Bell’s book is a lot to chew on; it’ll certainly reward several close readings. But it is well within the bounds of Orthodox Christianity, and asks some very good questions (it’s far outside the bounds of Orthodox New Calvinism, and some people mistake that for the whole of the Christian tradition, but rest assured they’re deluded). We need to be talking about Heaven, Hell and the picture of God that lies behind them. It’s a fun read and very accessible.Continue reading
This series of posts is my attempt to demonstrate that the language of the Revelation was actually symbolic code that was very intelligible to a first-century Jewish Christian living in the Roman Empire. I’m re-writing the Revelation to communicate the same message, but to a twenty-first century American Christian audience, using symbols we understand. This particular section parallels Revelation chapter 21. If you want to catch up, here’s a PDF of the entire series so far: The Revelation to JR. – Chapters 1-20.
Finally, I saw the entire universe recreated; the Old Order had passed away forever – nothing was chaotic or out of place. And I saw the holy City, the new Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven, as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day. A loud voice called out from the desk,
Look! God’s home is among humanity. He will live among them; he will wipe every tear away from their eyes. Death will be abolished. No one will have any reason to grieve or cry, and there’s nothing left that causes pain, because the Old Order has passed away.
Then the one seated behind the desk said,
Look: I am making all things new. Write all this down, because what I’m saying is reliable and true. You can count on it.
Then he said,
It is finished! I am the A and the Z, the origin and the goal. I’m the starting gun and the finish line. And when you’re thirsty during the race, I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
Everyone who conquers will inherit all this – I’m their God and they’re my children. But as for the cowards, the people who didn’t stick it out to the end, the polluted, the murderers, promiscuous, pagans, idolaters and liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. That lake is the second death.
The one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and told me,
Come with me and I’ll show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife!
And in the Spirit, he carried me to the top of Mt. Everest and showed me the holy City Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven from God. It oozes God’s glory, and glowed like a rare jewel, like the Hope Diamond. Just beautiful.
It has enormous walls with 13 gates (and each gate has its own angel), and on each gate is inscribed one of the names of the original colonies. The City’s wall has 13 foundations, and on them are the names of the twelve apostles and Paul, who were sent out by the Lamb.
The angel who talked to me had an endless tape measure (made of gold, of course), and used it to measure the City and its walls and gates. The City is stretches to the four corners of the earth – it’s 50 billion miles on each side. The whole City’s made of gold and platinum that shines like glass. And the walls are jewel mosaics. There’re twelve kinds of jewels: Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Diamond, Emerald, Alexandrite, Ruby, Peridot, Sapphire, Opal, Topaz and Tanzanite. The 13 gates are solid pearls, and the streets are paved with gold.
There wasn’t a church building in the entire City because the Church is the Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb. And the City doesn’t need a sun or moon because God’s glory lights the whole City, and the Lamb is the City’s streetlights. All the world’s peoples walk by its light, and the presidents and prime ministers and dictators and kings will all bring their peoples’ very best into the City. Its gates won’t shut during the day – as long as it’s light people can come and go freely. Oh yeah, and it’s never going to be night. Ever. So there’ll be an endless stream of people bringing their very best. But nothing unclean will enter, and no one whose life is abominable or false. Only the persons who have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, crystal-clear, flowing from God’s desk (and the Lamb’s desk) in the center of the City. On either side of the river I could see the Tree of Life with its twelve kinds of fruit – one for each month, and its leaves heal all the world’s peoples. Remember the curse? Well that’s part of the Old Order. In this City? Nothing cursed even exists anymore.
But God and the Lamb’s desk is in the City, and his people will pledge their allegiance to him. They’ll see his face and his name will be written on their hearts and wallets. And there won’t be such a thing as ‘nighttime’ anymore; they won’t need flashlights or a sun because the Lord God will be their light. And they’ll rule to infinity and beyond.
The angel told me,
What I’m saying is reliable and true; you can count on it because the Lord, the God who inspired the prophets, has send this angel to show his people what must happen soon.