International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday November 13, 2016
Purpose: To embrace the hope expressed in the vision of the New Jerusalem
Bible Lesson: Revelation 21:9-14, 22-27
Background Scripture: Revelation 21:9-27
Key Verses: I didn’t see a temple in the city, because its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. The city doesn’t need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:22-23)
Revelation 21:9-14 (CEB)
(9) Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues spoke with me. “Come,” he said, “I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” (10) He took me in a Spirit-inspired trance to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (11) The city had God’s glory. Its brilliance was like a priceless jewel, like jasper that was as clear as crystal. (12) It had a great high wall with twelve gates. By the gates were twelve angels, and on the gates, were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel’s sons. (13) There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. (14) The city wall had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the Lamb’s twelve apostles.
Revelation 21: 22-27 (CEB)
(22) I didn’t see a temple in the city, because its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. (23) The city doesn’t need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (24) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. (25) Its gates will never be shut by day, and there will be no night there. (26) They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.
(27) Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is vile and deceitful, but only those who are registered in the Lamb’s scroll of life.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
The study of the Book of Revelation is one of those most misinterpreted and scary books in the New Testament. But as we try to understand the Book as written by John, I think there is a better way to understand it. It was written when those ruling in Rome such as Nero (A.D. 54–68) and Domitian (A.D 81–96) were vigorously persecuting Christians.
If we look at this passage from a message of “hope” standpoint, I think we can better understand John’s message. Since I am not smart enough to explain it I will use the words of German theologian Jürgen Moltmann who wrote his popular book “Theology of Hope” in 1964. It was translated into English in 1967 and immediately became a bestseller among those who read theology books.
Moltmann argued that there are two ways the future is related to us. The Latin word futurum (few-CHUR-um) is one way. This word refers to the future developing out of the past and the present. We draw conclusions about the future based on past and present experience. Since “this” happened, we conclude that “that” is likely to happen.
This extrapolative thinking captured by futurum is important when we are projecting what could happen in the future. We see clouds building on the horizon and expect rain. We see that interest rates are rising and predict an economic trend.
Optimism is based on extrapolative predictions. We feel positively about the future when we see good things happening in the present.
One of Moltmann’s great contributions in his book was to insist that hope, unlike optimism, is independent of our circumstances. Hope is not based on the correct extrapolation of the present into the future. Hope is adventus (ad-VENT-us), a Latin word referring to a future coming from the outside of past and present. This is the future that comes from God.
Moltmann saw that hope does not emerge. Hope comes. Hope does not develop; it breaks into our lives as a gift from God. That is why hope can spring up even in the darkest and direst of circumstances. Christian hope is based on the possibilities of God irrespective of how bleak things seem in the present.
In today’s lesson, we will encounter a hopeful vision of a New Jerusalem. This is not a rebuilding of a destroyed city (futurum) but an entirely new reality that comes from God (adventus).
As Christians, we live in “hope” of what will be, regardless of what we are facing at the moment.
There will be a new Jerusalem and a new creation and it will be a holy place because as It says in verse 27 “Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is vile and deceitful, but only those who are registered in the Lamb’s scroll of life.”
For my hymn this week I think there is one that we should all sing, When the Toils of Life Are Over (In the New Jerusalem) - Martha Reed Garvin