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.

Friday, 1 September 2017

The voice of Jesus (Revelation 21:3-4)

We now hear several utterances and the first speaker seems to be Jesus because he is distinguished from God, which is usually the way the Father is described. Yet since the voice comes from God’s throne, the speaker must be divine. So I think the Saviour is speaking here. 

The announcement concerns the quality of life that will be experienced in the new world. First, God has a new dwelling place. Obviously, since the Lord is omnipresent, it does not mean he is confined to this new location. But this new location will be where he reveals his glory in particular ways to those with whom he will dwell.

The new earth is the place where the covenant of God is fulfilled. We know that the story of the Bible is God looking for a people, his people. Abraham was called to become the one through whom the worldwide family would come; the vision was enlarged through the creation of Israel who were intended to be a light to the nations; then Jesus came and sent out his servants to gather in the number that none can count. Yet the obvious detail about the people of God is that they were never all together on this earth. But they will be together in the new earth and they will be so forever. It will be amazing to see God’s covenant intentions fulfilled exactly.

The new earth is the place where the effects of sin are removed. What is life like in this world? Sorrow, weeping and pain. How you ever counted how many sad faces appear on our news programmes? Such things will not exist in the ages to come on the new earth. We know that God could deal with those memories in more than one way. He could use his power to wipe them from our minds and arrange for a communal forgetfulness. Yet would that be a fatherly way to do so? Or he could deal with us personally and spend a couple of seconds with each of his people.

That would be effective, but it is not what Jesus says will happen. Instead, God will wipe away every tear. If we saw a child crying, or a widow mourning, and the would-be comforter did not spend much time with them, we would not regard him as much of a comforter. But if he spent as long a time as was necessary to go through the process, we would call him a man with a heart. If a creature can do this, how much more can God do? He will take the time to deal with all the issues that caused distress to his people.

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