Day 19

Life with God in the Garden City

from the reading plan

Isaiah 65:17-25, Revelation 2:7, Revelation 3:21, Revelation 21:1-4, Revelation 21:22, Revelation 22:1-5

In the months before my mom died, my wife and I invited my parents to move from their home in Kentucky to our house in Tennessee. It was during the pandemic, and we believed that my dad would have a better chance of staying with Mom and taking care of her if he had our help. He agreed, so they moved into our guest bedroom.

After a while, we needed to move Mom into a memory care facility. Each day, Dad made the trip to the assisted living center, and each night he would come back to our house. He kept that up until she passed away.

As we prepared for the funeral, we made it clear to Dad that he was more than welcome to stay with us. While he chose to move back to Kentucky, he still knows that he can come back and stay in “his room” anytime he wants for as long as he wants. So far, he’s only stopped by for quick visits and holidays. But if he ever decides to come back for longer, he’s got a home with us.

I think about that as I read through John’s visions in Revelation. Beyond all the wild images and crazy symbolism, the main point is that God, our Father, has promised to live with His children one day. We’re not sure about the timing, but because God’s the One doing the talking, we know it’s a matter of “when,” not “if.”

That’s kind of a big deal because God has really only lived with people physically on two other occasions. The first was the garden of Eden. When He walked with Adam and Eve, His presence was a tangible reality for them. The second was when Jesus came to earth. He was the flesh and bones manifestation of Immanuel, “God with us.”

But those were temporary situations. Sin separated God from Adam and Eve, and Jesus returned to the Father once His mission was complete and salvation was purchased. In Revelation, though, there is no expiration date. God is coming to live with His people forever. We will be in His presence for eternity—and that’s a really long time!

With that in mind, it might be tempting to just sit back and wait until God makes His move. We could get pretty comfortable looking to the skies and trying to guess the day of His arrival. But here’s the thing: God’s presence is still with us today. Because of this, we still have a lot of work to do.

Whenever I teach Revelation, I always share my simple summary of the book: “Jesus is coming again, so we need to act like it.” Yes, God’s presence will dwell full-time with His people again. In the meantime, however, we’re called to share His presence with others so they can come to know Him as well. Our eternity with God’s presence started the day we accepted Jesus’s offer of salvation. And we still need to live like it.

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