Friday, August 01, 2008

The New Creation

Four things about the new creation from Revelation 21 & 22:

  • It is perfect. 21:5 “I am making everything new.” There is nothing imperfect here. v6 tells us you get in simply by receiving freely from God. Whoever is thirsty. Whoever is thirsty. But there will be those who reject it too. You can practice magic, you can be sexually immoral, an idolater, a liar. These sorts of things disqualify people because they amount to us saying “I don’t want God.” John the writer cries to us “Choose life! Don’t die! Don’t go the world’s way. You cannot have it both ways. Come and freely drink of the water of life and live.”
  • In the new creation the church is extravagantly beautiful. We read that in 21:9-21. This picture of the new Jerusalem is a picture of the church. It is OK to mix your metaphors in Revelation so we find that the Heavenly City is the bride beautifully prepared for her husband. Two weeks ago I went to a brilliant wedding and saw a bride who had been made extravagantly beautiful for her husband (Go, Anna and Mo!). And you know what? No matter what her husband thinks, she wasn't a patch on this bride. Indeed the whole reason marriage exists at all is to give a very poor faint reflection of the heavenly bride and bridegroom. Brothers and sisters we will shine with the very glory of God. The Bible has a progression to it. It starts with two people made in the image of God and it ends with a community of people who are like God. Beautiful like God – with all the sin wiped off. Glorified. God is going to make the bride beautiful beyond all practical necessity. Outrageously beautiful.
  • There is no temple in this new creation. You don’t need a temple in this city. There is no need for God to have a place to display His glory, there is no need for a place of sacrifice, there is no need for a place where God dwells in the middle of His people but must be separated from them in the Most Holy Place. No! The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Everybody gets to live in the glory. In the OT there was nothing special about the temple itself. Sure it was a great building and a real sight, but it was just a building. The only thing that marked it apart was that it was God’s place. His throne room over Israel. The same was true for the tabernacle. It was extraordinary in and of itself. Only because it was God’s place. We ought to be very careful today not to claim anything special about church buildings. They are not even places where God manifested His glory as in the tabernacle and temple. Because the Church is the people of God. The household of God. We see it most fully and finally here in Revelation, but we know something of the reality now – it is with the Church of Jesus Christ, the bride, that God lives. It is in Jesus He displays His glory, and through Jesus in the church. He is glorified in us! This is where God lives – with His people.
  • This is not merely spiritual truth but practical reality. We know who will be there and won’t. We know the sorts of things that are celebrated there – glorious things 21:26. All the splendour and honour of the nations. Everything not tinged with shame or deceit. Everything not touched by Babylon the Great in the words of Ch17. Every one whose name is in the book of life.There is an appalling stereotype view of heaven out there. That it is some sort of interminable divine cloud for goody-goodies where you go to sing in choirs, water pot plants and sit around in diaphanous nighties playing the harp. If that is what heaven is like I don’t even want to go there. Happily that is not what Heaven is like. That is an outrageous untruth. The New heavens and the New Earth are the culmination, the fulfilment, the climax of all history and eternity.
And Chapter 22 adds the icing on the cake. 22:1 we have access to the river of life. That cleansing, satisfying stream. The tree of life is there. We lost that at Eden. Now there is no restriction on it. There is healing for the nations. The world as it should be. How come? v3 tells us. There is no longer any curse. No curse! The reason, ultimately, for the pain of this mucked up world is that we are rightfully under God’s curse for sin. We fell under it at Eden and have been under it ever since. But now there is NO CURSE.
And God’s servants see Him face to face. At last. The name of their owner is on their foreheads. Light itself disappears to be replace by reality. And the angel says “this is trustworthy, it is true and it will happen soon. So, John, go tell long suffering Christians to trust Jesus and live in the light of this.”

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