Reading for Monday, Dec 10: Revelation 21
We reach the glorious conclusion of John’s series of visions in chapters 21&22. John sees a new heaven and a new earth — cosmic renewal on display. Notice the emphasis on “new heaven and new earth”. The popular Christian conception of heaven today is filled with clouds, harps, halos, and disembodied souls floating around in some sort of nether-space spirit realm that bears little resemblance to our current world. But John envisions a renewed earth with a new city, complete with streets and trees and a river of water cutting through the middle (ch22). These images should not be pressed too sharply, but they also serve as possible allusions to a world that bears much more semblance to our current world than we might expect. What these images call to mind is a world made-over, renewed by a God whose cosmic scope is broad enough to encapsulate even creation itself.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” (Rom. 8:19, 22).
John sees the culmination of all things, that which all creation has been longing for — the day when God acts to make all things new (21:5).
God promises His presence to His people, a presence that illuminates the holy city for all time (v23). God also promises a realm free of pain and death, for He will wipe every tear from the eyes of the faithful (v4). I don’t know exactly how this will play out, but I picture standing before God, perhaps even crawling into His lap as His child. And in this moment of supreme security, we are given the opportunity to voice our pain — the deep hurts that have burdened us for so long; the scars that we still carry on our hearts because of the challenges we face in the flesh. And in this cosmic moment, God weeps with us, for His nature is to weep with those who weep, just as He commands us (Rom. 12:15). And when we’re finished, God reaches down with those hands of His — the same hands that fashioned Adam from the dirt way back in the Garden (Gen. 2) — and He touches our cheek, eternally wiping away our tears and the pain that produce them.
And we will revel and rejoice in His presence and comfort forever more.