In Revelation 21:1-6 John shares his most glorious vision with us: the new Jerusalem descending from above, filling the earth with its golden presence.
We tend to think of the new Jerusalem as a beautiful place filled with glamorous things. And we tend to forget that it will be filled … with people! Transformed people.
Yes, let’s remind ourselves today that the new Jerusalem will be a very human place, a humane place. A place where people will have good values, transformed values, the type of values people need to live in harmony with one another, and in relationship with God.
The new Jerusalem will be the earth transformed, recreated, remade. But away from what must it be recreated? What is wrong with the old earth, and what will be right with the new one?
What is wrong with the world are those things that the prophets had warned Israel against for many centuries. They are transgression, violence against one another, poor leadership, and injustices.
That will all change, says Revelation 21:1-6. Let’s look now at the four things which this text tells us will characterize the radical transformation:
- The new Jerusalem will be a holy city (verse 2). It will be without transgression. No corruption, gossiping, stealing and all the other things people do to one another.
- In the new Jerusalem there will be good leadership (verse 3). Because God will stay amongst the people. He will lead them. He will give them direction and hope.
- In the new Jerusalem there will be no more violence (verse 4). God will wipe the tears from our eyes.
- In the new Jerusalem there will be life for everybody. God will give water from the fountain of life to everybody. There will be no discrimination, no injustice towards anybody.
We are all, in some way or another, affected by HIV and AIDS. For all of us the vision of the new Jerusalem is purely and simply good news.
In the new Jerusalem a contra-culture will be established. The culture of today, to harm and undermine each other, to strive for power at the cost of others, to perpetuate violence against one another, to steal people’s dignity and their lives from them – that will come to an end. Society will be radically transformed to a place where we will welcome each other to life.
We are now in the fifth week after Easter. And we need to remind ourselves what happened at the first Easter. Jesus was resurrected from the grave. And thus a new dispensation has been introduced. Life on earth is no longer the same. The transformation of society has begun.
And we are all part of it. Potentially, the new Jerusalem has already come. And all of us, in whatever way we are affected by HIV and AIDS, are part of it. It is up to all of us to work towards changing this world into a place where there will be no transgression, no violence, no discrimination, no injustice.
Let’s all start today to be agents for non-violence, justice, equality, dignity … and life for all.
Written By: Professor Christina Landman, CABSA Board Member, Director Research: Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa.