The book of Revelation is: GOD against the Dragon
It is: The Lord Jesus and His Church (City) against Rome (city of 17 & 18)
Revelation is about worlds in collision!
The saints are “those that dwell in heaven” and the Dragon’s people are those “that dwell on earth.” Revelation 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 12:12; 13:14, twice; 14:6; 17:2;—12:8, 12; 13:6; 19:1, 14.
The Dragon gives power to Rome (13:4) and it shapes the world (by armies, false religion and commerce (13:7, 11-16; 17:1-7; 18:9-19). The sea beast is Rome from a military perspective that supports the whore of 17 which is Rome as the world’s trading center and the earth beast which is Rome from a religious perspective (it’s called the false prophet (19:20). Since it dominates and shapes the world the world becomes “a world of the ungodly.” Compare 2 Peter 2:5
Rome claimed to be unstoppable and took the name of the eternal city and like boasting  Assyria, and Babylon, Persia and Greece in Daniel they “proved” the world was theirs by domination and the nations bowing to them. (See Isaiah 10:5-11 & chapter 36.)
TOLD IN PICTURES: Rev in chapters 16 & 19, the battle of Armageddon—(Megiddo, where so many ancient battles were fought) has Christ and His followers on white horses defeating Rome and its allies and therefore defeating Satan. The vision has Rome destroyed. So in his use of Rome Satan is thoroughly, utterly defeated (he doesn’t suffer a set-back). Chapter 20:1-3 has him locked away in the abyss rather going into the fire. His thousand year imprisonment images his total defeat in Rome’s defeat.
STILL IN IMAGES: The next scene is the battlefield. John sees mass of corpses, then he sees many of them rise from the dead to sit on thrones with others and with Jesus Christ.  They reign a thousand years while Satan is imprisoned 1,000 years. It has nothing to do with length of time. It is a way of stressing his utter defeat and their utter triumph.
This is “the first” resurrection John sees and it is only for those who have died in the service of the Lamb (20:4-6). To die in Christ is to triumph, the image says. The picture of a resurrection is not new. See Ezekiel 37:1-14 and the glory and unity that follows in the rest of the chapter under “David”.
STILL IN IMAGES: Then John sees the rest of the dead who lay dead for 1,000 years coming to life only to be judged and die again (20:5, 12). That is the 2nd resurrection implied by the words “the first resurrection”. Those in the 2nd are those who made themselves allies of the Dragon and they die again and join the beasts in a lake of fire–a 2nd death. (See Isaiah 34:8-10 for the image of a lake of fire; God’s judgment on Edom and enemies of Israel. See also Isaiah 66:22-24 and note carefully the imaged context AND what they see! See also Daniel 7:1-11.THESE ARE ALL PICTURES and John uses them in Revelation to tell of Rome’s fate in coming against the Church. (Note how he made use of the Egyptian plagues throughout the book and note how he makes them even worse but they cannot be actual historical occurrences. They speak of Rome in bizarre dress the way they spoke to God’s enemy Egypt in historical occurrence. And carefully notice 22:18-19 along with 22:6-10.
Satan is utterly defeated in using Rome! The picture of his being locked down for a 1,000 says that. Those who died in Christ IN THE PICTURE reign 1,000 years, those who died in the Dragon IN THE PICTURE lie dead 1,000, then rise and perish forever. Three uses of 1,000 years to tell three distinct but immediately related truths. Satan is not utterly destroyed after Rome’s defeat so he can be used to give a final word from God.
But might there be other enemies after Rome?  IN ANOTHER PICTURE: Satan is released to get an unbeatable army that is annihilated without even a battle(20:7-10). That says he can never win, no matter how big the army. See Ezekiel 38-39 where John gets his PICTURE from. He uses it for the same purpose.
Israel had plenty of fierce enemies but God brought them safely through (Ezekiel 37). Yes, but what of the future? The future us secure! Gog & Magog is numberless but see chapters 38–39. So it is in Revelation. God defeats Rome and assures the Church that the future is secure. Gog & Magog are destroyed & Satan enters the lake of obliteration.
Rome’s world is shredded (see Isaiah 13, 34, Jeremiah 4, Zephaniah 1 and elsewhere and see evil worlds uncreated) and a new world appears IN PICTURES. In chapter Rev. 21:1. The Roman “world” has been destroyed and Rome (city) is burned in chapter 18. Now IN A PICTURE John sees the persecuted city (the Church) comes down from heaven (not up from the earth) looking like a bride (21:2). The angel says he wants to show John THE BRIDE, THE WIFE OF THE LAMB (21:9) and he does that by taking him to see THE GLORIOUS CITY. (21:10-21). THAT’S A PICTURE of the triumphant Church that John gets from Isaiah The city four-square is not heaven! It’s an image of a glorious city with walls 1400 miles high; it’s NOT heaven. It’s the triumphant Church (under Christ) living in a “new creation”. See Isaiah 11 & 66 and the closing of Ezekiel 40–end. These are images of a secure and glorious future painted in terms that speak to people in ways people would think of as glorious.
These images tell of worlds in collision. again and again and again they’re given to us in Holy Scripture only we don’t “get it”. It’s only when we get a new and enriched vision of God and who we humans are meant to be that we begin to see our tragic state. The 1st WW ended, joy, joy. We provoked a 2nd WW, it ended with Hitler’s defeat, joy, joy….Korea,  Viet Nam, Berlin Wall comes down, joy, joy…….. Evil worlds are brought down (by God, in all the complex ways He does this) and a new world appears (Revelation 21, “there was no more sea”—which is where the sea beast rose from and see Daniel 7). And then because we don’t see it as the work of God we humans glorify our tanks, bombs, planes, wisdom, economy, sanctions, forms of government and such and we create another “world”.
Jesus said to one of Rome’s powerful representatives: “My kingdom is not of this world. It’s not like yours. I don’t wade through blood or ‘make a desert and call it peace’. “
But there’s a new world coming! We may not know what is coming but we know WHO is coming so we don’t need to know what is coming!
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About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

5 thoughts on “AND I SAW A NEW HEAVEN…

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