Revelation 21 - 22
A good way to understand the Bible is not just by looking at small sections but by seeing the overarching meta-narrative. God’s plan and the plotline of the Bible stretch from Genesis to Revelation – all 66 books are woven together by a single storyline. The story of Scripture is about the glory of the Saviour. We’ve been learning to view the content of Christmas through a panoramic lens -
Creation: God Makes. At Christmas Christ came to cover our curse by dying in our place on the cross! We discovered that the opening verses of John 1 parallel the first 5 verses of Genesis 1. Adam brings death and Jesus brings life. We’re all born in Adam and need to be born again through the second Adam in order to become God’s new creation.
Hope: God Promises. Hope is longing for what God has already promised us. The theme of hope and longing in the OT is fulfilled in Christ. We’re to hold on to the rope of hope when it’s hard to cope by clinging to God’s past promises, His present provisions and to the fruit that’s coming in the future. There’s no way to have hope without having a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Covenant: God Pursues. God’s response to our rebellion was to reach out in relationship by making covenants. Covenants address the catastrophe of the Fall, and they all point to Christmas and the Cross. The coming of Christ is connected to the fulfillment of the covenants found in the Old Testament.
Incarnation: God Comes. On Christmas Eve, we learned that in a similar way that God dwelt with His people in the Tabernacle and in the Temple He now dwells with people through His only Son Jesus Christ! In Him, the glory of God has descended and He has pitched His tent to dwell among us.
Salvation: God Gives. On Christmas Day we camped in John 3: 16 and celebrated that God loves and He lavishes by giving the gift of His one and only Son, the ultimate Lamb of God, who fulfills the entire sacrificial system. We’re called to lean on Him so that we can live forever.
Our title for today is: “Consummation: God Reigns.” A simple way to look at Christmas is to see Christ who came in the cradle, who died as our substitute on the cross, and when He comes again, He’ll be wearing a crown. The word “consummation” can be defined as, “the point at which something is complete or finalized.” History is headed somewhere as everything will be finalized when Jesus Christ returns to rule and reign forever.
Do you know the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. While some of us are happy to say good riddance to 2017 and look forward to a new year, we must keep in the forefront of our minds that the next big appointment on God’s calendar is the return of Jesus Christ! And it could happen in 2018!
“In an apocalyptic age, people feel that the veil of normal, secular reality is lifting and we can see behind the scenes…” I can think of 4 categories in which we’re beginning to see the veil of secular reality lifting:
Catastrophic events and the threat of more terrorist attacks remind us that life is a vapour that’s here one moment and gone the next.
Continuing problems with North Korea and in the Middle East make many of us feel insecure.
Capitulation of doctrine. As we move closer to the return of Christ, there will be more false teachers, and a greater emphasis on other religions in our world. As a result, the doctrine of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ will be denigrated. Speaking on BBC Radio, Prince Charles last Christmas urged listeners last not to forget Muhammad on Christmas: “Normally at Christmas we think of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ… we might also remember that when the prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina he was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship. Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same…”
Our cultural climate is filled with increasing drug and alcohol addiction, the breakdown of the family, and senseless violence.
While it might seem like things are falling apart, according to God’s Word, they’re actually falling together.
I want to pull out some highlights from the closing chapters of the Book of Revelation as we close out an old year and get ready for a new one. The Book of Revelation was written to comfort persecuted Christians by focusing on the glory and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this book, the Bible would be incomplete. 4 different times we read these words, “Behold, I am coming soon!”
Have you heard about the man who bought a donkey from a pastor? The pastor told him that this donkey had been trained in a very unique way. The only way to make the donkey go was to say, “Hallelujah!” and the only way to make the donkey stop was to say, “Amen!” The man was pleased with his purchase and immediately got on the animal to try out the pastor’s instructions.
“Hallelujah!” shouted the man. The donkey began to trot. “Amen!” shouted the man. The donkey stopped immediately. “This is great,” said the man. With a “Hallelujah!” he rode off, very proud of his new purchase.
The man traveled for a long time through some hills and soon he was heading towards a cliff. He could not remember the word to make the donkey stop so he tried different commands: “Stop!” said the man. “Halt!” he cried. The donkey just kept going. “Bible...Church...Please stop!” shouted the man. The donkey just began to trot faster and was getting closer and closer to the edge of the cliff.
Finally, in desperation, the man said a prayer, “Please, dear Lord. Please make this donkey stop before I go off this cliff; in Jesus’ name, Amen.” The donkey came to an abrupt stop just one step from the edge of the cliff. “Hallelujah!” shouted the man.
In Revelation 19, all of heaven breaks out into praise. The word “Hallelujah,” which means, “Praise the Lord,” is found only here in the New Testament, and it’s used 4 times in this chapter.
Things are coming to a close, the consummation of all things is at hand as the Lord
Jesus Christ prepares to rule and reign!
Revelation 19: 6, 7, 11, 12 - The King of Christmas will judge in perfect justice. Jesus will make all the wrongs right. He is the faithful and true witness who will judge all nations, and all people.
He is more than just the sweet baby sleeping on the hay – v. 15, 16.
Revelation 21: 1 – 6
I wrote down 10 connect points between this book and the OT, showing how the Bible is one, unified narrative beginning with creation and ending with consummation.
1. Genesis describe how God created the heavens and the earth. Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…”
2. Adam and Eve are married in Genesis - Revelation 19:7 “For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.”
3. Genesis 3 ends with the Tree of Life being guarded by the cherubim with a flaming sword so that Adam could not go near it - Revelation 22:2 - the leaves of the Tree of Life are “for the healing of the nations.”
4. In Genesis there’s a river flowing out of Eden - Revelation 22:1 there’s a “river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
5. In Genesis we read that God walked in the Garden of Eden - Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’”
6. As a result of Adam’s sin God pronounced a curse in Genesis - Revelation 22:3 this curse is reversed: “No longer will there be anything accursed.”
7. Genesis tells us that death, separation and suffering entered the world through sin - Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
8. In the OT the Temple of God was the focal point of worship - where God’s glory was on display. In Jesus, God tabernacles with us. Revelation 21:22 “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.”
9. In Genesis God provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice for Isaac. In the Passover, it was the blood of a lamb that caused the angel of death to “passover” the people. John the Baptist declares “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” The title “Lamb” is the most frequent title for Jesus, used 28 different times! Revelation 4:12: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
10. The glory of God is the theme of the entire Bible. Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other.” Revelation 21:23 “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
Part of our problem is that we get so distracted that we don’t think enough about the coming of Christ as King. We know He’s coming but we don’t know when. While many of us are filled with expectation, some of us are distracted by other things, and some of us have just fallen asleep. I pray that God will shake us out of our spiritual slumber since the coming of Christ will be sudden and unexpected. We must prepare for a delay, but be ready today.
As I was reading the last chapter of the Bible this week, it hit me that our “4 G’s” are found in this passage. Let’s walk through them as action steps New for the Year.
1. Grow in the Word Check out the words of Jesus in Revelation 22: 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” The emphasis is on obedience. We’re to hear and heed what God says. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating – it’s impossible to grow if we’re not getting into God’s Word.
2. Gather to Worship Can I encourage you to step it up in the New Year? If you’re out of the habit of gathering each week, get back into the habit. Make it a priority, an anchor in your life. Revelation 22: 8, 9 “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’” The main reason we gather together is to worship God. He deserves it, doesn’t He?
3. Give What You’ve been Given Jesus is coming soon and will repay what we’ve done with what we’ve been given - Revelation 22: 12, 13 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Can I encourage you to up your giving in 2018? If you’re not serving, find a place to serve. If your giving is not at the level you long for it to be, up it this year. A tithe, or 10%, is a good place to start.
4. Go With the Gospel I love the gracious invitation – Revelation 22: 17 “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” The Bride is the church. The one who hears is you and me. We’re to invite people to come to Christ, the only one who can quench spiritual thirst. The water of life is free for the taking. Let’s recommit to evangelism this year, stepping up our game.
Are you ready to meet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords today? The Babe in Bethlehem became the Christ of the Cross, who is both King and Judge.
Are you ready today? Do you know Christ? Have you received Him into your life? If you have, are you living for Him or for yourself?
Don’t leave Christ in the cradle, only to think about Him again next Christmas. Someday, you’re going to meet the Conquering Christ of Christmas as your Judge – and the only way you’ll be able to face Him is if you’ve received the water of life.
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”