Fifth Sunday of Easter (April 24, 2016)
Revelation 21:1-6 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.
For this week’s reading, we skip to the end of the book of Revelation. The One who is sitting on the throne declares “Look, I am making everything new!” This passage is a depiction of the new heaven and the new earth — the old is gone. What is really interesting here is that this phrase “and the sea was also gone.” In every depiction of heaven to this point in this book there has been a glassy sea. We sing about it in the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Until this point – until the new heaven and the new earth – the throne of God is separated from the rest by a sea and now the sea is gone. Perhaps the sea represents sin. We do know that there was a very large bronze basin in front of the temple called “The Sea.” In ancient times, the sea was considered the abyss – almost a door to hell. Whatever the meaning – the sea is no longer there in the new heaven – no longer are God’s people separated from God. No longer are God’s people separated from the throne room of heaven. In this final scene, those who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb are now home.
Think about what home means to you. Pam and I have often talked about our childhood homes. Being that she was a preacher’s kid, she lived in many different homes. I think the one she most identifies with being home is the house in Emmaus – just a block from the Triangle. As for myself, I go “home” every time I go to my parent’s house. They have lived there a long time – since I was five. There is something about going home – even though it may have changed. When we go to the area that we call home, much has changed in the last 25 years and yet there is a familiarity about it.
What will happen when we get to our new heavenly home? God will be with us – He will live with us – and we will be his people – forever! God will be with us forever – Imagine, finally we experience “Immanuel” (God with us) for all time and eternity. Many Bible translations head this passage off with “The New Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was where God “lived” for the Jewish people – and now we get to experience the New Jerusalem.
This will be a place where the old pain will be forgotten – He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes – there will be no more death – no more sorrow – no more crying – no more pain. Can you imagine what such a place will be like. No wonder heaven is the subject of many of the last verses of Gospel songs. It is our hope!
God is making all things new – and when He does – all will be finished – once and for all – The Alpha will become the Omega – and he will quench the thirst of all – for all time – those who are thirsty for him!