Revelation 22

A FINAL WORD BEFORE YOU READ TODAY’S BLOG: On the last day of this year, and as I complete this daily blog, I want to thank you for reading what I have written. This blog began as part of a challenge to my church family this time last year. I asked everyone to spend time in God’s Word every single day in 2013. I provided a list of key chapters and promised to lead by example as I made the commitment myself. As proof to our church family, and as a way to model how to read the Word for application, I pledged to write every day about my observations. I wanted to offer a fresh, same-day, real-time journal of my experience in the Scripture throughout the year — and the journey has been so rewarding. I feel that I have grown. I have had to think through some difficult passages and dig more deeply into the Word than ever before, and I am glad for the experience. Please forgive any typographical errors, as I have typed it all with my own hands and proofed it all with my own eyes. Please forgive any errors in content, any misleading statements, any overly-long posts, any poorly-written posts, and any grammatical rules that I have broken during the year. “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Proverbs 10:19).

This task would have been tedious indeed without the steady, gracious flow of encouragement from readers of the blog. Through your emails, cards, Twitter and Facebook messages, and face-to-face conversations, God has provided the encouragement necessary to give my best. Thank you.

I also want to thank my amazing and invaluable assistant, Jana Chapman, for helping with the details of the blog. Teresa Rae of Pea Tree Designs has also been a tremendous help as the administrator of our WordPress account. Finally, I owe so much to my soul-mate, Tresa. She has been patient this year as I have spent around 750 hours writing (that’s equivalent to about a month). I have blogged at home, in hotel rooms on vacation, and even in a tent while camping a few times! Thank you, Friend, for understanding. I love you truly.

I have had several questions about continuing this blog and about the availability of it in the future. I want to continue blogging in some manner, but definitely not in this same format. I hope you will want to read what I write in the future. The “Every Day in the Word” blog will still be available if you would like to re-read it or recommend it to a friend. Simply search for the date or chapter you desire at Some have asked if I would put all the posts together in a book. I need to think about that; it would be an expensive undertaking. Beginning tomorrow, I hope all my First Baptist Church of Sevierville friends will participate in our church-wide campaign called RE:NEW. In the RE:NEW Journal (which I hope you have picked up) there are daily Bible readings and “prayer points” for the first 75 days of 2014. Many thanks to Craig Mintz for writing that material.

That’s all for now. Stay in the Word!


The final chapter of the book of Revelation (and of the Bible) finds the Apostle John standing on a “great, high mountain”, looking up into New Jerusalem (see 21:10). It seems right that our last glimpse of John is on a mountain, for many of the defining moments of his life happened on the heights. It was on a mountain that John heard Jesus teach (see Matthew 5:1); on a mountain John was named an apostle (see Mark 3:13-14); on a mountain John saw Jesus transfigured (see Matthew 17:1-8); on a skull-shaped hill called Golgotha John saw Jesus crucified (see John 19:17); on a mountain John heard the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:16-20); and on a mountain John saw Jesus ascend into heaven (see Acts 1:9-12). And here, standing on a heavenly summit, John sees a place that is yet-to-be.

John’s angel guide showed him the beautiful water feature of New Jerusalem, “the river of the water of life” (v.1). I believe it will be a real river, but I can’t ignore the symbolism of it. Jesus used the image of “living water” to refer to eternal life (see John 4:10) and the life-giving ministry of the Holy Spirit (see John 7:37-39). It is significant that the river flows “from the throne of God and the Lamb” (v.1) because God is the singular source of eternal life. It is a gift that is offered freely to all who desire it (v.17). I remember when I became desperately thirsty for that life as a 16 year-old. I called on the Lord to save me and He filled me with His living water! I will be able to see (and maybe wade in?) that water throughout eternity in the New Jerusalem.

John saw another symbol of salvation, “the tree of life” there by the river (v.2). It’s miraculous yield and its healing properties will be everlasting reminders of the abundant life of Jesus that heals our souls. I want to see the river and the tree in the New Jerusalem, but the sight that will make heaven heaven is found in verse 4: “His face”! Imagine seeing Jesus face to face for the first time — the one to whom we have prayed countless prayers, the one about whom we have sung innumerable songs, the one whose face we have imagined in a million daydreams. Suddenly we will see His face, and we will worship in His very presence (v.3). What a moment!

As John’s vision faded away, he recalled three statements of Jesus, each containing repeating the same promise: “I am coming soon” (v.7, 12, 20). That promise is simultaneously a word of hope to those who love Him, a word of warning to those who don’t, and a word of motivation to those who have been tasked with sharing His gospel (that’s you). Every true believer longs for the fulfillment of that promise. Every true believer can identify with John’s exclamation in verse 20, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Yes!

Come rapture Your church, Lord Jesus!

Come break the seals of judgment, Lord Jesus!

Come defeat the Antichrist and imprison Satan, Lord Jesus!

Come reign on the earth for a thousand years, Lord Jesus!

Come create the new heaven and the new earth, Lord Jesus!

Come bring down that New Jerusalem, Lord Jesus!

I just love that the last sentence in the Bible is about the grace of Jesus (v.21). We first saw that grace in action in Genesis 3:21 when God covered the sins of Adam and Eve. We saw that grace personified in the God-man, Jesus (see John 1:14). We heard that grace preached on the streets of Old Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. We experienced that grace personally as we repented and were saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8). We are sustained by that grace daily as we follow Jesus, and we will abide in that grace forever! “Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.

Revelation 21

While the Apostle John was living in exile on the prison island of Patmos, the Lord Jesus gave him a preview of the praise-filled throne room of heaven, the dreadful events of the Great Tribulation, the defeat of the Antichrist at the Battle of Armageddon, the glorious Millennial Reign of Christ on earth, and the final judgment of the unsaved at the Great White Throne. What an experience that must have been for old John! And what a gift to us! Through the miracle of Holy Scripture, God inspired John to record this revelation on paper, and then preserved its accuracy through the copies that were distributed and later combined with other apostolic writings in the New Testament. The book of Revelation is a treasure — without it our perspective on the future would be dim indeed.

In today’s chapter John is given a look at “final heaven”, the place where believers will live with the Lord forever. Planet Earth as we know it will not last forever, but will “pass away” and be replaced with a “new earth” (v.1). The implications of that future reality boggle the mind, as the beautiful creation of Genesis chapter 1 will be “set free” (see Romans 8:21) from the curse of Genesis chapter 3. We can’t be sure exactly what the new earth will look like or exactly where it will be located, but we can be sure that all who have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be there forever with God. (Note: verse 1 says that the new earth will not have a sea, suggesting a world without oceans or continents as we know them. This fact would have been significant to John who was separated from his friends and family by the Aegean Sea.)

Verse 2 indicates that the holy city, the New Jerusalem, will descend from God as the capital city of our recreated planet. I may be wrong, but (as crazy as it sounds) the New Jerusalem may hang suspended in the atmosphere as sort of a near-earth satellite which will be eternally accessible to all the inhabitants of the new earth. I offer that guess for three reasons.
1. New Jerusalem is a self-contained cube (v.16) which John said will descend out of the new heaven, but he never said it will touch down on the new earth.
2. New Jerusalem will take the place of the sun as the new earth’s light source (v.23), suggesting that it would need to be suspended above the new earth in order to shed its holy light on the nations of the new earth (v.24; this presupposes that light will behave then as it does now; it may not).
3. John was able to view New Jerusalem from the vantage point of “a great, high mountain” on the surface of the new earth as it descended. To me, this suggests that from the new earth we will have to look up to see it. In order to look down upon New Jerusalem, the mountain on which John stood would have to have been taller than the city-cube, which is “12,000 stadia” or nearly 1,400 miles high (at present, the highest mountain on earth is a mere 5.5 miles).

Thank you for indulging my guesses for a few lines; now on to what we know for certain…

New Jerusalem must have been a struggle for John to describe within the limits of human language. Cubic in shape (the same shape as the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple), he saw the city sparkle and glow with reflected and refracted light (v.11). Although it had the appearance of “pure gold”, John also said that it was “clear as glass” (v.18, 21). New Jerusalem is apparently very colorful, as John used twelve precious stones (in addition to pearls) to describe its design. John noted the dazzling beauty of the gates, the walls, and the streets — all so amazing that they defy adequate description. I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes!

Maybe the most beautiful qualities that John recorded are not what he saw, but what he didn’t see. The presence of our good God (v.3) will mean the absence of many bad things. John said there will be no death, no mourning, no crying, and no pain (v.4). Just think of life without any of those heart-breakers! There will be no perpetrators of crime or wickedness (v.8). There will be no temple, no place to “go” in order to worship God, for we will be in the very presence of the objects of our worship (v.22). There will be no sun or moon to give light or to measure time — the glory of God will light an everlasting day (v.23)! The gates of ancient cities were shut at night for security, but in the presence of God the gates are always open because there will be no more night (v.25). Finally, there will be nothing unholy there and no one impure there (v.27). It will just be our glorious God and His redeemed people — forever!

Revelation 20

I must say at the beginning of today’s post that I feel somewhat inadequate to comment on this chapter. I have not been a diligent enough student of eschatology (the study of end times) to even summarize an intelligent explanation for the events described here. I can only rejoice in the generalities: Satan’s ultimate defeat, Christ’s ultimate victory, and judgment’s ultimate end. Bear with me, dear reader.

The chapter opens shortly after the Battle of Armageddon has been fought, on what must be the opening day of the Millennial (thousand-year) Reign of Christ on earth. During this glorious era we will meet our brothers and sisters in Christ who were saved and martyred during the Great Tribulation (as I understand it). They will be raised to life and will enjoy the reign of King Jesus along with the Church.

The Millennial Reign will be the first Satan-free period of human history, as he will be locked away, unable to deceive anyone (v.1-3). Imagine a world without Satan’s influence! John does not say why “that ancient serpent” will be released “for a little while”, but apparently he will be (v.3). After 1,000 years with no access to humanity, he will emerge to do what he has always done: deceive people and lead them into sin. I gather from verses 7-8 that the free will of mankind will be intact throughout the Millennial Reign of Christ. There will be a great many people — whole nations of them (v.8) — who will exercise their will by choosing to follow Satan’s deceit rather than Christ’s truth. Satan will lead them into battle against the Lord and His people. There will be no fighting, but there will be lots of fire: the deceived will be “consumed” with the fire of judgment and the deceiver will be thrown into hell-fire to burn forever. And just like that, Satan is over and done with, eternally silenced in hell.

Verses 11-15 describe the final judgment of sins and sinners. It is known as the “Great White Throne” judgment. There will be billions of people standing before that judgment, each one a person who has died in their sins. My understanding is that this judgment is only for the lost. As each person is judged individually, the record of their life will reveal their lost condition (v.12) and the absence of their name in the book of life will seal their doom (v.15). (Note: the only way to get your name written in Lamb’s the book of life is to repent of your sins and place your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior; see 21:27.) All of those present will be thrown into the “lake of fire”, or hell (v.15). Each of them will have already experience the first death (physical), and their entry into hell will begin an eternal “second death” (v.14). I praise the Lamb that since I am saved, the second death has “no power” over me (v.6)! A thousand years — or a million years, or a billion years — will not be enough time to adequately thank Him for His grace. Amen?