Summary: Now the Lord was doing a new thing


Revelation 21:1-6

We can imagine John in Patmos, only too aware of the sea which separated him from his congregation in Ephesus. “Sea” had come to represent not only primeval chaos (Genesis 1:1-2), but also all that is wrong in this now fallen world (Psalm 74:13-14). (Pictures are brought to my mind of uncharted waters in medieval charts: ‘Beyond here there be dragons!’) As ransomed, redeemed, renewed Israel well knew, only the true and living God can overcome the sea (Isaiah 51:10; Isaiah 51:15).

1. Now the Lord was doing a new thing. A new heaven and a new earth came into John’s view, in which there would be “no more sea” (Revelation 21:1), no more pain of separation.

2. “John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God” (Revelation 21:2). Old Jerusalem had once been compared with Sodom (Isaiah 1:9-10). New Jerusalem is identified as the “holy” city. Unlike Nineveh or Tyre, Babylon or Rome, this city is not built by human endeavour. Instead, new Jerusalem descends out of heaven from God.

Just as the LORD God presented Adam with Eve (Genesis 2:22), so now new Jerusalem is seen “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). This is the moment anticipated in Revelation 19:7, and in turn anticipates Revelation 21:9-10.

3. “God dwelling amongst His peoples” (plural) (Revelation 21:3). New Jerusalem is where God is, so in this descent GOD comes to set His tabernacle with us (Leviticus 26:11-12). There are echoes of the incarnation, when the Word came and “dwelt amongst us” - literally ‘set His tabernacle’ in our midst (John 1:14).

One name of the city is: “The LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Another motif is: “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee” (Zephaniah 3:17).

4. The introduction of “new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2), pictured as the presentation of a bride, heralded a new dawn when God would wipe away all tears (Revelation 21:4): death would at last be vanquished, mourning would cease, crying and pain would be no more (Isaiah 65:17-19).

It was ‘out with the old’ (for the former things have passed away) and ‘in with the new’ (for He that sits upon the throne is making all things new) (Revelation 21:4-5).

5. The trustworthiness and truthfulness of the Word (Revelation 21:5-6) - see also Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:10. The authentication of the Word comes from the “I am” - who is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” “It is done…” (Revelation 21:6) echoes Creation (Genesis 2:1), and the Cross (John 19:30).

6. “The fountain of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6), which has hitherto been seen ‘issuing’ out from under the house of God (Ezekiel 47:1), now ‘proceeds’ out of the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1)

Jesus promised the woman at the well “living water” (John 4:10; John 4:14). Jesus also said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). This is an offer open to “whosoever will” (Revelation 22:17).

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