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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, May 18, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Revelation 21:10, 21:22—22:5

And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (NRSV)

The most important word in the book of Revelation is shown, for that single word brings us back over and over again to what this biblical text is: a vision given to one person (John of Patmos), written down and shared with the church for its instruction and edification.

These verses are among Revelation’s last. They describe the seer’s apprehension of the “new Jerusalem.” The importance of Jerusalem to early Christians can hardly be overstated, particularly Jewish Christians, for it was the ancestral capital of Judah and the location of the temple, God’s dwelling place on earth. Yet in 70 CE the mighty Roman army put down a Jewish rebellion in Jerusalem by siege and obliterated the temple. It was a cataclysm of religious proportion. The vision of Revelation dates to about twenty years after that cataclysm.

We could be excused for expecting this vision, then, to include a new temple, rebuilt and restored by God, better than before. The temple had been destroyed once already, by the Babylonians during the siege that led to Israel’s exile (2 Kings 25) and had been rebuilt into the magnificent structure Jesus’ disciples gaped at. But it’s not in the vision. It’s not left out or overlooked, but the vision explicitly states that the heavenly city contains “no temple.” Why? “Because its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (the Lamb is Revelation’s symbolic way of referring to Jesus).

In Jesus’ incarnation we see, in vivid detail, God’s assumption of all of humanity, our flesh and blood, and also our symbols and our institutions. In Jesus, God enters into and does not disdain the patterns and structures of our human life. And in Jesus’ resurrection we see, in vivid detail, God’s redemption of all those patterns and structures. We no longer need a temple, a physical space in a precise location for encountering the presence of God, because in raising Christ from the grave, God has become our temple; God meets us everywhere we are.

Thanks be to God.

Almighty God, in Jesus you make your home among us and you dwell with us as our God. We are yours. Yet hasten that day when you will wipe every tear from our eyes and death will be no more. We praise you and serve our neighbors as we wait, saying “Come, Lord Jesus.” Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry and Worship

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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