The Thirtieth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Revelation
As the Book of Revelation progressively unfolds, the apostle John gives us a panoramic vision of the history of redemption. He has taken us from the coming of the Messiah all the way to the end of the age. But after describing the final judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, in the final two chapters of this great book, John now gives us a glimpse of the New Jerusalem and the so-called eternal state. What is described here is what we commonly speak of as heaven.
The first 20 chapters of Revelation have told quite a story. Through the use of dramatic apocalyptic symbols taken directly from the Old Testament and then set against the backdrop of the first century Roman empire, John has “revealed” the story behind the story, taking us from the demonically-empowered Roman empire waging war upon the church of Jesus Christ, to the final chapters of redemptive history which describe the coming destruction of the Babylon the Great, the fate of the beast and the false prophet, the defeat of Satan, and the final judgment.
Recall that in the previous section of Revelation (chapter 20, verses 11-15), John describes the final judgment and that terrible day when the books are opened and all of the dead are judged according to what they have done. Having established a covenant of works with Adam in the Garden of Eden at the very beginning of the redemptive drama, at the end of time God will judge all men and women according to their deeds, whether good or evil. For those who know not Christ, this will be a day of absolute terror, when all of their public and private sins are revealed, and when they hear the final and irreversible verdict of eternal punishment in the lake of fire, along with the Devil and all those who have served him.
But for the Christian believer, on the other hand, judgment day is not future, it is past. Indeed, when Jesus Christ died on the cross that first Good Friday, he was punished for all of our sins and for all of our transgressions–sins past, sins present, sins future. Because Jesus Christ bore the judgment of God we will not face God’s wrath on the final day. Therefore, when we appear before God’s throne on the day of judgment, we will not hear words of condemnation. Rather, because of Christ’s saving work on our behalf, we will hear words of blessing–“well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into that kingdom which has been prepared for you from before the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:21). And now in Revelation 21-22, John describes the glorious inheritance which awaits all of the people of God.
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