The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses
God creates all things as “very good”.
Sin and death enter as the curse of the rebellion, and everything is broken.
God promises he will crush the rebellion and the Serpent who started it with a Savior.
Then all through Scripture God gives us anticipatory glimpses of the Savior and his redemptive work all through Scripture.
Finally, Jesus, the eternal Son of God comes at the appointed time to enter time and space, reveal the Father’s righteousness, pay the penalty for sin, rise, restate his mission, then ascend to the Father’s right hand to general the movement of his church in establishing his kingdom until representatives from all nations have come into his kingdom.
Where we find ourselves now is establishing the kingdom through the preaching of the gospel, and unless we are living life with blinders on, the curse smacks us in the noggin and reminds us we are in a fight.
The good news is that Jesus has promised all that brokenness and ugliness will be done away with and glory will be finally and fully established one day.
What do we see? What does it mean?
NOTE: Revelation is apocalyptic in genre and therefore interpreted differently than a letter, or a historical narrative.
Illustration: Imagine the task of having to explain electricity and its modern conveniences to a tribe in Papua New Guinea who have never seen anyone outside of their tribe for 3,000 years. That’ is what is happening in apocalyptic writing.
A New Creation for God’s New People (Ephesians 5:25-27 not new as in was not his and now are his, but new in that they have been fully transformed from the curse)
V. 1 A newly created order with no curse, sin and evil “sea was no more”.
The reference to the “sea” is a usual metaphor in apocalyptic literature to the unruly source of evil and disruption and upheaval.
V. 2, 9-21 The new Jerusalem, the holy city, the people of God, the church fully transformed and made practically righteous in Christ.
- This is the church made perfect!
The holy city (Is. 52:1; Mat. 4:5), the people of God, is of heavenly origin. It comes down from God, that is to say, the church is not a voluntary organization created by human beings but a fellowship initiated and given by God (Mt. 16:18).
The new people of God are contrasted with the nation of chapter 17 that is referred to as a prostitute. God’s people are beautiful and preserved. The prostitute is grotesquely judged.
- God’s glory will be our radiance…we will perfectly image forth God. v. 9-11
- Thick wall (216 feet thick)…we will be well protected. v. 12, 17
- 12 gates with the names of the tribes…no one will be missing. All of God’s elect will have been saved. v. 12
- 12 foundations with the names of the apostles…we will be a well-constructed people. v. 14
- 1,380 miles long…wide…high (Rome to El Paso, TX is 1,390 miles) laid out in the shape of a cube like the inner sanctuary of the temple…we will be many and we will be in God’s presence. v. 15-16
- The walls are built of precious stones, and the foundations are covered with jewels of many kinds…we will be beautiful. v. 18-20
- The streets made of gold are so pure that they are transparent…we will be holy. v. 21
V. 3, 22 God himself will be present with his people and nothing will compete for his glory.
- There is no need for a temple anymore because God will be present in person.
1 John 3:2 (ESV) “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
V. 4 God himself will minister to his people by removing the old and cursed order.
“Eternal blessedness is couched in negation because the new and glorious order is more easily pictured in terms of what it replaces than by an attempt to describe what is largely inconceivable in our present state.”
V. 5-7 God’s makes all things new.
Isaiah 65:17 (ESV) For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
- “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega”…There is no uncertainty in God’s plan and its execution. The front and end of all things has determined the middle.
- The thirsty may come and drink…thirst often is used in Scripture to depict the desire of the soul for God.
- Because it is done, God is the perfect Father to his people.
V. 8, 27 God will execute justice on all those who are known by their sin not by Jesus’ righteousness.
V. 23 Nothing will compete for God’s glory therefore there is no need for created order to have to testify to the glory of God for those who refuse to see it.
Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’”
Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
- There will be no more need for defending God’s existence and character anymore with the discipline of apologetics.
V. 24-26 The earth and God’s new people will be perfectly productive in it and bring it as offering to the Lord.
“…Jesus has promised, he who is “faithful with a few things” he “will put … in charge of many things” (Matt 25:21). Every expression of the eternal state is one of intense activity minus the problems of illness and weariness, which due to sin prevents full accomplishment and enjoyment of work. In the eternal state there will apparently be endless learning and extensive assignments. The probable interpretation is that those of responsibility throughout the cosmos bring all of the glory of the expanse of the new heavens and the new earth into the glorious city.”
How do we obey?
Take courage, Jesus will fully extinguish the curse and make all things new and right soon.
Since there is no outstanding prophetic word to be fulfilled, the end of this order is as soon as the last person to believe in the last corner of the earth, and that could be at the very door.
This is why Jesus urged his followers to stay ready. He was to fulfill it all, and the wrap up can occur at any moment. This is hopeful news.
Since God’s restoration of all things is public (heaven really physical, really present, really public) then our engagement to hurry its establishment through disciple making (Matthew 24:14) must be public. Disciple making is a public square issue.
- Paul in Acts 17 at Athens.
- September 9, 2017 Unity Campus
Since God is restoring all things, and we are ambassadors of his work, then we are to meaningfully and obediently and passionately engage our domains.
- Read “Originals: How non-conformists move the world” – Adam Grant
Get a head start on Revelation 21 by doing Revelation 4-5 now. Worship!
 Robert Mounce, Revelation, ed. Gordon Fee, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), p. 382.
 Ibid., p. 384.