We’ve read of the destruction of Rome, the destruction of earthly kingdoms, earthly rulers, and of all that is evil. What is next? What is there to look forward to? We try to find comfort where we live and in our leaders but we are assured that these things are temporary…no matter how great they might seem. To put hope in the governments and ideals that surround us where we are is to put hope in something that is temporary no matter how great it may seem. These chapters are sobering reminders that we are not at home here. We turn the page from the destruction of all things and open a new chapter that reveals life, true life. Life that is worth hoping in. Life that is worth living out the reality of now as we anxiously await its coming. We turn to Revelation 21 to see what this looks like.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…and there was no longer any sea.” I’m a mountain man myself but the sea is a close second in things I love about the beautiful world we live in. It may sadden us to read that there will no longer be a sea. I got to sail this past summer for the first time. The 25’ catamaran I was on was fast as it cut through the Caribbean. I felt alive. Why would there be no more sea? The sea, for the ancient world, is where evil spawns. We see the beast come from the sea. While it is something to enjoy while sitting on a beach or sailing, it is a terrifying thing to be sailing in a storm or to have a tsunami kick up a horrifying wave. The sea is relentless. The fact that there is no more sea means that evil has been conquered.
The Holy City, New Jerusalem, prepared as a beautiful bride now comes down to earth, God’s creation. God’s dwelling place has been restored to the earth He created as He intended it to be in the beginning. When God created the earth, He intended to dwell with His creation. When sin came into the world, God and creation became separated. Throughout scripture we see God pursuing His creation and dwelling amongst His people in limited ways, awaiting the day when He and His creation would be joined together again. First in the tabernacle, then in the temple, in the Church (the Holy Spirit within us), and finally when all has been conquered, God will restore His creation to how He intended it to be and dwell again with His creation. “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” I began asking the question in high school, “Why would God put us here on earth if He intends for us to be with Him in heaven?” Revelation 21 and 22 points us to the answer. God is finishing what He started in His creation, making all things right again.
The Christian walk is not one about going to heaven someday but one of heaven coming to earth to redeem its brokenness. When we receive the Holy Spirit we enter into a time of “already but not yet.” We have the reality of heaven within us, and where we go we take that reality with us. Where Christian live the world should look drastically different. We don’t “do good deeds” in order to “go to heaven when we die.” We do good deeds because we have heaven within us and we make this the reality wherever we are. When we see the brokenness of this creation we redeem it for God because that is what God is doing and would have us do. We give food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, etc. all because the is what God is doing with the brokenness of creation. We make this the reality where we live while we await God doing this fully in the end. We live out our baptism daily, the death, burial, and resurrection, putting to death the brokenness of the old creation in order that it will be resurrected when Christ returns.
In his book Surprised by Hope, N. T. Write articulates this reality well:
“What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”
One of the biggest realities that should to be emphasized and reemphasized is that “there will be no more death.” Why do we have hope in this life no matter what the world, governments, and rulers throw at us? Death has been conquered. Nothing can be taken away from us because we have life in Christ. The resurrection is our reality. All that has the seed of God planted within it will be planted in the New Creation and made new again. Praise God that death has been conquered in Christ and all things will be made new again. Praise God that He desires to be with His creation. Praise God that he would remove death from us so that we might be made new. Hope in God not in the things of this world. There are plenty of things that are good here but don’t mistake them as God.
I want to end as Kent did yesterday with my continuing assessment of Revelation. I got this from Randy Harris who is a professor at Abilene Christian University. God wins! Pick a side. Don’t be stupid.