For two months we have been studying basic Christian doctrine as summarized in The Apostles’ Creed. It closes with “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting”—a statement which not only brings us to the end of the Creed but also to the end of the Bible (Revelation 21:1-6 and 22:1-5). There we learn about the end of time, the hope that they needed and received—and how we can receive and benefit from that same hope. But we won’t understand what it means for us until we first understand what it meant for them. This is a basic principle of biblical interpretation.
 The hope they needed. Throughout January and February 2019 we did a series on the Book of Revelation; you may want to listen to it in order to understand the persecution, poverty, temptations and heresies they were facing. During difficult times, hope is needed! And even though this hope is located in the future, if it is sufficiently transcendent it enables us to handle present difficulties. A few years back a young in man in our church experienced the kind of difficulty that none of us wants to face: traumatic brain injury. His wife remembered her marriage vows, committed to loving and caring for her husband no matter what, and leans on Philippians 4:19 to make it through this trial. She has a transcendent hope—a new resurrection body awaits! Whether in biblical times or today, when Christians handle difficulty with confident hope we gain tremendous cultural credibility. Non-Christians wonder, “How are these people able to handle this kind of difficulty and suffering? What is their secret?” Just wondering…What difficulties are you facing today—and what is your hope?
 The hope they received. The book of Revelation, as “apocalyptic literature”, uses vivid images and symbols to communicate the richness and multidimensionality of the hope that awaits us. But remember this: the reality of heaven is greater than the symbols! So, what symbolic imagery does the Bible use?
- The New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2-4). Adam and Eve walked with God in a beautiful garden; we will walk with him in a glorious city! God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. There will be no more pain, death, or mourning. This magnificent city is described as a cube, constructed of pure gold, 1,500 miles on each side. Its foundations are precious stones; its streets, transparent! Most importantly, God himself is its temple (21:22). There will be no atheists, false teachers or spiritual confusion in this city! No religious wars, no divided loyalties. The triune God will be the focus and center of our lives. Everything will revolve around him, as it should. Can you imagine living in such a place? There will be no riots, no racism, no poverty.
- A river of the Water of Life (22:1) flows from God’s throne—just as was prophesied 2,500 years ago (Ezekiel 47:1-3; Zechariah 14:8). Jesus will guide all who thirst to these springs of the water of life (Revelation 7:17; 21:6). What was lost in the Garden of Eden will be restored in the New Jerusalem! These life-giving, health-restoring waters undo the damage that occurred in Genesis 3.
- The Tree of Life (22:2-3 cf. Genesis 3:22). In the New Jerusalem, the tree from which Adam and Even were banned will be freely available to all who live there. Its leaves are for the “healing of the nations.” In this perfect environment, everyone will have unhindered access to the triune God!
- No night (22:5 cf. 21:23–27). We currently live in a dangerous, dark world. A world of sin and temptation, of deception and persecution, of greed, pride and arrogance. There will be none of that in the New Jerusalem. There will be no darkness, physically, spiritually or interpersonally. We will walk by the light of God’s presence. It is a city of abundance— there will be no rolling blackouts, no famines, no deprivation of any kind. In this city there will be both relational peace and moral purity. Justice and righteousness will prevail. It will be very, very different from the world in which we live.
- Service to God and reigning with him forever (22:3, 5). God, the ultimate King, has delegated sovereignty to his son, Jesus Christ, who in turn gladly shares his dominion with the us—his redeemed siblings—as co-heirs of the Father’s throne! Jesus served and reigns, and since we will join him in this role, let’s start practicing now! Look for opportunities in your family, neighborhood, and workplace to lead by taking on the role of a servant.
The world Revelation describes certainly is not the one we’re living in now—but it’s coming! Will you be there? It belongs to all who are rightly related to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), bearing the complete guilt of our sin on the cross (21:6 cf. John 19:30). While the New Jerusalem is a free gift to us, procuring it wasn’t cheap; it cost Jesus his life. Are you thirsty for all that God offers? Do you long to live in this New Jerusalem? If so…
“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 wishes take the water of life—without cost!”
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- If you have not yet accepted God’s invitation to life in the New Jerusalem, RSVP today! Do this by trusting Christ alone for salvation. Do not delay.
- For those who have accepted God’s invitation to eternal life, allow the certain hope of heaven to strengthen you through life’s trials and temptations. When times get tough, say along with the Spirit and the Bride, “Come!”
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)