July 31: Revelation 21:9-27
Now, for Revelation 21—to get an idea of what’s going on here at the end of the Bible, flip back to the beginning. Genesis 1 paints the picture of a God-King who is creating for himself a Kingdom. It’s filled with his image-bearing children who extend his dominion and dynasty globally. Genesis 2 is the story of a covenantal God who makes a temple where his priest and priestess can dwell in his midst, working and keeping it until it expands globally. Put together, God, from the very beginning, was creating for himself a temple-kingdom where his royal priesthood would be fruitful and multiply and eventually the whole earth would reflect his glory and be filled with his image-bearers.
Revelation 21:9-27 reminds us that God’s plan has never been revised, never once strayed from its course, and that, through Jesus, God’s intentions from the very beginning will be accomplished. In the end, followers of Jesus will be that intended kingdom of priests who will dwell in God’s presence forever. This is the ultimate good news of the gospel. Of course, this is not to the neglect of the many other things we look forward to about Jesus’ eternal kingdom. Yes, wrong will be made right, justice and mercy will come, and creation will be made whole. But at the end of it all, the greatest best news of the gospel is this: we get God. His glory, his light, his love, and his presence will be ours, and we will be his.
Curiously, the physical description of the new Jerusalem, the city of God, takes up quite a bit of space in this passage, and it’s easy to get lost in verses 11-21 with all the measurements and names of precious stones you’ve never heard of (like what the heck is chrysoprase?). But remember, this is Revelation, and every physical description has some further significance to be explored. That’s not to say that it has mystical truth embedded in it—don’t think that a necklace made from all these different stones will turn you into a cherubim or something.
As we’ve seen throughout our Revelation study, and as we’ll touch on at the close of our discussion, all of this future promise has something to say about our lives now. The invitation to doubters and seekers and the hope of followers is this: God offers to us his precious kingdom and, even more precious, his very self for all eternity in Jesus. This has the power to move us from citizens of darkness to Citizens of the Kingdom. This has the power to sustain us as we endure persecution. This has the power to unseat the very forces of darkness. Jesus is Lord and he is ours.
• What’s one big thing you’ve gotten out of our summer studying the book of Revelation?
• Could someone read Revelation 21:9-27 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• How is this future city of God described?
• What about this city sounds good or beautiful to you?
• Verse 3 told us that God will dwell with his people—how does this passage help us understand what that might be like?
• What do you think this passage has to say about how we live now?