Step 7: Whattempts and allures you into thinking "this is what I need?" How can you know that this is, in fact, what tears you down?
Why does John give us this preview of Heaven? Perhaps it is all about Hope, that vital fuel and stimulant necessary for all that we do successfully in life and for Him. It is also the fuel for us to be encouraged to move on from our hurts and past into a triumphant life. A life so we can encourage others-to prosper and grow in times of stress, suffering, and confusion. So we do not need to repeat our bad habits of dysfunction; we can be secure and content and joyful in Christ. We can take comfort that our eternity is secured too, as He has prepared a place for us; what is more wonderful than that (John 14:1-6)!?
This passage brings to a close John's visions with a testimony to their importance, veracity, reality, and truthfulness. This passage also sets up the promise for Christ's return. This is also about our assurance in Christ-that we will receive our rewards, comfort, and bliss in Him, but that we can also have just a taste of it now-in our trials, setbacks, and failures-and can still be triumphant in Him as long as we have faith and allow it to mature and keep growing. Heaven is not just a carrot on a stick to those in persecution or recovery to reveal what awaits them. Heaven gives hope and a sign to stay on His path now; it is a reality now, it is a wonder now, it is a comfort now and a means by which to stay focused on Christ rather than on our circumstances. Best of all, it is real; and one day we will be there for all time!
As Adam and Eve started out in the Garden of Eden of perfection and utopia, and then it was ruined by their sin, now it is resurrected beyond measure for all those in Christ to live in and enjoy. The Bible starts off the history of humanity in a garden; after our journeys in sin, our fall, pride, struggle, falling off the wagon, and the work of Christ redeeming us, we end up back in the garden of Paradise-the garden of being in Him! This symbolism is based on fact and gives us hope and a sense of the reality and presence of God in our lives and His working in our church. This is meant to inspire us for the deployment of our faith so we can be confident in the reliability and steadfastness of our Christian life. He is empowering us. He gives us more than just a preview of what is to come; this is real. His presence is a genuine, effectual presence, a hope, and abundance for us now!
- See his face. God's self-disclosure and our extreme blessing of eternity will enable us to see our Lord and be in His presence face to face. Currently, God cannot be seen, but in some phenomenal way, He will allow us to do so. In ancient cultures, to see a king's face meant blessing and honor; to be removed from the king and not be able to look onto his face meant punishment and banishment (Ex. 33:20; Esther 7:8; 2 Sam. 14:24; John 1:14-18; 1 Cor. 13:12).
- His name will be… This refers to the seal of God's ownership, as names meant not only possessions, but also who possessed you and that person's character. This also means that Christ is LORD Supreme; He is our "all in all." (1 Cor. 15:27, 28; Rev. 3:12; 14:1; 21:2, 10)
- On their foreheads means that God marks and protects the faithful who accept Christ as Lord and Savior, and who He claims as His. In ancient times, the forehead and hands were the only parts of the body that were visible to others. This, too, is symbolic; God will not "rubber stamp" people or give us some kind of a visible mark, tattoo, "branding," or a "cross sign" (because the Hebrew letter Taw, looks like an X or cross sign), nor is this some kind of replacement for circumcision. God sees us as important and worth protecting (Ex. 13:9-16; 28:38; Deut. 6:8; 11:18; Is. 44:5; 66:19; Ezek. 9:4-6; Gal. 6:17; Rev. 7:3)!
- No more night. The original curse of sin is "no longer;" it is removed along with all subsequent curses. This is an image of sin and how God works it out, that even though we do not deserve it, we need it; we need His grace and redemption. This may imply that God resets His creation back to its previous "un-fallen" state where sin has not affected it (Gen. 3:14-19).
- They will reign. All of God's people are holy to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. This means we will partake in His authority and rule as His representatives and holders of His promise.(Psalm 2:8-9; Dan. 7:18, 27; Matt. 25:21-23; Luke 19:17; 1 Cor. 15:41; Col. 1; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 2:26-27; 20:4).
- Things that must soon take place. A declaration of closure restating what was first said. The point here and throughout Revelation is not just for the future events, but also how we conduct ourselves in them. Whatever unfolds is irrelevant if we do not have the strength of faith to endure and learn from it (Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 1:3, 7; 22:10). (See Revelation 1:1 study).
Do you long for intimacy with Christ as Lord and love of your life? In this passage, He shows us He restores and seeks us to be renewed and to be in Him. Christ gave us grace from His love to make Him our home of faith and motivation in life. Then, He prepares an eternal home for us too. The question is, as Christians, do we give back our worship, praise, gratitude, and devotion to Him? Are we at home with Him as our main inspiration, impulse, and comfort in this life, not just in the life to come (John 14:23)? What about what allures you back to your dysfunction or addiction or dependency? We can be assured He cares and loves us beyond description; but, do we love Him back? God has a purpose for this world and for our lives and it is all about communion in and with Him. We must find a way to increase our awareness and love for Christ in our daily lives so our lives mean something more than just "what I want" and "what I can get." It must be Christ-focused, for this is what Heaven is all about too!
- What does God's cleansing power mean to you? How can you have more of it?
- How does this passage give you hope for the fact that you can overcome your old life and embrace your new live in recovery?
- How can this passage help you endure for the future? What do you think it meant to a persecuted people?
- Why do you think John gives us this preview of Heaven? What does it mean to you to have "hope beyond hope?"
- Can you picture Heaven? What do you think this water and river of life, flowing from God Himself and coursing down upon you, will look like?
- What needs to take place to reassure you that these words in Revelation are from God and that they are trustworthy and true?
- What does it mean to you that you have a future in and with Christ as Lord and that you have a place in Him for eternity?
- How does Hope play a role in your relationships and recovery? How does Hope play a role in your spiritual growth? What about other areas in your life?
- How does Hope help you be encouraged so you can encourage others? How and when are you going to do this more?
- How is Hope a vital fuel and stimulant necessary for all that you do successfully in life and for Him?
- What are some other valuable faith stimulants and how can you use them? What can your counselor and/or church do to help you?
- Go before God and ask Him to cleanse or remove anything that is in the way of Him and your recovery! When will you do this? How? Who will help you?
Mediate on these passages for the next week or more: John 17:19-26; 20:17; Rom. 3:9-23; 5:1-11; Eph. 2:1-3; Col. 1:21-22
For more on this study go to our sister ministry www.intothyword.org/ for a verse-by-verse full study on this passage and the rest of Revelation too.
© 1990, 2007, 2008, Dr. Richard J. Krejcir, Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/