Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The voice of the Father (Revelation 21:5-8)

John has seen that the new earth has become the dwelling place of God and it will be the place where the comfort of God is experienced in its deepest way. But as yet there does not seem to be anything for the people of God to see. Then they hear the voice of the heavenly Father saying from the throne, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ I think it is the Father who is speaking here because it is the same person who speaks the next couple of sayings, and the third one indicates that it has been the Father who is speaking.

There is a marked contrast with the process that God followed in Genesis 1. At the beginning, God took a week to make the perfect world. On this occasion, when the new beginning occurs, he speaks the word and the whole space is remade. We are not told what will be there. Instead we are told that everything will be new, fit for the Saviour and his people to enjoy forever. It is usual in the Bible for its readers not to be told about the details of heaven.

It looks as if John had been so overwhelmed by what he had just seen that he had stopped recording what he was viewing. So he is told to resume recording. Maybe he had a look of astonishment on his face because he is told that what he has been told is reliable and accurate.

The voice from heaven concludes with words of great encouragement for God’s people and with a list of those who will be in the place of punishment. The encouragement begins with an announcement of completion – ‘It is done.’ Maybe this is a reference to the completion of the salvation of sinners because those saved are now in God’s presence. It is a plural pronoun, pointing to the idea that everything has been completed.

Then the divine speaker says who he is. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek language and here mean the same as the beginning and the end. The Lord does not mean that he had a beginning and will have an end. Instead, this title is a way of saying that he is eternal. He existed before the beginning and will exist after everything else has had its day. Moreover, the title is a reminder that he is the sovereign of time and of all that happens within it. He decides when something begins and ends. He did so with regard to the first heaven and earth, and now he begins the new heaven and new earth.

He mentions that in the world to come, he will give the water of life to the thirsty. This refers to a spiritual longing being satisfied. The water of life is a reference to God and the grace he provides – he is the fountain of living waters. We were made to know God, not only intellectually, but also experientially. This experience is connected to all believers entering into the fullness of adoption, of life in the family of God. The new universe is their inheritance which they will enjoy forever. This fits in with what Paul says in Romans 8 will be the experience of the Lord’s people when they are glorified with the Lord.

We are told about the future in order for us to have spiritual comfort and not to satisfy unbecoming curiosity. Therefore we should express our gratitude to the Lord for revealing these details to us. Whatever we may be going through, we can turn to this brief passage and focus our minds on the certainties that lie ahead for the people of God. For them to know that they will be with him in a new world is amazing.

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