Summary: Ninth in a ten part series in Revelation, this sermon features a view of the new heavens and the new earth. The new Jerusalem is examined carefully as it is made of materials that reflect and clarify God’s beautiful light.
An Apocalypse for the Church
A Tale of Two Cities, Part 2: Jerusalem
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”1a for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,b and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City,c the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,d prepared as a bridee beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.f They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.g 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.h There will be no more death’2i or mourning or crying or pain,j for the old order of things has passed away.”k
Throughout this Revelation of Jesus Christ, this apocalypse penned by the pastor/prophet John for the seven churches in Asia Minor under his care, we have experienced this undeniable theme of connecting our realities with the realities of Heaven.
Back in chapter 4, the Revelator was confronted with a door, and “in the Spirit” was welcomed into Heaven, to see things as Heaven sees things, to view time from the perspective of timelessness. Most of the pages of the apocalypse are written from that Heavenly perspective.
Now in Chapter 21, in the final pages of the apocalypse, our reality is overwhelmed with the reality of Heaven.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”1a for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,b and there was no longer any sea.
You can see that we titled this sermon: A Tale of Two Cities – Part 2: Jerusalem. Last week was Part 1: Babylon. These are not merely the tale of two cities, but are just as much a tale of two women: the great prostitute who stands in opposition mocking God, and the Bride of Christ eagerly waiting for God’s rule. It is a tale of two kingdoms: the kingdom of evil, and the kingdom of God.
Before the “new heaven and new earth” could be ushered in, the old was destroyed. The polite language here in the beginning of Chapter 21 (for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away) is preceded by more vivid and violent imagery in the Chapters 19 and 20.
Babylon, the whore-city focused on evil, was put to an end with violence.
Salvationc and glory and powerd belong to our God,
2 for true and just are his judgments.e
He has condemned the great prostitutef
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”g
3And again they shouted:
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”i
The “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” with His Word as His only weapon, put an end to evil.
11I saw heaven standing opena and there before me was a white horse, whose riderb is called Faithful and True.c With justice he judges and makes war.d 12His eyes are like blazing fire,e and on his head are many crowns.f He has a name written on himg that no one knows but he himself.h 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood,i and his name is the Word of God.j 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen,k whitel and clean. 15Coming out of his mouth is a sharp swordm with which to strike downn the nations.
This is the end, an end in which both kingdoms are prominent. The kingdom of evil is vanquished by the Kingdom of God. The people of God, those purchased by the Blood of the Lamb, this very bride of Christ, are invited to both wedding and war. In this scene there are vibrant images of two suppers: the marriage supper of the Lamb, and a super of wild birds who gorge themselves, picking over the carcasses of the defeated.
The Gospel in these chapters, the good news that should cause us all to take heart, now and throughout the ages, is that evil is totally defeated. In these chapters every scheme, system, and spirit of evil is judged and contained to destruction forever.
Now with evil gone, we go to 21:2
I saw the Holy City,c the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,d prepared as a bridee beautifully dressed for her husband.
With the whore-city destroyed, the bride-city enters the scene.
We may be so use to this language of a new city, a new Jerusalem, that we gloss right over it. We are familiar with these words of Scripture, and other romantic words describing God’s city. We’ve heard songs and such so that we’re used to the idea.