Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Picture of New Jerusalem

A quick word about format. I will publish a blog once a week on either Monday or Tuesday, for sure. Throughout the week I may publish short observations about culture, Scripture etc... but they will not be that extensive. For the time being, I will keep my weekly blogs related to the topic of the eternal state until I feel the need to change topics.

A while ago I wrote this short poetic essay about the New Jerusalem. I have shown it to some of you but I would like to share it again. I have reworked parts of it and hopefully it's a bit better. I would like your feedback.

Last night I dreamed I was walking towards a city that I saw in the distance, vast, beautiful, and glorious to behold. I could not avert my eyes for they were mesmerized by the complexities of the messages communicated in her construction. The king of this city must have been a great king indeed. ‘Great’ is a common enough word in our vocabulary and I believed that I understood the word before, but now I do not think I did. I would have described Seattle or New York or Los Angeles as great cities prior to this experience, but no more. In ancient history Rome would have been described as great, Nineveh, Babylon, perhaps in the days of Solomon, Jerusalem too would have matched this description. I have never seen these in their days of glory but I cannot imagine that they can compare. When I saw this city, I was impressed by her greatness but my awe and admiration was more for the greatness of the king who must have built her. She was so vast, the materials with which she was composed were so exquisite, her walls were so strong and impenetrable, her gates were so wide and inviting that only the mightiest and most powerful king could have orchestrated her construction or afforded her material.
The light of the city was so overpowering that my eyes burned as I stared at her, but still I could not look away. I do not say that there were lights, for I could but distinguish a single light, equally bright throughout the city. Day and night would have no meaning for the brilliance of this light overpowered the rays of the sun. I could not tell what time it was, for it was equally bright after the sun set as it was when she was at her full height. The city is intensely viewable from a great distance and all who see her from outside her walls have no need of the heavenly lights for she provides all of the light that they need.
As I drew nearer to the city, I began to distinguish colors within the glow she produced. The colors I have known previous are but shades of grey in comparison. Reds, blues, and greens sparkle from her, in shades innumerable and with peerless brilliance. Her shape is as the highest of mountains. From the top of this city-mountain spiraled a river, clear and clean, providing refreshment and life to all of her inhabitants. In the middle of the river was a tree that defied my very definition of tree, shaming any that I had seen previously. Her roots were in the midst of the river and upon her branches grew various fruits that do not correlate to any that I have ever seen in beauty and substance. The leaves of the tree were green. This is an inadequate description, but I cannot better it. They were green as green was meant to be. All plant life I had seen previously and thought green would look brown and withered next to the least leaf on the tree or blade of grass surrounding her. The water of the river was pure and gave life, both to the tree and the inhabitants of the city. The fruit of the tree sustained life and her leaves would have healed the dying and diseased, if there could be such in so great a city.
And then my dream shifted and the city was no longer a city but a woman. She was adorned as a bride and was awaiting her bridegroom. She was so beautiful that I could not stop looking at her but she was so pure that she forbade any semblance of lust. Her eyes were bright like those of a young girl but shown with wisdom, one knew she had seen and experienced much. She was ageless. She possessed all of the stunning beauty of youth and the subtle beauty of an older woman. She wore a dress of the purest white. The dress had no adornment because the fabric of the dress was so radiant that diamonds would have dimmed its glow and lace would have been an annoying distraction. Looking at the dress, I knew that the wearer was without blemish or impurity. White is often said to symbolize innocence. But for the white adorning this dress, this is too shallow and simplistic. The white did remind one of the pure innocence of a young virgin, but also of the whiteness of the aged and the wise. This woman had all of the purity of a young virgin, but without the ignorance often associated therewith. She had all of the wisdom and understanding of an elderly scholar but without the deterioration and fading associated with age.
But this woman did not marvel at her own stunning beauty or the brilliance of her dress. All of her thoughts were upon her bridegroom. She had kept herself pure only and completely for him. She had adorned herself as a statement of love for her future husband’s pleasure, with no thought to receive attention or admiration herself.
As I waited for her husband to appear, the dream shifted again. The woman became a great multitude of people. Like the woman, they were dressed in pure white. They too were ageless, with all of the vitality of youth and the wisdom and knowledge of age. Upon their faces were written love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. They looked incapable of sadness, anger, or cruelty. When I saw them I knew what human beings were meant to be. They were all perfect in physique and their faces were without defect, but yet they all looked quite different from one another. Each was the perfect specimen of a human being by himself, but together each was more beautiful than he was alone. They all had one single focus: singing and praising and celebrating their master. Although every one of them was awesome to look at, none had a thought as to her own glory or greatness but was intent upon making known the greatness of her master. They were not only willing but joyous slaves of the same Lord and master and it was their duty and their desire to serve Him and make known His goodness and greatness.
My dream then shifted for the last time. I saw Him. I saw the king of the city, the bridegroom of the bride, and the master of the slaves. I experienced a fear and a terror that so far surpassed all fear and terror that I had ever felt that I have difficulty identifying it as such. As terrifying as He was to look at, I was so awed that I could not look away. He was the embodiment of love and compassion and of justice and wrath, without any contradiction. I fell to my face in death but He caught me and my fear was transformed to peace. I knew that in His arms, there was nothing that could harm or hurt me. He touched my face and I knew that my sorrows were over. In his face, I saw my Savior, my Friend, my Master, my King, and my God. When He had helped me up, I fell back to my face, not in weakness but in worship. I wanted nothing else, nothing seemed more proper, more fulfilling to the purpose of my existence, than to declare His awesome might and power, to rejoice in and enjoy forever His goodness, justice and love.

1 comment:

Crista said...

Hey Matt! I love the concept of your story. I still think you should expand it (maybe have him interact with some of the people there?). You could probably get some good ideas from "The Great Divorce."

About Me

My photo
Tacoma, Washington, United States
"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt." Fyodor Dostoevsky. I'm a Northwest Baptist Seminary graduate (MDiv) and current student (ThM). I plan on someday going to Africa and teach Bible and Theology at a Bible College or Seminary level. I hope to continue my studies and earn a PhD, either after I go to overseas for a few years or before. I'm a theological conservative, but I like to think outside of the box and challenge conventional thinking and consider myself a free thinker. I am currently serving in my fourth year as a Youth Pastor at Prairie Baptist Fellowship in Yelm Washington. My blogs will reflect my thoughts on both seminary and ministry life, though not (of course) exclusively. I enjoy literature and occasionally try my hand at writing stories and poems. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." Paul