Garden to Garden (Revelation 21-22)

  • Do you believe humans have a destiny? What destiny do you hope for?

Having worked with a lot of college students over the years, I’ve noticed that a prevailing challenge is the sense of homelessness that comes with the years of transition.  I don’t mean that college students lack a place to stay.  If anything, I can name young adults that have made an art out of “couch surfing,” crashing on random friends’ couches as they navigate life in their early 20’s.

No, I’m talking about what happens when the home you grew up in, the home you made memories in, starts to feel unfamiliar.  It’s the college student that returns home for Winter or Summer Break, and begins to realize that the building they once knew as “home” has become just another place to store their stuff.

It’s hard to feel “at home” in a world like ours.  The Bible tells us that we began life in a garden, but its beauty seems presently eclipsed by a lot of thorns and grey.

But the Bible tells us that there is one big story.  What began in a garden defiled culminates in a garden restored.  In John’s Revelation, we read that the destiny for God’s creation is to be made new again in the presence of God and Jesus:

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 21:22—22:5)

While not all of John’s imagery makes immediate sense to modern ears, his central point is unavoidable: that God’s world has a future, and that if we trust Christ we, too, can find hope in a greater kingdom.

Why is this so important?  Because fear begets fear, but hope springs eternally from the handiwork of God himself. There is no shortage of things to inspire fear or anger or sorrow.  But in Christ there is an incredible promise of lasting joy.

  • Additional question(s) to share and consider:
    • When you pause and consider the destiny of your family, of America, of the world, what emotions does this stir? What might that tell you about your beliefs about human progress?
    • How might hope in God’s future plan change the way you respond to your circumstances at present?

 

 

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