Published August 8, 2013
John 14:1-4; Rev. 21:1-22:21
Bible Studies for Life, Aug. 25
This lesson completes the storyline of the Bible. We will see in this lesson that God accomplishes exactly what He set out to do. Our Bible sections reveal God’s plan and place.
The plan - John 14:1-3
These verses are unparalleled in their warmth, promise, and force. The setting of these verses is Thursday night before Jesus’ death. He seeks to comfort and strengthen His disciples because of His imminent death and the resulting chaos that would follow.
Notice the warmth of the phrase, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” Jesus assures his disciples that their belief and trust in Him will calm their agitated hearts. They did not understand the storm they were entering, but they could be assured of peace and promise from Jesus.
The promise is obvious. Jesus promises the disciples that He would go and prepare a place in heaven for them and that He would return for them and “take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” What a precious promise for the follower of Jesus. Our Lord will come back himself and take us home to heaven!
The force of Jesus’ statement provides two applications for the believer. First, we must live in anticipation of the second coming of Jesus! Believers must live with a sense of urgency knowing that our Lord could return any moment. Matthew 24 tells us our Lord will return as a thief in the night!
Second, believers do not fear death. The Bible speaks of people who grieve with no hope. I distinctly remember as a young preacher at my first church, a small country church in Eutawville, SC.
I was asked to do a funeral for someone who was not a member of the church. The adult son and daughter, who were not believers, had lost their mother. As I stood up to speak, the daughter starting crying. Her crying soon turned to moaning and sobbing. She then began wailing. I finally sat down because I could not be heard over her.
I believe Christians experience deep grief and pain over the temporary separation between them and their loved ones. I have probably participated in over 250 funerals in my 23 years of pastoring. While Christians grieve, I have witnessed the strength and peace that a follower of Jesus has knowing that the separation is only temporary. Death is not a dead-end road but a detour on to eternal life for the Christian.
The place - Revelation 21:1-4; 22: 1-5
God’s original intent was that Adam and Eve would live under His righteous rule, obeying Him and declaring His glory to the nations. They committed treason and rebelled against Him. God then began a plan to call unto Himself a people who would be His joyful subjects and declare His glory to the nations.
God’s plan culminated in the coming of the person of Jesus Christ. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, fallen man is restored to his Creator. God’s plan is that man and woman will live with God as was originally intended.
Revelation 21:1-4 and 22:1-5 describe a surreal scene. In chapters 21 and 22 allusions to the Old Testament abound. Most of John’s imagery in chapter 21 comes from Isaiah 60 and 65 and Ezekiel 40-48.
“John weaves the New Jerusalem vision of Isaiah together with the new temple vision of Ezekiel. The multiple OT promises converging in John’s mind seem to indicate that he viewed the New Jerusalem as the fulfillment of all these strands of prophecy. There are also allusions to Genesis 1-3 – the absence of death and suffering, the dwelling of God with men as in Eden, the tree of life, the removal of the curse, etc. Creation is restored to its pristine character” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary on Revelation, pp. 591-592).
In the beginning God created the heavens and earth “very good.” The earth was to be man and woman’s permanent home. Sin and death entered the world and changed the earth into a place of rebellion and alienation. After the fall, God began the process of working in salvation history to bring about a total reversal of the evil consequences from man’s sin in the garden.
This resulted in not just the redemption of God’s fallen image-bearers but the liberation of earth and heaven from bondage to sin and corruption.
Romans 8:19-23 is intensely relevant, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of children until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (ESV).
The first heaven and earth refer to the present world that is tainted by sin, suffering, and death. The promise of Revelation is that it will be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth that will not only be filled with God’s redeemed people, but itself will be liberated.
The story has come full circle. God has accomplished His purpose. He has called unto Himself a people who will live under His righteous rule, be His joyful subjects, and declare His glory. Glory be to God!
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