Revelation 22:5

‘the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever.’

To say that eternity with God will be amazing is an understatement. One of the most extraordinary and best things will be its light, or lack of it in the ordinary sense, but abundance in the supernatural sense, such that we won’t need ordinary light: ‘The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it’(Revelation 21:23), ‘and they need no lamp light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever.’

This is difficult for us to understand, since we’re so used to perceiving our present world through our five natural senses. Although it appears the ‘new heaven and… new earth’(Revelation 21:1) will be a physical creation (at least it’s described in physical terms), there’s clearly a spiritual dimension to it that’s quite extraordinary. As the apostle Paul quotes Isaiah, ‘“Things which an eye didn’t see, and an ear didn’t hear, which didn’t enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him”’(Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9). However, ‘to us, God revealed them through the Spirit’(1 Corinthians 2:10). So, although it’s beyond our full comprehension now, John’s Revelation ‘in the Spirit’(Revelation 1:10), can give us an impression now of what we’ll know fully when we get to eternity and ‘see his [God’s] face’(Revelation 22:4). As Paul put it, ‘now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully’(1 Corinthians 13:12).

It’s hard for us that we see so dimly now, like looking in an ancient mirror. In the dark cave of this fallen world, worldly things sometimes seem brighter than God’s light and we’re enchanted and distracted by cold, stagnant puddles on the cave floor that seem strangely attractive. Either that or we’re discouraged by the cave’s oppressive darkness. We should notice the faint reflection of rays coming down from the cave’s ceiling and realise that there’s a whole world of brilliant spiritual light, where we can bathe in the illumination and warmth of God’s love, enjoying the splendour of eternity’s wonders – ‘forever and ever’, and drink ‘“from the spring of the water of life”’(Revelation 21:6). Note also, we won’t just inhabit this spectacular new creation, but ‘reign’ under God, fulfilling and perfecting His proposed role for us in the old creation when ‘God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…”’(Genesis 1:26). So how can we glimpse, become enchanted by and follow this light out of our dark cave into eternal glory?

Firstly, realize that ‘God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’(1 John 1:5), and that he has ‘called you out of darkness into his marvellous light’(1 Peter 2:9), and so ‘believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him’(Hebrews 11:6). But where do we look?

Jesus said of himself, ‘“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me. He who sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness”’(John 12:44-46). But where do we find Jesus?

Through the testimony of those who knew Him and met the resurrected Christ, who ‘Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets,… explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself’(Luke 24:27). Thus the Old Testament was confirmed, fulfilled and made clearer, and Peter could say of this New Testament ‘you do well that you heed it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns’(2 Peter 1:19). Moreover, once so enlightened and ignited Christians can become sources of this light, as we ‘are transformed into the same image’(2 Corinthians 3:18).

Lastly, even this fallen world, when rightly lit and so perceived by those who have eyes to see can point us to God, ‘For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity’(Romans 1:20).

There’s one final perspective to consider from this verse regarding eternity – it’s ‘forever and ever’! That’s a very long time compared with our short lives here. This should encourage us when we feel the cave’s cold oppressive darkness. In God’s eternal light ‘“He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more.”’(Revelation 21:4)