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Awaiting the Bridegroom: “He’s Ho-o-o-ome”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Lord Jesus, open our minds and hearts to Your truth, through the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. Amen.
On the outskirts of a small town, there was a big, old pecan tree just inside the cemetery fence. One day, two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts. “One for you, one for me, one for you, one for me,” said one boy. Several dropped and rolled down toward the fence.
Another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, “One for you, one for me, one for you, one for me ….”
He just knew what it was. He jumped back on his bike and rode off. Just around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along.
“Come here quick,” said the boy, “you won’t believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls!”
The man said, “Beat it kid, can’t you see it’s hard for me to walk.” When the boy insisted though, the man hobbled slowly to the cemetery.
Standing by the fence they heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.”
The old man whispered, “Boy, you’ve been tellin’ me the truth. Let’s see if we can see the Lord…?” Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of the Lord.
At last they heard, “One for you, one for me. That’s all. Now let’s go get those nuts by the fence and we’ll be done….”
They say the old man had the lead for a good half-mile before the kid on the bike passed him.
We have invested the last four months, among several other one-Sunday sermons, in taking an overview look at the Book of Revelation – to see what it promises and how those promises effect our lives and faith today.
We have seen that this book could be viewed as a love letter from the Bridegroom Jesus to His Bride, the Church. While many see this book as confusing and uninterpretable, we are choosing to see it in its simple format of Jesus’ revelation of Himself to us, His beloved. We imagined what it would be like to be truly known by the One who loves us more than all the words in the world could say! We discovered, in Revelation 2-3, that Jesus knows us through and through – and He loves us anyway!
Since then, we have been looking through this ultimate account of Jesus’ apocalypse of what it means to truly know our beloved – to know Him by how He reveals Himself to us.
We have seen the Revelation of Jesus as the Perfect Priestly King, as the Warrior Judge, and as the Shepherd King.
We continue our journey through Revelation, not reading it to figure out every jot or tittle, but reading it to better know the One who sends us this book. He knows us, deeply, intimately, personally. How well do we know Him?
We are almost through this final prophetic voice, and we are going to slow down. The Bridegroom is arriving Home. How are we going to greet Him?
Look with me at Revelation 21. I invite you to hear the Word of God from Revelation 21:1-7 …. —-
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. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 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. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
These seven verses describe, in some detail, how the book of Revelation is Gospel Good News. 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. John, the Apostle and Gospel writer, records that He who was seated on the throne (who is that? [Jesus])- He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Have you seen the news this weekend? Have you read about the shootings, the riots, the un-deniable evil and unmistakable ignorance? If you haven’t, you’ll get another chance tomorrow night while watching the first debate with our two primary presidential candidates. (We’re not going any deeper with that because then we have to argue about which one is evil and which one is ignorant….)
There will be a day when we will all hear Jesus’ words: “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega (that’s what this parament means), the Beginning and the End (Alpha and Omega is like saying the “A” and the “Z”).
Did you notice that our Call to Worship today sounded very similar to this passage from Revelation? But the Call to Worship came from the Apostle Peter’s Second Epistle (not from the Apostle John’s writings at all). And in context, even II Peter 3 came from somewhere else.
Listen again to this passage in its entirety (or at least from a longer portion of this letter):
1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. ….
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
From where does Peter get his teaching about the Lord’s return? [from the Old Testament Prophets and the Lord Jesus Himself through the preserved writings of the Apostles – directly from Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, and from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and many of the other New Testament Epistles written by Paul and others].
Neither Peter nor John made these things up – they are God’s Word, the great Reveal by Jesus Himself. Therefore, “They are trustworthy and true.”
Look again at Revelation 21:6-7. What does Jesus offer there? [“It is done.” Where else have we heard words like that? – on the cross, “It is finished”, we are told He said, and He gave up His spirit. The work of salvation was accomplished on the cross – now, at the end of time, the waiting is done. What does He offer? With the Authority of the One who created all things (Alpha and Omega), Jesus offers a drink from the spring of the water of life. Any who drink from this spring – any who believe in their hearts and proclaim with their lips that Jesus is Lord, shall inherit this gift of eternal life.]
What do we have to do to inherit something? Simply be in relationship with the One who holds the Authority to give the inheritance away. Or to use the language of the book of Revelation – be the Bride which loves the Bridegroom.
There is much we might look forward to when we get to that place of paradise – seeing loved ones and enjoying pain-free dancing and running. But what we might be most excited about is simply being allowed to be with Jesus ….
The picture of “Satan and the Lord” dividing up souls, “one for me, one for you” is silly and wrong.
This nut knows where he’s going, not because I am just so good and worthy, but because I believe the Good News of salvation by grace through faith. Thank You Jesus, for letting me be a part of this bowl of nuts!
We are thirsty, dear Lord, thank You for the free gift of the water from the spring of life. Refresh us again, right now, we pray, in Your Son’s name, the Lamb of God, the Shepherd King, Amen.
Currie, Susan Porterfield; Revelation: Awaiting the Bridegroom; Presbyterians for Renewal; Louisville, KY; 2010; Pp. 75-83.