There is much that can be said about the images in Revelation about the New Heavens and New Earth. Yet, none of the commentary about the text is very helpful when we consider why the text was written. In class, we talked about the fact that Revelation can be summarized by saying:
“Things are going to get worse before they get better, but God wins in the end.”
This is a great phrase, but it still does not answer the question of why the book of Revelation is in the Bible. It does not answer the question of why the text is so secretive and coded with its message. It does not help us to understand if there are “signs of the End of Time”. While it gives us a hope for the future, it does not give us a deadline for the fulfillment of that hope.
In Revelation, there are pictures of New Heavens and New Earth, of lions and lambs peacefully being together, of beautiful structures coming from the sky. There are pictures of pain, judgement, and plagues. There are pictures of death and resurrection. There are images that make sense, and there are images that we do not have any context with which to understand.
Read Revelation chapters 21 & 22 before responding to the questions.
(If you click the highlighted link, you will go to BibleGateway’s website)
What do you think the purpose of Revelation is? Why did God want to include a book that no one can fully understand in the Bible? Why is God so unclear about so many things? Is there a purpose behind his decision to be unclear? Or, do you think we should/can know things clearly? When you think about or read the text of Revelation, how does it make you feel? What do you think the New Heavens and New Earth will be like? What do you look forward to the most? What do you hope the New Heavens and New Earth will NOT be like? Is there anything you do not want to be in the New Heavens and New Earth?
Watch this YouTube video by clicking on the highlighted link. In your journal, write a response about your agreement or disagreement with the video. Do you agree with the preacher’s beliefs? Do you disagree with him? What makes you think the way you do? Do you feel you deserve forgiveness, or do you feel like you deserve punishment? How does it make you feel that God has forgiven you of everything? Is it overwhelming, or are you used to it by now?
Sermon Jam Video
N.T. Wright (1989) from a lecture on “authority” and Scripture:
“Our generation has a problem about authority. In church and in state we use the word ‘authority’ in different ways, some positive and some negative. We use it in secular senses. We say of a great footballer that he stamped his authority on the game. Or we say of a great musician that he or she gave an authoritative performance of a particular concerto. Within more structured social gatherings the question ‘Who’s in charge?’ has particular function. For instance, if someone came into a lecture-room and asked ‘Who’s in charge?’, the answer would presumably be either the lecturer or the chairman, if any. If, however, a group of people went out to dinner at a restaurant and somebody suddenly came in and said, ‘Who’s in charge here?’ the question might not actually make any sense. We might be a bit puzzled as to what authority might mean in that structure. Within a more definite structure, however, such as a law court or a college or a business, the question ‘Who’s in charge?’ or ‘What does authority mean here?’ would have a very definite meaning, and could expect a fairly clear answer. The meaning of ‘authority’, then, varies considerably according to the context within which the discourse is taking place. It is important to realize this from the start, not least because one of my central contentions is going to be that we have tended to let the word ‘authority’ be the fixed point and have adjusted ‘scripture’ to meet it, instead of the other way round.”
Journal Entry Prompt:
Instructions: Read the prompt and respond to one or more of the questions listed below. Your journal entry should be about 200-300 words (which is about one page in length).
The Bible has many things to say about many different topics. What does it mean to you for God and His Scripture to be an “authority” in your life? Are there ever times when you intentionally do not give God and His Scripture “authority” in your life because you disagree with Scripture? If so, when are those times? (In other words, are there ever times when you know what Scripture says, but you don’t do it because you think there is a better way?) What other things do you give “authority” to in your life? In your life, what has been the result when you gave the authority to something other than God and His Scripture? What are good things to give “authority” to in our world? When should we stop giving “authority” to someone or something else?