3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” — Revelation 21:3–5 (ESV)
“I am making all things new.”
Our world desperately wants to be made new. With the amount of money that Americans spend every year on plastic surgery, health and wellness products, and self-help resources, you could fully fund the national budget of a small country. Trying to fix ourselves has become a veritable industry and business is booming.
It’s not all misdirected longing, though. When the dreaded phone call comes reporting that the mass is malignant, we know that things aren’t how they are supposed to be. Scripture tells us that creation itself is groaning under the weight of sin’s curse and we feel the effects all around us.
The Bible clearly teaches that healing and restoration are good to desire. James instructs those who are sick to ask their elders to pray for them and anoint them with oil (James 5:14), and God refers to himself as Jehovah Rapha, or, the God who heals (Exodus 15:26). Jesus and the Apostles not only healed the sick, but they even brought the dead back to life again, giving us a foreshadowing of the greater healing yet to come (Luke 8:51-55, Acts 9:32-43).
Revelation 21:3-5 not only confirms for us that perfect and complete restoration is indeed part of God’s plan for the world, but the Apostle John also gives us insight into exactly how God will pull it off: Death itself must be destroyed.
The destruction of death and the healing of the world are directly tied to the presence of God. When the dwelling place of God comes to be with man, all will be made right again. New Jerusalem will descend from the heavens and God will dwell with his people in perfect communion for all eternity, banishing every tear, hurt, and sorrow.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “But what does any of this have to do with Christmas?” Well, you see, the presence of God will certainly be consummated when the heavenly city comes down, but his kingdom has already arrived.
Scripture tells us that Jesus is our “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” The permanent flag of God’s unshakable kingdom was firmly planted in the ground when the long-anticipated Messiah was born.
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily...
Colossians 2:9 (ESV)
Moreover, if you are in Christ, you are a new creation right now. Death has been stripped of its power and you have been rescued out of the kingdom of darkness into God’s marvelous light. Christian, because Jesus took on flesh to dwell with us, the hope of eternal glory is yours by birthright.
Though the night may grow dark, take heart and don’t despair. We have hope of healing yet to come because Christ, our Great Healer, has already come.
Like a balm on cracked and weary weathered skin,
we need you, oh Healer.
We’re straggling over the finish line of this year.
We confess, we have foolishly chased after things
that will never be enough.
We have tried to fix ourselves,
to engineer our own salvation.
We’ve fussed and obsessed over ourselves.
And perhaps worst of all,
we’ve failed to properly delight in you.
Despite our failings and brokenness,
you’ve come to dwell with us.
Oh Redeemer, you’ve paid the price for our freedom!
Purchased at a high cost,
we’ve been saved into your people.
In our flesh we’re rotten,
but under your wing we’re uncondemnable.
May we live by grace as truly free men, slaves only to you.
Hungry for restoration, oh how we need you!
Just as you’ve drawn near to us, remind us that we are a people who draw near to the sick and hurting. The needy. The fearful. Heal us and equip us to nurture life
in the face of death.
Satan hisses: Fear death.
The Gospel roars: Death is finished.
The winds are shifting, we smell the damp piney scent and feel the harsh crisp as we inhale.
Threats of frost on the way.
May we carry with us the light of Advent
into the darkness of the coming winter.
When trouble comes, we need not run and hide,
for we know you are near.
Hear our cries! Help us to end the year faithfully, prepared to ring in the next with a renewed assurance
of our salvation and identity in you.
Let us hold fast as those who are traveling to glory,
to meet you and all for which we’ve hoped and labored.