In this final talk in our Revelation series, we see that the new creation will not only be like a city and a temple, but ultimately like a garden. And in this garden, we will be satisfied fully and finally with Christ, when we will see his face and never have to turn away.
As we continue journeying through this vision of the new creation, we see that it isn’t only pictured as a city, but it’s also pictured as a temple. And if you journey through the big picture of the Bible, you’ll see countless ways that this theme of temple is brought together and fulfilled in this final vision. Because temple is all about presence, and God’s presence will finally dwell fully with his people, in this heavenly city-temple.
In the opening verses of this great, final vision of Revelation, God opens our eyes to the reality of our home with him. In this home, God will make all things new, including every part of us, and we will dwell with him forever, “as a bride adorned for her husband.”
In this passage, we see that until Jesus comes again, things will continue to get both worse and better. But in spite of the challenges and ambiguities, we can know three things: Because of Jesus, we don’t have to fear evil, we don’t have to fear death, and we don’t have to fear judgement.
As we come to the final chapters of Revelation, we see a tale of two cities. The first is the city of the world, Babylon, the great prostitute, the mythical city of evil. Babylon is the symbolic city that’s existed across history, which has tempted Christians to turn away from their God. But in the view of this city, the call of Revelation is: “Come out of her, my people!”
In these chapters, we watch a dark parody of the Trinity emerging from the darkness. We see Satan, the beast and the false prophet imitating the Father, Son and Spirit in many ways, in their efforts to deceive people and to attract worship. Jesus Christ gives us these words so that we’ll be aware of the spiritual realities happening all around us, so that we won’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices, and so that, ultimately, we will trust our lives to the power of the Lamb, who has already defeated all of these powers of evil on the cross.
In the middle of all of the sevens, all of the cosmic cycles of judgement, we get this parable of hope. In the parable, there are rich and constantly shifting images, but they have a simple message: God is with his church, even in the worst of persecution. And just like the Lamb, even when God’s people look like they are being conquered for the Gospel, from heaven’s perspective, it’s God’s kingdom that’s truly conquering.
In these chapters, Revelation gives us three different camera angles on the same event, of God’s unfolding judgement between Christ’s first and second coming. And when we read these passages, we’re meant to be shaken. The confronting imagery and fearfulness is meant to lead us to God’s salvation in Christ, where these twin-themes of salvation and judgement most perfectly meet.
John takes us from his vision of Christ walking among his churches up to the throne room of God. In it, we see the reality beyond all realities: the glory of God. All creation is worshipping and giving glory to God, and to the Lamb, for he has “purchased people for God by his blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
In these chapters, the risen Christ gives messages to seven churches in Asia Minor, with encouragements, warnings, promises and blessings. But these messages weren’t only for their churches; every one of these seven messages was meant for every one of those churches, as well as every church across history, to be reminded that lampstands emit light by loving and worshipping Jesus Christ, whatever that looks like in their context of faithfulness, wealth, persecutions, and temptations.