Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:1-6)
When we hear or read about events in Revelation, what comes to mind? Usually it’s Left Behind or some apocalyptic scenario starring Kirk Cameron.
But let me suggest something different. Do me a favor and read that passage over.
It’s pretty startling isn’t it? It caught my eye because it is painting something new. A different story is being described to us. Something that is so new that I don’t quite know what to make of it.
Don’t get scared by the different imagery found in Revelation though. Revelation simply means an unveiling. It’s a revealing of what once was hidden to several First Century Church, placing world events into a new light. It’s like, while my wife and I knew that we had a child on the way, we chose to reveal what once was hidden to the world to our families and friends. We chose to reveal a hidden reality to others and it helped inform their frame of reference
Here in the final portion of the Bible, we are given a glimpse into the future. Here in the Revelation that was given to John, we are shown what it looks like when God moves into the neighborhood. That the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, will come down and establish its roots on this new earth. God’s dwelling place was made among the people.
We already had a glimpse of God moving into the neighborhood, when Jesus walked in ancient Palestine. While that was temporary and only lasted for a few decades, this time it is permanent. This time is when God pays cash for the house on the corner and invites the neighborhood over for a barbecue.
Did you catch what happens when God moves into the neighborhood? Check out the passage one more time and sit with it for awhile. We are given the image that God himself (!) will wipe away every tear from their eyes. God himself will look gently into their eyes, and will use the hands that formed the universe to comfort his people.
This is who God is. He’s not some philosophical construct, some wise Buddha or cosmic butler. No, he is deeply personal. The one who will wipe away our tears and call us his children, this same one will also declare that he has made all things new– including our broken lives.
This same God who started the story back a gazillion years in the past will complete it. The same Lord who declared “it is finished” on the cross will say “It is done” when the new Jerusalem is established. This is God’s character, this is what he is like. He will wipe away your tears, and he will make all broken things new. That is God’s eternal character.
How do you see God’s character?