Summary: Dealing with temptation & other tips for keeping those pesky New Year’s Resolutions in Christ...
Title: The End
Text: Rev 21.1-8
Today, of course, is a special day. Tonight, many of us will stay up late, focused on our TVs, counting down those last few seconds until Dick Clark descends from Times Square. Then we’ll sing an auld song about something called a ‘syne’ and just start humming the tune and hoping someone else knows the words. Then, we’ll turn off the TV and get to the real work of New Years, coming up with excuses and loopholes to the those impetuous resolutions we probably wish we hadn’t made in the first place. Have I got it about right?
New Year’s, of course, is a completely arbitrary holiday. It doesn’t commemorate anything of any particular importance. It’s just a good excuse for a party. But that’s ok. Our God has long compared what he wants to do to a party. In the text we just read, the entire climax of everything that 66 books of the bible have just led up to, we’ve seen that our God is looking forward to giving us one big blowout. It’s a marriage feast! And we’re not just an invited guest – we’re the stated purpose of the event.
He is going to come to us, marry us, and change us.
That’s about as basic as it gets here. But I want to spend a little bit of time this morning understanding the implications of that – because unlike New Year’s, this is not an arbitrary thing. This is heaven minus the harps and clouds and fluffy pretensions. This is central to who we are and why we celebrate everything we do in life. Very simply, as this passage is going to show us, our God is going to come to us, he will marry us, and he will change us.
In order to see that, you need to understand something about our God. He has a purpose, and he’s preparing us for that. Did you notice that phrase – his bride has been prepared. He has a plan. He is ordered about this thing. Times and seasons culminate in this.
You might be tempted to think its like clockwork – but its way more sure than that. Everything around us changes. Nothing ever stays same.
You’d think something like a calendar would be constant. But as one of those calendar nerds, I can tell you that even calendars change.
There’s a famous grave marker I saw that talks about a baby born in May, 1683 and died in – get this – February of that same year. And yet, its completely logical when you realize that until the 1700s, the year started in March.
Or, you can imagine yourself one of those lucky people back in 1582. They went to bed on September 2nd, and they woke up on September 14th. It’s totally true. Pope Gregory – ala the Gregorian calendar – he just up and decided to not have those days, in order to try to bring the calendar back into line.
Up until 153 BC, we didn’t even have a calendar that lasted the whole year long. Some time in March, they’d decide it was about time to start up a new year, and they’d make it so. There was no such thing as a January or February, believe it or not. They just started in March and that was that. If you don’t believe me, just ask yourself this question. Why is that the ninth month of the year starts with a prefix that means ‘Seven?’
When the Romans finally decided to have those months, they realized that he changing of one year into the next called for a time of transition. And so, they called upon one of their gods, ‘Janus’ to lend his name to that month. If you’ve ever seen that figure of a two-headed guy with faces looking into two directions at once, you’ve seen a picture of Janus. And, before you ask, no he was not the patron saint of politicians.
Janus was the supposed god of doorways. He looked back to the old and forward to the new, just like we do on New Year’s.
Interestingly enough, he was also a god of war. His temple was famous for its doors, as you might imagine, but there was an odd custom regarding those doors. In times of peace, the doors were closed, but in times of war, they were open. The hope was that he might arbitrarily choose to intervene.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I for one am glad that I have a God who is a lot better than Janus. My God is faithful. He always does what he says. Not “if he feels like it,” or at whim, but rather because of who he is.