God's End Game - Part 51
Series: God's End Game
March 01, 2020
God’s End Game - Part 51
Let’s begin this week’s message by reading the text from last week’s…
Revelation 21:1–7 (ESV) — 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
These four verses told us four things about the end of God’s End Game.
1. Our forever heavenly home will be a new heaven and earth. That is not symbolism.
2. It will house the holy city, New Jerusalem, which also is not symbolism. (more on that next time)
3. God will literally, actually live there with us, merging his heavenly dimension with ours, the way it was in the Garden of Eden.
4. It will be the world we’ve always longed for, the reality that hovered just beyond our reach. A world free from all bad things, a world God can look at and say, “It is good.”
As we move on in this chapter today, we rejoice over how sure, how certain this future is. Look at verses…
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Richard Bauckham writes: “God precedes all things, as their Creator, and he will bring all things to [end times] fulfillment. He is the origin and goal of all history. He has the first word, in creation, and the last word, in new creation” (Theology, 27). The flow of the visions discloses the character of God, who makes all things new (21:5).”
The sovereign God of all creation guarantees these things are true. That doesn’t need anymore explanation.
In the second part of verse 6 and verse 7, God tells us who gets to experience this bright and certain future…
…6b To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
The thirsty get to drink from the spring of the water of life that flows from God’s throne. See…
Revelation 22:1 (ESV) — 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
Rivers have their source in a spring. God’s throne is the spring from which the river of life flows in the new heaven and earth. It’s also the Lamb’s throne. Jesus is the Lamb of God. This makes me think of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well…
John 4:13–14 (ESV) — 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
When I was a young boy, I cut grass a lot. Maybe that’s why I hate doing it now. I can remember pushing that lawn mower and roasting in the hot Alabama sun and getting so thirsty. There was only one one thing I wanted: water. And the best water was the kind that came straight out of a garden hose.
Just as there is physical thirst, there is spiritual thirst. People are parched spiritually, looking for purpose, for meaning, for happiness. They want something to satisfy their longings and they end up trying to find it in religion or no religion at all. They search for it in relationships. They search for it in drugs. They try to find it it in sexual intimacy, in careers, in cars, boats, and houses.
But none of those things really satisfy. Jesus says that he offers living water that becomes in a person an overflowing spring that always satisfies and wells up to eternal life. Eternal life is a quality of life in this world, but also a reality of the next world.
So the thirsty here in the new heaven and earth are those who realized in the old heaven and earth they were deathly dehydrated, they were in desperate need and looked to Jesus. They called on him. They took him up on his offer, an offer that can only be given, not earned or bought, because it’s too costly. Look back at verse 6…
…6b To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
It is without cost yet still unimaginably expensive. Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, provided payment for this incredible gift. God is able to offer living water to the spiritually thirsty because his Son offered himself up in our place.
Verse 7 tells of another who will be a part of the new heaven and earth:
7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
It says those who conquer will have this as their heritage.
The word conquer here is from the root Greek word nike, which is related to something modern we all are familiar with, the brand of shoe. Nike means to overcome, be victorious, and is actually the name of the Greek goddess of victory. You get the connection. Athletes compete for victory, they conquer, and all that. Just do it, because it’s up to you. Conquerers earn their victory with hard work and mad skills. This seems opposed to the idea of having your thirst satisfied without cost.
One has to do with vulnerability, deep seated need, and being incapable of experiencing the new heaven and earth apart from God’s grace. The other seems to imply picking ones self up by the bootstraps and being victorious in his or her efforts to work their way into God’s forever heavenly home.
Are there two kinds of people who get there? Are there two ways? This might confuse or worry us if we didn’t dig deeper into the Scriptures and discover the Greek word used for conquer here, and the notion that goes with it, was evidently special to John, the writer of Revelation.
Of the 34 times we come across the root word, nike, in the NT, 24 of those occurrences are in the Apostle John’s writings (17 in Revelation alone). Look at what John records Jesus as saying in…
John 16:33 (ESV) — 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The word overcome in this verse is a word used only here in all the Bible, but it’s root word is — you guessed it — nike. What did Jesus mean by that? We’d get it if he’d said it after the cross or even after his second coming but this was before both.
It was said in the already and not yet sense we see in the Bible so much. Jesus had already been overcoming the world with what he taught and the miracles he performed. He demonstrated his authority over the wisdom of this world and the powers of darkness that set themselves up against the kingdom of God.
That pointed forward to the “not yet” to come — the war being won for good when he died on the cross and rose from the dead. That too was an already but not yet pointing forward yet again to Jesus’ return at the end of the age and what we see here in the last two chapters of Revelation.
Jesus is the ultimate conqueror. He is far above the goddess Nike herself having overcome her and all the false gods of this world. But how does this give us peace? Jesus is the victor but how does that apply to us?
Look at what John wrote in his letter ( which would have been written to the seven churches in Revelation)
1 John 5:4–5 (ESV) — 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Guess what Greek root word is found four times here (I even underlined them in the notes for you)? Nike. In what way are we overcomers, conquerers? Is it by works, by just doing it? NO. John says it's by faith. Conquerors are those who put their faith and trust in Jesus, the One who overcame the world.
How does that work? Look at what Paul wrote the Colossian Christians…
Colossians 3:1–4 (ESV) — 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Because, as a believer, my life is hidden with Christ in God, because my identity, my self, is bound up in him, whatever is true of him is true of me. I am a conqueror because he conquered all. John wasn’t the only NT writer who got this. Paul wrote…
Romans 8:31–39 (ESV) — 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Did you see it in verse 39? More than conquerors is from the Greek word hypernikao. It’s derived from two words: hyper (above or over as in hyperactive or hypersensitive) and nike (conquer or overcome). Paul called believers hyper-conquerers.
This has nothing to do with our spiritual prowess, how good we are, how many verses we’ve memorized, or how many rules we’ve kept because Paul makes it clear we are hyper-conquerors through Jesus who loved us. It has all to do with how good our God is and how strong Christ’s love for us was in living the life we should have lived and dying the death we should have died. This spurs us on to good works, by the way; it doesn’t give us license to sin and sit back waiting for the end!
The idea of conquerers wasn’t just important to John and Paul, it was a big deal to Jesus. Look at what he said to believers at the end of every letter to the seven churches…
Revelation 2:7 (ESV) — 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
Revelation 2:11 (ESV) — 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
Revelation 2:17 (ESV) — 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
Revelation 2:26 (ESV) — 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
Revelation 3:5 (ESV) — 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
Revelation 3:12 (ESV) — 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
Revelation 3:21 (ESV) — 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
All the privileges listed for those who conquer relate to the new heaven and earth. They are given in and through and by Jesus. They are a Christian’s heritage, the rights and blessings conferred from a father to a son (or daughter), and a heritage, by the way, is given according to relation not how well you’ve overcome temptation.
A striking and sobering contrast to all this is found in verse 8…
Revelation 21:8 (ESV) — 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
They were never thirsty enough to turn towards Jesus and so they never conquered in him. They gave themselves over to the world and all its lusts. Their heritage is the second death. We’ve already covered this coming tragedy.
Conclusion: So the thirsty and those who conqueror in our text today are the same people experiencing the same joy of living in the new heaven and earth for the same reason: utter dependence upon and faith in Jesus.
Remember how Revelation 21-22 tie into all of Scripture more so than any other text? Look at Isaiah 55 as we close and see how that’s true:
Isaiah 55 (ESV) — 1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. 6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
 As quoted in Koester, C. R. (2014). Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. (J. J. Collins, Ed.) (Vol. 38A, p. 807). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.
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