1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 Then he said to me, “All is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will freely give water from the life-giving spring. 7 Those who emerge victorious will inherit these things. I will be their God, and they will be my sons and daughters.
22 I didn’t see a temple in the city, because its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. 23 The city doesn’t need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Its gates will never be shut by day, and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 27 Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is vile and deceitful, but only those who are registered in the Lamb’s scroll of life.
22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, shining like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb 2 through the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life, which produces twelve crops of fruit, bearing its fruit each month. The tree’s leaves are for the healing of the nations. 3 There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 Night will be no more. They won’t need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine on them, and they will rule forever and always.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to bear witness to all of you about these things for the churches. I’m the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star. 17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who is thirsty come! Let the one who wishes receive life-giving water as a gift.”
Revelation ended with a glowing, symbol-laden description of the glory that awaits God’s people when God makes our world new. This expanded on Jesus’ teaching that, for God’s people, the end of the world is about redemption, not fear (see Luke 21:25-28). Scholar Catherine Cory, like others, noted that “John isn’t being transported to an otherworldly place; rather, he’s experiencing a new transformed heaven and earth (see Isaiah 65:17-19).”* We need to beware of “getting lost in the weeds” of giant jewels and objects more precious than our minds can imagine. The vision used those objects as symbols to make the point that the greatest reward is that “God’s dwelling is here with humankind…. God himself will be with them as their God” (21:3).
King Jesus, if I wasn’t thirsty for your glorious eternal kingdom before, this crisis has left me yearning for the world you will make new. I open my heart and ask you to help me start living now in the light of your divine presence with me. Amen.
* Catherine A. Cory, study note on Revelation 21:1 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 523NT.
In both of these Scripture passages, we find descriptions of symbols that describe the glory that we will one day receive as God's people because we have hope. Today hope looks like a world without COVID-19. That would be pretty cool, right? These past few months have brought about a constant state of disorientation. We are sitting at home waiting for times to get better. These passages remind us that there is hope and things will be better.
This year, I was a high school senior. The day I was supposed to graduate has passed. In school, I was involved in 2 different choirs, band, theater, French National Honors Society, and Tri-M (the music honor society). Not including significant events like prom and graduation, I have missed eight concerts and two induction ceremonies because of the stay-at-home order. I was supposed to be going to Europe with my school on the first of June.
With everything that has been canceled, I have been feeling a lot of despair. My college hadn't announced if it was going to still be on campus in the fall, and I felt hopeless. It was all disorienting. On top of COVID, I had just gone through a breakup and the death of a much-loved teacher.
Right now, I find hope is the fall semester. Hope looks like my college campus, my dorm room, and my roommate, Alyssa. Hope is the promise of something new; it is the excitement that I will get to study what I love.
This year and COVID-19 is not the end of the world for me. The hopelessness and chaos that surrounds me is not the end, and I know that. The fact that I am going to go to school in the fall to have my college experience will redeem the past few months.
Today's Scripture reminds me of the hopeful feelings I still have. Revelation reminds me that I will be receiving something far better and that my current circumstance is not the end.
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