Revelation is really a tale of two cities.
The first one is described in chapter eighteen. She is filled with ivory, costly wood, bronze, olive oil, cattle and sheep – every luxury imaginable. The kings of the earth admire her. But one thing is missing: God. No matter how admirable and powerful the city seems, she is impotent and vulnerable. In one hour, she is brought to ruin.
The other city is described in chapter twenty-one. She is not filled with costly things. She is made of costly things. Gold there is as common as the pavement of her streets, and most importantly, it is the home of God.
Only the people of God will inhabit that city – those who thirst for the water of life that only Jesus gives. But not all of even them live there. Only those Christians whose behavior in life repudiates the behavior of the inhabitants of Babylon will live there, for only their names remain written in the book of life.
This year, at the age of 93, renown Bible scholar Dr. Jack P. Lewis, writing about his childhood, penned these words:
In the pre-television age, a program on the radio from Dallas offered a New Testament to any person who would read the entire New Testament. I never knew what group was making the offer. They mailed out the Gospel of Matthew; and when it was read and returned, they mailed out Mark. Postage then was only two cents. I received the gospel of Mark and finished it in a day or maybe two. My parents had to be convinced I had read it by a recitation of its content. I finally received and read the book of Revelation. I received my New Testament. The pictures of the book of Revelation impressed themselves in my childish consciousness. That is something I have to see!
I have been blessed by the privilege of traveling widely. I have seen a lot of what the world has to offer; but as I approach the end of my pilgrimage, I am still registering, “the city with the street of gold and gates of pearl is something I have to see” (Jack P. Lewis, As I Remember It (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate, 2012) pp. 228-229).
Life is a tale of two cities. Which you end up with is all about the one you really long for. As the new year approaches, where are you headed?