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Original Intentions Fulfilled

The last chapters of the Bible describe the ultimate end of history and God’s triumph over everything that has separated Him from His beloved creation, humanity. The story of His desire to dwell with men and women in unhindered fellowship that began in Genesis now finds its glorious conclusion in Revelation.

The “new heaven and a new earth” (21:1) describe a restoration of God’s creation. The scene depicts a return to the garden, with a “river of the water of life” (22:1) and “the tree of life” with leaves “for the healing of the nations” (22:2). The brokenness of our fallen world will be removed: “No longer will there be any curse” (22:3); and “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (21:4). Every sinful and unclean thing will be removed, and all that remains will be security and peace (21:8, 25–27).

God’s intention for intimacy and relationship will be realized. The wedding of the Lamb is here, with His bride arrayed in beautiful garments of righteousness (19:7–9; 21:2). In the end, “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them” (21:3). No longer will God need to use a physical structure to mediate His presence, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (21:22).

God’s original intentions for creation will one day be realized. He has continually shown His love and grace through His presence in Eden, in the tabernacle and temple of Israel, and then by His church. Now He will be manifest finally and fully to the whole world. God’s servants from all nations will “reign for ever and ever” (22:5) in the relationship of peace and light with our God.

Apply the Word

Christ came to earth in obedience to the Father in order to make it possible for Him to dwell within us. As you reflect over this month’s study and the true meaning of Christmas, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can follow the example of Jesus and obey God’s leading in a way that invites others to know Him.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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