The New Jerusalem May 26, 2019

TEXTS: REVELATION 21: 1 – 10; 22-22:5

The story we are going to unpack today is believed to have been told by John the beloved disciple of Jesus. When the word of God started to spread those in power tried many ways to stop it. One way was to kill those spreading the gospel, other times was to imprison them. John was locked him up in Patmos Island with a hope that they would silence him. In his solitude God was able to use him to write this book and others as a way of encouraging the believers. He was able to spend time in meditations and guiding the church through his communication.

The book of Revelation falls under the category of the books we call apocalyptic. These are books, whose writing make much use of images in bring the message and usually very futuristic in nature. They tend to be prophetic visionary, predictive in the way they present their message. They emphasized the end times. Other books in this category would be the book of Daniel, Ezekiel. This should not be confused with the books that are grouped under Apocrypha. These are the 14 books that were not included in the cannon. You will find these books in the Roman Catholic bible. They were rejected on the bases that they were not fit for public worship.

John is sharing the vision of the future of the people of faith. In the New Jerusalem God comes down to live with his people. Here we see God has written the final chapter and is about fulfilment and joy to those who love him. There is also a book of life where the names of believers and the deeds are recorded. Before one enters in this new city their names need to be in that book life. When we stay faithful to God our names will be there in the book of life. His message comes with some prophecy as well as some visionary of how New Jerusalem which represent heaven will look like.

This what John observed:

  • Former heaven and earth passed away: John is reminding his listeners that time passes on and people have to look forward to the promise. Often people will tend hold on to the past and miss the glory of the promised future. Since people already know the past it is easy to relate and fail to open up for what the future holds.
  • A New Holy City comes in form of a bride: So, in this vision the holy city is represented as the bride. This is different from what we have known from the record of Matthew of the bridegroom and the 10 brides. The church has often been referred to as the bride of God. In several cases in the Bible we read where the bride (Church – People) had rebelled against God. We will be the ones who will form the New City because we are the bride of Christ.
  • Heard the voice from the throne (message): – God is among his people comforting them by wiping their tears and being present. Reminds them that there will be no more death, no mourning, no pain. Tell the people that God is the Alpha and Omega
  • He saw the seven Angels: – John share about the two tree of life and a river. In the garden of Eden there were two trees, one was the tree of life and the other was the tree of evil. But here in the new earth or new Jerusalem we have two trees that are trees of life. Here we see the third garden. The first garden was that of Eden, the second of the Gethsemane and now here is the third garden. The seven Angel that appear here represent perfection that will exist in the new Jerusalem.
  • The gates in this new Jerusalem are not shut. This is the vision where nobody will be shut out who chooses to come through these doors. Again, it is the reverse of what we read in the book of Matthew on the story of 10 brides. Those who never had enough oil they went to buy but by the time they got back the doors were already shut and they could not be allowed in.

The story of the New Jerusalem represents the new experience God’s presence in our everyday life. We can draw the following faith lessons:

  • There is Hope and a Future: We will be in a new dwelling place and God himself will dwell with us. He will no longer be invisible God, for we will see him face to face and have open communication with him. The hope of knowing that all shall be well and all matter of things shall be well. God inviting us back to the Garden that he had created for us but only this time everything will be eternal and our human weakness will have been taken away. There is no more sinning or falling out of God’s favor.
  • Pain and Suffering Gone: We live in a world of pain and suffering. These pain and suffering could be physical, psychological and even emotional. There is New Joy of the life in the New Jerusalem that we will experience once we get there. The joy comes from knowing that all the hardship and challenges would be the things of the past. John puts it this way. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). This is taking away the consequences that human assumed after rebelling from God in the Garden of Eden. A life of pain and suffering. God is fulfilling hi promise and the dream he had for his creation that every creature lives in harmony and experience the fulfillment of God provision and mercy everyday.
  • A fulfilled Life: We live in a world where we are busy chasing things to fulfil our earthly desires. But we know like King Solomon every becomes vanity it is like chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 1: and 2). The New Jerusalem that John is pointing to, is where our lives will have no desires for anything for our bodies. Our mind and spirit will be settled. The fulfilment according to our text is such that the former desires will be gone. The people who are in this new city will be pure in their thinking and in their actions. There will be no night in this place for the lamb of God will be the lamp and the doors are never shut. Nothing unclean or vile will be allowed in the new city. This then is the hope of every believer to get to this city at the end of the journey in the world that we live in.
  • Harmony of Creation: This new order of things in the New Jerusalem are referenced in the book on Isaiah. The prophets write this, “The wolf will live with the lamb the Leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together and the little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6). According to this narrative what used to be enemies will be friends and even the weak will not fear the strong anymore. There is a paradigm shift when it comes the life that will be lived there. The cow and the bear will feed together and the lion will eat grass not other animals. It will be common for a child to play with cobra and will not be injured, even putting one’s finger in the spider hole will be fine. This New Jerusalem can be called heaven. It is Isaiah who once more repeat the same as above in Isaiah 65:25 when he writes, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be serpent food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain.” Here we can see that the New Jerusalem is also referred here as the Holy Mountain of God.