Vs. 1, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” What a wonderful hope we have for our future! The promise of a new heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22) now will come to fruition. Question: Can you imagine a place with no more tears, death, mourning, crying or pain (vs. 4)? This is the place where those who softened their heart and put all trust in the Savior will reside, and quite a comparison to those who do not (vs. 6-8). The bride of Christ (the church) is the new city Jerusalem. We see the combining of the OT saints to the church with the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles (vs. 11-14). In other words, the faithful will have an eternal reunion! As John takes his measuring rod, we should be stunned by the size and of the new heavens (vs. 15-21). Think about it; 12,000 stadia is equivalent to 1500 miles long, wide and the kicker, tall! That’s a gargantuan new heavens! The beauty will take our breath away because it will reflect the glory of God. It’s quite notable that there is no specific temple (vs. 22), for the whole place is the temple of God. There will be no need for the sun or moon, for God’s glory will provide the light (vs. 23-24).
Regarding application…God Dwells with Us. Vs. 3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Jesus is called Immanuel (God with us) and now we literally will have God dwell physically with us again (Garden of Eden). While we find much comfort in the promised Holy Spirit, dwelling with God in the new heavens and earth is going to be amazing! I think back to my young childhood on those scary nights where the darkness would seem to overwhelm me. The noises and sounds of the wind would cause me to run to my mom’s room and beg her to sleep in her bed that night. The safety I felt like a child was wonderful, but imagine brothers and sisters that it will be incredibly amplified when we are finally dwelling with our God!
Vs. 9, “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” John uses vivid symbolism to illustrate some very important history. Certainly the dragon is none other than Satan and the stars (vs. 4) represent the rebellious angels. It is quite dramatic as we are given insight into a cosmic battle with Michael the archangel defeating Satan (vs. 7-8). Let’s go back for a moment, the woman probably represents Israel or the remnant of Israel (vs. 1-2). The child that was born represents Jesus (vs. 5-6). The serpent Satan proceeds to make war with those on earth (vs. 17).
Regarding application…Enemy is Desperate. Vs. 12, “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Though the enemy’s time is short, he is desperate to wreck havoc wherever he can. Satan is out to destroy God’s people, especially the church. While some believe this verse is speaking of the latter half of the seven year Tribulation, the principle of desperation applies today. We live in a time when we should not take lightly our opponent. Certainly, Jesus has been victorious and will ultimately be victorious. However, that doesn’t mean that we will win every battle in this spiritual war. Let us not grow overconfident but let this be reminder to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6).
Vs. 3, “And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” Much is covered in this chapter, but a huge question looms. Question: Who are these two witnesses? The book of Revelation has strong differing opinions from biblical scholars. Some believe that John is approaching this particular chapter metaphorically, while others believe in a more literal approach. A wide belief over the centuries have been that the two witnesses are Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets). Their purpose is to display the power of God during this time of Tribulation. The antichrist will seemingly defeat them in the middle of the Tribulation, but God had different plans for them (vs. 7-14).
From an historical point of view, the purpose of trumpets were used to acknowledge the ascent of a king to the throne. This event looks to the future as God’s wrath will be poured out upon the evil that is in rebellion towards God. We see the ark of God’s covenant which symbolized God’s presence with His people.
Regarding application…Bearing Witness.Vs. 3, “And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” In the face of trial and persecution, they set the example for us. For Jesus Himself gave us the responsibility to bear witness to this world too (Acts 1:8). The two witnesses remind us that God will give us power. However, the temporal outcome looked grim. But God raised them up and He will raise us up too! Brothers and sisters, let us not grow weary in bearing witness about our Lord and Savior! What area in your life today can you share the love of Christ?
Vs. 3, “The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Silly people, God did not miraculously rescue them only to have them starve to death! I would love to think that I would not be one of them, but when you have hundreds of thousands of people complaining, it’s easy to get wrapped up into it. The LORD would introduce manna and quail in a divine way. In Hebrew the word “manna” translates, “What is it?” Manna, this daily bread from heaven would be a picture of Jesus (John 6:30). The LORD had every right to discipline the Israelites for their lack of faith, but this provision is a show of His grace. The LORD set the example of resting of the seventh day (Sabbath) by His creation and also the way He provided extra for them prior to the rest. Sadly, some would not listen and obey (vs. 27-30).
Regarding application…Our Daily Bread. Vs. 4, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” Question: Have you ever thought about why God would have them collect daily? He certainly could have sent it all on one day for the whole week supply. I believe He sent it daily because we are a forgetful people. It was only a month since the Red Sea, and they grumbled and complained. We need to remember daily the knowledge of the LORD God (vs. 12). That is why I am so convicted about spending time daily with the Lord. Jesus is the perfect picture of the manna. Let us dine daily at the table of our King! Let His word nourish your heart and remind you that He is in control!
Vs. 4, “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.” Our Father in Heaven is teaching us how He created us to be relational. Hosea gives us a picture of the Father’s love for His child (vs. 1-4). But, like a rebellious teenager, Israel shuns the Father’s love (vs. 5-7). God had given his children every opportunity to turn back to Him, but He will not force a relationship on those who do not want it. Yet, despite this decline of love toward the Father, we are given some insight into the heart of God (vs. 8-9). And lastly, we see God will come like a roaring lion calling His people back to Him (vs. 10-11).
Regarding application…God’s Compassion. Vs. 8, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” Question: Do you see it? The love and compassion of God is amazing! We see the covenant (promise) that God follows through and remains true and faithful despite our own weaknesses. The Father in Heaven does not give up on His children. It doesn’t make sense to our limited human minds why God would be so compassionate to a people who did not deserve it. But, while it may not make logical sense, I think deep down inside we have realized this in our own lives. So often we turn away from God, but He is so faithful despite what we do. Knowing of this type of love should compel us to share it to the world that is dying in sin and loss of hope. God’s love is not earned on merit, but by grace (undeserved acceptance and love). Don’t let this truth be contained in your own heart, but shout it out to the world!