Thursday in the Twenty-Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Revelation 21:9-21

The New Jerusalem—the Bride of Christ

In God are all perfections, and one of those perfections is beauty.  I have written somewhere that beauty is the coalescence of truth and goodness, but we could just as easily add justice, wisdom, love, grace, mercy, peace, and others.  When the perfection of all of God’s attributes come together, we have what is truly beautiful, indeed what is truly glorious, the splendor of which could never be surpassed on earth.  That is who God is—Beauty itself, and the glory of it as well.

But God wants to share that beauty, that glory, with His people.  And the place where He intends to share that beauty with us is heaven.  In this passage, we are afforded a visual in words which no artist could ever paint.  Scholars argue over whether the vision is what heaven is to actually be or whether the words here are symbolic depicting in human language what no men could ever dream.  I will not enter the debate for I am happy either way, for the beauty and glory and wonder of heaven is God, Himself, and not the place where we shall be.  In other words, heaven is where God is—nothing more, nor less.

But I do wish to make two points.  First, God, who is the quintessence of beauty, cares about beauty.  I have written of this elsewhere.  We have become so practical in our architecture and in our settings, so simplistic in our language, and downright vulgar in our artistic and musical tastes.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so loses any objective sense.  I disagree with this.  Some things are beautiful and others are ugly.  Notice that the shape of the “bride” is symmetrical, that her dimensions are twelves and multiples thereof.  There are multiples of ten, and three, all of which are numbers representing perfection and completion.  Of course the city is radiant with jewels—not gaudy like the harlot of chapter seventeen—but in an ordered way aligning with the foundations.  The twelve jewels themselves correspond to those on the breastplate the high priest wore, speaking of the priesthood of the residents of that beautiful city.  I cannot say enough but only that beauty matters to God and should as well to His people.

And second, the beauty of heaven is ultimately the splendor of holiness with which the place shall be filled.  It is how we shall worship Him when we are so free that we will be unable to sin (Psalm 29:2).  So prepare now with this prayer: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord…to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord (27:4).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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