So, the last few verses of Revelation Chapter 21 can help us understand a little clearer, I think, the way in which God’s message was delivered to the Apostle John and how, in turn, John relates that message to us–his readers. It was all done through prophetic visions. As had happened pretty much all down through Bible history, the Lord had a message that He wanted made know to His people. He chose to make known that message through a prophet–in this case, the Apostle John. So John was given a lengthy series of visions–sort of like dreams, or hallucinations (I think of them as holograms)–and then John, using powerful and colorful “word pictures,” wrote about what he saw and experienced in this dream-world.
So, a very good example of what I’m talking about can be seen at the end of the chapter where John says, “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 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. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 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” (verses 22-27).
Most conservative Bible scholars that I’ve consulted are pretty much in agreement that John is speaking here with regard to the “ekklesia” — the called out body of Christ, the church! He is not talking about some kind of fanciful “literal” city that is going to appear one day in the future. Rather, he is describing the spiritual city that God has already brought into existence–the one that you and I (if you are a redeemed child of God) are already a part of. In reading these verses, and understanding what they are referring to, one cannot help but gain a deeper appreciation for how God views the called out body of Christ, the Messianic Kingdom of Christ, the household (family) of God, the bride of the Lamb, the church. He sees her as this incredibly beautiful place in which to dwell. The Apostle John is using concrete word-pictures to describe abstract ethereal visions of a spiritual reality; as he does throughout the Book of Revelation. This is what we mean when we say that much of apocalyptic (prophetic) language found in the Bible is not meant to be taken “literally.” And yet, it always describes something that is very, Very “REAL!”
I am haunted by the last few lines of this prophecy, where it says, “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” (verse 27). The family of God is made up of sinners! We repeatedly stumble and fall along the way and, if left to our own devises–our own performance record, our own “righteousness,”–we would never get to have a place in this beautiful, eternal, spiritual city of God. But, the power of the Gospel is now at work within us. Our faith is no longer in ourselves or in any vestige of self-righteousness. But rather, our hope, our trust, our faith is altogether and completely in Christ Jesus our Lord and in what He has done for us. And, in light of His sacrificial love, we have repented of the sin and darkness in our lives and we are now pursuing that “sanctification without which no one will see the Lord!” (Hebrews 12:14). We are no longer unclean, for we have been made clean by the blood of the Lamb. We are no longer detestable and false, for we are clothed with His righteousness. And, glory of glory, though we certainly don’t deserve it, our names have been written in the Lambs Book of Life!
I do pray your name is there, too!
~ Salty ~