Sunday, July 12, 2015

REVELATION 21: 5-8 “THESE WORDS ARE TRUSTWORTHY AND TRUE!“

In this last section  of the Revelation  to John  we have moved   past the realities of  our present existence, past the  sin  which causes such a devastation on earth, past Satan and his unholy trinity who  are the root cause of  all the unhappiness in the world . We are now   into the realm  of God’s  new creation.  Last week  we considered  the first four verses of Chapter 21, in which we  saw:
(i)                 The vision of the new heavens and the new earth (v.1)
(ii)               The New Jerusalem – the bride of Christ – the church ( v.2)
(iii)             An  assurance of God ‘s  eternal  and comforting presence  with his people (vv. 3&4) 

Much of this section  (i.e. vv. 3-4)  and the section which we shall now  consider  is characterized by direct speech from the living God Himself.  In vv. 5-8  we find Him making the following statements:(i)                 He will make all things new (v.5a)
(ii)               He commands  John to write these trustworthy  and true  words down  (v.5b)
(iii)             He explains  who shall and who shall not inherit these new things (vv. 6b-8)

1.      ALL THINGS NEW ! “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (V.5a)

Our  passage  begins  with an announcement from the throne :  "Behold, I am making all things new." (v.5), and then in v. 6 this is presented as an accomplished fact :  "It is done"! This  obviously refers  to  what  John  saw in the first  two verses of Chapter 21  when  he saw the  revelation of the new heaven and the new earth, and when he saw the new Jerusalem , the bride of Christ , the church  meeting her bridegroom. 
God assures John  here  that there shall be a new earth and a new   heaven. God’s people (symbolically known as the new Jerusalem- the bride of Christ)  shall have new bodies   and the life of God's people in that  new dispensation  will be a new life altogether.   It is very difficult to  comprehend  this or to  express  all  this in earthly  language.  We see this even in the way in which John  struggles  to express  himself. His  visions of the things to come  are couched in symbolic language.  This new  creation  is indescribable  and uncontainable in human  language.   But this one thing we  do know! We are made for  greater things . We are made for God. We are made for worship. We are made for righteousness and not for evil , and so we long for that world where  all this will be true! 

2.      WRITE THIS DOWN ! “Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”[1]

A  new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem… really ?  John  and ourselves   need to be reminded that this vision from Jesus  is no fairy tale…  “John , remind these people that these words are trustworthy and true”!  God knows  that these  things  may sound outlandish  to us . He knows  that the realities  of  heaven are so  far removed from our  present reality as we live in a fallen world , which  many of us,  unfortunately,  have come to love more  than the promises of God  concerning this new heaven , this new earth. “John , write this down!”   We have to be reminded  that  there is an  ultimate reality  so  vastly grander and  infinitely better  than that which we currently experience.
Who says  so, and  on what authority? Credentials and credibility   are  important, because  the secret   question in many a heart is this:  How do I know that this is true  and  not simply   a fairy tale?  As if God anticipates this question, He says to John:  “Write this down! These words are trustworthy and true!  

Consider Him who says these things: 
(i)                 He who is seated on the throne (v.5) [2]. Nothing is  higher or  more trustworthy than this throne. 
(ii)               He is   the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end." [3] (v.6)  He is it! The Alpha is connected with the Omega -  the one must inevitably lead to the other, and whatever lies between the Alpha and the Omega  exists because  of  Him. He is the One  who controls all things in such a way that His  design is fulfilled and that  His goal is reached. And the end goal  is reached  by the "revelation of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 1:1). He is the true and faithful Word of God (John Ch. 1). It is He that came of supernatural birth in the flesh. It is He that confirmed over and over again , in word and deed  that He was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world . ( Jn 1:29) . When  He died on the cross  of Calvary,   He cried,  “It is finished “ ! That is the work of salvation by which  every true believer is made secure,   and heaven is waiting for them. Notice  then now that  God also says here to John : “It is done !”  (v.6a)   What is done?  Well,  the end for  which Jesus came was to usher in the kingdom of God. He died , and  that work was finished.  But the end had not yet come , because God in His mercy  still had many sheep  to be born, and when the last of His sheep is  gathered in  to the fold , the end has come !  That time  is  now announced here. “It is done!”. This is the end  of the world as we know it . This is the beginning of the new heavens and the new earth. This is the beginning of the  new people of God  in a new  world  free from evil  and full of love!
And now as we speak,  the whole world is divided into two kinds of people : those who  accept  this truthful testimony  of this  God and those who reject  His words. 
To these  the Sovereign Lord  now has these following words to say :

3.      THE GREAT DIVISION ! (vv. 6b-8) 

a.      To the thirsty I will give from the spring (fountain)  of the water of life without payment. This is  a promise to  all  that  are ‘thirsty’ after  this God (the fountain of the water of life)  now!  Jesus  said in His beatitudes : “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness , for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)  Those who thirst  for righteousness now  in this world, shall be completely fulfilled when all things are made new.  Just as water  is an essential   substance to sustain physical life, so  the soul  needs this  living water to be sustained.  As we have said, this  spring  of living water   comes   from  the Tri-une God Himself.  God the Father  comes  to us  through our Lord Jesus Christ,  who in Himself is also  that  fountain, as He  said in Jn. 7:37,  “If anyone thirsts , let him come to me and drink. Whoever  believes in me, as the Scriptures  has said[4], ‘out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ “ This  Lord Jesus, the Son of God Who took on  the form of a man  and  Who dwelt among us as a  man [5],  Who  showed us who  God the Father is , and Who spoke  the gospel by which countless people have been set  free  from  their sin and guilt;  this Jesus who died for our sins on the cross, this Jesus  who was raised the third day for our justification;  this Jesus   who  ascended to heaven and Who was exalted there, also gave us the promise of the Holy Spirit.[6] And so, the Holy Spirit was poured out  at  Pentecost. He is the Spirit of life, the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge and revelation, the Spirit of holiness and of sanctification.  He not only constituted the true church of God on the day of Pentecost, but to this day  He is with,  and in  every true believer. He too  then   is the source, the fountain, the spring  from which this living water  flows constantly out of God, through Christ, into the church. [7] 
In short : The Triune God  is  our fountain  of life and blessing now,  in the midst of  this  difficult pilgrimage from the city of destruction to the heavenly city, where the love of God  will flow to us  as an unhindered stream  into our  lives. Here in our heavenly city  we shall be deeply satisfied in the presence of our Tri-une God.

The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.(v.7) Not only will we be deeply satisfied from the  spring of living water, but we  also  learn that  God's people shall inherit all things. The fact that they  inherit points to the fact that they are considered to be  family members  of the eternal  God.  The phrase, “I will be his God and he will be my son...”  further strengthens  this conviction. 
"All things"!  Again, this  is hard to image. Here on earth God's children are anything but heirs of  the world. In the history of  Christianity, more often than not , Christians have been deprived of   things in this world. Yet,  in  the new world they shall inherit all things!  

b.     But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.” (v.8)  Here is the great division . There is a category of people described here who shall not inherit all these things, in the new heavens and the new earth. But they do inherit something  too terrible to  mention:  the lake of fire.  
Please note how these people  are described :
·         cowardly( Gr. deilia - timid or fearful)  very likely refers  to  nominal Christians in the church, who loved this world too much  and who never clearly stood  with Christ. When  pressure  and trials come  they become cowardly  and  unfaithful to Christ and  His church.
·         faithless (Gr. apistoi)  are unbelievers who openly reject God and the gospel.  
·         detestable (Gr. bdeluktos- abominable, associated with idolatry ) 
·         murderers,  sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, liars…
These will not inherit  the kingdom of God ( cf. Paul to the Galatians  5:21) , but that  does not mean that they are  therefore neutral or ignored by God . NO! The wrath of God will come upon them and they will  end up in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death. The first death is the physical death  that everyone must die in this life.  The second death  is associated with that terrible lake of fire , and it is not annihilation that is spoken of here, but  the everlasting experience of the wrath of God without end. These words are faithful and true! God says  : “There is no peace for the wicked” (Isa. 48:22)

The Bible is very clear  on this division among mankind. For this reason the gospel has been given. Day and night through every generation before and  since  Christ had come to offer God’s terms of peace,   gospel  messengers  have  pleaded with  people  to leave this Sodom and Gomorrah, this Babylon , and to flee into the ark of  God’s refuge which is in Christ the Lord.  These words are trustworthy and true.   Which side you are on ?
"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” ( Hebr 3:7,15; 4:7).  Listen to the voice of your Great Shepherd  who has come  to lead you away from this city, destined for destruction to the heavenly city .  Amen!



[1] See also Rev. 22:6
[2] See also Rev. 4:2,3
[3] See also  Rev. 1:8
[4] Isa.  55:1
[5] John 1:14
[6] John 14 & 16
[7] Isa 44:3 ; John 7:37-39 

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