December 19, 2011

Tuesday after the Fourth Sunday in Advent

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 130, 131, Is. 25:1-9, Lk. 1:26-38
Evening - Ps. 114, 122, Gen. 49:1-10, Rev. 21:1-8

Commentary
Revelation 21:1-8

In chapter 20 the Day of Judgment seals the fate of the wicked forever. This is a very important aspect of the book of Revelation. The wicked, led by Satan, have resisted God and persecuted His people since Cain killed Abel. Christians in Asia Minor, to whom the Revelation was first addressed (Rev. 1-3), lived under intense and deadly persecution. They longed for God to intervene and deliver them from their torment. The book of Revelation shows God moving in answer to their prayers. He begins by judging the rebellious children of the house of Israel, who rejected the Messiah and began the persecution of Christians (Rev. 4-11). Next, the Roman Empire, which had caused many to commit idolatry and had murdered countless Christians, feels His wrath (12-19). As the Gospel goes out into all the earth, many are conquered by it and brought into the Kingdom of Christ. Others reject it. They are ruled with the rod of iron, symbolising judgment and punishment of those who will not repent. Revelation moves on to show the defeat of the archenemy of the Church: the dragon, known as the serpent, which is Satan himself. He and all his followers who persecuted the Church are cast into the lake of fire forever (chapter 20). This is the end of the dominion of evil. Satan has warred against God since his fall. He has led the world astray, killed God's people, and caused immeasurable misery to men and angels. But God has won. He has vanquished Satan, delivered His people, and accomplished His purpose in history. This is a major point of the book of Revelation.

Chapter 21 turns to the eternal bliss of the Church. The days of earth are ended, and a new kind of earth is created. We could say, the cosmos is re-created and made new; the old things of sin have passed away, and all things have become new in righteousness. In this new creation, the new Jerusalem comes down from Heaven. This is the Church, the people of God from the very beginning to the very end of time. The new world is their home, and it is a place of indescribable joy. God is the Light of the new land, and the tears and pains of the old earth are gone forever.

It is those who overcome who will inherit these things, according to verse 7. It is those who remain faithful to God in Asia Minor, and through the ages, no matter the cost, who will walk these streets of gold and behold the face of God. Those who are not will have their portion in the lake of fire.

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