Commentary on Revelation 21:1-6; 22:1-5
Week 5 (Sept. 5, 2021)
Preaching text: Revelation 21:1-6 and 22:1-5; accompanying text: John 16:20-22
God was introduced as the Creator in Revelations 4 and God’s final great act consists of new creation. The defeat of the forces of evil does not bring about the annihilation of the earth. Rather, it leads to God saying “I make all things new” (21:5). God’s future includes the resurrection of the dead but does not stop there. When death is vanquished creation itself is made new.
God’s future is pictured as a city with a garden at its center. The human world and natural world are reconciled here. The tree of life stands within the city with its gates of pearl. These pearly gates are not guarded by Saint Peter as in the popular imagination. Rather the gates stand open all the time in order to invite people into the presence of God. Here the rivers that give life flow, the tree of life has leaves to heal the nations, and the radiant presence of God illumines the city. This is the future that beckons people everywhere. Those who are gripped by such a vision in turn ask how such scenes of life might shape a way of life now. To live in anticipation of New Jerusalem is to embrace its way of life and to bear witness to the purposes of God, whose work as the author of creation and new creation is ultimately life.