Let’s start with a quick recap of the four main steps in the Inductive Method of Bible study:
- Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
- Observe – only looking at what the text says – do not jump to any conclusions here.
- Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
- Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.
Bear these steps in mind as we get into the text.
Try getting into the method a little for yourself:
- Pray. Ask God to open greater understanding of Revelation’s message to the original readers, and the application for your life today.
- Observe. What is promised with the coming of the eternal state?
- Interpretation. Can you see any contrasts or comparisons between what is coming as given in Revelation 21-22, and what happened in Genesis 1-3?
Act VII All things New; 21:1-22:5
Where is the setting of Act VII (Rev 21:1)? . . .
The new heaven and a new earth.
In these last two chapters we get a glimpse of what is to come with Christ’s Second Advent and the calling in of our eternal state. In it we see a beautiful contrast between Genesis and Revelation. God really has made all things new! This is the conclusion of His master plan of salvation, started all the way back in Genesis 3. Man’s sin broke God’s perfect world, but He has restored it!
|1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth||21:1 New heaven and earth|
|1:5 The darkness He called night||21:25 No night there|
|1:16 God made the 2 great lights||21:23 No need of sun or moon|
|2:8 God planted a garden||21:2 The holy city|
|2:9 The tree of life||22:2 The tree of life|
|2:10 A river flows out of Eden||22:1 The river of the water of life|
|2:17 You shall die||21:4 Death will be no more|
|2:2-4 The man . . . woman||21:9 The bride, the wife of the Lamb|
|3:1 The serpent (appears)||20:10 Devil thrown into lake of fire|
|3:6 Serpent (appears) victorious||20:10 Devil defeated|
|3:6 sin enters||21:27 Nothing unclean will enter the city|
|3:8 The man and his wife hide from God||22:4 They will see His face|
|3:8 God no longer walks with man||21:3 He will dwell with them|
|3:13 Initial victory of serpent||22:3 Ultimate victory of the Lamb|
|3:16 Childbirth pangs increased||21:4 No pain|
|3:17 Ground cursed||22:3 Nothing accursed|
|3:19 Return to dust||22:5 They will reign forever|
|3:23 Sent from the garden of Eden||21:25 Gate will never be shut|
|3:24 Access to the tree of life is blocked||22:14 Access to the Tree of Life reopened|
Doesn’t that make you want to weep? God’s redemption plan completed!!!
Scene 1 – No more sea and the New Jerusalem (21:1b-2)
The sea can be seen as a place of perpetual tumult, it is also the place the beast came out from. Here, the tumult is ended. (We will look at the New Jerusalem below).
Scene 2 – No more death and God’s dwelling place with man plus the New Jerusalem (21:3-21)
Read 21:3-8. What beautiful words of hope and encouragement! This is what our souls long for and what will be ours at the second coming of our King!
Now let’s have a look at the New Jerusalem. It’s mentioned in Rev 21:2 as a Bride adorned for her husband and then expanded upon in Rev 21:9-27. Notice that there is lots and lots and lots of repetition of the number 12 as well as numbers that add up to, or multiples of, 12 (such as 4 x 3 gates and 12000 stadia, 144 cubits).
There are three main interpretations:
- Some say it is a literal city above earth -> with the nations going in and out.
- Some say it’s a symbolic city.
- Others think it is symbolic of the Bride, thus the Church/believers. Remember that 12 is symbolic of God’s people, and the 12 gates have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 foundations have names of 12 apostles of the Lamb. Also we see in the next scene that God “is the temple”, so the city could be the Bride.
Scene 3 – No temple (21:22)
There is no temple because God is the temple; there is no more need of a temple. The implication is intimacy! The temple was needed so that unclean people could draw near to a holy God; God has purified a people for Himself.
Scene 4 – No moon or sun (21:23-24)
We will get to walk by the light of the glory of God. Now we experience moments of coming into the partial glory of God, in eternity we will get to walk by the light of His glory and the Lamb of God will be our lamp. Isn’t this just an amazing chapter! Whenever you are discouraged, you only need to read Revelation 21 and 22 and be rejuvenated by the end of the matter for believers!!
Scene 5 – No night and gates never shut (21:25-26)
The gates will never be shut because gates are for protection, but there is no more need for fear! Imagine the original readers: no more need to fear anything! Live with open gates. In this life, many believers will face persecution for their faith, yet in eternity we will live with complete safety and security.
Scene 6 – Nothing unclean (21:27)
This is further encouragement for our original readers that there is nothing unclean. It should also uplift all of our spirits when we look upon the broken state of this world. A time is coming when all will be good, holy, pure and clean!
Scene 7 – Tree of Life (22:1-5)
Read Rev 22:1-5. Don’t just read it – read it out loud!
- There will be constant access to the River of Life
- There will be constant access to the Tree of Life
- The nations will be healed
- There will be nothing accursed
- The throne of God and the Lamb will be in it
- We will worship Him
- We will see His face
- We will bear His name
- God will be the light
- Saints will reign forever and ever – sharing His glory as co-heirs with Christ Jesus!
Big picture of Act VII
Let’s recap the big picture of this glorious, beautiful Act by considering how the original readers would have been encouraged.
In 21:3 we see that God dwell with them, and again in 21:22 that there will be no temple for the Lord is their temple.
In 21:6-8 we read “it is done” – there is going to be an end of their suffering; there is coming an eternity of no pain, no sorrow, no evil. God again shows that His conquering saints are in a different camp, the camp that is adopted as God’s children. What a call to endurance!!
In 22:4 we see that His servants will see His face. Not even Moses was able to see God’s face without dying! This is their heritage if they overcome. This is our inheritance if we remain faithful. We will be pure and spotless and spend an eternity looking upon the radiant, all powerful face of God Almighty that no eye can yet behold.
22:4 They are sealed in God; they have His mark on their forehead; they are sealed for salvation!
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)
And in 22:5 we see God’s servants will reign forever and ever. Now they are persecuted by their society and government. In eternity they will reign with God in righteousness!
Christ promised us tribulation in this world, but who ultimately wins?
JESUS! And His saints!
We endure now for an eternity of holiness and purity with God!
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
This is why it is so very important that we store up the treasures of His Word in our hearts. Tribulations are coming against His saints in this world, and during them we need to hold onto the promises of Scripture.
Next post we will conclude our Revelation series, looking at the “Epilogue” to this epic “Drama”.