How does Revelation 21:4 speak to us?
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." -- Revelation 21:4
Week 35: End of August / early September
Commentary on Revelation 21
One of Giancarlo Spannacini's favorite songs in the Italian Nazarene hymnal was number 137, "Non più Morte, Non più Duolo" (No more death; no more pain)
When I gave time in the church services in Florence, Italy, for people in the congregation to select a favorite song or chorus,Giancarlo would inevitably call out "Centotrentasette" (one hundred and thirty-seven).
It's a song about heaven based on Revelation 21:4. One of the verses has a phrase that says, "no more death, no more pain for the redeemed of the Lord." In fact, it's from this phrase that the song gets its title.
I think Giancarlo had a special reason for wanting to sing this song often. He suffered from a hereditary muscular disease that was slowly destroying his body and would end in premature death. At 40 years of age, he walked with great difficulty (usually leaning on his mother, Olga,) and his speech was impaired.
But Giancarlo knew he was a child of the King. And he knew that one day this old world -- which is so full of death, of disease, of sorrow, of pain -- will pass away to be replaced by a perfect new world. Giancarlo planned to be a part of that glorious new earth.
Years ago, my favorite Christian musical had a song based on Revelation 21:4. It's a part of "This Same Jesus," a cooperative effort of the musical geniuses of Paul Skiles and Paul Mickelson.
I was privileged to be present for the premier performance of this musical at what is now the Nazarene Youth Conference (NYC). I remember well that Sunday evening in Estes Park, Colorado. My work as a conference staff member made me late to the service. By the time I got there, all the seats were already taken. So, at the back of the large tabernacle, I found a support pillar I could lean against.
When that nearly 1,000-voice youth choir arrived at the description of Heaven from Revelation 21 and began to sing, "There will be no sorrow over there... there will be no dying over there." I found myself weeping with anticipation and joy and thankfulness along with the rest of the congregation.
The live recording of that service was one of the treasures of my record collection. I say "was" because I played that vinyl record so many times that it inevitably was damaged to the point of being no longer playable.
Certainly, God has promised us a glorious future. John's vision in the last two chapters of Revelation is that the world will end where it began -- with Creation. Only, it will be a new creation, a perfect Paradise where Christians will reign in and through Christ.
John paints a glowing picture of the marvelous quality of life that will be ours in the future, new heaven and earth.
God will "dwell" (in all the fullness of that word) among His people, having restored to us all the original glories and privileges of His life with man. We will enjoy the endless reign of Christ in a state of absolute justice, purity, and bliss.
I can hardly wait. What about you?
-- Howard Culbertson,
I wrote this devotional article while Barbara and I werfe serving as missionaries in Italy. It originally appeared in Standard, a weekly Faith Connections take-home curriculum piece for adult Sunday school classes published by The Foundry.