The New Jerusalem
While on vacation
a few summers ago I met a wonderful Moslem man who asked me about Jerusalem.
His question shocked me.
I don’t know if his question represented a popular thought in Islam,
but what he asked was, “Do Christians support the Jews because they believe
that someday Israel will rule the world from Jerusalem?”
His question was based on the second reading for this Sunday from the
twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelations.
This chapter speaks about the New Jerusalem.
I thought it might be helpful today for us to do a little reflection on
the Book of Revelations and on the New Jerusalem.
First of all, the Book of Revelations is part of that form of
literature called apocalyptical material.
Some older bibles still refer to it as the Apocalypse.
Apocalyptical material is actually a literary genre somewhere between
prose and poetry. It
is meant to stir up the emotions of the listener or reader and motivate him or
her into action. In
the Book of Revelations we hear about horrible scourges, those of the
seven seals, the seven bowls and the seven trumpets.
These are meant to scare us into recognizing what sin is doing to the
At the same time, in the midst of terror, God is triumphant.
In fact, the main theme of the Book of Revelation and all
apocalyptic material is that the world might seem to be out of God’s control
and in the control of the devil, but God knows and God will intervene.
For example, in the sixth chapter of Revelation the angel of God
opens the seals of the Book of God’s plan for his people. A plague upon evil
doers accompanies each seal.
When the fifth seal is opened voices are heard under the altar of God’s
are the voices of the martyrs, the witnesses of Jesus Christ.
“O Sovereign Lord, holy and true,” the voices call out, “how long
before you will judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood.” They
were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number
would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and
sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed. A little
longer. God is
in control. The
horrors happening around us will continue for a little longer until more can be
added to the saved, even if more will also be added to the martyred.
The Book of Revelation is a profound expression of the Christian
the Lamb that was slain can unseal the Book of God’s plan for mankind.
Only Jesus Christ can restore God’s plan.
He alone is our salvation.
The death of the Lord, swept up into heaven, is the conquest of the
Forces of Death. Evil
no longer has a hold in the world of Jesus Christ.
The New Jerusalem is in our immediate future. Those who hold out for the
Lord will be citizens of
“the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”
They will hear a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, God's
dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his
people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every
tear from their eyes,
there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has
The former heaven and former earth will pass away. The sea, chaos, will
be no more. There
will be a new heaven and a new earth. The One who sits behind the throne says,
“Behold, I make all things new.”
There is no room for pessimism in Christianity.
The basic attitude of the Christian is optimism.
God is in control.
God will cure the evils of the world and answer the questions of
existence in ways that are beyond our imagination.
I see this Christian optimism when I’m with a family gathered around
the deathbed of a loved One.
“He is in God’s hands now,”
they proclaim in the midst of their grief.
this Christian optimism in our parents and godparents who see a new world in the
faces of their children.
I see this Christian optimism in the care givers and servants of the sick
and poor. I see
this Christian optimism whenever I am confronted with a seemingly impossible
or other, God will work it out.
He is in control.
What could never happen in the world that had rejected God, can now take
place in the New Jerusalem.
The Blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk and the poor
will have the Good News preached to them.
Jesus Christ has won the battle.
He is the victim who has become the victor.
We are part of the New Jerusalem.
The trials and pains of our lives have meaning and purpose because they
are part of the witness of the Christians of the ages that Jesus wins.
Don’t be negative.
Don’t be pessimistic.
No matter what you are facing physically, in your home, in your lives.
No matter what you may fear for your loved ones.
No matter what questions you have for the future, be positive.
It’s a whole new world.
God is in charge.
We are citizens of the New Jerusalem.
Christian optimism must permeate every action of our lives.
Sin will never win the final battle. Evil, no matter how powerful it may
seem, will never conquer the world.
Jesus Christ has won.
God is in control.
So what is the New Jerusalem that Christians believe will someday rule
the world? The
New Jerusalem is not a physical place. The New Jerusalem is the Kingdom of God