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 365intheword.wordpress.com. 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.