This is beautiful, yet temporary hope in this broken world.
This is eternal hope for a world made new.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
The is what I call ‘the messy shelf’. It’s a space on my bookshelf reserved for all the books I’m currently reading.
The Jesus Story Book Bible usually finds its way here. Today I used it to at our local pre-school to tell the story of Zacchaeus and his life changing friendship with Jesus.
The next book along is John Stott’s Through the Bible Through the Year. It’s a great devotional book that takes you through the Bible in a year, with a Bible reading and a daily reflection each day. I’m almost at the end and I’ve loved reading it. I thought that sharing part of today’s reflection on Revelation 4:1-6 would be a perfect return to blogging after a rather long absence.
It is immensely significant that, when John peeped through the open door, the very first thing he saw was a throne, symbol of the sovereignty, majesty and kingly rule of God.
We seize on the assurances of the Revelation that one day there will be no more hunger or thirst; no more pain or tears; no more sin, death, or curse, for all these things will have passed away. It would be better and more biblical, however, to focus not so much on these absences as on the cause of their absence, namely on the central dominating presence of God’s throne.
I’ve been pondering this for the last few weeks. The problem with forgiveness is it’s hard. When we’re hurt, the precious and sought after ‘I’m sorry’ rarely satisfies. It never changes what happened. It certainly is no magic fix to relationships. So even when we’ve heard the words, we must choose to put aside our hurt if we are to forgive. As much as we’d like them to, no-one can take the hurt away. We absorb it ourselves. True forgiveness means giving up the desire for vindication (or revenge).
But what about when forgiveness seem impossible? Like when a man walks into a school and shoots 26 people. How does anyone forgive him? Even if an apology helped, it’s not possible. Not even the strictest of guns laws will restore the life that was lost. No mental health care improvements will ease the pain for those who grieve. How do we begin to even contemplate forgiveness in this situation?
As Christians we remember that we have been shown overwhelming forgiveness. That our own sin, which is just as evil as this man’s, has been dealt with on the cross. We remember that true justice is not ours to enact, but God’s. A day will come when he will judge in perfect righteousness. And we cling to the promise that Jesus will return and the world will be as it should.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:1-4
And we pray come, Lord Jesus!