22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (NIV)
The above passage comes from Revelation 21:22-27. In this scene, God’s Kingdom has come in its fullness. Jesus has returned, the world has been judged, and the new heaven and new earth have been created. God’s dwelling place is now with man (v.3), and his people whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life now dwell eternally in the promised better country (Heb. 11:16). Notably however, in the quoted passages, rather than being told the nations have been completely done away with, we are told that the glory and honor of the nations is brought into this new land. We could think about this in many ways, but at the very least it means that the saved people of these nations bring something uniquely splendid into that new world. Something about having people from all races and all nations in God’s eternal kingdom is beautiful even to God, and we will all together celebrate that reality on that day.
Reading this passage, it strikes me that this is at the heart of why my family wants to return long-term to Japan. We have so many Japanese friends who we love. Some are Christians, but may be struggling to remain faithful. Others are not Christians, and have no part in John’s prophetic vision. We want to see both groups there on that day, bringing the glory of their own nation into the united heavenly kingdom of King Jesus. As I read this passage, I imagine that day – I imagine the pomp and celebration as the nations display their unique splendor to the glory of God. I imagine a parade on the heavenly streets, as the people shout praises to God, thankful for salvation, thankful to be in his presence, dwelling with him forever. What a glorious day that will be!
Yet, as I imagine the glory of that day, I know it is only through a dedicated faith in the work of Christ that we or any of our Japanese friends will be present. We want to see those friends there. We want to rejoice on that day with them – to celebrate together our mutual salvation before the Father, praising the name of our King, enlivened by God’s Holy Spirit. That vision fills us with great joy, but as Paul said, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). This is one of the great motivators of our mission. We want to see many Japanese people taking part in this promise, but it will only happen as they put their faith in Christ, and that won’t happen without the work of those who are sent. That is why we are looking to go, and why we are looking for those who are willing to help send us. May there be many Japanese people joining in those celebrations on that day!
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