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
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
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).
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
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
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
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.
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