The twelve-week study in Revelation that I've been privileged to lead at my church is coming to a close this week in a celebratory fellowship time with my ladies. Last Fall as I was getting ready to plan the curriculum for 2009, I posed the question to my ladies "What studies would you like to see offered next year?" Be careful what you ask for. Almost half of the ladies present said...Revelation. I gulped and almost fell out of my chair but felt that was a confirmation from the Lord we needed to do it. I was intimidated by the depth and mystery of that book, but willing to accept the challenge. And so I began a quest to find a study suitable for our group...not too deep...not too shallow....full of practical application.
God directed me to a wonderful little book, "Life Lessons in Revelation" by Max Lucado. I can't recommend this study enough if you are in a small group and looking to explore what is often a book we steer clear from. From the first week when John, exiled on the Isle of Patmos, has a vision of Christ to the final return of the Lamb, I can't tell you what great discussions and lessons we've all learned from this last book of the Bible. Although we didn't debate the finer points of ah-, pre-, and post-millieniallism, nor dissected the symbols and meanings behind the judgement, we learned the true lesson from the book....for the follower of Christ....we win in the end. Ultimate Good overcomes evil. And that's all that matters.
There are so many things from the study I will never forget and, surprisingly, would love to facilitate this study again. Funny how God does that with the very things we fear. But as this study came to a close, and the story of redemption came full circle, I found an interesting aspect of the Holy City, the new Jerusalem. In short, to bring you up to speed, this is the home for the believers in Christ where we will dwell forever with the One who died for us.
Revelation 21 goes into great detail to describe this city. I love when Scripture gets detailed. I'm a detail person...I can't tell a story in under 30 minutes, or say my name in less than 3 minutes, so I relish a rich, descriptive passage. Verse 12 describes the gates, and says "On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel." We know from the Old Testament, that the lineage of Jesus is traced back to the Tribe of Judah, one of those twelve tribes. Old Testament connects to New Testament in the fulfillment of the gospel.
Verse 14 describes the foundations, "The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." The foundations held the names of the twelve ordinary men chosen by Jesus to walk closest with Him during His life and ministry on earth. Watch Him lead, teach them how to carry the gospel on after His death and resurrection. No other twelve men were closer to the gospel in action, manifested through God coming as man in Jesus. The very vehicle used to redeem us.
As I read those Scriptures, I realized that the very city which I will be able to enjoy one day is built and fortressed with remembrances of my need for a Savior. The gates are open because Jesus came to earth through the lineage of the Tribe of Judah to be my Sacrificial Lamb. And the very foundation of the walls of that city are marked with the names of the men who walked the journey alongside Jesus....a journey that happened because God loved us enough to provide redemption for our sins. I sinned, I needed a Savior, God provided, I'm redeemed, and will live eternally in this beautiful Holy City. And, the plan of God comes full circle, and inscribed in the very firmament of this city.
I love a story with a happy ending. A plot with twists and turns is intriguing and interesting to follow, but ultimately, I want all things to end with a "happily ever after." It is humbling to know that my Savior will return one day and put a "happily ever after" at the end of the story...which will merely be the beginning of all eternity. Hallelujah, what a Savior!