This week we come to the conclusion of our time walking through Scripture using Unfolding Grace as a guide. It has been a broad sweep through redemptive history, and here we conclude. Yet this conclusion to the story is just the beginning. It is the beginning of the New Heavens and the New Earth. It is the beginning of our full experience with Jesus in glory. Again, from Unfolding Grace:
“God made and blessed us. But we walked away. Nevertheless, He is now bringing us back again. When sin entered the world, God began unfolding His eternal plan of grace. He would send a true and better Adam to defeat evil, reconcile people to Himself and one another, and renew all things.”
Wednesday, October 20th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Revelation 19-22
Focused Passage for Reflection - Revelation 21:9-27
Reflecting on the Text:
A couple of years ago we took a trip out to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. On one of the most beautiful days in my memory, we drove up the winding road to the Alpine trails. It seemed that every turn presented a scene more beautiful than the last. It was a glorious day and capturing it all in one picture was just impossible. Yet we tried, so when I go back in my memory to that day I flip through the photos. And I smile.
These last few chapters of Revelation also attempt to capture the image of glory. The problem is, every turn seems to present a scene more beautiful than the last. Picking just one seems to miss much, so I want to encourage you to read all of these chapters. Here, we’ll focus on Rev. 21:9-27.
In these verses (and in the whole book), the apostle John is relating to us the vision given him by the Lord. An angel carried him away in the Spirit to a great high mountain where he showed John “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And this picture of the bride is the holy city…the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.
Close your eyes and gaze upon this city. She is magnificent! Everything about this city shouts the glory of God. Her perfection in appearance and proportion, her beauty in material construction and thoughtful design, her glory and sheer magnitude all come together to form an image that takes our breath away. But how is the city the bride?
The bride is the body of Christ, the redeemed people of God. The bride is the Church. A city is a physical, tangible place with structures and spaces. But a city is also a community of people. So we inhabit the city, and yet, we are the city.
But as you gaze upon the beauty of this city, don’t miss the most glorious part. It is not the rare jewels that adorn her walls. The most glorious aspect of this city is that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb dwell here…among the people of God. This is what glory is all about. This is how the story of redemption ends…or rather how it begins!
What does this image do for your heart? Over the past year, we’ve read through a large portion of the Scriptures. We’ve traced the storyline of redemption. As you look back across that journey, remember the darkest moments. Remember the darkest moments of your life. This picture of glory tells us that those dark moments don’t last. They don’t have the final say! This is the final say: The glory God, tangibly present among His people, free of all impurity, for all eternity. And it is all of grace!
We rightly spend time focused on the realities of this life, present, and past. Let us not forget to look forward to glory. And with that picture fixed in our hearts, let us smile!
Questions for personal reflection:
How does this picture of glory encourage you in midst of the daily struggle?
Will you commit to meditating more on the New Heavens and the New Earth?