Friday, November 11, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 13, 2016

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A NEW JERUSALEM
(Spending eternity in GOD’s glory)
(Revelation 21:9-27)

   In the biblical Greek, there are two words that are used for “new”. One is “neos”, which describes something that is a new version of something that already exists. The other word for “new” is “kainos” (kahee-nos), and it describes something that is new to existence, or is new to the world, the first of its kind anywhere in the world.  
    In Revelation 21, taking up at verse 9, the Apostle John says that one of the seven angels who held the seven bowls, that contained the “seven last plagues” that would soon be released upon the earth in the coming “Day of the LORD”, came and carried him away in the “spirit”, “pneuma” in the Greek, which means that he was “swept away in his rational mind only” (not physically), as if being carried away on a great gust of wind. The angel said that he was going to carry him to a high mountain where he could see the actual “Bride of CHRIST”, that is, the “New Jerusalem”, which has become the “Church of CHRIST” in the New Heaven.
    The angel also called the place where he was taking John, “the wife of the LAMB”, a term that is sometimes alluded to by the writers of the New Testament when referring to the Christian Church here on earth. When he and the angel arrived there, John saw this magnificent “Holy City” (the New Jerusalem), literally descending out of Heaven from GOD. In fact, John says that it was filled with the glory of GOD, and it sparkled like a precious gem, that was crystal clear like jasper.
    Further describing this magnificent place, in verses 10-14, John says that there were walls around the city that were both, broad and high. The walls had a total of twelve gates, three on each of its four sides (north, south, east, and west), and the gates were guarded by 12 angels, one at each gate. Written on the twelve gates were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, one name on each gate. The walls contained a total of twelve foundation stones, one on each wall, that had the names of one of the twelve apostles of CHRIST inscribed on each one of the stones.
    The angel, who talked with the Apostle John, had in his possession, a gold measuring stick that he would use to measure the city (the New Jerusalem), its gates, and its wall. When he measured he saw that it formed a perfect “cube” that was 1400 miles long, 1400 miles wide, and 1400 miles high. He also measured the thickness of each wall and found them to be 216 feet thick. The walls themselves were made of jasper, and the city was made of pure gold that was clear as glass, including the main street.
    The walls of the city were also built on foundation stones that were inlaid with twelve gems, jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysophase, jacinth, and amethyst. And finally, the twelve gates were made of pearls, each gate from a single pearl!
    In verse 22 John reveals to us that there is no temple in this New Jerusalem. This may come as a surprise when we consider how precious the temple is to the Jews in the current Jerusalem here on earth. However, the apostle’s description of the new city, as being in the shape of a cube 1400 miles in length, width, and height suggests, quite literally, that it is itself a temple of extraordinary proportions, with GOD and the LAMB (JESUS) eternally present within. Thus we see clearly that the city doesn’t need a physical edifice, or building to make a Church, because there, and even here and now, wherever JESUS is, there, the Church is also. In fact, it is only the presence of CHRIST JESUS that makes any human gathering a “Church”.
    The Scripture tells us here that there will also be no need for light (the sun, moon, and stars) in the new city, because the glory of GOD will provide all the illumination we’ll need, and JESUS also would serve as its lamps. In addition, John describes a city whose gates will remain forever open because there will be no night (the earthly temple doors were traditionally closed at 6 o’clock P.M) , and everyone who is “saved” will walk in the light of this wonderful city, and bring with them, the glory and honor that is uniquely their own, from every nation on the old earth.
    This chapter ends with a stern warning however, that, those who refuse to discontinue in the evilness of their ways, are forever barred from becoming citizens of this great community of GOD. It is not “the repentant sinner” (Those who give their life over to CHRIST), but rather, “the defiant sinner” (those who refuse to give up sinful lifestyles) whose name will not be found in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Those who die a rebellious, defiant sinner will be barred from entrance into the Kingdom of GOD.
     And so it really doesn’t matter what we take away from this prophetic and mysterious book of John’s revelations from CHRIST, its central theme and focus of “repent before it is too late” will forever remain consistent, as its message is passed on from generation to generation. In fact, its lingering message is one that is crystal clear, and serves to remind us that, in times of great conflict, GOD’s people must remain faithful, humble, and patient to the end. The promise of victory, through CHRIST, over the forces of the evil one, is something that is virtually assured in the final, highly anticipated and upcoming “Day of the LORD”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




                                 
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