This devotion is for Easter Sunday, the day when Christians around the globe celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is also the final day of our 90-day reading journey. Hopefully, you have gained new insight into the story arc of redemptive history. As we close our devotional series, we will look at the last words of the Bible.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
The closing words of Scripture are essentially a prayer. A prayer for Jesus to return. In his first advent (birth and life) he lived a righteous life and died the death that we deserve. Those who are united to him by faith participate in his death and resurrection. The resurrection power of the Spirit is at work in us now.
But we still live in a fallen world. The effects of sin and corruption darken God’s good created world. The worldly power of human rebellion continues to cause pain and suffering. The remaining power of sin casts a shadow across our own heart and twists our desires. So, we long for Jesus to return. We long for his second advent (2nd coming), in which he will defeat the enemies of sin, Satan, and death and make all things new. We are living in the story of God’s redemption. WE… are in the midst of redemptive history. On the other side of creation, the fall, and redemption, we are looking forward to full restoration when Jesus returns.
In this present life, there are good gifts that we receive from God and joy can be found in our spiritual journey. But life is often quite hard. We have been given a glimpse of the future glory of the New Heavens and the New Earth which shows only an outline of what that will be like. While we don’t know the details, and see only the broad outline of what that future restoration will be like, we know enough to look forward to that day. The rest of the Bible repeatedly urges us to direct our attention to this future victory. We are not people defined by our past, or the present struggles. Instead, we are people who are defined by a redemptive future that is ours in Christ.
The more we face disappointment in our present life, the more we learn to look forward to the hope of eternal life. This is not escapism. This is basic Christianity. “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Connect and Reflect: Peter urges us to set our minds on the future hope of the return of Christ. He calls the second coming of Christ “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” He is not referring to the book of Revelation, but to the concept found in the closing chapters of that book. At the end of time, Jesus will return. We are meant to look forward to that day with urgency. Though we don’t know when, we know that this is always just over the horizon. Jesus is coming soon. Set your hope fully on this grace.
I Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
[Note: an early version of the outline had a mistake that indicates the last verse is “25”, this should read 22:5 as the end of the reading for today.]
Throughout our sermon series on the story of scripture, we have often used the words “Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration” to summarize the story arc. The final word “restoration” refers to the way that God restores things through Jesus, but it finds its focus in the closing chapters of Revelation. In these two closing chapters we will get a glimpse of eternity after the final judgment, after evil is purged, and after death itself is destroyed. It is only a glimpse, but the hope of this future restoration in completion is a major Biblical theme.
In these closing chapters of the entire bible, the threads of redemption are brought together in a compelling picture of restoration. Let’s look at some of the ways that this is done as we reflect back on our journey through the history of the Bible.
I hope that you can see from these examples (and there are many more), the way in which the story of the entire Bible finds its completion in Revelation 21-22. The point of these images is not for us to try to form a picture in our heads of a literal city of the dimensions listed (it would be absurdly structured), or to try to determine if gold is really a good material for the surface of a road (sounds slippery.) Rather, the point of these prophetic images is to convey a sense of the grandeur and to show the links to the rest of the Bible.
Finally, we need to point out that the images are all linked to physical things. If we use the term “heaven” to refer to the spiritual rest our souls have in Christ after our death (see Rev. 6:9), we should recognize that heaven is not the end goal. The story arc of the Bible turns our attention to the return of Christ, the resurrection of the body and the physical reality of our perfected world in the “New Heavens and the New Earth.” Our glorious future is a physical reality, not just a spiritual one. The entirety of God's good creation, including humanity will be restored in the renewed earth. In summary, we see that God will “make all things new.”
Reflect and Connect: Christian burial is designed to celebrate the hope of the resurrection. The reason that we bury bodies is that this symbolizes the certainty that the body will be raised and renewed. The words of committal traditionally read at the graveside celebrate this future victory over death. How do these words shape your perspective on each day?
I Cor. 15:51-52 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.