Friday, May 27, 2016

The Child Will Soon Be Born, The Marriage Feast Begun

We all love the new, the fresh, the unspoiled, the perfect. What great possibilities stand before us when we have that which is new. So says John as he now shares the vision given to him.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And 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 from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." - Rev 21:1-8 ESV
Jesus is called the Alpha and the Omega in the very beginning of John's book:
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." - Rev 1:8 ESV
The Greek John uses for "end" is telos. In this instance it does not mean the close or termination of all things. Quite the opposite. It refers to the end to which all creation relates, the aim, the purpose. All begins with Christ and all finds its fulfillment, purpose, meaning in Him. The Apostle put it this way:
For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. - Rom 14:9 ESV
So the new heaven and new earth is described as the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the city whose origins is from God. This is a marriage and the bride is adorned for her husband. Forever and forever God is with His bride. All that is broken, confused, twisted and filled with pain, suffering and sorrow will be gone. All things are to be made new, fresh, clean, filled with potential and possibilities! In Christ the new has finally come and what shall be is beyond our imagining.

Referencing the ancient prophet Isaiah (Isa.64:4), Paul writes,
But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- - 1Co 2:9 ESV
 I have no experience, nor do you, of a world without murder, hate, lies, deception, betrayal, idolatry. What would it be like? We have no basis, no experience of such a world. How is it possible? How can there be a world without sickness, suffering, sorrow and death? It is beyond us. And yet that is what John's vision gives to us.

And Jesus proclaims this trustworthy and true word: IT IS DONE! This is the Word proclaimed from the cross and recorded only in John's Gospel: "When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. - Jhn 19:30 ESV That word in the Greek is the noun telos used as a verb: tetelestai. Not only is the great work finished, but all things now find their purpose, their meaning, their Alpha and their Omega in the cross of Christ. All sin is now wiped away, forgiven, forgotten. All men are set free from death forever. All things begin anew now.

The Apostle struggles to find the words to describe what this means also for all that God has created as he writes,
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. - Rom 8:19-23 ESV
So we humbly wait and patiently endure the pain of the present, knowing that these are but the pains of childbirth. Soon, soon, soon!

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