Sunday’s Reflection: “1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4he 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.” 5And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” Revelation 21.
This passage describes the revelation of heavenly Jerusalem. A revelation or apocalypse is generally a first-person narrative in which the writer relates one or more visions about the future and/or the heavenly world.
In the Revelation to John, particularly in today’s passage, we have an example of Christian visionary literature built on the foundations of Jewish apocalypses. The image of the divine throne and the precise layout of the heavenly city contain echoes of Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 40-42, while the new heaven and a new earth and the absence of weeping and crying are echoes of Isaiah 65. Indeed, even the reference to the holy city Jerusalem supports an essentially Jewish frame of reference. References to the testimony of Jesus Christ and the seven churches of Asia suggest that the writer was a Christian prophet of Jewish origin. His historical context may have included both the destruction and loss of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E., and persecution of the Jewish followers of Jesus. Some of the text of the Revelation to John is built on graphic images of destruction. Yet the text as a whole is a glorious act of worship, telling a story of God’s enduring presence in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. The vision ends on a note of hope and faith.
Meditate on this poetry for a few moments. What do these words mean for you? How might you use them in your day-to-day context?