In Revelation we have read of trials and judgments; we have read of foes and battles; we have read of the sorrows of the righteous and triumphs of the ungodly. We ask, “Shall there be no end of these things? No end of this state of imperfection, of warfare, of unrest? No end of these vicissitudes and inversions of right and wrong, of these perpetual renewals of strife?”
The conquering Christ answers with the bright affirmative, “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).1 The Holy City descends from the hands of its Builder and Maker, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). The voice of authority proclaims, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev 21:3). God is reinstalled. The full realization of the prophetic name, Immanuel, God with us, is their God. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:4).
And when will this new order take place? The psalmist answers, “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence” (Ps 50:3). Now note the three triumphs of the Conquering Christ.
I. THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF THE CONQUERING CHRIST
From Enoch’s prophecy, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 1:14), to Daniel who was promised that he “will arise” to his “inheritance at the end of the days” (Dan 12:13, NKJV); from Jerusalem when Jesus promised, “I will come again” (John 14:3), to Rome when Peter looked “for new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet 3:13); from the upper room at the Lord’s Supper when the disciples were instructed that there would be no discerning the Lord’s body unless we discerned His first coming, there is no drinking His cup unless we also hear Him say, “Until I come”; from Corinth, when Paul removed any doubts about the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor 15), to Thessalonica, when at the eschaton there will be a glorious reunion of the saints (1 Thess 4:16–18); from the descriptive signs of His second coming vividly portrayed in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, to the comforting angels on Mount Olivet who assured the disciples that “this same Jesus” would return (Acts 1:11).
We must look forward as well as backward. We must look to Him on the cross and on the throne (Heb 9:28). We must vividly realize that He who has once come is coming yet again. But, come when it may, it will come surely. Those who are then living will see it (Rev 1:7); and those in Christ who are in their graves will awake to see it (1 Thess 4:16).
Yet, while some “love His appearing” (2 Tim 4:8), others are terrified at the thought. The Authorized Version renders that terror as “wail” (Rev 1:7), just as a mother over a dead child or an innocent man sentenced to execution. Such will be the hopeless grief of those who remain impenitent, they cannot repress their anguish; those who once professed faith in Him, and have gone back to the world; those who speak against Christ whom once they professed to love; those whose inconsistent lives brought dishonor upon the name of Jesus; those who refused His love and stifled their consciences—all these besides the Roman soldier who thrust his spear into the Messiah’s side, may be said to have pierced Him. They will be lost! How much then should we offer this prayer: “Then, O Lord, prepare My soul for that great day; O wash me in Thy precious blood, And take my sins away.”
II. THE TRIUMPHANT CONQUEST OF EVIL AND DEATH
The second coming of Jesus will be the execution day of sin and all that follows in its train, such as suffering and death. Sickness and weakness, feebleness of hand and step, toil and want, old age, sorrow and crying—all will depart. The book of Revelation casts the gleam of victory over the “last enemy,” death (1 Cor 15:26). John writes, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labours” (Rev 14:13). But not only will they “rest from their labours,” they will rise again in a glorious resurrection, when “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54; cf. Heb 9:26–28).
Smothered by fragrant flowers and the soft cadences of music, death remains a grim reality impossible to camouflage, but “above the ruins of our lives” writes Helmut Thielicke, “strides the One who today advances the claim that He can authoritatively close the gap between God and man, that He can restore the world deranged by pain, unrighteousness and enmity against God, that He is more than a match for the awful majesty of death.”2
That man is the conquering Jesus!
III. THE TRIUMPHANT REALITY OF A RESTORED PARADISE
John has shown how in the end Christ vindicates His cause and triumphs over the powers of evil, whose final doom has been disclosed (Rev 20:7–14). When John penned the Apocalypse, the church was in a period of utmost danger. Jew and pagan were united in hatred of the name of Christ and were putting forth every effort to destroy those who believed in Him. James, Peter, and Paul had been executed. The fall of Jerusalem had taken place. Persecution and death were riding triumphant over everything that was marked with God’s name. Then, when God seemed to have deserted the earth, a great voice was heard out of the throne promising a new world (see Rev 21:1–5).
The magnificent hope and prediction of God’s final and decisive victory declares that the conflict is not perpetual. There is to be an end of iniquity, and the wicked are to cease from troubling. The enemies of the Lord will perish. God creates a paradise and catches up Paul to hear unspeakable words and things “eyes have not seen.” Unspeakable for such grandeur and infinite sweetness, John saw it all—beautiful new heavens and a new earth.
John’s vision was not darkened by the sad shades of sin, pain, sorrow, and death. This new world was one in which there was pleasure without pain, smiles without tears, health without sickness, joy without sorrow, life without death, and love without hate.
In this earth made new, Ellen G. White declares that “immortal minds will contemplate with never-failing delight the wonders of creative power, the mystery of redeeming love. . . . Every faculty will be developed, every capacity increased. The acquirement of knowledge will not weary the mind or exhaust the energies. There the grandest enterprises may be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations reached, the highest ambitions realized; and still there will arise new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of mind and soul and body.”3
Do you have a yearning for such a place? The conquering Christ has a place reserved for you (John 14:1–3). He says, “Come!”
1 All biblical quotations are from the KJV, unless otherwise indicated.
2 Helmut Thielicke, The Silence of God, quoted in Gladys M. Hunt, Don’t Be Afraid to Die (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1971), 43.
3 Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1950), 677.
Rex D. Edwards, DMin, is a former vice president for religious studies at Griggs University