(This is Day 27 of our 30-day consideration of Revelation, that much abused, misused and misunderstood final book in the Bible.)
Although Revelation is usually seen as a book of destruction, God’s fundamental identity is that of Creator. . . Revelation functions rightly when it invites us into worship. . .”
— Craig R. Koester, Vice President of Academic Affairs and New Testament scholar at Lutheran Seminary in Chicago
The Trinitarian God we worship and pray to is the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.
Being a “Creator” means that God is creative, not destructive.
Jesus (the Redeemer) never destroyed any lives; he didn’t even lash anybody when he was at his angriest with whip in hand in the Temple. The Holy Spirit (Sustainer) is at work 24-7 in this world, always moving in creative, constructive, healing ways.
That’s why so much “Rapture” and “Left Behind” and doomsday preaching that foresees a day when God will inflict pain and suffering and violent destruction on people is so ludicrous on the face of it.
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Craig R. Koester, a keen Revelation scholar at Lutheran Seminary in Chicago, notes that in Revelation, God was introduced as the great Creator.
At an online Lutheran Seminary site Koester writes this of Revelation 4:1-11:
Revelation’s vision of the heavenly throne room now introduces people to God, who is the Creator. The scene pictures a rightly ordered universe in which God is at the center. Around the throne are four living creatures, who represent the created order. The creatures’ faces are those of a wild and a domenstic animal, a bird, and a human being.
The one with the human face does not take the central place of God, but with all creation joins in praise of God. The elders are the heavenly representatives of the community of faith. As they cast down their crowns before the throne, they recognize that God and not the elders is Lord of all.
God is praised for being the Creator of all things. Although Revelation is usually seen as a book of destruction, God’s fundamental identity is that of Creator.
This scene anticipates the outcome of the book, where God’s purposes culminate in new creation. The words “holy, holy, holy” and the images of casting down crowns by heaven’s glassy sea have inspired many of the hymns we use in worship. Revelation functions rightly when it invites us into worship too — which we do as we add our voices to the song.
He refers back to Revelation 4 in this take on the “New Jerusalem” described in Revelation 21:1-6 and 22:1-5:
God was introduced as the Creator in Rev 4 and God’s final great act consists of new creation.
The defeat of the forces of evil does not bring about the annihilation of the earth.
Rather, it leads to God saying “I make all things new” (21:5).
God’s future includes the resurrection of the dead but does not stop there. When death is vanquished creation itself is made new. God’s future is pictured as a city with a garden at its center. The human world and natural world are reconciled here. The tree of life stands within the city with its gates of pearl.
These pearly gates are not guarded by Saint Peter as in the popular imagination. Rather the gates stand open all the time in order to invite people into the presence of God. Here the rivers that give life flow, the tree of life has leaves to heal the nations, and the radiant presence of God illumines the city. This is the future that beckons people everywhere.
Those who are gripped by such a vision in turn ask how such scenes of life might shape a way of life now. To live in anticipation of New Jerusalem is to embrace its way of life and to bear witness to the purposes of God, whose work as the author of creation and new creation is ultimately life.
27. “To live in anticipation of New Jerusalem is to embrace its way of life and to bear witness to the purposes of God, whose work as the author of creation and new creation is ultimately life.”