This is part 2 of the series looking at Revelation 21-22
You can read Part One here
2) Evil and Pain will not triumph
Jesus is said in 21v4 to “wipe away every tear from their eyes.” This is some not positivistic thinking, that denies the reality of pain. Or promises “your best life now” when you come to Christ. John is writing to the church in Rome, a church that has been persecuted, marginalised, ridiculed, seen martyrdom, had property confiscated, lost family, been alienated from society and business, had their name and reputation slandered, been falsely accused and even exiled from Rome. In the end there is no denial of pain, the pain is acknowledged, the presence of tears shows the reality of pain, but now, says Jesus it is over.
It is an intimate image of our King Jesus, reaching up his hand and gently wiping away the tears. “I know my child, I know.” “I saw. It is over. I am with you. I am making everything new.” The context specifically has in mind here those who suffer for following Christ (v7 “he who overcomes”). What ever it costs you to follow Christ in this world, God has seen and God is seeing right now and He is doing something about it. There is a day that is coming…
While we may experience pain, marginalisation, ridicule or worse now, for those who overcome there awaits the new heaven and the new earth on that day there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (v4). For these things belong to the old order and now that is no more. The curse is gone (22v3). God is now making everything new and we are given to drink from the water of LIFE (v5-6)!
I love the way G.K. Chesterton describes the life of God, it is the only way I think to describe how life might be like in the new heavens and the new earth:
“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-ups people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
We are so easily bored with life. We are weary with sin-induced futility. But God is never bored with life. He is life. His joy and life are so gigantic that he never tires of sunrises and daisies, of beauty and life and joy. Now we are old and tried and cynical. But then we will be young again, forever young, forever delighting in God. (Porterbrook: Gospel Living Module: p26)
Finally there is a terrible warning. Not all will know this life (21v8, 27). Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life may enter. For those who will not know the Lamb who was slain for us, who disdain his sacrifice and his mercy, they will meet Jesus not as the Lamb but as the terrifying King of Kings, riding on a white horse, with a sword coming from his mouth, coming not in salvation but in judgement.
photo credit: Olivander