Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I lam making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 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 sulfur, which is the second death.”
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Rev 21.1-14
The Post-Apocalyptic World
By Matthew Wilcoxen
Many of the stories told in popular culture in recent years are post-apocalyptic, describing a future world after the collapse of civilization. The environment is toxic, cities are reduced to rubble, and what remains of human society is anarchic and brutal. These stories have purchase because, as human technological power increases, so too does our potential for destroying ourselves and our world. Left to our own devices, these fictional accounts could one day become realized. Thankfully, we will not ultimately be left to our own devices.
Revelation 21:1-14 is the biblical account of a post-apocalyptic world: the world as it will be after the Lord Jesus Christ’s final appearing. It is not a world of doom and gloom, but a world that is renewed and remade—“a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1). The old order in which heaven and earth remained distinct from one another will be done away. The heavenly reality of God’s rule will be actualized in earthly realities. God’s kingdom will come, his will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The pain and mourning of a world at odds with God will be no more.
The people of God are called to contemplate this coming post-apocalyptic world, and to live in light of its reality even now. In this new creation nothing that opposes God’s rule will remain—not idolatry, not sexual immorality, not violent oppression, not lying (cf. 21:8). As those who long for this world of righteousness, God’s people will lead the way in ardently repenting of such things even now.
A Collect for the First Sunday After Christmas
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, kindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.