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.” [revelation 21:1-4]
i probably don’t have to write any more than that–this passage is so rich with imagery! john, like paul is caught up with a vision of the “third heaven” and what he sees is limited by our feeble minds and the limitations of language, however, he gives us so much to meditate on:
a deep longing for a better place, magnifying God’s strength and our (and the world’s) weakness-taken as a whole, the book of revelation, and even just this passage stirs a longing in our hearts. we know that the world is broken, and our own lives are full of pain. knowing that a better place with a better king, Christ, awaits us gives us hope.
the church is his bride-Christ is-even right now, preparing a bride for her husband, himself. he is purifying her, sanctifying her, washing her in the word and loving her to the uttermost. oh! that we might love the bride of Christ! oh! that we might love brothers and sisters despite their brokenness and walk with them on the narrow road!
we will see God and dwell with him eternally-we so often forget that “in [his] presence there is fullness of joy”! when we see him with unveiled faces we will be overwhelmed by the weight of his joy and glory!
he will end the brokenness-a line from one of my favorite movies, ‘the princess bride’ the protagonist (disguised as an antagonist) says this line: “life is pain, highness, anyone who says differently is selling something.” the reason why this sticks with you is that it rings of truth–in the here and now, the line is certainly true. you don’t have to live that long before you understand that life is riddled with famine, broken relationships, cancer, miscarriages, tornadoes, and death–this list goes on and on. it is easy to be discouraged by the brokenness of the world, but our hope is in Christ–he will end the suffering, this sinful world will pass away.
we don’t have to have a special revelation, or be caught up in the third heaven to be in his presence, to meditate on or hope in these truths, and it is actually probably a blessing that we don’t receive these types of visions, because in our broken state, we might be tempted to boast in ourselves if we did. in God’s mercy and grace, we do have the infinitely valuable word of God, this Word which allows us to see him, to know him and to experience fellowship with him, often sits collecting dust on our bedside table. don’t feel shame though, Christ calls out to you “come to me! i will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry!”
for a people shall dwell in zion, in jerusalem; you shall weep no more. he will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. as soon as he hears it, he answers you. [isaiah 30:19]
open the Word and be in his presence. know him, cry out to him. as soon as he hears it, he answers you. what an awesome and gracious God!