Friday, April 22, 2016

Revelation 22 Demolishes Futurism Completely - #1


Readers of Revelation get carried away by the phantasmagorical imagery and the hyperbolic language used in it. The vast plethora of symbols employed therein makes one to lose sight of the intent of the book. If we study the book trusting in the assured blessing (Rev 1:3), we will see many things that those doom and gloom preachers out there don’t want us to see (or haven’t seen themselves).

It is popularly believed that the events in the last two chapters of Revelation have to unfold after the present heaven and earth are utterly destroyed and a new heaven and a new earth are brought into existence. In fact, the first 2 verses of Revelation 21 read along with 2Pet 3:7 gives the impression that these things have to happen after such cataclysmic events. People associate many passages from the books of Isaiah to the final chapters of Revelation and claim that the new earth would be like Eden.

In order to avoid repetition, let us be very clear that 
  • the 22ⁿᵈ chapter is the continuation of the description of New Jerusalem which started in the 21ˢᵗ chapter. 
  • the city that is mentioned in the 22ⁿᵈ chapter is New Jerusalem and the street and gates mentioned here are of the same city.
  • the New Jerusalem is NOT heaven, it comes down out of heaven – Rev 21:2. 
  • Satan and his cronies are destroyed and the great white throne judgment took place (Rev 20:10-15) before the New Heaven, the New Earth and New Jerusalem are brought into existence.

With this backdrop, let us read the first two verses from the 22ⁿᵈ chapter.

Rev 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Rev 22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
[For the ease of understanding the scripture citations are from ESV]
Have you noticed that Rev 2:2 is telling us that The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations? Jesus once said: it's the sick that need a physician and not the healthy (Mat 9:12). By the same reasoning, it's the unhealthy or sick that need healing or medicine. If there are those who need to be healed, are not death and mourning possibilities? Remember, this statement comes after we have been told that there won't be death, mourning, and tears in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:4, 5). If all these are possibilities in the New Earth, how different it is from the present earth?

You may accuse me of making a mountain out of a molehill, by focusing on an isolated phrase. Even I would have agreed with you if it were an isolated passage. No, it isn’t. Further below in the same chapter we are told:

Rev 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

All these vile sinners are just outside the New Jerusalem. Consider this: the very purpose of setting the old earth on fire was for "destruction of the ungodly" (2Pet 3:7). But, here we have ungodly men, right outside the city! Where is the Edenic perfection that people have been talking about?

If all these vile sinners are to remain even after the old earth is burned up, how different it would be from what we have it now? Don't we have all these sinners all around us? If the same situation has to persist why God has to burn up earth at all?

There are two ways of thinking about this:

  1. The Bible contradicts itself.
  2. We need to reconsider/review our understanding of the Bible.

I prefer to think that #2 is the correct approach. We are taught to consider the book of Revelation as something that we can't understand, unless some expert explains it to us. And, how many of these experts have pointed out these passages to us and make us understand this chapter in a way which gives glory to God and his word?

Before I conclude this part #1, let me suggest to you that the New Heaven, the New Earth and New Jerusalem are symbolic in nature (spiritual realities, if you please) and not something visible and tangible. We will expound this in the ensuing posts. be continued in part #2.
In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal