Click here for a print-friendly version
I See a New Jerusalem
Fall Quarter: The Sovereignty of God
Unit 3: Alpha and Omega
Sunday school lesson for the week of November 13, 2016
By Rev. Earnestine Campbell
Lesson scripture: Revelation 21:9-14, 22-27
Background scripture: Revelation 21:9-27
To embrace the hope experienced in the vision of the New Jerusalem
Hearing the Word
As we prepare to hear the Word, let’s identify some of the characters that we will engage in this lesson. We see the angel as the guide and speaker, John the apostle, the receiver of the message, Jesus the Lamb, and the Bride is the New Jerusalem, the new city.1
(Adult Bible Studies Fall 2016, The Sovereignty of God)
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues spoke with me. “Come,” he said, “I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” He took me in a Spirit-inspired trance to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
The author symbolizes in this final chapter the vision of New Jerusalem, and the message that God has all power. We see the divine celestial beings, angels, speaking figurative words for a new vision of hope. These divine beings appear anthropomorphic, in human characteristic; thus, the spiritual becomes more personal. The author continues from last week’s text the image of the marital covenant.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on these verses for the purpose of life application:
- Have you experienced God’s sharing or revealing to you a new vision or plan for your life?
- Did you realize God was leading you or did you dismiss the plan or vision?
Teachers, as you engage Revelation 21:11-14, consider inviting a volunteer to read aloud the text while others close their eyes and listen. As participants meditate on the scripture, invite them to share what they heard, touched, and witnessed when reading the text aloud.
The city had God’s glory. Its brilliance was like a priceless jewel, like jasper that was as clear as crystal. It had a great high wall with twelve gates. By the gates were twelve angels, and on the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel’s sons. There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. The city wall had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the Lamb’s twelve apostles.
The author of the text expresses the manifestation of God’s presence with his believers. The image of God’s glory reflects the brilliance of priceless jewels. In the Adult Bible Studies, that author expresses the image of God as “purity and perfection.” In Ezekiel 43:4, we see in the text the glory of God entering the temple, signifying his protection as well.2
I can imagine a peace provided by God’s presence that provides protection that we don’t quite feel today; a protection void of security cameras, human made high walls, and security guards. God’s symbolic secure wall will be all the protection we need. The Adult Bible Studies tells us “the wall and gates were likely connected to Ezekiel 48:30-35. Ezekiel does not mention a wall, it does mention gates and gate towers, indicating that there must be a wall and well.”3
Teachers, for more supporting text, take the opportunity for the class to read passages in Ezekiel 48.
I didn’t see a temple in the city because its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. The city doesn’t need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day, and there will be no night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is vile and deceitful, but only those who are registered in the Lamb’s scroll of life.
From the Adult Bible Studies, we see the new vision differs from Revelation 3:12:7:15 in anticipation for a New Jerusalem. There will be no temple because of God’s permeating presence. It explains further that his idea is not new to John’s vision. “Jeremiah 3:15-17 hints at this, where the Ark of the Covenant that was housed in the Temple is no longer needed (verse 22).”4
I can picture a worship not based on internal and external factors or building concerns. The Adult Bible Studies continues to connect other references to the worship. In the Gospel of John, the author states, “the idea of the absence Temple as a place of worship is in this conversation with Jesus and the Samaritan woman (read John 4:21, 23).”5
We see that the new vision connects with some other Biblical text from the Old and New Testaments. Paraphrasing, the Adult Bible Studies author continues to expound that the sun, moon, or lamps will no longer be needed, using Isaiah 60:19: “The sun will no longer be your light by day, / nor will the moon shine for illumination by night. / The Lord will be your everlasting light; / your God will be your glory (verse 23).”6
Let’s take away from the text and author that God’s vision is the ultimate victory!
Questions to consider
- Consider someone that may feel past failures or obstacles dictate the finality of their life; how might you help him/her see a new vision of hope?
- Meditate on God’s vision and plan for your future. Do you see God’s preeminent plan for your life?
Father, our vision is so limited at times that we lose hope and sight of your promise for our lives and the bright future you have for us. Let us not be self-destructive and counterproductive from the joy and peace that you give us. Thank you for being the light that guides and leads us on the path of righteousness and let us reciprocate your love and grace to others in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Rev. Earnestine W. Campbell is the Associate Director, Office of Connectional Ministries. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan Turrentine, Adult Bible Studies Fall 2016, The Sovereignty of God (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2016, pg. 106)