Week of May 22: Hope in God's promise to make all things new
Rev. Doreen Smalls
Lesson scripture: Revelation 21:1-8
The Bible begins with the splendid narrative of God’s creation of the universe and it concludes with His creation of a new heaven and a new earth. John, the author of the book of Revelation, reveals that God will make all things new and pain and suffering will come to an end. This is tremendous hope and encouragement for believers, not only for the future but for the present as well.
A city from “up to ground”
A person can experience a great amount of satisfaction when one builds something with his or her hands. There is a sense of fulfillment that we all feel knowing something was created or completed because of our work and ingenuity. However if one is not careful, gratification in human accomplishments can lead to sinful pride.
The builders of the tower of Babel demonstrated such sinful pride. “And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth’” (Genesis 11: 3-4). The tower of Babel was a great human achievement. It was built as a monument to their own greatness and was intended to give greater honor to them rather than to God. They attempted to place their name higher than the name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9).
In the book of Revelation, John describes a city that was not erected “from the ground up” but instead it descends “from up to ground.” John stated “And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21: 2). This holy city was not erected by human hands nor designed with human creativity. No human effort or intellect assisted with the assembly of this city. This city of God was completely His creation and construction.
“Our job is not to plan or build it. Our job is to point to it, anticipate it and receive it as a gift when it descends from heaven in its fullness.” What towers have you built in your life?
God with us
In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle referenced God’s presence among God’s people. The Tabernacle was a portable shrine or tent designated for the worship of God. When the Tabernacle was moved, the Israelites were assured that God was with them. The Temple was a solid and permanent fixture. Individuals would go to the Temple to seek out the Holy. Like the Tabernacle, it was the means whereby God descended from heaven to earth to dwell among persons.
The first chapter of the Gospel of John begins with, “In the beginning was the Word” and at the climax of this chapter, John proclaimed, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). The word translated as “lived” is skenoo, which means “to tent.” God came and dwelled among us when He came in the person of Jesus.
In John’s visions, he heard a voice explaining that God will dwell with them. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3).
This is a message of hope that God will be with us and all troubles will cease. God will not only be with us in the new Jerusalem, God is with us now. In the midst of heartaches and trials, God is with us. How does knowing that God is with you serve as a source of encouragement?
All things new
Often times we want something new because we have grown tired of what we have deemed as old. We buy new clothes to keep up with the current fashion trends. We purchase new cars because we want to upgrade to a newer model.
The creation of a new heaven and a new earth is not because God wants a “newer model.”
In the book of Genesis, God declared all that He made was good (Genesis 1:31). God‘s intent is not to replace His good creation but to redeem it.
Revelation 21: 5 states, “And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” “Making” indicates that God is still at work. God is still at work with us and with all of creation. God is still redeeming, transforming, healing, renewing and restoring. This is good news and a message of hope. What old things in your life have had to pass away? How does this passage give you a renewed sense of hope?
Rev. Doreen Smalls is an associate director at the Office of Connectional Ministries and Conference Secretary to Global Ministries. If you have any comments or questions, you may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.