Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5 (online here)
As I’ve mentioned before, the bizarre visions of John of Patmos almost didn’t make it into the New Testament. People were still debating whether to include it for several centuries. But it did get included. Today’s reading from Revelation focuses on one of John’s final visions. It’s his vision of the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. Here are some interesting points.
Our final destiny with God is here, not somewhere else. Heaven is no longer some other place. Instead Heaven comes to us here on earth.
The new Jerusalem enlightens everyone everywhere, without forcing everybody to live in just one place. There are still different nations, walking by the light of the Lamb.
Its gates are always open—we are free to come and go. John says that the gates are open by day, but then he points out that there won’t be any night, so they’re always open.
There is no entry without renewal—sometimes excruciating. Elsewhere John practically revels in the imagery of casting the unworthy into the lake of fire. Other New Testament writers, like Paul, view fire imagery as a painful process of purification (1 Corinthians 3:13-15), not a final destiny. And that’s how many influential church “fathers,” like Clement of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa, read these passages.
It’s not the end of everything but the renewal of everything in terms we can’t now imagine.