Monday, May 23
Reader: “Look, I am making everything new!”
Response: “And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy
Scripture: Revelation 21:5-14
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Then one of the seven angels who held the seven bowls containing the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come with me! I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal. The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. There were three gates on each side—east, north, south, and west. The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Some thoughts: (Today’s devotional follows up on the May 15th passage.)
What will heaven be like? That is a question we’ve asked since we were little children. In this passage, God speaks from his throne in heaven giving us some insight. Everything gets made new. I think it is interesting that the one sitting on the throne told John to write down what he said. The Father wanted to make sure everything got accurately passed on. Then there are what I believe are the three most powerful ending words bringing to conclusion the three most powerful beginning words: “It is finished!” closes the book on “In the beginning . . .” It was on the cross that Jesus uttered those same words. In this case, what exactly is it that is finished? Certainly the redeeming work of Jesus is finished bringing eternal life to all who believe. What is also finished is the redemption of the entire fallen creation, God’s entire plan is finished. Those people who have rejected his redeeming work and have embraced the lies of the devil, are judged and enter into eternal separation from God in hell. God’s plan for the whole created order has concluded. Human history and the history of the fallen creation is finished.
John is then given a picture of what awaits those adopted children bound for heaven. John was taken by the Spirit to a high mountain to view the holy city, Jerusalem, the bride of Christ. Here we have another instance of God speaking with one of his children from a mountain top. (E.g. Noah, Moses, Elijah, Transfiguration) Note the movement is again from heaven to earth as the city descends. Many commentators interpret the twelve tribes as representing all the redeemed people of God. God’s promise to Abraham that all the nations of the world would be blessed through him has come to fulfillment.
What might we draw from these words of John? It certainly appears that heaven is a very active place. It seems to be a vigorous place of worship and activity in fulfilling God’s master plan. Speaking through creation, the law, his prophets, and ultimately his own Son, God has restored his world to a new creation, the very reason we were created, “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In the words of Isaiah, “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!” (Isaiah 64:4) What God has in store for his children is glorious beyond imagination.
Music: “Twelve Gates to the City” Chanticleer
“Twelve Gates to the City”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veh4mwybOXc Buddy Green
Lord Jesus Chrsit, who returned from this world to the Father and loved those who were here in this world, make my mind turn from worldly preoccupations to the contemplation of heaven, to despise everything transitory and to yearn only for celestial things, and to burn with the glowing fire of your love. And you, Lord, who deemed yourself worthy to wash the feet of your holy apostles with your sacred hands, cleanse also my heart by pouring in the radiance of the Holy Spirit, so that I may be able to love you, our Lord Jesus, Christ, in all things and above all else. This I pray through Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
―Latin, 11th century trans. Bernard Muir, The Oxford Book of Prayer, p.146