December 31.—Morning. [Or December 29.]
“There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, not crying.”
Revelation 21:1–12; 14–16; 18–23; 25–27
AND I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (After the general judgment comes the full glory of the church, which is here represented as a heavenly city, or a bride in her marriage dress.)
3, 4 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, 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. 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.
5, 6 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8 But the fearful (or cowardly), and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
9–11 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; (The city shone in dazzling light a vision of brightness, such as never before was seen of mortal eye.)
12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15, 16 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
The vision was inconceivably grand, the city seemed to stand on such an eminence, and its buildings reared their stately heads so high aloft, that it was as high as it was broad; and yet its breadth was three hundred and seventy-five miles. This gives us a glimpse of inconceivable vastness and sublimity. The number of the redeemed must be immense to need such a dwelling-place.
18, 19 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. (The unutterable splendour and grandeur of the church triumphant blazes before us in these dazzling metaphors.)
22, 23 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
27 And there shall in nowise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
How repeatedly in this chapter is falsehood branded as a dreadful sin! This should warn us to be truthful in all things, lest we be shut out of heaven.
December 31.—Evening. [Or December 30.]
“Surely I come quickly. Amen.”
AND he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the new Eden as in the old there is a river, but it does not take its rise from the springs of earth, its source is the throne of God.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Eden of old had but one such tree, but it is common in the new Jerusalem, and prevents the possibility of disease and death ever invading that happy city. Fallen man might not eat of its immortal fruit, but man restored shall feast upon it freely.
3–5 And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. (How few are watching! How many trifle as if these things were mere dreams, or matters so remote as to deserve no consideration.)
8–10 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
There is no hope of change of character in another state. Where death leaves us judgment finds us and eternity holds us.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14, 15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right (or privilege to approach) to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18, 19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Omissions and additions are equally forbidden. Those who have committed this crime of tampering with the Bible, have generally professed to be Christians, hence their penalty is that their names shall be blotted out of that sacred register in which they believed them to be enrolled.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (As we close the year let us pray that our family reading may prove a blessing to us all. God grant that we may not read without profit, but may each one find Jesus in the Scriptures, as the merchant found the one pearl of great price hidden in the field.)
“Thy Testimonies are wonderful.”
Psalm 119:129–136; 145–152; 169–176
THY testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. (Tertullian said, “I adore the fulness of the Scriptures.” This is well, but it is better still to stand in awe of their authority, and cheerfully yield obedience to their precepts.)
130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments. (When the word really enters the soul, it creates a strong desire for more holiness. Light outside may condemn, but light within works savingly upon the soul.)
132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts. (When others by their unkindness hinder us in the Lord’s ways, our best course is to carry our case to the Lord, for he is the guardian of the oppressed.)
135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
145 I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord: I will keep thy statutes.
146 I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
148, 149 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment.
150, 151 They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law. Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth. (When enemies are near, our Great Friend is near too, and therefore we do not fear.)
152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever. (Our faith does not waver, for the promises are immutable and eternal.)
169–172 Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word. Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes. My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. (Those who are well instructed by the Holy Spirit love prayer, praise, and holy conversation, all of which are mentioned here. Let us abound in all these.)
173 Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. (In this humble, prayerful manner this long Psalm closes, and so will the believer’s life-story end. Confession mourns a thousand faults, faith sees grace still alive within the soul, and prayer pleads for divine mercy. With such a prayer our earthly life will come to a fitting FINIS.)
Father, I bless thy gentle hand;
How kind was thy chastising rod,
That forc’d my conscience to a stand,
And brought my wand’ring soul to God.
Foolish and vain, I went astray
Ere I had felt thy scourges, Lord;
I left my guide, and lost my way,
But now I love and keep thy word.
Jerusalem, my happy home,
When shall I come to thee?
When shall my sorrows have an end?
Thy joys when shall I see?
Thy walls are made of precious stones,
Thy bulwarks diamond square;
Thy gates are of right orient pearl,
Exceeding rich and rare.
Thy turrets and thy pinnacles
With carbuncles do shine;
Thy very streets are paved with gold,
Surpassing clear and fine.