Most of us have chanted along with Ty Pennington as he shouts, “Move that bus!” and a well-desrving family finally sees their new home. I remember the early days of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when the houses were actually remodeled. Today, it seems that every home is leveled and rebuilt. The old house is gone and the new house appears…all within a seven day period.
When we read The Story of the Bible, we get to the last book and we feel the same sort of excitement. That same part inside of us that chants, “Move that bus!” is also longing for the newness that is promised in the second return of Jesus to this earth. The old will be gone, the new will come. Revelation 21:1-7 says it this way:
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. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! 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.” 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.
We understand the Bible best when we know how the Bible was understood first. The first hearers and readers of the book of Revelation are persecuted Christians, scattered throughout Asia Minor. They are the seven pillar churches, and they are under attack. Christians are in dungeons, cast before wild beasts, beheaded, banished, and all seems to be lost. The devil seems to be consuming the church. The dragon of Rome seems to be spewing fire. The beast that comes out of the abyss seems to be victorious. But, as in many parts of the lower story, things are not what they seem. This is the triumphant chorus of the upper story of Revelation. Things are not what they seem. The whole Bible leads to this picture in Revelation.
- The seed that was planted in Genesis reaches full bloom in the apocalypse. What began in the first pages of the Bible is accomplished in the last pages of the Bible.
- Genesis tells us God created the heavens and the earth, Revelation describes a new heaven and a new earth.
- In Chapter 1 of the Bible, God made the sun and the stars. In the last chapter of Revelation, the city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it because the glory of God give is light and the lam is its lamp.
- The lost paradise of Genesis is the found paradise of Revelation. Satan appears in the first garden, but he is banished from the eternal garden.
- The tree we couldn’t touch in the Garden of Eden we’re invited to eat from in the garden of heaven.
- In Genesis, man hides from God, but in Revelation, God dwells with man.
God’s big idea is simply to be with us, but the first two people, Adam and Eve, chose a different vision. But God had a plan from the very beginning to get us back. As we have been journeying through The Story, it has looked bleak in the lower story, but God has never taken his eyes off of us or veered from his plan in the upper story. In the Old Testament he established a brand new nation called Israel, and from Israel would come the solution, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus would come and on that day, when he hung on the cross, he would bear all of our sins on himself and destroy death. To those who choose the gift, they will receive the forgiveness of their sins, once and for all. With that, the separation we have experienced from God because of the sin we were born with will be reconciled. After Jesus ascended to the father, he started a brand new movement with new believers called “the church.” There will be a new city, with a new garden in the center of the city where god will dwell once again.
The only remaining question is, “ARE YOU READY?” The invitation is to join the kingdom…today. To be ready today is to be ready for tomorrow. Luke 12 reference to being ready, on guard. There is an invitation for you, regardless of where you have been. Are you ready for him to “Move that bus?”
Rome did not run the world in which John lived. Washington does not run the world in which we live. God does. It may seem to be a time of international chaos, or economic chaos. But remember, things are not… what they seem. The message of Revelation is that Christ always conquers. There are problems, but Christ prevails. He prevails over natural calamities (chapter 8), demonic forces (chapter 9), the dragon (chapter 12), and the beast (chapter 13). Nothing can destroy God, his plan, or his people. The devil’s best shot always falls short.
- Start in the morning – when you get moving, start by acknowledging the Kingdom present now. Your day starts better.
- Surrender yourself to Kingdom moments – seize the moments when you feel a prompting to do a Kingdom-of-God something throughout the day.
- Set yourself reminders – set alarms to remind yourself, write notes, etc.
- Don’t do it alone – it’s all better done together. Find one or two or five friends that will commit to help remind each other to live in the Kingdom now.
Sunday, we were bare minimum with equipment and did not record the teaching. This post is an adapted version of my notes.