What an achievement! You’ve reached day 100 on your journey through the Bible, and it’s a huge honour for me to write the last blog of this series. The Bible is so central to our faith, yet so many Christians have such a rudimentary knowledge of the Word of God. I’ve been so encouraged by this 100 day journey, as I know you’ll have not only learned so much, but you’ll have heard the voice of God speak through his Word directly into your life.
So today, we come to Revelation 21 and 22, the final chapters of the Bible. As I’m sure has been said throughout your study of Revelation, this is symbolic and poetic writing, as John tries to capture in words what he saw in his vision on Patmos. None of us can be sure what heaven will look like, but we can be sure it will be awesome, beyond words, and more wonderful than we can imagine.
Lets take Chapter 21 first. John tells us he saw a new heaven and earth, a new Jerusalem, a place where tears are wiped away (21:4). A place where joy replaces pain. No matter what we experience on this earth, no matter what pain we feel, this is not the final word. God has written the final chapter, as the old song goes “therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing onto Zion, and everlasting joy will be upon their head, and sorrow and mourning will flee away.” what an encouragement!
From verse 10 onward we get this stunning description of heaven, and John tells us it shines with glory, is filled with jewels, and is simply breathtaking. Stunning, defying description, a place of beauty. Clearly what God showed John in his vision, totally blew every circuit in his brain!! In verses 12-14 John tells us everything is in multiples of 12 angels, 12 tribes and 12 apostles. Representing the fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer of unity in John 17, the Faithful Old Testament people, and the faithful New Testament people, together under God.
In verse 27, John tells us that not everyone will be allowed into heaven, only those whose names appear in the Book of Life. Isn’t it an awesome idea that your name and mine is listed in this huge book, God knows us by name. Yet the implication of this passage is clear, we need to be a missional and evangelistic people, forever calling people to turn to Christ, and make sure their names are in this Book.
Moving onto Chapter 22. John begins by telling us about the river of life giving water flowing from the throne, water that brings healing and renewal. Could this be the living water that Jesus promised the woman at the well, and which John told us about in Chapter 4 of his Gospel? Of course this picture of water flowing, and trees where the leaves bring healing, is a copy of Ezekiel 47, where the river flowed from the Temple and brought healing and life. Standing alongside this river in Revelation, verse 2 tells us the “tree of life” grows. This was the tree Adam and Eve were forbidden to touch, yet now is freely eaten from. Eden has been restored. The place where God walks with his people, free from sin.
It’s interesting to pause here and note the parallels between Genesis and the Revelation vision.
The sun is created. The sun is not needed
Satan is victorious. Satan is defeated
Sin enters the world. Sin is banished
People hide from God. People invited to live with God forever
Tears are shed. Tears are wiped away
Paradise lost. Paradise regained
People doomed to death. Death defeated
So what do we do with all this? John tells us in verse 10 that the angel told John not to seal his vision, this is the appointed time for this vision, whereas in Daniel 12, Daniel was told to seal up his vision. Verse 12 onwards is the voice of Jesus himself, verifying what the angel told John. In verse 17, we are told to “come”, to come and enjoy, to come and drink of the river of life. And that friends is our destiny, to come, to be with Jesus, to be in his company, with the angels and archangels, to come, and enjoy and be in joy. What a promise!
John finishes his Revelation, and the New Testament, and closes the whole Bible with the words from Jesus himself, he is coming soon. We need to make sure we are ready, and that we have done all we can to help others be ready. We need a sense of urgency that Jesus is returning, and that will impact both how we live and how we love.
The very last word, the word that makes it possible for us to inherit this future, the word that enables our pasts to be forgiven, the word that enables us to know Jesus, John blesses us with “grace”.
“the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen”
Amen and Amen !