FIVE FEATURES FROM THE HEART OF JOHN’S VISION: Revelation 21.1-5

 

The last book of the New Testament is also the final book of the biblical canon and appropriately contains five fundamental themes: The conclusion of the Biblical

story:

 

A.   Where did these ideas come from? (Birth of the Story)

B.    How have they changed or developed down through the Biblical Story? (Growth of The

Story)

 

1.     The New Jerusalem, 21.2.                4. The New Israel, 21.4.

2.     The New Temple, 21.3.                       5. The New Creation, 21.1.

3.     The New Covenant, 21.3.

 

These five themes serve as windows on the entire literary and theological structure of The Scriptures. Each of these themes are interfaced with the wider window of God’s promised presence (cf. The Kingdom of God). “Viewed in this way, the New Jerusalem is the symbol of government; the New Covenant is the instrument of government; the New Israel reveals those governed and their role; and the New Creation is a final comprehensive presentation of both the governed and the Governor.” (W. J. Dumbrell, The End of the Beginning (Lancer Books, 1985, introduction); and his Covenant and Creation (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN, 1984).

 

Images of The Consummation of Creation: Five Features of Finality

 

I.      The New Jerusalem; Rev. 3.12; 21.2

 

A.   Old Testament

 

1.     Isaiah 1-12; 13-23; 24-27; 28-33; 36-39.

2.     Structure of Isaiah 40-45.

3.     Structure of Isaiah 56-66.

4.     Samuel-Saul-David Narrative and Jerusalem - Zion.

5.     Jerusalem decadent and suicidal vs. The Everlasting Zion at the heart of the New Heavens

and New Earth.

6.     Messianic City and Abrahamic promises.

 

B.    New Testament:

 

1.     Death knell to political Jerusalem (70 A.D.).

2.     Jesus’ oracles of woe and crucifixion-resurrection.

3.     Jesus replaces Jerusalem as the Light of The World.

4.     Jesus’ shift from Jerusalem to Galilee of the Gentiles. .

5.     Paul introduces the heavenly Jerusalem.

6.     Final vision Jerusalem from above is the symbol and center of the new creation.

 

 

II.   The New Temple—In a vision filled with Temple imagery, the New Temple is conspicuous

          by its absence in Rev. 21-22. What accounts for this absence?

 

A. Old Testament

 

1.     Tabernacle - Ex. 25-31.

2.     Tabernacle is symbol of the presence of Yahweh.

3.     Divine Kingship - twin motifs of Tabernacle and Sabbath intertwined.

4.     The Promised Land transformed into a sanctuary. Temple built only after gaining “The

Rest.’

5.     Jeremiah pronounced the Temple’s doom; Ezekiel projected its restoration (Temple

imagery - profaned, rejected and renewed in glory). This structure is the world center of 

the new age.

 

Jesus as King enters the Temple ‘made without hands” “divinely constructed” by the resurrection (Zech. 9.9; Matt. 21.5). 7. There is no Temple in the final vision, for by His presence He makes His people a Temple. God and The Lamb are the Temple where the people dwell.

 

III. The New Covenant; Lev. 16.11-12; Rev. 21.3

 

A.   Agenda of Sinai and hope of Jeremiah meet in the experience of The Bride.

B.    The Promise: God’s fidelity to His Covenant (Dt. 28; Jer. 31ff.).

C.    Ezekiel’s Restoration Hope.

D.   Isaiah 40-66—Covenant renewal affected by the New Exodus and Mew Creation.

E.    The Servant embodies the Covenant and ensures fulfillment of Abrahamic promises and

transferral of The Davidic promises to the entire People of God.

F.    Abrahamic and Davidic Promises and Jesus’ place/person where all promises are fulfilled

(II Cor. 1.19; chp. 3; Ex. 34).

G.   New Covenant and The Consummation of Creation.

 

IV.  The New Israel

 

A.   Rev. 21 includes in its symbolism the new People of God (note fusion of tribal and

apostolic imagery in the same vision).

B.    What was Israel? What was its status and function? And why a new Israel? In O.T.

eschatology Israel is a worshipping community under divine kingship. God’s people is the

source of universal blessing to the world (Rom 8).

C.    Israel’s sins ensured that Sinai was only ever an ideal.

D.   Demise of Israel and her institutions in exile, the question of Israel’s identity and future

assumes an utmost urgency.

E.    The New People issues from The Servant (Isa. 40-66).  The representative of the Remnant

community.

F.    Jesus rejects the-nation of Israel and creates a new community (Ex. 34). In Christ the new

community fulfills the Exodus 19.3-6 role of Israel (Rom. 9-11; Gal. 6).

 

 

V.   The New Creation; The ultimate character of the Eschatological Age—completely New

          Creation. Thus the final redemptive act is a creative act. Here we see the bridge between

Creation and Redemption (Isa. 40-66 presupposes creational theology rather than inaugurating

it).

 

A.   Israel’s earliest understanding of redemption was structured on an overt creational

theology (Ex. 15.1-18)—contra contemporary reversal redemption- creation (Earth, von

Rad, et al).

B.    Redemption is necessarily the renewing of creation order and rule, both in both in the

individual and cosmic dimensions.

C.    Daniel calls for new creation of fallen universe, which is affected by the appearance of the

Son of Man.

D.   Paul’s Christology presents this whole schema—pre-incarnate, resurrected and glorified

Jesus. The Biblical view of Christ is both creational and redemptive (Col. 1.15-20; Eph.

1.10).

E.    The Revelation entails the reversal of all sin, misery, futility and discord and the

establishment of the universal and everlasting rule of the creator God in The New

Jerusalem.