30 August 2013

Revelation 21:22-27

“But nothing unclean will enter it (the city), nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (v. 27)


Imagine life without gas or electricity bills. Imagine a city with no temples, mosques, synagogues or churches. Imagine a city with no need for security, no barriers, entry gates, or walls to divide or separate.

In this city all the riches, all artwork, music, literature, architecture and technology would be of superb quality. The leaders of nations walk with ordinary people and no wrong will ever be done by anybody.

Unrealistic? It seems so. Where would you ever find a city like that? Only in the Book of Revelation, it seems. Or will it really will be like that in heaven? Who knows? We certainly don't.

So, why would there be no fuel bills and no need of churches? The lack of buildings for worship is easily explained. If God is at the centre of the city, there would be no need for special worship areas. Neither is there a need for illumination for God's glory shines over everything and Christ, the Lamb, is also known as the light of the world (John 8:12).

But there is one tiny snag written into this ideal picture; the people who enter this city will only do so if their names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Now I learned the basic plots of the Bard's plays by reading Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare in childhood, but the Lamb's book of life is very different.

The Lamb, Christ himself, is depicted as having recorded the names of all those who have been transformed by their encounter with God and have lived according to God's laws of love, mercy and forgiveness. Is this book real, or just another image? Who knows? What we do believe is that God is a compassionate and fair judge of our behaviour, because we know that Jesus was perceptive in his analysis of people and could always tell the genuine from the hypocritical.

And if we can't trust God to get the judgement right, who can we trust?

To Ponder

  • Each of us has our own picture of what heaven will be like. What is yours?
  • Given that no one is perfect, what area of your life makes you particularly uneasy about your behaviour? With God's help, how might you change it?

Bible notes author

Marjorie Dobson

Marjorie Dobson is a local preacher and a writer of hymns, prayers, poetry and short dramatic pieces for use in worship. She particularly enjoys writing character pieces - 'getting under the skin of the real person that hides in the shadows of a good story'.