The Temple is the Lamb - Revelation Bible Guide Day 28 - Reservoir Church
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The Temple is the Lamb – Revelation Bible Guide Day 28

March 28, 2018

Previously in Revelation

8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Day 28 – 6th Wednesday

Revelation 21:9-27

9Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 11It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. 12It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; 13on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17He also measured its wall, one hundred forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using. 18The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. 19The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass.

22I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Points of Interest

    • “one of the seven angels” – So far the angels have been pretty grim messengers, taking John – and us – on a tour through the very worst of the earth’s past, present, and future. After showing us all that we have been or could at our worst become, now the angels excitedly reveal what God is making us into.
    • “the holy city of Jerusalem” – John continues with the mixed metaphor of the bride and the city, but starts to put more focus on the new Jerusalem. I’ll quote Peterson again on this. “We enter heaven not by escaping what we don’t like, but by the sanctification of the place in which God has placed us. There is not so much as a hint of escapism in St. John’s heaven. This is not a long (eternal) weekend away from the responsibilities of employment and citizenship, but the intensification and healing of them. Heaven is formed out of dirty streets and murderous alleys, adulterous bedrooms and corrupt courts, hypocritical synagogues and commercialized churches, thieving tax-collectors and traitorous disciples: a city, but not a holy city.” (Reversed Thunder, 174) The Bible’s story begins in a garden – an otherworldly paradise; but it ends with a garden city, the perfection of our current existence.
    • “twelve tribes of the Israelites” – Everything in the city comes in sets of 12, in honor of Israel’s founding twelve tribes, and Jesus’ first twelve messengers, who were mainly his twelve closest students at first. Some of these are known to history, some barely at all, and the ones who are known are not necessarily admirable and heroic. God can work with the heroic and the tragic, the exceptional and the mundane, to make something strong and beautiful.
    • “fifteen hundred miles” – This is no ordinary-sized city. Cubes were considered a perfect shape in the first century, thus its dimensions. The Roman Empire also stretched for roughly fifteen hundred miles from West to East, so this city is approximately as large as John’s known world.
    • “each of the gates is a single pearl” – In case you were wondering where the phrase “pearly gates” came from, now you know. They are part of John’s jewel bedecked city, which isn’t meant to come off as gaudy or materialistic, but symbolic of beauty and care and elegance. Architecture is just one of the arts and vocations put to use in the perfect work of God in the new heaven and new earth.
    • “I saw no temple” – The Bible’s narrative begins without a temple, as the whole earth was fit for God to live in. It also ends without a temple. The whole cubic city itself resembles the heart of a temple, and God’s presence – again found everywhere – is throughout.
    • “the kinds of the earth will bring their glory… people will bring into it the glory … of the nations.” The best of God’s future includes the best of our past and present as well. The best of human culture and achievement will be welcome, without any of its downsides.
    • “Its gates will never be shut… there will be no night” – These are two ways of saying the same thing. Cities had gates to shut each night and in times of threat, to keep out strangers and enemies. Jesus’ renewal of all things means the removal of all that is dangerous as well. This again is why evil is excluded, to create the conditions for safety and peace and complete flourishing.

Spiritual Exercise

This week, as Easter approaches, and Revelation climaxes with its vision of a new heaven and a new earth, we’ll look to cultivate hope. What are some human achievements you most love – in food, sport, music, culture, whatever? Consider that even the best of life we know has downsides too. I think, for instance, of a Boston Cream from my favorite donut shop and know that too many of these will make me sick and eventually kill me. But now consider a future that contains all the best elements of life – the glory and honor of the nations – but cleansed of all their problems. Tell God about the holy city you hope God is preparing – or write about it, or draw a picture. Ask God to show you how God’s future for us all is even better than that.

A Direction for Prayer

Pray for some of the largest companies or industries you can think of in your city or region. Ask God to grow all that they do that is glorious and honorable and to lead people to renew and purify them of all that is false or harmful or in any way abominable.

The Bible Guide

This blog post is part of a Lenten journey through the book of Revelation. Every year during the season of Lent, we take a focused look at a portion of Scripture as part of our communal spiritual practice. This year, we are exploring what it means to be Children of God in a Fractured World, with Revelation as our lens. On Sundays, we’re exploring this with our sermons; on weekdays, we’re doing so with our bible guide. The bible guide series starts here.