14 August 2012

"It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites ... And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (vv. 12, 14)


You can turn the television on and find the last 20 minutes of some action film. There are plenty of car chases, gunfire and explosions: it all looks very dramatic and exciting. But for the life of you, you can't work out what it is going on - who is the hero and who is the villain - until it is all over, and then it is too late.

The only way to make sense of the film is to have seen it from the beginning, to have some idea of the context and the plot, and to follow the twists and turns and the rise of dramatic tension.

The same is true with the book of Revelation - it is full of spectacle (not dissimilar to a Hollywood blockbuster). It is the finale to the Bible, but it relies on all that has gone before it. A useful definition of the Bible is that it is the story or dramatic account (in all senses of the term) of God dwelling in the midst of God's own people. And in Revelation, here is Jesus returning victorious to dwell with humanity.

In today's passage, John the Divine (the writer of Revelation) is describing the new city of Jerusalem and tries to give it some physical shape with walls and gates. And on both the gates and at the foundations of the walls are the "names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites" (v. 12) and "the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (v. 14), in recognition of those who have gone before.

To ponder:

  • How would you describe the Bible in a sentence?
  • In terms of your faith and discipleship, who are the people that are the foundations in making you who are? 

Bible notes author: Ken Kingston

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