Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 31 2020 - Revelation 22:1-21– The beginning and the end

Today we come to the end of the Book of Revelation, to the end of the New Testament as it is conventionally arranged, and so to the end of the Bible. And what a wonderful ending it is. Here, all that was written before and promised before reaches its conclusion.

The Bible begins with a picture of the perfect world God created for our blessing and enjoyment. It is pictured as a garden full of delights – a garden in which God walked and talked with a man and a woman whom he had created in his own image and to whom he had entrusted all that he had made. And in the middle of the garden was the tree of life, symbolising the life God had given to them and to all creation. But humankind was banished from the garden and from these blessings because of rebellion against God; banished to live in a world marked by God's absence; banished to live out a limited lifespan under the increasing shadow of death.

And now the Bible ends with a vision of a garden city, filled and ever refreshed with life that flows from the presence of God. There is no longer one tree of life, there are many such trees, providing nourishment and healing – healing for all that is past; healing for all the hurts of our present world. There is no longer any curse. There is healing for the nations (what sermons there are in this wonderful phrase). The inhabitants of the garden city will see God's face and live in the brightness of his presence (Revelation 22:1-5).

If this wonderful picture fills us with joy and with longing, what shall the reality be like?

One of the hymns we sang when I was a child began like this:

God has given us
a book full of stories,
which was made for
his people of old,
it begins with the tale of a garden,
and ends with the city of gold.

But the Bible is more than a book full of stories; it tells the one great story which is both God's story and our story. It is the story of human folly and of divine faithfulness. It is a love story. It is a story that centres in Jesus who, along with the Father is "the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (22:13).

In him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

The Lord Jesus has centre place in this story because it is in his death that God has passed judgment on a world in rebellion against him; in his death its death is announced. And it is through his resurrection that the new creation has begun in the realm of the Spirit and will be fully manifest when he appears. He is the hope for the healing of a broken world – “by his stripes, we are healed.”

We need to be careful how we tell this story; not adding anything extraneous to it nor leaving out any part of it (22:18-19). We need to tell the world the story. We need to live the story in the power of him who is our beginning and shall be our end.

Father God, help me by your Spirit to show and tell your story more faithfully and fully day by day. Help us to live the story and show the world something of the promise of the age to come. May this story bring healing to the nations, life to the world and eternal glory and praise to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Peter Misselbrook