything that this book says, I cannot be said to have taken any words away from the scroll (22:19)!

The final message of this book is quite clear-it looks for the final moment when Jesus returns to earth, not quite this earth but the new, restored, redeemed earth. Jesus says he is coming. The Spirit and the bride (all God’s people) and last of all John himself ask him to come. And he will. Be ready. It might be tomorrow!

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Gems in the book of Revelation
(Authored by Roger Kirby)

Part 150 - Revelation 21:1-27
Final Destination

Where are we going when we die? The immediate answer is the presence of the Lord. He called it ‘paradise’ to the man crucified with him on the cross. Paul says “to be with Christ is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). But that is not the end of the story. Our final destiny is the resurrection, following Jesus who unexpectedly led the way being resurrected ahead of time. Ezekiel says in his 37:12, 13 “ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.”

Or as Jesus said in John 5:28, 29 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

Chapter 21 is John’s picture of what that will be like. We, in our resurrected bodies, will return to earth, a new glorious earth closely linked to heaven. This is what we pray for when we say “your kingdom come … on earth as it is in heaven”. This is John’s picture of the final days of the Kingdom that began in the gospels when Jesus walked this earth for the first time.

The best place John knew on earth was the city of Jerusalem before it was destroyed by the Romans, most probably before he was writing, so he enhances that to the most glorious vision he can think of. It is now a great cube 2200 kilometres in each dimension - a very unlikely shape for a city, but no matter, it is the perfect shape. The walls and streets are all made of gold. The gates were special, made of pearls. The foundations were all of precious stones.

It is brilliant - but totally impractical. It is a vision after all and like almost all the pictures of Revelation meant to convey a meaning rather than a reality. I think that means we can have our own visions of what this final earth and heaven will be like. If, like me, you do not like cities and avoid them if you can, then we can create our own image of the most lovely place on earth where we would like to be for ever. For me that is like a Scottish hilltop in the spring. Blue sky overhead, crisp snow, barely taking a boot mark, underfoot, clear air and a vision of range after range of snow covered hills stretching away into the distance!

That is my vision. What is yours? Let your imagination fly although you know the reality will be even better when you get to it.

Having excited our imaginations with his vision John tells us some important things about it in the final paragraph of the chapter. There will be no temple there (21:22) because there will no longer be any need for any sort of intermediary between us and the Lord. There is no need of the lights in the sky because the Lord God and the Lamb will lavish so much grace upon it, upon us. There is no limit to the access - the gates are not shut at night, as they would have been in the earthly Jerusalem - all those from any nation whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter at will. All that is true, is noble, is right, is pure, is lovely, is admirable, all that is excellent or praiseworthy is welcome there. What a prospect, what a future, and it is ours!

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You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

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Gems in the book of Revelation
(Authored by Roger Kirby)

Part 149 - Revelation 20:1-15
 
Cleansing and Judgment


And so we come to the great but perplexing chapter on judgement. We are glad to read of the final demise of the dragon and the beasts, which reflect all the evil on the earth, but it is difficult to know what to make of some of the circumstances. We have to remember that it has been fairly impossible to take almost anything in this book literally so far. It is strange if we can suddenly start to do so here.

I have neither the space nor the desire to say anything about the possible implications of the thousand years which have caused so much argument over the centuries. There are 3 major approaches known as the pre-millenial (the events described and those possibly discovered elsewhere in the New Testament occur before the thousand years), the post-millenial (the events occur after the millenium, and the a-millenial (the thousand years are not to be taken literally).

There are at least 5 things that follow from what is written in this chapter regardless of which belief (or none!) that you hold as to how it is all going to happen.

1. At some date in the future all evil will be eradicated from this world of ours. (Revelation 20:10)


2. This will not happen all at one clean sweep. There will be many problems before that final, very desirable, event occurs. (Revelation 20:1-9)

3. It will not all happen at the cosmic level. Human beings will be involved at certain stages before the evil is completely eradicated. (Revelation 20:4, 9)

4. Once evil is removed there will be a time of judgement. No one will be exempt from this. (Revelation 20:12, 13) My picture of how this will happen is: arrival at an airport in your home country. First you have to show your passport. If you have the right passport (we are citizens of heaven says Paul in Philippians 3:20) you are immediately welcomed into your home country, but you still have to go through the luggage checkpoint to see that you have no contraband in your cases. So, we too although welcomed because we are justified by faith - we have been promised now that we shall be welcomed by the Lord when we go to meet him - we are still to give account of what we have done in the years allocated to us since we set out to follow Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12). Like all illustrations, that one of mine is not perfect but it should help you to see what the scripture is saying. It is not the case that we are born again and need worry no more that all our future is without concern. That is a popular misunderstanding of the implications of being ‘born again’.

5. Not everybody is guaranteed a comfortable after life. (Revelation 20:15) what exactly will happen to them is much debated. A literal ‘lake of fire’ scarcely seems compatible with a God who is Love.

Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

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You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
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