July 28, 2018

Gems in Revelation - Part 150


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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