Saturday, December 24, 2016

Revelation Advent -- December 24

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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. 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.” (Revelation 21:1-4, ESV)

We come to the goal of God's work in the history of redemption. God's dwelling is with the human race and we are fully his people.

Lots of images portray this. This are varying schools of thought on how literal these images will be. Revelation 21 tells of Jerusalem descending from heaven onto earth -- Jerusalem the shape of a cube that is 12,000 stadia in length, width, and depth. This translates to a 1,380 by 1,380 by 1,380 mile cube. Certainly this new Jerusalem is possible with God and would provide plenty of living space for all of humanity. But the number of 12,000 looks to be indicative of symbolism. There is 12 for the apostles and the tribes of Israel, and the factor of 1000 for the millennial rule and is a large ancient number. Personally, I think this is a symbolic description of Jerusalem indicating it is a huge place for God's people. In fact, it is so big that Revelation seems to imply it fills the entire dimension or span of God's new heaven and earth. Revelation 21 says that outside of the New Jerusalem "are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Since all of these evil people have been banished to another dimension described as the lake of fire, it implies that Jerusalem fills all of the new creation.

The shape of the New Jerusalem is a cube -- which is the shape of the Holy of Holies in the temple. The New Jerusalem, which encompasses the whole of the new creation, is God's temple. However, John says he "saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb." Also, in another sense, all of God's people are the temple, for they were measured into God's temple earlier in Revelation.

We will not lose our identity in God's new heaven and earth. We will be identified by our nationalities, because in God's light "will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, ... they will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations." In this new creation we will find our true identity, the best of all done on earth will come into the new creation and be made infinitely better.

I have enjoyed traveling to many places in the world and always enjoy the rich, diverse culture, sights, smells, and tastes. That will come through in perfection in the new creation, to the glory of God and our great delight. The new heaven and earth will not be a boring place. We will find wonderful things to explore, work that is enriching, rewarding . It is going to be incredible beyond our fondest dreams for all those who are in Christ. It will be better than the best Christmas every moment of our lives there -- forever.

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