13 August 2012

Revelation 21:1-8

"The home of God is among mortals." (v. 3)


This is a surprising turn, both in the Book of Revelation and in the story of God's dealings with human beings. Revelation has been filled with fantastic imagery, battles and thrones, visions, signs, angels and beasts. Now in its closing chapters a conclusion of a kind is reached. The battle is over - the lamb is victorious and a new heaven and earth are seen and the old ways have come to an end.

The shape of the new heaven and earth are a little surprising. Rather than God ruling the heavens, seated on a throne and worshipped by ranks of angels, the Book of Revelation tells us that in the new heaven and earth God's home is with us human beings. This is astonishing and a bold and dramatic departure from what we might expect. To be at home with someone is to be intimate, to be in close relationship and proximity. For God's home to be with human beings means that we can know God fully and intimately. Also it means being known by God fully. When we share a home with someone it is difficult to hide anything from them - and it is possible to share everything intimately.

So the writer of the Revelation, John, is telling us in this passage that God dwells with us, is at home with us, can be known intimately and will know us intimately. In and through Jesus,God comes and makes God's home with us. God is not far away on a throne, ruling over us, but is in our world, in our lives, at home with us. God is now family and we are God's family too.

To Ponder

  • Where do you feel 'at home'? And with whom?
  • Does the thought of God being at home in your life reassure you or scare you? Why?
  • How far away or how close does God seem to you right now? How does that feel?

Bible notes author

Revd Helen Cameron

Helen Cameron is a Methodist presbyter and Chair of the Northampton District. Prior to this she was the Assistant Secretary of the Conference and Director of Methodist Formation at the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham.