Revelation #35 Revelation 21:1-8 End Times: The Consummation of the Kingdom


Revelation #35  Revelation 21:1-8 End Times: The Consummation of the Kingdom


The Church has endured rough, intense, and catastrophic times. The followers of Jesus have overcome the marginalization, the oppression, and the persecution of Babylon.  Disciples have overcome the Beast and the False Prophet by standing firm in the faith, not being swayed to recant.  Those who have bent the knee to the Lordship of Jesus defeated the Dragon by continuing to bring the Kingdom.  The second coming has occurred.  The saints who have died have been resurrected.  The evil trinity: Dragon, Beast, and False Prophet, along with the Kings of the World and those who aligned themselves with lies allowing egoism to rule their lives have been removed from the scene. Death and Hades having finished their work have no place in the new order.  Everything in the old order is swept away to make room for the new God is bringing. Now the Kingdom that Jesus inaugurated with His incarnation is consummated. John tells us what he sees, as the culmination of Jesus' ministry.


Revelation 21:1-8 (MSG)

1 I saw Heaven and Earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea.


2 I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.


3 I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They're his people, he's their God. He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone." The Enthroned continued, "Look! I'm making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate."


6 Then he said, "It's happened. I'm A to Z. I'm the Beginning, I'm the Conclusion. From Water-of-Life Well I give freely to the thirsty. Conquerors inherit all this. I'll be God to them, they'll be sons and daughters to me. But for the rest—the feckless and faithless, degenerates and murderers, sex peddlers and sorcerers, idolaters and all liars—for them it's Lake Fire and Brimstone. Second death!"


We’ve made note of the special place that numbers have in the Revelation.  Verse one starts with “I saw.”  This is the 7th time John proclaims “I saw” beginning in Chapter 19 and verse 11.  The one that follows in verse 2 is part of verse 1. Another series of 7, visions of perfection. (Paul, p.339) [1] John sees Heaven open wide and Jesus riding a white horse.  [2] John sees an angel calling the birds to the Great Supper of God.  [3] John sees the Beast and the False Prophet captured. [4] John sees an angel imprisoning the Dragon. [5] John sees the resurrected saints. [6] John sees the Great White Throne Judgment. With Chapter 21 John sees the consummation of the kingdom. The vision of the end of the 7th event is complete.


That God is making a new heaven and a new earth isn’t a new idea in scripture.  The prophet Isaiah has a similar vision "Pay close attention now: I'm creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I'm creating…” (Isaiah 65:17-18 (MSG). All I can say is bring it, Lord. What we have is the reiteration of an ageless hope. I don’t want to upset any surfers or deep sea fishermen; Fisher-persons; or humans who like to catch fish from the ocean; don’t take that in the new earth there will be no sea to mean that there is no sea. Again, we must understand the sea of the old order to mean its association with the sea in the Old Testament.  Yes, sometimes, good, but other times the sea is the source of evil forces, very much like the Abyss we have read about. In Daniel 7 the sea is also the people who have aligned themselves with the Beast. What John is telling us is that in the new heaven and earth, there is no opposition to God’s rule or against His people. This is the consequence of the human predicament removed, the old was tainted by sin and suffering, and the new is free from what was. The new heaven and new earth are now once again as originally designed by God.


Babylon is replaced with Holy Jerusalem.  This is a culture of holiness, godliness, and righteousness.  New Jerusalem descends out of the new heavens.  There is a false impression in the Church that the believer’s final destination is heaven.  But that is not the hope held out in the scripture.  Do we not pray “your kingdom come on earth?”  Resurrected humanity will live on the new earth. The City is resplendent, beautiful, full of light, and streets of peace, but before we run too far and imagine we are describing an actual city, remember that New Jerusalem is also the Bride of the Lamb, and as the Bride, the people of God. The people of God are the city of God. In the letter to the Hebrews we read: “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God's call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith, he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God” (Hebrews 11:8-10 (MSG). Can you see a parallel between Abraham’s life and yours?  God called you, and you responded, even though you had no idea where you going, or what you were called to.  In this world, in Babylon, you haven’t made a home, and instead, you’ve kept your eye on the prize, looking forward to your real home in New Jerusalem.


Not only does John see, John also hears, he hears another thundering proclamation from the Throne, the place of authority.  New Jerusalem is descending from the New Heaven upon the New Earth and God is coming with it. The promise of the Old Testament prophets, “I will be their God and they will be my people” is realized.  God is with us.  John sees the fulfillment of all the covenant promises. This is huge.  It is face-to-face in fellowship with God, it is faith becoming sight.  “What God did in Jesus, coming to an unknowing world and an unwelcoming people, he is now doing on a cosmic scale” (Wright, p 138). The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians that this is God’s long-range plan: “in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth” (Ephesians 1:10 (MSG).


As God makes his dwelling place amongst his people four things are abolished.  Tears, Pain, Suffering, and Death cannot exist in the new creation. Tears, pain, suffering, and death all belong to what the faithful have endured as they patiently waited for God to bring all things to His desired conclusion. We get a glimpse of this in Helen Lemmel's hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus; when we look full in His wonderful face, the things of earth grow strangely dim. Recall Romans 8:18 what we will have in the new heaven and new earth “isn’t even worth comparing to the tears, pain, suffering, and death experienced in the old order.”  What a hope we have! In the consummation of the Kingdom, the rough, intense, and catastrophic times will become dim memories that can no longer harm us.


Many years ago when I first read that God would wipe away my tears, I thought of my mom.  Do you have that experience as a young child that you fell, scrapped that knee, that elbow, bumped your head hard; and Mom came at the sound of your cries; held you in her arms; if you were really lucky kissed your boo-boo, if not so lucky, mercurochrome, still she would wipe your tears, comforting you, telling you that the worse was over and everything will be alright. I can imagine God taking all my tears from every sorrow, every injury physical, spiritual, and emotional, and doing the same. Bring it, Lord!


Verse 5, that thundering voice, remember thunder is code for you better pay attention, says, “I am making everything new.”  Don’t think that God is discarding the old as a failed experiment and starting over.  He is not making new things, He is making what He has created new. God seems to be in the habit of doing new things to bring about the restoration of His creation. In this instance, the new is not like buying a new pair of jeans to replace the old, it's more like the old pair being made brand new. 


Romans 8:18-21 (MSG)

That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.


Here in the End, it has happened. God thunders His purposes have been realized. Creation again like the Garden in Eden, humanity walking with God in the cool of the evening, and no “snakes” anywhere to be found. It is done, it is finished. Once again John distorts time with God inviting the thirsty to come drink.  Those who have bent the knee to the Lordship of Jesus have drunk and are drinking the water of life (John 7:58).  Thirst, do you thirst for the Kingdom?  Do you thirst for a closer relationship with God, to know Him more intimately, to experience His presence, to live according to His will?  Do you thirst for Kingdom values, principles of justice, love, peace, and righteousness ruling the hearts of people everywhere? Do you thirst for the transformation of all things being made new? Thirsting for the Kingdom is having an intense desire for God to consummate the Kingdom.  Bring it, Lord! Is this not one more invitation for you to come to Christ? It is.  Acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of salvation, that you are separated from God.  Believe that Jesus is the reconciler of relationships and because of His sacrifice atones for your sins and presents you to God.  Commit yourself to Jesus' disciples, learning to destroy Babylon within and learn how to live as a citizen of New Jerusalem.  Then simply ask God to give you the water of life. Friends, it’s a thirst quencher (John 4:14).


 “They defeated [the Dragon] through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their witness. They weren't in love with themselves; they were willing to die for Christ”  (Revelation 12:11 (MSG). The conquerors get to live in the new heaven and new earth in new Jerusalem this is their inheritance.


Verse 8 we get a list of behaviors that are common among the conquered. John has written out a list of vices.  Even though the list addresses concrete behaviors, they also are meant for you to look beyond the words to a more spiritual meaning. In Revelation 9:20-21 idolatry, murder, magic, sexual immorality, and theft are deeds that have a fiery end.  Here in verse 8, cowardice, faithlessness, abominations, idolatry, murder, magic, sexual immorality, and liars will meet with a bad end. Later in Chapter 22:15, the list includes idolatry, murder, magic, sexual immorality, and liars. As you know, what you do, matters.  So here again is another temporal anomaly, a warning. Such behaviors are a warning sign that you are headed for a swim in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone. Change your ways while you can.  There is no place under the new heavens, on the new earth, or in New Jerusalem for the perpetrators of such deeds. John is giving you another opportunity to choose between life and death. Choose wisely grasshopper.


John is revealing the End, or you might think of it as a new beginning, the Consummation of the Kingdom, the work Jesus started with His incarnation and concludes with His second coming.


Anything that would hinder holiness and righteousness is gone. Even the Angel of Death has no place in the new order.


There is a folk theology notion that you can dispel.  The final destiny for believers is not harps on clouds in heaven.  Believers can look forward to bodily existence in the world the way God created it to be.  That glorified body, the resurrected body, will not be subject to disease or decay.


I imagine that harmony with the Earth will be restored. There will be in the hearts of all, peace and goodwill.


Best of all, God will be with us.  Glory.


Which eternity are you running towards?  A Kingdom eternity or a Lake Fire and Brimstone eternity?  


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