42. God’s moved in. Settled in the neighbourhood. There’ll be no more crying, or lack of respect, no more bitter arguments, or litter strewn about. This place is home. Home to God and his people. Forever. No more endings, or loss or saying goodbye. An eternal ‘make yourself at home’.
Revelation 21 vv 3-4 & Isaiah 2 v 4
43. As he takes a seat the Creator promises, ‘Look what’s happening, I’m making all things new!’
Who can imagine what might take place. New colours? New songs? New musical notes? New sports? New abilities? New ways of communicating? New parties? New learning? New ideas? Who can imagine? Everything new.
Revelation 21 v 5 & Isaiah 43 vv 19-21
44. All those passions, all that aching and longing. All those desperate desires. Finally satisfied. The desert roads of life have led here – to this well. The water of life. Available for the thirsty. Enough for everyone. Enough to quench the need of nations. The eternal springs of life.
Revelation 21 v 6 & John 4 vv 7-14
45. John walks the streets of this brand new city. The place studded with precious stones. But where’s the temple? Where’s the place where people meet their God? It’s not here. But then… why should it be here? Who needs a halfway-house when God’s in town, walking these very streets?
Revelation 21 vv 22-26 & Isaiah 6- vv 19-20
46. The tree of life! That Eden planting, right here, fed by this crystal clear, life-giving stream. John’s feet splash in it, but it remains untainted. No murk, no silt, no mud. Flowing and bringing life. No fuming traffic clogging this main street. Just water, trees, fruit and healing leaves.
Revelation 22 vv 1-2 & Ezekiel 47 v 9
47. John listens out for those words, but he can’t hear them. Those curses, those putdowns, that cheap destructive language. Not here. There is music and laughter and celebration, but no curses. No one broken down, or burdened by the harsh language of others. Encouragement, that’s the sound he hears.
Revelation 22 v 3 & 2 Corinthians 13 v 11
48. The vision is nearing its end, and John finds himself back at the beginning. Reminded again that this God is all, the finishing and the starting. The life and the living. The reason and rhyme. The meaning and purpose. In our very breath and existence. The alpha and omega.
Revelation 22 v 13 & Revelation 1 v 8
49. John recalls that invitation. ‘Come to me if you’re weary, if you’re burdened, broken or disheartened. Take my way of being into yours, and I will give you refreshment.’ The same invitation comes again. ‘This water is free, come and drink, get refreshed. Find a new start.’ It’s here.
Revelation 22 v 17 & Matthew 11 vv 28-29
50. The ages stretch behind and before us, and the urgency lingers. The promise echoes down the centuries, ‘I am coming soon.’ And so we wait, pacing the corridors of time; eager to pass on John’s message. The grace of Jesus be with you. May it strengthen and sustain you.
Revelation 22 vv 20-21 & John 14 v 27
35. A wedding! John recalls the story of his ancestors at Sinai, freed from Egypt, meeting God at the mountain, supposedly for a wedding. But it fell apart, like a shallow celebrity bash. Not now. Now the getting together of God and people can happen. Now the relationship is real.
Revelation 19 vv 7-8 & John 3 vv 27-30
36. The food is ready, the wine is chilled, the band tuned up. This feast will be talked about forever. Come one, come all. Life, laughter, love, partying, celebration, awe and wonder. Nothing else will ever come close. The invitations have gone out, the people invited. Plenty for all. Welcome!
Revelation 19 vv 6-8 & Proverbs 9 vv 1-5
37. The curtains pull back and the hero rides out. The one who stands for truth and faithfulness, the one who said, ‘I will be with you till the end of the age.’ The one who battles for the rejected, the little people, the forgotten, the tired, the ‘not-very-spiritual’ ones.
Revelation 19 v 11-13 & Matthew 5 vv 1-12
38. The dawn of justice. Judgement day. And the judgment is good. In favour of the oppressed and powerless. Those who have laid down everything for God and his ways. The Ancient of Days takes his place, the Man of Justice arrives. The court’s in session without bribery or corruption.
Revelation 20 v 4 & Daniel 7 v 9-14
39. As John watches the sky gathers into a vision and the dazzling image descends to earth. Gleaming, refreshing, invigorating. He senses the life pumping through his veins, radiating from this new thing. A transformed cosmos, a new heaven and earth. A place of wonder, safety, adventure and new life.
Revelation 21 v 1 & Isaiah 65 vv 17-25
40. John breathes a huge sigh of relief. It’s over. The sea… is no more. That place of chaos. That scene of so many shipwrecks. So many lives lost. The storms, the devastation, the danger, the monsters – all gone. No more chaos, no need to fear now. Peace has come.
Revelation 21 v 1b & Matthew 8 vv 23-27
41. The bride shows up. The wedding can happen. No more running and hiding now. No more getting distracted or looking for other solutions. Those rebellious, fearful Sinai days are long gone. Restless souls are satisfied, hungry hearts are filled. God and people united together. The groom welcomes hopeful, global guests.
Revelation 21 v 2, Isaiah 2 vv 2-3
28. It’s harvest time! A festival of success and celebration. The work has been worth it, the hours put in have produced the result. A harvest of souls, a gathering of lives rescued by the Son of Man. But sorrow too. For the seeds sown that have not borne fruit.
Revelation 14 v Luke 5 vv 4-11
29. No more fudging the issues. No more spin and hype. The one who sees clearly is on his way. The one who can cut through the scheming. He’s come to judge correctly. To settle things. The world gathers, and the truth comes to light. Truth laced with mercy, compassion.
Revelation 15 vv 1-4 & Isaiah 35 vv 1-7
30. The Tabernacle is back! The Lost Ark. The presence of God amongst his people. The Temple filled with his glory. Isaiah and Solomon saw the unrivalled presence of God, in this way. This is no small God, no meagre deity. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Alive!
Revelation 15 vv 5-8 & Isaiah 6 vv 1-8
31. Harsh words, my fingers itch to flick past this page, yet it’s part of a logical process. Misuse of ourselves, others and the universe runs rampant, and brings consequences. Sowing a wild wind only reaps a hurricane. Bad behaviour bears a bad harvest. Truth will out. Can I listen?
Revelation 16 vv 1-9 & Matthew 7 vv 17-20
32. A plain of Megiddo. A site called Armageddon. Yet no battle takes place. The armies of darkness gather. But it’s over before it’s begun. No great Lord-Of-The-Rings extended clash. Instead there’s an echo from history, ‘It is finished!’ The work of a dying man. Sacrificial weakness overcoming military might.
Revelation 17 vv 16-18 & John 19 vv 29-30
33. John sees a ghoulish town, all broken walls and skeletal houses. A city of the dead. Beasts claw at the debris, buzzards swoop overhead. The sky’s awash with deathly grey. He realises, this is Rome, its streets of gloating grandeur now awash with doom and waste. Proud power diminished.
Revelation 18 vv 1-3 & Romans 12 v 2
34. Ships stand in the bay, merchants watch, cheeks streaked and wet. The unthinkable has happened. The foundations of their world have been shaken. The hills have fallen, the pillars are crumbling. What is reliable now? What will stand? What is the true source of success? Some may start looking.
Revelation 18 vv 15-19 & Isaiah 54 v 10
21. John rubs his eyes, watches as the two witnesses walk the streets, looking for all the world like a couple of Old Testament prophets. Elijah shutting the sky, Moses turning water to blood. Prophetic people, living out their message, challenging the systems of their day. Calling for change.
Revelation 11 vv 4-6 & 1 Peter 2 v 9
22. John turns to look, the screams of childbirth and the cry of a child. The prince of peace arrives on planet earth, a dragon snapping at its heels. Heavenly hands scoop the baby to safety. The noxious dragon chases but is rebuffed, so he makes war on earth instead.
Revelation 12 vv 3-9 & Matthew 2 v 16
23. The dragon spots the woman and gives chase. Its jaws sag open, but there is no fire, instead water floods out. The earth swallows the deluge, so the dragon refocuses. Turns his attention on the faithful ones; battles to hinder the people of God; frightening them, wearing them down.
Revelation 12 vv 15-17 & 1 Peter 5 v 8
24. The dragon lumbers towards the sea, gives a ground-quaking roar, and seven heads emerge from the water. The beast has arrived. Rome and its emperors. Communism and its dictators. Fascism and its tyrants. The systems of this world, seeking to devour the things of God. ‘Stand firm,’ John mutters.
Revelation 13 vv 1-7 & John 15 vv 18-27
25. Pontius Pilate once paraded his power before Jesus, but Jesus saw through it. Now this second beast rises, a little creature, parading power, like Pilate. Pressurising the innocent. John isn’t fooled. It’s a sham. Real power is in the hands of the one who emptied himself and washed feet.
Revelation 13 vv 11-12 & Philippians 2 vv 6-7
26. An angel flies, and a new song fills the skies. A song of wonder and creation. Good news, not of religion or burdening rules, but of creativity, hope and freedom. The Judge who made everything takes his place. Come to rescue the sad and lonely, the lost and persecuted.
Revelation 14 vv 6-7 & Luke 19 v 10
27. Babylon, that great symbol of evil and oppression, comes crashing down in a cloud of smoke and debris. The once invincible forces of darkness cannot prevail. Like the Berlin Wall deconstructed, evil empires, and all the instigators of corruption, will disappear. The light shines, and the darkness is doomed.
Revelation 14 v 8 & John 1 vv 4-5
14. John clamps his hands to his head, fingers clutching his ears. The noise is overwhelming, but not of slaughter and pain. Praise, celebration, wonder, exuberance. So many people! Impossible to count. And clearly from all over the place. Their tears and pain, hunger and thirsting, are distant memories now. Revelation 7 vv 9-17 & Isaiah 35 vv 3-7
15. Silence. The minutes tick by… ten… fifteen…. twenty… time stretches, an endless piece of string. How long? After the sound of the celebration and praise, the air is suddenly saturated with hope, expectation. No words necessary. The language of waiting. No noise to block it out or bury it.
Revelation 8 v 1 & Psalm 46 v 10
16. Trumpets sound and the earth trembles as long-established systems of corruption and darkness rattle loose from their moorings. The world seems suddenly fragile, the powerbrokers not the giants they thought they were. Suddenly the meek lift their heads. The weak straighten. There’s a whole lot of shaking going on. Revelation 8 vv 3-5 & Jeremiah 9 v 23
17. Egypt woke one morning to plagues of blood and locusts and darkness… a warning to those in power, a promise to those in bondage. Now it’s the turn of the whole world, there’s another dimension. Another world revealing itself. The prayers of the oppressed taking effect. Reality breaking in.
Revelation 8 vv 7-12 & Exodus 6 v 1
18. Attack of the killer locusts! Dawn of the flying fiends! Monsters unleashed! Tearing teeth and stinging tails. John can barely believe his eyes. From the smoking abyss of the human heart, out of the darkness within come these creatures of doom. Destructive. Consuming. Devouring. Humanity needs help, an antidote. Revelation 9 vv 1-3 & John 3 vv 19-21
19. John chews and the taste comforts him. But as he swallows the pain grows. His stomach writhes and wrestles. The word of God, comforting yet troubling, sweet yet stirring, heartening yet humbling. The compassion of God too potent, too transformative to leave things as they are. Love’s refining furnace.
Revelation 10 vv 8-10 & Ezekiel 3 vv 1-9 & Psalm 119 v 105
20. John walks the walls, marks out the territory. Makes notes about lengths and breadths. But there is another temple here, one that cannot be quantified in bricks and mortar. The people. The living temple. Humanity now the home of God, the building he inhabits.
Revelation 11 v 1 & 1 Peter 2 vv 4-6
7. Letter five takes John back to rumours of death upended by talk of life. Lazarus, Jairus’s daughter. Jesus himself – the master of funeral-wrecking. A different story goes on in Sardis, rumoured to be alive, they are in danger of losing breath. Wake up! Breathe! Shake yourselves. Knock, knock.
Revelation 3 vv 1-2 & John 11 v 25
8. Letter six. To Philadelphia. Keep going, says Jesus, hang on. God’s power slips in through the door of apparent weakness. You are strong, you are important, although you feel weak and small. There is the sound of a door swinging open, locking in place. Nothing can shut that now.
Revelation 3 vv 8-12 & Matthew 5 vv 3-10
9. Letter seven. The news is not good. In Philadelphia they feel weak but are strong, poor when they’re rich. Not in Laodicea. They proclaim strength and wealth, yet have very little. The temperature there’s all wrong. No heat or cold. Insipid. But there’s hope, a man at the door.
Revelation 3 vv 15-20 & Matthew 6 vv 19-21
10. A door swings wide, right in front of John. And he sees another dimension, vibrant but normally hidden. He catches his breath, staggers back a little, clutches at the doorframe. The view is dazzling, gleaming like precious stones. He squints, tunes his eyes and ears. Lightning, thunder, extravagance and worship.
Revelation 4 vv 1-8 & Isaiah 6 vv 1-4
11. John’s in turmoil. He looks around. There’s a scroll, but no one deserving enough to open it. He can’t and he’s sure no other human can. An announcement, ‘Don’t panic, the lion of Judah is coming.’ Relief. And yet when the lion comes, he looks like a lamb. Vulnerable.
Revelation 5 vv 4-8 & Isaiah 53 vv 6-9
12. A new song breaks out, acclamation for this humble lamb. John’s brow furrows, he wrestles with the sight, his mind absorbing the words. He’s seeing what no one else has seen. Let him not forget. The lamb was killed, but lives. The lion shed his life-blood bringing rescue. Hope.
Revelation 5 v 9 & Isaiah 53 vv 10-12
13. So the scroll is opened and… oh! Not a glorious solution to the earth’s problems. Instead four horsemen. The problems themselves. No quick fix here. John feels sweat irrigating his brow. Domination, war, suffering and death. Martyrs and disasters. The ills of the world. So much need and pain.
Revelation 6 & Matthew 15 v 19
1. John starts. Thinks, states his case. This world is not all. Beyond it, behind it, above and beneath there is another dimension. Another reality. And a source. A craftsman. A being beyond beings. The start and the end. The one who was and is and will be. Alpha and Omega.
Revelation 1 vv 6-8 & 1 John 1 v 1-3
2. John hears a voice, turns and stares. The figure, gleaming like snow in bright sunlight, dazzling. For a moment he recalls a vision on a mountain, and Jesus transfigured. Not unlike this. The figure speaks and the sound thunders like rushing water. Powerful, cleansing, pure. John drops. He is overwhelmed.
Revelation 1 vv 10-17 & Colossian 1 vv 15-17
3. Letter one. John scribbles fast. Then sits back and studies what he has written. So easy to set truth over love. To follow the quest to be uncontaminated. To remain pure. These Ephesians seem to have done that. To have forgotten love and loving. To have traded compassion for clarity.
Revelation 2 vv 2-5 & Ephesians 4 v 32
4. Letter two. The missives come thick and fast, he can barely keep up. Those folks in Smyrna, downtrodden persecuted, mocked. They seem a poor lot. But apparently it’s not so. There are other kind of riches. Other treasures, and this world so easily overlooks them. Faith, hope, kindness, dedication, endurance.
Revelation 2 vv 9-10 & Galatians 5 vv 22-23
5. Letter three. This one to Pergamum. The folks who live in the shadow of evil. Towering above them, threatening to blot out the light. Temptation on offer like fine wine. Compromise, a honey-trap. The challenge of standing against the culture. Against the flow. In the world, yet not of it.
Revelation 2 vv 13-16 & Romans 12 v 2
6. Letter four. How many more? John pauses, flexes his writing hand. This one to Thyatira. To a people of faithfulness, love and service in a city of industry. But a spectre in ‘freedom’s’ clothes stalks the places of work and worship. So-called freedom that leads to shackling despair. False wisdom.
Revelation 3 vv 19-20 & John 8 v 32