Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
- TONIGHT, we will meet at the Pastorek’s home at 7:00 for Bible study. Their address is 15810 Mesa Gardens Drive, Houston, 77095.
- THIS SUNDAY, we will have our monthly Fellowship Meal. Please brings a main dish to share and plan to join us after worship for some time together.
- PLEASE NOTE the following dates for the summer and fall:
- August 22 – church pool party at the VanTubergens
- September 13 – FIRST SUNDAY in new location at Birkes Elementary School
- September 26 – Houston Reformed Fall Theology Conference
- Finally, today’s devotion (attached) is a reflection on the peace of the New Heavens and the New Earth.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“No Seas in Heaven?”
Rev 21:1, “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.”
Revelation chapters 21 & 22 are glorious chapters which describe the inheritance stored up for the saints – the New Heavens and the New Earth (NHNE). In the NHNE God will dwell with his people – he will wipe away every tear from our eyes – there will be no more death, sin, heartache, crying, or pain, for the former things (the things associated with this fallen world) have passed away (Rev 21:3-4). And at the end of 21:1, we find a curious phrase that is easy to pass over and to miss: “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.” What does it mean that ‘the sea was no more’? Will there not be water in heaven? Are there no oceans in heaven? Does this phrase speak to the geography of heaven? Well … not at all. Rather, this short phrase speaks to the peace of heaven. There are a few factors we must consider in properly determining the meaning of this brief, yet meaningful phrase.
First, in at least two places in Revelation we see what ‘appeared to be a sea of glass, like crystal’ (Rev 4:6; 15:2). In both references, the context is the heavenly throne room; that is to say, the context is that of the Lord in his glory. Moreover, these New Testament references are echos of Ezekiel 1:22 where we read of the likeness of an expanse, ‘shining like awe-inspiring crystal.’ And again, we note that Ezekiel 1 is a picture of the glory of the Lord.
Second, throughout the prophets, and also elsewhere in Revelation, the sea if pictured as the place of evil and judgment. For example, Isaiah 51:10 states, “Was it not you (the LORD) who dried up the sea (reference to the Red Sea), the waters of the great deep, who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over (cf. Ps 74:12-15).” And Rev 13:1 tells us that the beast rises ‘out of the sea.’ And the best of Revelation 13 is simply a composite of the four beasts of Daniel 7 which, not coincidentally, ‘came up out of the sea’ (Dan 7:3). Two further references will establish the point: first, the powerful Leviathan of Job 41 is associated with the sea (Job 3:8; Ps 74:14; 104:26); and second, one noteworthy demonstration that the kingdom of God has come in Christ is Jesus’ calming of the story sea (Mark 4:35-41 and parallels).
Thus to summarize, the sea in Biblical and prophetic imagery is the place of chaos, judgment, evil, and sin. What then does the ‘sea like glass’ signify around the throne of God in the heavenly temple? It signifies his triumph over sin and over the chaos. Simply put, it signifies the victory of God over his enemies and the establishment of his kingdom. What, then, does John have in mind when he writes of the NHNE that ‘the sea was no more?’ He simply means that in the NHNE there is no more sin, no more chaos, no more pain and sorrow (Rev 21:4 can be seen as a commentary on the phrase, ‘and the sea was no more’). We can take two brief lessons from this.
First, in interpreting Scripture, we must remember the genre of the book we are studying and we must let scripture interpret scripture. In this case, Revelation is apocalyptic and is thus filled with symbolic imagery.
And second, what hope we should have as Christians! Oh what glory and joy awaits us. There will be no more ‘sea.’ That is, there will be no more evil, no more sin, no more pain! For God himself will be with is as our God!! Amen!
Rev. Robert Arendale, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC), www.csopc.org