The Glory of God

Rev. 21:22-21:27

When thinking about heaven, what is most appealing? most desirable? Freedom from illness? frustration? sin? Reunion with loved ones? Escape from all that makes this life difficult? Opportunity to ask Paul or Moses or some other hero that burning question? All that is true, awaiting those who die in the Lord. Not the primary focus of closing portion of Revelation. Much greater emphasis on God, relationship with his people, the glory of God that fills every part of new heaven and earth.

Fundadmental difference between life in this age and next: difference between symbol and reality. Life now filled with symbols – words and pictures and objects that take place of something real. Symbols are helpful and useful… but only to a point. Picture/symbol of food on package useful so we know what is inside but… does not satisfy hunger! Same is true in spiritual realm – things we can see and touch are copies and shadows of heavenly things. We take on faith that heavenly things exist, are real even though as yet unseen. Waters of baptism, bread and wine of Lord’s Table, the Cross just a few of vitally important symbols – communicate real truth, nourish our faith, help us grasp spiritual concepts otherwise obscure.

What gives symbols value and significance – the reality they point to. What John is talking about in final two chapters – that future time and place where heavenly realities will be accessible to us. Will be able to see / hear / touch things we must take by faith now. Not a leap in the dark into the unknown – have God’s revelation to us in his Word the Bible, confirmed and made understandable by his indwelling Spirit. God is there, he has spoken and still speaks, revealing to us glorious future that awaits all those who are his.

One further note: John in all his writing, Revelation especially, keeps bringing focus back to Lord Jesus. Here, one right after another, three strong declarations of deity of Christ as the Lamb:

Lord God Almighty and the Lamb its temple” (22), “glory of God illuminated it, the Lamb its light” (23), “throne of God and the Lamb” (22:3)

Lamb is object of worship, reserved for God alone; Lamb is (not has on/with him) the glory / radiance of God; Lamb is King ruling and being worshiped, “sharing” authority with God

Four points John makes for us from his vision of new universe: no separation between sacred and secular; no darkness, no idleness, no impurity there.

A. no separation between “sacred” and “secular” (22, 25a)

this age

Eden – distinct from surroundings Gen. 3:23-24

Garden, first Paradise, not primarily a farm; rather a place of worship, indeed the first Holy of Holies where God met with man

yet even there at beginning God’s presence not obvious throughout – Adam/Eve hid from God; later, banished from Garden… and kept out

tabernacle – curtains, veil, restrictions

whenever Israelites made camp, set up curtains around worship space – physical and visible separation that grew more restrictive moving toward Holy of Holies

temple – same deal

in both: Ex. 40:35Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because …the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle”

2Chr 7:2the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the Lord’s house.

places, things and people set apart for sacred use

outside worship space, the secular or common; inside, sacred – what was devoted to worship / service to God

next age

everything pictured in the “copies” present in reality

“holy places made with hands …are copies of the true” (Heb. 9:24) – symbols of true realiity God’s people will experience

God will be our light, our life, our sustenance, continually; communication with God will be instantaneous

no longer any reason for people to be kept at distance

everything that put up barriers completely removed – no more corruption of any kind anywhere to be offensive to God

no reason for God to be at distance (cf. Moses, Ex. 33:20)

“we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) – will be able to see God truly… and without harm

all of life in all of world “coram Deo”

visibly, audibly present in fullness everywhere and at all times – now God sees all, we don’t; then will know his continual presence

no temple does not mean no worship

Rev. 4:8-11 living creatures gathered around God’s throne continually w/o interruption give glory and honor… worship… to God

wherever God is, the Lamb is… will be worship – in the city, that is, with the redeemed wherever they are, filling the earth

all of life a continual act of worship – doing all to glory of God immediately present, in continual fellowship with God

B. no darkness1 John 1:5; Ps. 121:4 (23,25b)

darkness throughout Bible often represents all that is opposed to God

sin – “the wicked shall be cut off in darkness” (1 Sam. 2:9); those “who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness” (Prov. 2:13)

judgment – “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 25:30)

everything/everyone associated with darkness already consigned to lake of fire

unholy trinity and company – dragon, beast, false prophet “tormented day and night forever and ever” – no hope of escape, ever (Rev. 20:10)

death and grave – apart from power of God, are inescapable; same also true for second death, lake of fire

all those not in Lamb’s Book of Life – those who “walked in darkness because their deeds were evil” continue in darkness forever

God is eternally unchanging, so also the light of his glory – James 1:17

he is Father of lights, “there is no variation or shadow of turning” – in new universe, will be nothing that holds it back either

Jesus’ prayer answered: John 17:5, and more – prayed that “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”

glory will extend to all who “walk in its light” – is part of what John meant when said “we shall be like him” – will share in his glory

no need for sun or moon – may still be present to mark seasons, days, years (Gen. 1:14)

seems basic constituents of original creation will be present in new universe but with better qualities – made perfect to stay perfect… forever

C. no idlenessIsa. 60:3-9 (24,26)

were made to serve God with hands as well as lips

why God said we are to love him with all our “strength” – what we produce by our physical efforts intended to bring glory to God

nations, kings of the earth, glory and honor of nations – clearly will be structure and order to life in new universe

if were counting on eternal vacation – soaking up sun, relaxing while angels make meals & do laundry, think again!

not only equipped to serve, will have unending desire to serve God – to be busy producing all manner of things to offer to God, and for benefit of others

parable of talents, Matt. 25:14ff, Jesus makes connection with how his servants use resources in this life and reward in next

will have un-cursed earth to manage

just because uncorrupted does not mean can tend itself – first earth couldn’t – makes sense because God is only self-existent Being: everything apart from God dependent in some way

apparently essential to God’s nature that he create and sustain – if not, nothing would exist apart from God

image-bearers reflect that creativity – why in first universe man told to make earth productive, fill and subdue it

will not be burdensome or laborious – Rom. 8:21

creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” – new created order no longer resisting man’s efforts to manage it

labor instead will bring great reward, pleasure, satisfaction – just as God satisfied with creative efforts, same true for saints

D. no impurity (27)

pure church

no remaining sin – made perfectly holy – no longer need for any barriers: what John heard being sung in Rev. 5:10 the reality

“you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” – perfectly suited for service in God’s immediate presence

no unredeemed sinners – strong declaration that those who make up holy city need not fear ever being contaminated by sin

no death – is place of life, eternal life… no possibility of separation from one another or from God, ever

no danger from either inside or outside the city

gates don’t need to be closed – no one will ever want to leave, none who are not authorized will ever try to enter

really no inside/outside – city/saints/Bride, glory of God fills the earth – like a city displays splendor of its construction, so glorified Church will display splendor of her Maker throughout the earth

Is glory of God that makes new universe so beautiful and desirable – the Lamb who is its temple, the Lamb who is its light, the Lord Jesus himself.

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