The Holy City


Scripture:  Revelation 21: 22 to 22; 5.  Nigel Bunce

The ending of the Book of Revelation imagines a time of perfection.  It is the universal human dream, that we see in the writing of the Hebrew prophets and the Messiahship of Jesus.

Book of Revelation

The author was probably not the same John who wrote the Gospel. He lived in a much more difficult age than our own. His country, the Holy Land, was under a brutal foreign occupation. The earliest Christians suffered persecution and even martyrdom for their faith. The Roman Emperor Nero made a spectacle of using Christian believers as human burning torches for his personal entertainment in the gardens of his palace. It was clearly not an ideal time to become a Christian. Yet even with this background, the writer looked forward to a day when everything would be put right, rather than to a day when inevitably things must get worse.

Water in a thirsty land

In this Scripture from the Book of Revelation, we read this. “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” Imagine the power of this image in the Holy Land, which is mostly desert! The prophet Isaiah wrote, “With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation.” When Jesus accepted a drink of water from a Samaritan woman, he said, “The water that I give you will be a spring that gushes up to eternal life.”

I expect that every one of us has at some time tasted water that emerges from an underground spring out in the country. It is cool and it seems to taste extra good because coming from underground it is actually lightly carbonated. The spiritual spring of water is like it. It quenches the thirsty soul. It is a gift that is the real deal.

The writer of the Book of Revelation presents the material in dream-like fashion. Tonight’s passage offers beautiful images – of crystal rivers, of streets paved with gold, and among them this image of the spring of the water of life. It will flow in a brilliant stream down the middle of the city’s streets. Fruit trees line either side.

The universal human dream

That one day, the world will become perfect. The writer of the Book of Revelation envisioned this dream in poetic terms. Rivers of crystal. A new Jerusalem where the light of God would replace the need for even sunlight and starlight. Everyone would be welcome. This same dream had inspired Hebrew writers who awaited the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah wrote of a time when no-one would die prematurely; everyone would build houses. They and their offspring would be blessed by God. And the author of the Book of Revelation dreamed of a time when all of Creation would become perfect. Like an idealized Jerusalem, the Holy City.

This universal human dream is that one day, there will be no more war or violence. We will not read in our newspapers about children being gunned down in their classrooms. There will be no more unfairness, no discrimination; there will be enough for everyone. These are also the dreams of the candidates for office in tomorrow’s provincial election. No more poverty. Equitable access to housing and health care. These women and men have invited us to share in their dreams by casting our votes for them. Amen.