Tonight, we will be reading through Revelation 20 and reviewing how we got here in preparation for the final resolution of Revelation and all of Scripture next week.
Revelation 21-22 is John’s vision of a renewed, restored, and transformed creation. Paul speaks of a similar understanding in 1 Corinthians 15 when he describes the resurrection as being imperishable, in glory, in power, and in the image of Christ. (vv. 42-50). John’s vision (which we will get to next week) is a glorious image of the world to come and a beautiful finale to the Scriptures. However, before we get to the very end, we need to review from where we came. A great roadmap to guide comes from Eucharistic Prayer C. 1979 BCP 370. As we prepare next week to read the end, imagine how we got here.
We begin with the Story of Creation in Genesis 1:
At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of
interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being.
From the primal elements you brought forth the human race,
and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us
the rulers of creation. . . .
At creation, God, in the fulness of the Trinity, brings about light and life. He brings about heaven and earth and all that there is. It is the Father that brings about creation, the Word in which all of creation holds together, and the Spirit which broods over creation itself. The full grandeur of the universe comes into being. Think of the amazing photographs that we have recently seen from the Webb Telescope.
The apex of God’s creation is us. In his image, we are created. We are given the sacred obligation of having dominion over creation. The full bounty of all that is has been given to humanity with a responsibility to use this creation rightly and justly. We are simply not to screw it up.
Our story takes a turn in Genesis 2-3. In the Story of Adam and the Fall, humanity decides that what we had been given in creation was insufficient and we yearned for more beyond our bounds.
But we turned against you, and betrayed
your trust; and we turned against one another.
Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight
We desired knowledge, power, and wealth beyond measure. What we see beginning with the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 and into the Egyptian Empire from Exodus is a system based upon slavery and military conquest with a recognition that the Pharoah/King/Emperor is God. The same will hold for the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, etc. The way to achieve the desired knowledge, power, and wealth is through violence, exploitation, and enforced belief. For the empires, the goal is to conquer and take from the other.
We all participate in this system. We all have sinned and fallen short of the God in whose image we are created. Rom. 3:23. We have all gone astray chasing after the wealth, power, status, and pleasures of this world. Ps. 14:3. We are all enslaved to the fallen nature of this world. John 8:34.
Prophets – Wrath and Promise:
But God does not abandon us to our sins. He hears our groaning and knows our condition. Ex. 2:24-25. He sends his prophets out to pronounce words to destroy and overthrow but also to build and plant. Jer. 1:10. His wrath comes not from retaliation or retribution against us who are unfaithful but from his burning loving desire towards us to cleanse us so that he can draw us nearer to him – for he is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap to purify and refine us into a pure offering. Mal. 3:2. God’s Wrath arises because he is not indifferent to injustice and our evil necessarily provokes a Divine response.
Again and again, you called us to return. Through prophets
and sages you revealed your righteous Law.
The ultimate promise made by the prophets is one of complete annihilation of the empires. Isa. 23-24, Jer. 50-51, Ezek. 26-28. Our longing for something other than God must be destroyed. But on the other side of that destruction is reconciliation and healing. Jeremiah promises a restoration of Jerusalem. Jer. 31:38. Ezekiel sees a return for all humanity to the Garden of Eden, which sparkles with jewels and precious metals. Ezek 36:35, 28:13. For Isaiah, the promise to us is nothing short of a new heaven and a new earth. Isa. 65:17.
Means of Restoration:
The way of restoration is through the blood of the lamb. God set the ancient Israelites free through the shedding of the blood of the lamb so that when the destroyer came to the Egyptian empire, it would Passover God’s people and only destroy their captors. Ex. 12.
And in the
fullness of time you sent your only Son, born of a woman, to
fulfill your Law, to open for us the way of freedom and peace.
By his blood, he reconciled us.
By his wounds, we are healed.
It is by his blood that we are ransomed from sin and death. Mark 10:45, Rev. 5:9. We have been reconciled to God. Col. 1:10. For just as God once judged the gods of the Egyptians through the blood of the Lamb (Ex. 12:12), so now does he judge Satan and Death and Hell. Rev. 20:10,14.
Tonight, I want us to remember and review the arc of Scripture and the arc of Revelation so that we better understand the new heaven and the new earth, the new Jerusalem, and the new Eden when we conclude next week.
SCHEDULE: Beginning September 6, we will be reading excerpts from Fr. Robert F. Capon’s book Kingdom, Grace, Judgment – The Parables of Jesus. I encourage you to purchase the book, but I will have the relevant excepts available. I will be using Fr. Aidan Kimel’s commentary on this book as my outline.
Dinner is at 6:30. The menu is Mediterranean pita turkey burgers. Discussion about 7:15. Hope to see you here.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever.Revelation 1:5b-6
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