The End Is The Beginning


Pastor Jerry Gillis - November 15, 2015

We are to worship and be faithful witnesses while we await for the appearing of our Savior.

Community Group Study Notes

  • In light of everything we have discovered in this series, what is our responsibility to join God on His mission? Why is this even our responsibility at all?
  • From Revelation 21-22, what is one thing that gives you great hope and comfort in this life?
  • What is one thing that you will apply from this series this week? How will this help you be a faithful witness to God? What difference will it make in the lives of people in your life who are still unreconciled to God?


Memory Verse

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. - Revelation 22:17

Sermon Transcript

Well, it almost feels like to me that I'm Frodo at the end of a really long journey as we're coming to the conclusion of the book of the Revelation. I appreciate your patience and your endurance through this, because it's a challenging book to navigate, but it has so much to say to us.

And so when we come to the end of the book of Revelation today, chapters twenty-one and twenty-two, it's very difficult for a communicator to deal with chapter twenty-one and chapter twenty-two, because it's not an end. It's actually another beginning. And so, to even get to that place you just start going, o.k., I don't really know what to do with that.

I'm reminded of the Roman philosopher Seneca, who lived at the same time that the apostle John the Revelator also lived, and he made this statement once. He said, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end". And I thought, boy, that's really kind of directly related to the end of the book of Revelation. Even Winston Churchill, I think, when he was speaking to the Lord Mayors Group when they were in the midst of World War II, and ultimately they had won a battle against the Germans, but there were still a long road to go. He made a pretty interesting statement when he said this. He said, "Now this is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But this is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

You see, ultimately, that's what I think that we're seeing in the book of the Revelation. What we're seeing, is we're kind of seeing the end of the beginning and then there, in the words of Lewis, there is a kind of a story that's going to unfold that none of us have ever read after this. It's actually a pretty startling thing to think about and what Revelation does is it does a number of different things for us. The end of the book of Revelation, chapters twenty-one and twenty-two, it awakens our imagination, and it does require imagination to be able to understand what's being communicated. It promises that there's a consummation that's coming - that there's going to be an end to this story that's going to be satisfying. And also we see Jesus issuing a proclamation about his coming. And then finally, we see in these last two chapters that there is a two-fold invitation that we need to pay attention to.

So, I want to begin with the idea that our imaginations need to be awakened. This is kind of the first piece of what we're looking at in Revelation twenty-one and twenty-two. We journeyed such a long way in this book, and now we come to kind of the ultimate place in the book where everything has been rushing toward - that history has been running toward this moment.

And look what it said in verse number one, it says (of chapter twenty-one), "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea." You know, it's an interesting statement here, because what John the Revelator does right here in his writing, is he quotes directly from the prophetic hope of Isaiah chapter sixty-five, where Isaiah was talking about the idea of a new heaven and a new earth, and John here quotes basically saying, that that is what now we're going to be experience. At this point, this is going to come to be exactly what Isaiah said. This is actually going to happen. There is going to be a new heaven and a new earth.

Now, here's the difficulty for a communicator. When someone is trying to describe what a new heaven and new earth look like, when everything is going to be made new, the only way I can do that is with old language. I don't want to dive into the philosophical worm hole here, but even - listen - even new is going to be new in new creation. The idea that we are describing something so different than what we could possibly conceive of does require our imagination, because we only have old language to describe new things - so new, that we don't even know how to define its newness, because our oldness doesn't give us ability to define its newness. Now I'm coming out of the philosophical worm hole for just a minute, so I hope that wasn't too bad for you. I just dove in for a moment and then jumped right back out because I don't want to fall.

Now here's the thing. When we talk about this idea of being new, this new heaven and this new earth, we're not talking about something trivial here. You know, like if you got a new outfit to wear today. Or if somehow, you know you went to a new restaurant this week. That's not what we're talking about here, because that is not the idea of new that we're describing. The idea of new heavens and new earth means, that it is so new that when it happens, that life changes dramatically. It's like a new vista has been opened, and the world doesn't look the same anymore because of its newness.

Now, it's really hard to try and create old world images that give us some idea of what the new creation is going to be like, but let's try some things that are not so trivial - like for instance marriage. Now when that happens - I was a bachelor for a while, right? Got out of college and was not terribly long out of college. I got married when I was twenty-four. I had just turned twenty-four, like two days prior so that's - just guys, as a heads up - get married like within a day or two of your birthday. You never forget your birthday, therefore you should never forget your anniversary. Because I know in my own life it's like, hey, it's my birthday. Take a day off. Hey, it's my anniversary. I can remember that. That's just what we call good planning. But when I got married, I'm telling you right now - I used to be single, right? And I used to do what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to do it, and when I got married things changed. Like dramatically, everything was new. I even saw the world differently, and I saw so many things differently because of marriage.

Or maybe, if a new guest moves into your house - maybe it's a child that's been adopted, or somebody that you've taken in - it changes the whole dynamic of everything in the home. Where it used to be, you know you could do whatever you want, right? Sit around and plop Cheetos in your mouth while you're sitting around in your underwear. Now it's kind of like you got somebody in your house. You're going, whoa, I can't do that anymore, right? Your whole world changes. Even the outlook changes, because you've got somebody now in your home, and it's not just you anymore and it just kind of changes.

Or maybe, when somebody has had what seemed to be a terminal illness, and they were battling and walking through and basically thought they had seen the end of their world. And then, they come through it. It's as if everything changes for them, where they look and they just go, this is extraordinary because I thought I was going to die, and now I'm seeing the world with new eyes.

Or maybe it's when a child is born. When me and Edie had our first son. I just remember when you're leaving the hospital and all those people in the hospital aren't coming with you, it's a new world. I drove better than I've ever driven when I was going home from the hospital in our little Honda Civic. I'm just - I mean, it's ten and two, baby. I am right here, right? I'm rolling the window down and doing hand signals. I'm going left. Back up. I mean, I needed tractor-trailer space for me you know, at this point. Everything's new, because now you're caring for someone who's with you.

These are old kind of ways in our world that maybe we can begin to describe the idea of newness in the new creation. And the reason that I use these kinds of illustrations is because the text does. The same kind. It's actually saying to us some of the same exact things.

Look with me in verse number two. "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a," what? "A bride - beautifully dressed for her husband." There's the idea of wedding. "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God's dwelling place'" - whose moving in? "God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." It's as if you've been healed from this long terminal illness. "He who was seated on the throne said I am making everything new! Then he said write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. He said to me: It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children."

It's this idea almost of a new birth. So there you have it. You've got these images that are being played out for us, because the idea of how new creation is can't even be described in even language that we can really wrap our minds around, but instead is being described in a variety of different images so that we can somehow begin to process this. But it's a beautiful picture.

In verse number seven, there where we were reading a moment ago it says, to the victorious, they will inherit all this. Do you know this is kind of the consummation of the promise that was made to the churches in chapter two and chapter three? Remember the church of Ephesus, Laodicea, Smyrna, Thyatira, all of those churches, right, that we studied? Every single one of them, Jesus would end by saying this: "To whoever is victorious, to whomever overcomes, to whoever conquers - here's what I will promise you." And he was making specific references to each of those churches, and here we kind of have a summary statement that - hey, if you have overcome, and you have been a faithful witness, and the transformation of grace has so changed you that you have walked through all of this faithfully, you are going to inherit all of this. Every promise that I said, it is going to be fulfilled, and it's going to be true.

And then in verse eight we're kind of - we're reminded about something else. He says, "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Now, this is a repeating of some of what was already stated in chapter twenty that we already looked at last week. And that there is the end result of those who say no to God - who say no to the grace of Christ. But ultimately, isn't it interesting that the list begins the way that it begins? Do you know when there's lists in the Bible, that most of the time it's important to see what the first of the list is, because oftentimes they are put in order of priority. Not every single time, but most often that's just kind of the way that the ancients did things. When Paul wrote about the fruit of the Spirit, he said the fruit of the Spirit is love. That was the first thing out of the gate. Why? Because love is the fountainhead from which all of the fruit of the Spirit flows. And in here he says, the cowardly. Why? Because this whole story that we've been reading about in Revelation is about the faithful witness of people who are walking through being persecuted, who are walking through being killed for their faith - those who are saying, I'm going to check out on God and believe the lie, which he calls the unbelieving, and really all the rest of this is just a form of embracing the lie, that someone other than God is God. Whether that's empire, or whether that's a false religion surrounding that, or whether that's just the religion of you - somehow people have embraced that, and as a result maybe grew cowardly in the face of opposition, and he says that he begins the list with the cowardly and says, these are ones who are going to be consigned to the lake of burning sulfur that we talked about last week.

And then in verse number nine, he says, "One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, and on the north, south and west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

Now, what's interesting about this is it still requires significant kind of sanctified imagination to even begin to process it. And here's why. Because just like, we don't quite have the images to describe this idea of new creation and so, we get these built-in images to help us at least get our hands around them. Now we have this description of the new Jerusalem, but it's described both as place, and as people at the same time. Now sometimes we start reading and we just go pfft, right? Like could you just give me concrete terms? Well this isn't a concrete book. Its apocalyptic. I've told you that from the very outset. And so when it's describing this new Jerusalem, it is describing something that is both place and people at exactly the same time.

Now, what also is interesting is he says that the new Jerusalem comes descending down from heaven. Do you know what's missing in this particular text where everything is being summed up, in Revelation twenty-one and twenty-two, do you know what's missing? Our bad and broken theology, that's what's missing. Our bad and broken theology that says, that here's what life is all about: dying and being shuttled off to heaven. Our bad theology that says, all of life is about being shuttled off to heaven to the bye and bye. And we say goodbye. This world is not my home. Oh, yes it is. Yes it is. It's going to be different than the one we're living in right now, but it is.

You see, heaven - listen - heaven comes to earth. This isn't about just us being shuttled off like we have some escapist mentality. Revelation is not about escapism. It never has been, and you can't read about the faithfulness of witnesses who are enduring all of this stuff, and think that Revelation is about escapism. It is not about escapism. Heaven is coming to earth. That has been the case from the very beginning. It has been the case in the Lord Jesus - the incarnation teaches us that heaven and earth meet in the person of Jesus, and this has always been the design of God. That ultimately there would be a marriage of heaven and earth. That ultimately this would be the answer to the Lord's Prayer. Father in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. It is a marriage of heaven and earth that we are witnessing here. And it's a beautiful picture.

And then, it starts to describe the nature of this as place. It talks about that the gates of the new Jerusalem are named after the twelve tribes of Israel. Now, that's not just something that's thrown out of nowhere. That's actually from Ezekiel's vision. When you read chapter forty through forty-eight of the book of Ezekiel, you'll find this vision.

And in fact, very specifically we're told in Ezekiel chapter forty-eight there words: "These will be the exits of the city: Beginning on the north side, which is 4,500 cubits long, the gates of the city will be named after the tribes of Israel." You see, Ezekiel had seen this and now John is saying this is what I'm seeing. This is what is going to happen.

But there's something in addition here. It's not just that the gates of the city, like Ezekiel's vision, are named after the twelve tribes of Israel, but they also said that the foundation of the city will be named after the apostles of the Lord Jesus. Now this is an interesting picture, isn't it? Because ultimately what we see is we see this picture that Israel has always been designed to be the gateway for the world to be able to meet God. That this was kind of the idea, that God created a people for himself called Israel, so that they could declare the glory of God among the nations. It's as if they were a gateway so to speak. But because they were so up and down in their faithfulness to God, it seemed like God was stuck because he had made a promise. He was going to rescue the world through Israel, but Israel was not doing a very good job of representing him. In fact, sometimes they're worshipping gods that aren't even God.

So what happens? A faithful Israelite is born in a backwater town called Bethlehem and his name is Jesus. And he was born of a virgin, and he lived sinlessly, and he came and he preached the kingdom of God among us - that God has come, that the kingdom of God has broken into the world that we live in. That heaven is actually now kissing earth. This is the picture that we now get. And so Jesus died and he rose from the dead and now God is able through Jesus Christ who is of the tribe of Israel - the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, he will describe himself as. That now through Jesus we can be reconciled to the Father, and that is the message that the apostles were actually preaching to the world. They extended the message out far beyond Israel to be able to get that to the four corners of the world. It's a beautiful picture that's being painted for us here in this text.

Then look in verse number fifteen. It says, "The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick."

So obviously, this is describing place, but we also know it's describing people, because when it talks about the apostles and it talks about the tribes of Israel, the reminder there is all those that have been touched, that every nation and people and tribe and tongue is going to be represented in this people that make up the new Jerusalem. It's a beautiful picture. But it's also described as a place - a place that it says in here has the gates that are named after the twelve tribes and the foundations of the apostles, and then you've got this picture of measurement going on. That's also straight out of Ezekiel's vision because Ezekiel measured the temple as well.

And so, now you have this angel demonstrating with a measuring rod of gold, measuring out the actual city. And the city interestingly enough is laid out as a square. Now one of the things that you would have to know about the ancient world is that they thought that perfect cities, ideal cities, were perfect squares. In fact, when you go back and you look at Babylon, that was how Babylon was laid out. Interestingly enough, when you see that this was twelve thousand stadia, it talks about - that is an equivalent in our terms to about fourteen/fifteen hundred miles. Do you know what that did to the original audience when they heard that? If they were thinking and they were doing the big picture thinking when they heard this, they were thinking to themselves, that's about the same dimensions as the present Roman Empire. In other words, it's as if God is saying, I know what you're able to understand is a great empire that's dominating, and you feel like you kind of wilt as small and insignificant in the face of something so great, but I'm telling you, I am coming and there is going to be a new order here. There is going to be a new kingdom here. And in ways that you can comprehend, this is going to be a greater replacement than an empire of oppression. It is going to be an empire and kingdom of freedom. This is the picture that's being painted.

And he doesn't just go so far as to say that the place is actually a square, he actually goes one better than that, because he notes in there that is it 12,000 stadia in length and is as wide and high as it is long. In other words, what he said is this idea of new Jerusalem is a cube. You're going, o.k., yeah, and so what about that? Well, here's why that's important. Because not only is it teaching us something beautiful - by the way, when you look at a cube, a cube actually has a number of different faces, right? It has twelve lines. When there are twelve lines times 12,000 stadia per line, that's 144,000. Have you ever heard that number before? It's a reminder of the completion of the people of God, that everybody's accounted for that's supposed to be accounted for. That they're all there.

But do you know what else it is, even better and even bigger maybe even than that? Because these are beautiful pictures that are being portrayed. This idea of a cube is actually something that comes directly out of the Old Testament because this is temple language now. It is not describing actually the fullness of the temple's architecture, but something within the temple which is actually called the inner sanctuary or the Holy of Holies.

Listen to 1 Kings, chapter number six. It says, "The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar." Did you catch that? The Holy of Holies, ladies and gentlemen, was a cube. It was as wide and as high as it is long.

And here, the description of the new Jerusalem is that of a cube. Here's the reminder: God is saying here's what's going down. You are going to dwell in the Holy of Holies in intimacy with me forever. This is your destiny. I with you, and you with me, you as my people, I as your God, Me being All in All, in my presence, in ways that you've never before conceived of. This is the picture that we get when we start talking about the idea of new creation, and it's humbling to read.

And then after that it goes on to say in verse fifteen after, talking about the angel, then talking about the measurement of the city, ultimately it says in verse eighteen, that "the wall was made of jasper and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone." It then goes on to talk about the various precious stones that are used in this, and part of it is you're going to have to use your imagination here because maybe as place you go, man, this place is going to be unbelievable. Could you imagine just the glory of God reflecting on the beauty of the stones that are being noted here? I don't even know what that's going to look like, but I'm all about that. Whatever that is. Whatever that means, right?

But this is also about people. And so when you see all of these beautiful - when you see all of these beautiful stones that are located there, this is a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, because these are stones that are consistent with the stones that were on the breastplate of the high priest. It is as if God is saying, you remember through Moses when I said what I was going to do with my people? That I was going to make them a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood and do you remember when Peter repeated that in the New Testament, and said everybody who comes to Jesus becomes a royal priesthood who is now stewarding the glory of God in the world? Well, that's exactly what happens to us. We become fully and completely a royal priesthood that are mediating the glory of God in the world that we're in - this new world, this new creation.

And then our imaginations have to be continually ramped up, because in verse twenty-two it says, "I didn't see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of Life."

You see, we need our imaginations awakened because when we read all of this, we just read about the idea of the new Jerusalem being like a Holy of Holies and seeing how its adorned reminds us of a royal priesthood - priests who ministered in the temple and a holy of holies that's in the temple, and then you've got all of this temple imagery, and then John says, and I didn't see a temple. He's giving us all of this temple imagery, and then he says, I didn't see a temple because God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. He cannot be contained by a building. He is now all in all. This is the hope of all of our dreams. This is what we have longed for forever. In the depths of our soul we have longed for this moment. That He himself is our temple.

And there's no need for the sun or the moon. You know why? They're redundant! The glory of God is so all prevalent, we don't need the sun. Can you imagine for a moment just this picture. I mean the sun is a bright, hot, glorious ball of gas. And the illumination of the sun is extraordinary to think about. We can't even stare into it. And the glory of God so outstrips the sun, there's no need of a sun. I don't even know what to do with that. Like this is the part where you just start going pfft, right? No sun. No moon. You know why? No night! How can there be night with this kind of prevalent glory? It's staggering when we begin to read about the glory of God.

And then, we're reminded as well that this glorious God still considers the crowning achievement, the creation of people that he loves, that he made in in his image, because he says, the kings of the earth will bring their glory and their honor into this place. What does that even mean? I'm not fully sure. What I do think that it means it this, though. The redemptive side of all cultures is going to be represented. Every culture has brokenness. Every culture has disfunction. But I want us to be able to embrace all of the redemptive side of every culture. And is God then allowing us as ruler and reigning with him to somehow add to or be a part of the development of the city that he is the one who has created and brought in but that we somehow have a place in that? That would make perfect sense to me. That would make perfect sense to me. And it would be just like God.

So, you have to awaken your imagination to read this text, but you also are reminded that there is the promise of a consummation. In other words, the story that's coming to an end, it's going to be a satisfactory ending.

You see, here's the thing. Have you ever read a story and you just like, you got to the end and you just went, that's the stupidest story I've ever read. I was hoping for a better ending than that. Right? I've done that. Not much, because if I know that's coming, I don't even pick the book up, right? With really, really good endings, do you know what really good endings often have as an attribute? They somehow, somehow encapsulate the beginning. Somehow.

You guys know I'm part nerd - I like some really classic books in literature. A Tale of Two Cities is one of those. I've seen the stage show in New York City, and the books. It's just a great story. It's set in the French Revolution. Charles Dickens wrote it. You know it, right? It's the one that begins, it was the best of times, it was the {worst of times} - yeah, you guys know that. You got that part right on the test. You're like, I don't know what else happened in there. That's some killer opening lines, right? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Well, it's really revolving around three primary people. They're not the only characters, but three primary people. You've got Charles Darnay, who was a French aristocrat. You have Lucie Manette, who was the lady that he loved. She's also French. And then you've got Sydney Carton, who's an Englishman, who's kind of a drunk lawyer. And the long and short of it is, to paraphrase the story - both of these guys looked a lot alike and they both loved Lucie. That sounded familiar, didn't it? Not Desi, right? They both loved Lucie, and so it ends up that she chooses Charles and Sydney's forlorn about the whole thing, you know, but he still loves her. And she ends up having a family, you know, they've got a child now. And the long and short of it is that Charles gets in trouble and he's arrested and he's going to be basically killed - hanged or by guillotine. Sydney realizes how detrimental this is going to be to that family, because he still loves Lucie and so he ends up coming to the prison because he's kind of an attorney, and he ends up drugging Charles and he takes his place. And he sends Charles and Lucie and the baby out of the country so that they can be safe and he goes to the guillotine. And the story ends with his words, right before he faces his own execution. He says it is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done, and it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. That's how it ended.

The reason this is so brilliant, that you go, Charles Dickens you are a genius, dude, is because, for Sydney Carton, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. He's facing his death but now finally he's doing something noble with his life. Do you know what it meant for Charles Darnay and Lucie and their child? It was the best of times. They got out of harm's way, and their family's still together. And it was the worst of times, because someone had to die for them to be able to do it. You can go impress people at a party now with that if you want, but the reason that this is so incredible is because the best stories ever told, somehow when they end, they give you some kind of flash of the beginning, and it gives you some kind of sense of satisfaction, where you just go it's almost transcendent.

That's exactly why when we arrive in Revelation twenty-two we shouldn't be shocked what we find. We find a journey back to Eden. "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."

You know what's incredible about this? I mean, even Isaiah back in his prophesies said that God tells you the end from the beginning. Those are the words of Isaiah. God tells you the end from the beginning. And so you've got - in this passage of Scripture, you've got a garden. You've got a river. You've got a tree of life. You've got all of these pictures, even a mention of sun, even though there's not one here and there was one created in the very creation narrative. You've got all of these images that are harkening back to the very beginning. By the way, some of the same images that Ezekiel is also communicating in his prophecy when you read chapter forty through chapter forty-eight as you're going to go do when you get home. Right? You see some of the exact same imagery.

Why is this important? Well, it's important not to say that we are just going back to Eden, because we're not actually. This, what we're reading in Revelation, is not that. It's something different than that. You see, Eden was a garden. This is a garden city. Now, what's beautiful about that is that it's a reminder that God has always wanted this from the very outset. What we see in the book of Revelation is not God's plan B from what you messed up in Genesis. We see what God has always wanted to do. God doesn't make these kinds of mistakes, you see. This is what God has always wanted to do. You see, this is the marriage of heaven and earth. Cities are things that human beings created in the image of God. As they begin to reign and as they begin to expand, they end up building themselves places where they dwell together called cities. This is what human beings do that are created in the image of God. And God is the one who designed this picture of a kingly garden. It's also a temple picture in the book of Genesis when you look at it. This kingly garden where He was going to dwell. And now, when all of this is said and done you've got a garden city. You've got a marriage of heaven and earth.

And like Eden, just as Eden was not an end in itself, ladies and gentlemen, Eden was a place of God's dwelling where people made in the image of God were to do this - assume that they were supposed to extend the garden wherever they went. Where the river flowed, they were going to extend the garden. {baby crying} I'm working on it. Doing the best I can. They were going to extend the garden as best they could because the whole earth - the earth outside of Eden needed to sense and know the presence of God and the shalom that God brought. See the new Jerusalem that we're reading about here, it's not the end of new creation. It's not the whole of new creation. In fact, the assumption is that we will reign forever and ever and we will extend - listen - we will extend our reign over the earth from the new Jerusalem, because we will now be of the capacity to be able to do so. It's a brilliant and beautiful picture and I just - one of my favorite verses in the Bible is verse number four of chapter twenty-two where it says they will see his face.

You see, here's the thing. Whenever - if you - again, and if you want another victory at a party besides the Charles Dickens stuff that I gave you - here's one: You can say that what's going on here sometimes in the bible is called an anthropomorphism. Try and ask Siri about that! I've tried it. It doesn't go well. An anthropomorphism which simply means this - it means ascribing human characteristics to God. Because we don't have other ways to describe God. It's like saying when we talk about God as Spirit, right, Jesus seated at the right hand of God. That's ascribing human language to God who the Scripture says is Spirit. I don't know how to put all of that together, but that's just kind of what it is. And here it says we will see his face. Now, there's no question we will see the face of Jesus, but the idea of the face of God is the idea - listen - is the idea of adoration and blessing.

You remember when the people of Israel, the constituted first people of God, had come out of the bondage of Egypt and now when they were getting rules to live by so that they would be a unique people set apart for God, God says to Moses, hey tell Aaron this is the blessing I want you to give to them. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Why? Because face is consistent with blessing. To turn is consistent with curse. And here - we will see his face. We will live in whatever you can understand perpetual blessing to be, this is it. We will live in an intimacy that we cannot ascribe words to. This is staggering, not only for the intellect, but for the soul.

So, we have to awaken our imagination, and then we're promised a consummation, and the story ends how we wish the story ends. But then we see Jesus issuing a proclamation. Look in verse number six - it says, "The angels said to me these words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place. And then these are the words of Jesus: Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll." And then look again in verse number twelve and it says this: "Look, I am coming soon," Jesus says, "My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

You know what Jesus does here? He gives a proclamation, and here's his proclamation: I'm coming soon. I'm coming soon. And then he tells us who he is. I'm the Alpha and Omega. I'm the Beginning of all of this and I'm the End of all of this - and by the way, just as a heads up, I'm without beginning, and I'm without end. Throw that one in your mental lunch box and try and chew on that one, right? And then he says not only that, but I'm the Root of David - I am Israel's promised Messiah. Make no mistake that that's who I am. I am the promised Messiah of Israel, and I am the Savior of the whole world. And then he says I am the Bright and Morning Star. In other words, an encouragement at the end of this. I know, I know that you are walking through hell on earth under the tyranny and oppression of the Roman Empire, and these are dark days. And every generation since then has lived in some series of dark days where we see things like have just happened in our world happening in the world that we live in, that these are dark times sometimes that we live in. But he says, I am the Bright Morning Star. I am the One that is going to appear out of the darkest night so that you can know that I am yelling to the world that there is a new dawn and a new creation that is coming. This is what Jesus reminds us of and what he encourages us by, and he issues this proclamation to tell us that he's coming soon.

But then there's an invitation. And the invitation - after John gives the warning, toward the very end of the book - after he gives a warning of hey, you better not add anything to this. You better not take away anything from this. Don't mess around and misrepresent this. Then he says this, verse twenty. "He who testifies to these things says, Yes I am coming soon." And then here's what John says. "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." John just issued an invitation to Jesus. "Come, Lord Jesus."

You see, ladies and gentlemen, the book of Revelation, if you wanted to sum it up, it's certainly about Christ, but as it relates to us, it is about us being a worshipping community and being a witnessing community. That's what the book is about. It is about us as a worshipping community and us as a witnessing community and here's the thing. What I want to do to finish this series, is I want to do actually what the book of Revelation teaches us to do. Sometimes worship, ladies and gentlemen, is celebratory, and should be. Sometimes worship is longing. Sometimes worship is lament. And so John says with longing, Come, Lord Jesus. And so here's what I want to do. I want us to join John and his heart's cry from 2,000 years ago and I want us to cry out for Him to come as well. So just join him because the invitation that John made is to Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus. And I want to join John in making an invitation to Jesus to come, Lord Jesus. And we're going to sing that, and as we finish it, I'm going to come back before we leave and tell you the second piece of the invitation, because it's still in here in Revelation twenty-two. So stand with me as we do this together. And by the way, this is not your opportunity to sneak out, in case you were wondering.

["Even So Come" song is played]

Amen. Now do me a favor. Be seated for just a moment, because I want you to hear this. I'm going to dismiss you in just a second, but I don't want you to leave before you hear this. So the first part of the invitation that Revelation twenty-two gives us is this, that we can join John, and we can call out to Jesus to invite him to come, and that's what we've just done. But there's another part of the invitation, and here's what it says in verse seventeen. The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

You see, here's the invitation. The invitation is not only to join John in saying, "Lord Jesus, Come!" But now by the power of the Spirit, through the church, through the bride of Christ, we now say to the world that we live in, if you are thirsty, come to Jesus. If you feel abandoned, come to Jesus. If you feel insignificant, come. If you are hungry for righteousness, come. If you can't fill the hole that your heart is screaming out, come. If you're scared, come. This is what Jesus' invitation is to you by the power of the Spirit through the church. And so what I want to do is I want to sing that - not me - I want to sing that invitation to you very briefly, and then I'm going to let you go. But listen to the invitation that the Spirit and the bride offer to you if you need Jesus.

["The Spirit and the Bride" song is played]

So that's the invitation that we offer you. Wherever you've come from, whatever your background, whatever's happened to you, whatever's gone on in your life, if you've never come to a place of receiving Jesus, the Lion who is the Lamb, the one who holds new creation in his hand, the one who is coming soon, the only One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then I want to, by the power of the Spirit with God's people say, Come! Come.

Would you bow your heads with me. If you're here and you say, Jerry, I know that that's what I need. I need the salvation that can only be found in Jesus, and I've never come to that place where I've fully yielded and fully surrendered my life to Jesus, but that's what I know I need today. If that's you, wherever you are in this room or in the East Worship Center, would you just as a statement in your own heart, kind of a spiritual stake, would you just put your hand up in the air and be honest with me and say Jerry, that's me. I know that I've never done that but I know I need to do that. I need to give my life to Jesus this morning. Just put it up high, wherever you are. Thanks for your honesty. Wherever you are, put it up high. I'm looking - just hold it up for a minute. I'm looking all over the room. It's a big room. Over in the East Worship Center - thanks, all the way over here on my left. I appreciate that. Thank you over here as well. To my right - thanks, man. Thanks, buddy, down here. That's awesome. Thank you, sir. God bless you. Man - thanks. You can put your hands down.

Here's what I want you to do. I want you to ask Jesus to save you. Right where you're seated. Ask him, he's listening. He's listening. You say, Jerry, I don't really have all the right words. I don't care. Jesus speaks heart. Say, I need you to save me. I believe in you. That you died for sin and I can't save myself. I believe you rose from the dead. And with all the faith that I have I'm inviting you into my life right now for your forgiveness, for the hope that only comes in you.

If you just prayed that with your own words, your own heart, your own faith, I want to ask you to do something when we dismiss and I'm about to dismiss you in literally a moment. I'm going to ask you if you're in this room or in the East Worship Center, if you'll come by the Fireside Room. It's clearly marked out in the Atrium. There's some pastors in there. I'm going to try and stop by. There's some prayer partners in there and here's what we want to do. We just want to pray for you and we want to send you home with something that's going to help you in your new journey of faith. That's what we want to do. Please let us do that. You can do this here. Say, man, that takes a little bit of courage. Yeah, it takes a little bit of courage. It takes a little bit of courage to walk with Jesus in the world that we live in. It takes a little bit of courage. This is the easiest place on planet earth that you're going to be. These people are on your team. These are the people that were singing let the Spirit and the bride say Come! So I want to encourage you. I'm not going to - my job isn't to manipulate you into anything. But if the Spirit of God is calling you to himself and you are seeking Jesus for your life to be transformed and to be born from above, then when we dismiss I want you to come straight to the Fireside Room and if you brought somebody with you, that indicated that, come over there with them. Help them. Stay with them. Encourage them, o.k.?

So Father, we want to tell you how grateful we are for your glory and for the beauty of the gospel that unfolds before us when we open your word. The beauty that you, Lord Jesus, have come to rescue us, to save us. That it is by your shed blood through your resurrection that we can even be able to be reconciled to the Father. And that we see you in your glory and we long for that day when we see you face to face. And so while we pray, come, we also pray, God, that as we wait that you would allow us to be faithful witnesses so that we can light up the darkness that is around us and show the world the glory of Christ. An incomparable glory that even the sun has to bow down to. So help us to be that people who worship and who witness and who fulfill the words of the prophecy of this book. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

More From This Series

A Vision of Jesus

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 1 - Sep 20, 2015

Dear Church

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Sep 27, 2015

The Throne Room

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 3 - Oct 4, 2015

Judgment & Witness

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Oct 11, 2015

War of Worship

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 5 - Oct 25, 2015

Babylon Falling

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 6 - Nov 1, 2015

The World is a Courtroom

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 7 - Nov 8, 2015
Watching Now

The End Is The Beginning

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 8 - Nov 15, 2015

Worship Set List

Oh Praise (The Only One)

Michale Farren


No One Higher

North Point


This I Believe

New Wine Worship


Even So Come



The Spirit and The Bride

Matt Maher


Share This Message

Share This With A Friend

Subject: The End Is The Beginning

Sharing URL:

Send Email