When the Kings Come Marching In examines a stunning prophecy found in Isaiah 60. In this vision of the future, Isaiah says to God’s people, “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isa 60:3). A few verses later the prophet adds, “Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you” (60:10). The gates of the New Jerusalem will always be open, “so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations – their kings led in triumphal procession” (60:11).
There’s a stereotype of folks who live in Texas. (Actually, there are many stereotypes, but I’m thinking of one in particular.) It’s captured in the phrase, “Y’all come!” According to the popular viewpoint, Texans are always inviting people over to their homes, the more the merrier. “Y’all come,” means “Bring yourself, your family, your friends. Everyone is welcome.”
In light of Genesis 1, we are surprised by what we find in Revelation 23:22. The New Jerusalem “does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” The physical light for the holy city comes from God’s own glory, shining from the lamp, which is the Lamb of God.
I’m intrigued by that word, beyond. As followers of Christ, we are beyond people. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have unique access to the God of the Universe, who is making all things new. God sees beyond the way things are and knows how things can be. When we claim as our inheritance this same divine perspective, we bring the hope of beyond into every encounter, every situation, every relationship along the way. As the righteousness of God, we bring beyond to all systems of injustice and every instance of hopelessness.
One of the greatest surprises of John’s vision of the New Jerusalem comes in 21:22: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” A holy city without a temple? Shocking! (It’s hard for Christians to grasp the significance of this for people in the ancient world. It would be rather like saying in the city of the future there will be no Bible. But even this analogy falls short.)
I began yesterday’s devotion by talking about the impressive size of New York City. But what makes New York so distinctive isn’t only how big it is. This city is also striking because of its beauty.
Once again, New York reminds me of John’s vision in Revelation 21.
The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and … Read More
If we truly love Jesus, then we will love what he loves. This means we will love the church, warts and all, and cooperate with Christ in his work of sanctifying and cleansing the church. We will invest our lives so that the church might be healthy and strong.
As a pastor, I officiate in plenty of weddings. From my pastoral vantage point, I get the best view of the ceremony. For example, I am able to see the bride as she first appears and begins to walk down the aisle. I see her in all of her bridal glory as she gazes into the eyes of the groom while he waits anxiously at the front of the church (or wedding venue, as is so often the case these days). In her stunning dress and with her emotions surging, a bride almost seems to glow with a supernatural light.
I grew up in a Christian culture that talked all the time about having a personal relationship with God. Or, more often, we would speak of our personal relationship with Christ, through whom we also had relationship with the triune God. The greatest thing about being a Christian, we believed, was having a personal relationship with Christ. Because of this, we could talk to God freely. We could love God and receive God’s love. We could be assured of God’s forgiveness. Jesus was our friend, our teacher, and our loyal companion. All of this was part of our personal relationship with God.