Peeling the Onion: Revelation 21:1-8

Today another vision tempts an easy reduction –

In the new heaven and new earth,

What heaven and earth have passed away,

And what city or garden or river appear,

As the fulfillment – or replacement – in your eyes?

How much continuity and discontinuity mark your vision?

Should we just wreck this world and replace it –

Or is it a ‘reduce, recycle, reuse’ fulfillment?

We are used to some of this text,

From repetition in funerals and graveside

The assurance we claim for those we lose

But who is ready for that big picture?

Most folks die with a fair share of flaws,

Unresolved stuff…

Not yet quite fit for heaven

See, it’s not that easy…

Or perhaps it’s too easy,

To simply hurl your selection of enemies into the fire

I don’t think the text does it –

The assurance is

that your unrepentant abuser

is not simply still there

The catalogue

of what is relegated to the lake of fire –

Which includes all of us,

if we have a scrap of honesty –

has been selectively applied to enemies –

recently, to GLBTQ2 folks

These self-righteous accusers

Are themselves

Cowards

Faithless,

Liars,

And so on!

NJB New Heaven and New Earth

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea.

2 I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband.

3 Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, 'Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them.

4 He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past has gone.'

5 Then the One sitting on the throne spoke. Look, I am making the whole of creation new. Write this, "What I am saying is trustworthy & will come true.

6 Then he said to me, 'It has already happened. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty;

7 anyone who proves victorious will inherit these things; and I will be his God and he will be my son.

8 But the legacy for cowards, for those who break their word, or worship obscenities, for murderers and the sexually immoral, and for sorcerers, worshippers of false gods or any other sort of liars, is the second death in the burning lake of sulphur.'

NSRV New Heaven and New Earth

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;

4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’

5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

6Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

7Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.’