Lesson 8: New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 and 22

The New Jerusalem of RevelationIf one part of prophecy is explicating God’s promises with visions of the future, John offers one of the most beautiful in all history. God himself wipes away the tears of those who have suffered with the Lamb. The Divine speaks for the first time, comforting his people with the words, “I am making all things new.” Notice the tense. It is a promise to those listening to prophecy, not a prediction of a specific future event.

His words offer comfort to those who conquer by remaining faithful to the Lamb using only God’s Word, prayer, and the sacrifice of their lives. He assures them that the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, the liars, and all others who practice violence will experience a second death. A careful reading hears extinction, not punishment and torture.

John’s main vision is the New Jerusalem, but he incorporates in it just about every other promise you can find in the Bible. For instance, he prepared us with a beatitude that promised, “Blessed are they who are invited to the marriage of the Lamb and his bride.” He now pictures the bridal procession moving from heaven to earth, the chaste bride adorned with costly jewels. No rapture here. The biblical movement is almost always from heaven to earth. God comes to us; we do not go to him.

At first, it seems mighty strange that the bride is a holy city, the New Jerusalem. Then it becomes apparent that the prophet is contrasting the bride to the great whore who represents Rome, the city of Satan. The Lamb’s bride is Jerusalem, the city of God. We have not really moved far beyond the Prophet’s political commentary. We are talking about heaven on earth as an alternative community that practices caring love for all, not oppression of the weak.

As I suggested, John’s vision of the new Jerusalem contains elements of several other biblical promises. The huge city, 1500 miles on each side, has features of the peaceable kingdom where lambs feed with wolves. It is built for beauty, not defense. Its walls are low and its gates are always open.

It is a just society where no infant lives but a few days and every old person lives out a lifetime. Everyone profits from her work. When the prophet observes that there is no sea, he means there is no need for sea trade. A river runs through the city with fruits of the month growing on both sides. Unlike normal polluted cities, this one is ecologically sustainable. There is no greed for all have enough.

The New Jerusalem also promises a beloved community that God shares with his people face to face. All broken relationships are healed with the leaves of the trees that line the river offering the water of life. All lives are illuminated by the light of the Lamb. The needs of all are satisfied as the inhabitants give of themselves for each other.

John had previously called on his readers to “Come out of her,” meaning that they should leave the satanic city of Rome, refusing to worship Caesar or participate in its violence and greed. Now the Prophet ends his letter with a call to come to the waters of baptism and enter the community of the Lamb. Worship God, not Caesar. Receive the seal of Christ, not Satan, on your forehead. Come to the Church that practices love, truth, and beauty.

In a few final verses, the Prophet repeats over and over that God’s promise will be fulfilled soon. The time is near. Christ promises, “I am coming soon!” And the prophecy ends with his people responding, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Enlightened Reply

Trackback  •  Comments RSS

  1. Kerry Walters says:

    The New Jerusalem as beloved community: such a wonderful vision, and such a wonderful series. I’ve learned so much from it. Thanks a million, Fritz!!

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top