“It is not good that the Adam should be alone,” said God, before the fall.
The Adam (male and female) took knowledge of the Good from the tree and realized that they were not good, but alone.
They became self-conscious, self-centered, and hid from God and each other behind walls of their own construction—even more alone.
God barred their way to the tree of life, kicked them out of the garden, and cursed the world so that they could not remain forever as they were—alone.
Groups of fallen souls began to make contracts of self-interest to guard their own self-interests against the self-interests of others. We call these contracts, tradition, ritual, government, and law. We call these groups, families, tribes, cities, and nations.
The first act of disobedience to an expressed command of God after the fall was to build a city; instead of wandering the earth, Cain built a city. Jericho was a Canaanite city at the edge of the Promised Land. Jerusalem—old Jerusalem—was also a Canaanite city, and according to many, the location of Eden.
The Revelation is like the story of the conquest of Jericho.
Having crossed the Jordan, Israel meets the “Commander of God’s Army.”
He’s going to war, but not against Jericho or Israel, but against the wall that separates the two.
On one side of the wall is His great-grandmother, Rahab, the Canaanite harlot.
On the other side is His great-grandfather, Salmon, whose name means “covering.”
They will form a new covenant: not one of self-interest, but self-sacrifice; not a covenant of death, but one that is life and bears the fruit of Life. The Commander of God’s Army is the God-man, Jesus.
His Body is literally dependent on the destruction of the walls of Jericho and in fact every wall that separates people from people and people from God.
“For this is the plan for the fullness of time to unite, together under one head, all things in him—The Commander of God’s Army” (Ephesians 1:10).
The seven trumpets sound and the walls of this world start tumbling down.
The first four look like “natural disasters,” but not the last three.
At the fifth trumpet, we see a plague of demons.
They inhabit the darkness and lies, in which we hide from the Light and the Truth.
This is the first woe and nobody repents.
At the sixth trumpet, we see a plague of armies infested with demons.
They inhabit our covenants of self-interest—our traditions, laws, principalities, and powers—in which we hide from the eternal covenant of Grace.
This is the second woe and nobody repents.
At the seventh trumpet, we see Jesus.
Look Jerusalem! He is hanging right outside your city walls on a tree.
When you see Him truly, all your walls will come tumbling down.
The third woe is the Great Kindness of God and everybody repents.
The New Jerusalem is not one more covenant of self-interest separated from Hell by a wall of human judgment.
The New Jerusalem is the Bride and Body of Jesus the Christ, united by one Judgment, God’s Judgment.
“Behold. I make all things new.”
“Repent. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
The New Jerusalem is coming down.
*Discussion questions for this sermon are available here: Discussion Questions “Three Woes and a Great Kindness”