It’s taken more than the year I’d planned, but I’m there. The last two chapters of Revelation, 365 posts from ‘In the Beginning’ to ‘Amen.’
And what a way to finish. The last two chapters of the Bible bring the whole story of God’s work and faithfulness to a triumphant conclusion, with everything right in a way that hasn’t been since that first reading, and the end of chapter 2 of Genesis.
For at the end, the separation which has been the backdrop to the whole story is over. Heaven and earth are united in new creation. God dwells once again among his people, and the sufferings which came about as a result of the Fall in Genesis 3 are at an end.
But there’s no pretence that the great span of years and pages between the beginning and the end haven’t happened, or don’t matter. The tree of life is restored to its rightful place at the heart of human existence and society. But that place has changed. It’s no longer a garden with a single couple tending it on God’s behalf. Now the Tree stands at the centre of an impossibly vast and glorious city. For human history has happened, and that matters. The hardships and sufferings have mattered; so have the joys, the creativity, the progress – the growth of human society is reflected in the new creation – things may have come full circle, but that circle is actually more of a spiral, for the world is now higher even than it was in Genesis 2.
And God is at its heart again.
Nothing has been wasted. The glory of Creation, the faithfulness of Moses, the horrors of the Judges, the wavering of kings; the questioning of exile, the flowering of wisdom, the thundering of the prophets, all have shaped the story and so shaped the city. John the forerunner and the apostles who followed have played their part. And at the centre of it all has always been Jesus – the ‘umpire’ and mediator for whom Job longed; the Word of Creation and prophet, the Wisdom of Proverbs; the Light, Shepherd, Lord – and far more.
The story began as a vision for the world. It went wrong, and more or less started again with one man and his family. It became the story of the nation which traced itself to him, and then found its fulfilment through Jesus as the story of the whole world and all creation.
It’s been one story all the way through. And I’ve seen it in a new light for reading it and for writing on it in this way. Thanks to those of you who’ve been reading, and for the words of encouragement along the way. Some of you have told me that my writing has helped you, and I’m really grateful for that. But you’ve helped me, by giving me a reason to keep going! Thank you.
By coincidence, I’m posting this last ‘Blogging the Bible’ post in the morning before heading off for a silent retreat for 3 days. I’ve got a lot to think about, and once I’ve had time to digest my thoughts I’ll blog again and say a bit more about how this exercise has changed the way that I think.
Part of me is relieved to be finishing, and hoping to get back to playing my guitar a bit more with the time I’ll have in hand! But I’m also going to miss the discipline and the impetus to read and to think about God’s word in a rigorous way – so what’s next? I don’t know, but I can’t end this whole series better than in the words of Revelation 22:16-17.
“It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!