Saturday 29 April 2017
The book of Revelation can be challenging to read. The vision that John received includes a lot of symbolic pictures. Some of these can be understood by referring to similar types of writing in the Old Testament prophetic books like Ezekiel and Daniel. Some of these have been interpreted in different ways leading to ongoing debates.
However, Revelation is a good place to conclude ‘The Message of the Cross’, because it refers to all the themes we have heard in all five parts of this series. If we read the whole book of Revelation we will see repeated references to the sacrifice of Jesus, as he is described as the lamb that was slain (5:6, 5:12 and 13:8). We can also see that God takes sin seriously, and he is not afraid to judge people who refuse to repent (16:8-11).
The death of Jesus is described as purchasing ‘for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation’ (5:9). Jesus introduces himself to John with clear references to his death and resurrection: ‘I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!’ (1:18) And there are several references to the new kingdom, for example: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’ (11:15).
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’
At the climax of the book of Revelation we read about a new heaven and a new earth. This is the goal of history and the cross was the turning point in history.
The death of Jesus made it possible for a new kingdom to be established. His resurrection vindicated him and showed that the cross was not a tragic failure, but the moment when Jesus actually turned the tables on the powers of evil. Onlookers thought that the Romans were making a public spectacle of Jesus, torturing and humiliating him. But in reality, God was disarming the powers of evil, making a public spectacle of them (Colossians 2:15). The battle between good and evil is fierce, but because of the message of the cross, we have the hope that God will be with us and he will wipe every tear from our eyes.