This Sunday we’ll be finishing up our short, multi-church series “Lord Make Us One”. It all culminates with a special multi-church gathering in Sharon Sheffield Park in Lynn Haven at 4 PM. Be sure to bring a chair and maybe sunscreen…or worst case scenario, an umbrella.
Our final teaching in this series will be from Revelation 21. We’ll be reading v1-4, 9-10 and 22-26.
Obviously, Revelation is a pretty dense book with a LOT of differing views on how it should be interpreted. However, I would say no matter what way a person reads this book, most will agree that it pictures what the world will look like when God is in control. I hope we can all agree that this book reveals the activity and end result of God’s in-breaking Kingdom.
That being the case, ch 21 is sort of the wrap-up. As the chapter begins, in v1-4, note how many times the word “new” is used. V 3 tells us what this whole image is revealing – God’s end goal: “[God] will live with them, and they will be his people.”. God’s end goal is reunification with humanity as his family (v7).
That brings us to the pictures God uses to describe this family – in v9-10, John is told he’ll now see the Bride of the lamb. What he hears about is a Bride…what he sees is a city. Why a city? What are cities made up of? What would the best city of all time look like? How would the people in it interact? This is meant to TELL us something.
John goes on to describe what the city looks like, its measurements and all, describing a cube. There’s a lot of meaning in all of that description, but in our study we’ll focus on the final verses – v22-26. Ask the text some questions as you read – why is it significant that there is no temple? What does eternal illumination speak of? What things happen in the dark? When do our problems and fears feel exaggerated, in the day or the night? What might this be telling us?
The gates will never be closed. Why did ancient cities have gates? What does an ever-open gateway convey?
V26 is something we really need to linger on. All the nations are coming in – meaning God’s family, those whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life, is made up of all different kinds of people. This brings us full circle from the promise made to Abraham on the desert plains – “through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”
What does it say the nations bring into the city with them?
To speak of the glory and honor of the nations is announcing the uniqueness and beauty inherent to a particular culture. In v24 John says the kings will enter in all their glory. In the ancient world, the king was the representative of the culture he presided over. This is all describing the vast and glorious kaleidoscope of human ethnicity and culture – and God doesn’t seem interested in eliminating those distinctions.
If this is the future we are marching towards in Christ – how should it shape our priorities in the present?
I’m so excited about exploring this passage on Sunday – but I’ll endeavor to stay calm. Hope to see you then – and again at the Unity Service! Oh Lord….make us ONE!