Revelation 21:1-6 (3 March 2022)

Ask anybody and they will tell you that humans are the most intelligent animals.

It’s humans who ask why, how, when and other such questions.  Usually, though, they can’t seem to agree on the answers.

They ask questions like, how did the universe come about? When did it happen? How will it end?  But why did it happen? That’s a hard one.  It’s probably best not to look for agreement on why the universe is here. 

What is the meaning of life?

Another hard question is what will happen next? We don’t know what lies ahead in this life so it’s difficult to imagine what it will be like when it ends.

There seems to be a widespread belief among scientists that the universe started with one big bang 13 billion years ago.  The entire universe of matter, space and time was all in a singularity which expanded into what we have now following an incredible chain of chance events to become what we see around us now.

But in how many years will the sun explode into a giant red star and consume the earth?  Or will the entire universe one day be sucked into a black hole?

You can ask what was there before the big bang and be told that that’s an ignorant question.  The entire universe began in that singularity.  All of matter, all of space, all of time was included in it.  When it exploded time began.  There was no matter, time or space before the big bang.

Now, that might be quite right; perhaps there was no matter, time or space before the big bang. 

But there was God.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… and God said, ‘Let there be…’ and it was. God created mankind in his own image, blessed them and said, rule over it.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Jesus the Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

You only have to walk through Bellingen, to look at the beauty of the valley, to consider the amazing balance of air, water, clouds and be in awe of the power of storms and it is so easy to agree that since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

But so many people decide they don’t want to ask questions like, where did that singularity come from? What was there before the Big Bang? Don’t think back further - you might end up knowing that there is a greater creator beyond the universe, beyond the singularity.  

And if you do and come to the realisation that God was there first, brought it all about and keeps it going, then you might find you are responsible to God, to his rule, to his morals, to his right to rule your life.  And then you might realise you are a rebel against God’s right to rule.  In other words, don’t think beyond the scientific theories because that migt lead to the conclusion that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.

But while the first book in the Bible challenges and convicts us to acknowledge and submit to God the last book of the Bible challenges us even more.

While we are trying to work out how we think the universe will end, the book called Revelation tells us the answer in the most dramatic way.

In trying to tell the future, how the universe will end, there has to be a lot of conjecture, but I have to admit that the Revelation in the Bible is no less difficult to get the hang of because it is so picturesque, so dramatic.

But, at the same time, there are some things which are inescapably clear.

One day, on a day God the creator has decided, the universe will end in cataclysmic destruction, leading to judgement, separation and despair for those who never made their peace with God, for those who never submitted to him, for those who rejected the salvation offered by Jesus.

The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:10-11)

There will be the release and then the total destruction of evil and the release and salvation of the faithful.

But there is also such wonderful, constructive, promising news.

Revelation 21:1-6

Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

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 water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 

Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.’

Every time we do as the Lord Jesus taught us and pray the Lord’s prayer we ask our heavenly Father that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Then we do what we can to bring that about.  We do what we can to help those around us see that following Jesus’ teaching means that we would lead our lives in a way that is like that in heaven.

We do what we can to bring about justice, mercy, peace and, above all, love on the earth so that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

It takes consistency, perseverance and especially, faith, to keep going at this because mostly it doesn’t seem that we are making much progress but persevere we must.

Why doesn’t God come and clean up the mess the world seems to be in?  Well, as we have seen, that is just what he will do on that day of his choosing.

In the meantime he waits giving more of us the chance to repent and commit to following Jesus as Lord.

At that time of judgement and cleansing the universe will be destroyed.  I suppose that destruction is foretold by the scientists, too, even if they don’t take into account the judgement that will follow.  Nor do they foretell that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth will pass away.

We tend not to dwell much on the end of the earth but there are extraordinary, picturesque and amazing passages in the Bible which predict it. This passage from Revelation is largely a quote from Isaiah’s prophecy and you can find wonderful images and details in old testament prophets such as Daniel and Ezekiel.  Jesus told us to expect it.  Paul, Peter and other writers urge us to be ready at all times for the unannounced return of Jesus along with the end of the universe.

The book called Revelation, of course, is all about this event and its consequences. Some of it is so hard to imagine that I don’t try to imagine it. It’s simpler to wait for it to happen and see how it goes.

There is the final release of all that is evil then to be confronted with the wrath of God and its dismissal into the eternal abyss with the complete destruction of all the creation that the Creator himself at one time made.

But there is also the resurrection of the dead to the joy of hearing their names read by Jesus from the book of life and their entry into the joyous praises of the faithful saints as they enter into the real presence and wonder of the Lord himself.

Then, because the old heaven and earth had passed away there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Something beautiful follows as the holy city of God, the new Jerusalem, the home of God and of Jesus will come down out of heaven, out from God.

Now we will see that our prayers have been answered. The earth we live on will be done away with but there will be  new earth as perfect as the first one was when created and as it should have been all along.  It will be without the faults of the old one, without the corruption of its cities, without the rebellion of mankind, without sin.  Instead it will have a new city for the new earth — the city of God. Now God’s will will truly be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This new city will be totally glorious, totally perfect, totally heavenly coming with all the beauty of a bride adorned for her husband.

Then, at last, the home of God will be among mortals in complete relationship.  God himself will be live with them and they with him in complete harmony.

There will be no more sadness, no more loss, no more grief and God will wipe every tear from our eyes.

There will be no more separation, no more pain, no more crying, no more mourning because there will be no more death but only eternal life.

The life we have been living will have passed away. If we had died then that death will have been done away with as we live the resurrected life.

Listen to what Jesus says: “See, I am making all things new.”

And there is a finality to all this.  “It is done!” As he died on the cross Jesus said, “it is finished”.  Here in Revelation he tells us again, “it is finished.  It is done. We have reached the end.”  Jesus’ death and resurrection set in place the way of salvation for us, established his right to rule at the right hand of Father God and his kingship over everything at the end of time.

When this time comes we will hear him say again, “it is finished”. The old earth and heaven is finished.  Now we have the new one.

It is just as it should be when all is in the hands of the Alpha and the Omega, under the rule of Jesus who is the beginning and the end, the reason, the purpose, the fulfilment.  There is no one else!

All of time and space has been changed and drawn into this new heaven and earth, into the full reign and presence of Jesus.

There will be great comfort and peace.  To the thirsty he will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

Those who are victorious will inherit all this and he will be their God and they will be his children.

This is all exciting and wonderful news for you and me and it would be nice to leave it at that but it wouldn’t be balanced if we didn’t acknowledge that the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.

Please note that I didn’t make that bit up.  In sharing it with you it’s not my intention to threaten or frighten anyone into being converted.  I am no fire and brimstone preacher. But these are words from Jesus sent to us as a revelation through the apostle John and the message is plain and simple. To read this passage in Revelation and not pass on the message would be to misrepresent Jesus and to cheat you from hearing the whole story, the truth.

The warnings are so severe for those who do not know Jesus as Lord in this life that the book of Revelation reads like fire and brimstone.  It is far from a series of pleasantries.

Repent and turn to Jesus as your Saviour and Lord before it’s too late because there is a time when it will be too late.

Jesus himself says, “ ‘Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:12-14) 

And we say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21)

1411 Modified: 10-10-2022
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