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Everything is Brand New
Fall Quarter: The Sovereignty of God
Unit 3: Alpha and Omega
Sunday school lesson for the week of November 6, 2016
By Rev Earnestine Campbell
Lesson scripture: Revelation 21:1-8
To live in the light of Revelation’s promise of renewal of all creation
The author of the Book of Revelation is predominantly attributed to the Apostle John of the sons of Zebedee. Some scholars indicate the date of its writing is under the time of Domitian (AD 95-96), during John’s exile on the Isle of Patmos, off the coast of Asia Minor. The literary genre has a modern language of “apocalypse.” We see in the book of Revelation the end of the conflict between God and a minority of righteous people against the majority of the wicked. As reflected throughout the Bible, we see a God that rescues and vindicates his people after enduring conflict and suffering.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and earth, had passed away, and the sea was no more.
In the Book of Revelation, God vindicates the minority of righteous people that withstand the struggle of the oppressor and other ungodly formations. This pronouncement is a final eschatological event (Isaiah 65:17), fulfilling God’s predestined plan for a new heaven and earth of joy, peace, love, and tranquility for his people. In my opinion, God allows things to die that no longer bear fruit in our lives.
I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
In this picturesque beauty of a new heaven and earth, the author uses the symbol of an earthly beautiful bride prepared for her groom on the wedding day. Just as a man and woman become one on this day and cleave to one another, the author portrays God as now dwelling as one with humankind, his faithful people. As the final covenant, a place of paradise, the righteous will no longer have to suffer, no more diseases, mental illnesses, other health challenges, and no more death (Isa. 25:6-10).
Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “All is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty, I will freely give water from the life-giving spring.”
God affirms his Words of power, elite authority, and his reign of heaven and earth. “Write this down” is such a strong affirmation of God's promise. In our modern era, we can translate these words as, “You can take it to the bank.” God continues to pronounce his authority; the author uses the first letter of the Greek alphabet, “Alpha,” that God is the “beginning,” and the last letter of the Greek alphabet, “Omega,” that he is the “end.” There will be no need to search for anything better, for he is all things; to phrase it in modern vernacular, the “be-all” and “end-all” (Isa. 43:19; 2 Cor. 5:17).
Those who emerge victoriously will inherit these things. I will be their God, and they will be my sons and daughters. But for the cowardly, the faithless, the vile, the murderers, those who commit sexual immorality, those who use drugs and cast spells, the idolaters and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.”
Points to remember and to share:
There is a reward for righteous living.
The righteous will inherit God’s original plan and final destination of a new heaven and earth.
Our societal culture celebrates what God opposes in verse 8, but, as people of faith, we must not participate, condone, or encourage vile living.
Remember, as Christians we have a Baptismal covenant and we are heirs to the Kingdom of the Most High God.
Lord, we thank you for your divine revelation and your perfect final dwelling place, free from suffering, pain, diseases, burdens and the vices of this world. We wait for the fulfillment of your "true" word to inherit a new heaven and earth. Amen.
Rev. Earnestine W. Campbell serves as the Associate Director for Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.