Chewing on Revelation 21 this morning and the first thought that strikes me is, “This is Eden regained.”
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.”
(Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)
The former things have passed away . . . and the first things have been restored. God dwelling with man. God Himself with them and they with God.
But the garden is no longer a garden. Eden has been upgraded to a city. A huge city. A holy city. A city “coming down out of heaven from God.” A city “having the glory of God” (21:11) which, as I was reminded in yesterday’s sermon, is God Himself.
A city whose atmosphere is God Himself. A city without a temple, as He will be in their midst in all places at all times — His glory enveloping the city. A city without need of a sun or moon as its forever source of light will be the ever-present glory of God (21:22-23).
And the essence of the city will be manifest as a result of those who inhabit the city — this city is “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb” (21:9).
The Bride of the Lamb. That’s the other thing that captures my attention this morning. I am always in awe at the reminder that Jesus is the Lamb forever.
That in the eternal state we will know Him as the Son of God and the Son of Man makes sense. That we would behold Him in all His majestic power as the King of kings and Lord of Lords is expected. But that we will also forever recognize Jesus as the Lamb, the One slain on Calvary’s cross? My first reaction is that it seems somehow out of place in a celestial city where tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain have passed away. Evidently the memory of such things, at least when it comes to the Lamb, will endure forever.
I’m struck also of the other reminder in that city that will forever mark the Second Person of the Trinity as the Lamb who shed His blood and gave His life. That reminder? Well, it’s us.
They will bring into [the city] the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
(Revelation 21:26-27 ESV)
The fact that we are there will forever remind us that the Son of God, came to earth as Jesus, the promised Christ, in order to be the Lamb of God to take away the sins of men. For everyone in that forever place will be there not because of who they were on earth or on the merit of what they had done. But solely because their names are found in a long list of those redeemed through Christ’s once for all atoning sacrifice.
Because the promised Servant suffered in their stead, they are citizens of the new city. Because the Son paid the price for their sin, they have been forever adopted and owned as God’s children. Their names written in a book. Written, as one song writer has penned, in red.
Written in a book of life. Written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Written by grace alone. Written for His glory alone.
Hallelujah! What a Savior.