Here's an entry for the Nashotah House Advent Devotional that was written by one of our seminarians, Jack Franicevich. We hope it better helps you to prepare for the coming of Christ!
Holy City, Seen of (Moses & Ezekiel &) John
Ps. 72, 111, 113; Isaiah 28:9-22; Revelation 21:9-21; Luke 1:26-38
In Revelation 21, we see John whisked away by an angel to the top of a mountain to see a vision of the New Jerusalem. This vision is the Grand Finale of all mountaintop visions in the Bible. As John pens what he sees, he invites his readers to remember the other holy men who were whisked away to mountaintops and shown new things.
First, the Lord tells Moses to “come up to me on the mountain,” where he shows him “the pattern of the tabernacle.” Then he tells him to make everything he sees “after the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain” (Exod. 24:12; 25:9, 40).
Twenty-five years into Israel’s exile, Ezekiel is the second man brought up to the mountaintop. The Lord “brought [Ezekiel] into the land of Israel and set [him] on a very high mountain” where he was shown “a structure like a city” (Ezek. 40:1-4). Up on the mountain, Ezekiel meets a heavenly man who gives him a detailed tour of a temple, like a Holy Real Estate Agent. Three chapters into the vision, the glory of Yahweh fills the house and the Holy Real Estate Agent tells Ezekiel what’s going to happen and what he needs to do: I will dwell in this house forever; make sure all of Israel knows the measurements for my house, puts away her harlotry, and gets ready to offer new sacrifices (43:6-27). The heavenly man is not only a Holy Real Estate Agent, but also a Prophet, a Holy Architect, and City Planner.
Moses and Ezekiel are taken up to mountaintops to see God’s new worlds and sent back down to go build them.
After Moses and Ezekiel comes Jesus. Like Moses and Ezekiel, Jesus is in the wilderness, and there he meets an angel, who takes him to “a very high mountain” and shows him “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matt. 4:8). Wait a minute. Did you catch that? Jesus’ vision is not like the first two. To begin with, the “angel” is a fallen angel. And the vision the fallen angel offers Jesus is also
fundamentally different. Moses and Ezekiel are shown heavenly realities, new worlds to build, future kingdoms to long for. Jesus is shown earthly realities, the world as it is, kingdoms that are passing away.
Jesus rejects the kingdoms of the earth because he is the Costly Cornerstone of the Coming Kingdom (Isa. 28:16). He is the Founding Father of the New Jerusalem, Holy Architect and City Planner, and The Very Pattern shown to Moses and Ezekiel.
John – author of the fourth gospel, and one of the four pillars of the church (Gal. 2:9) – sees his fourth vision in Revelation. He sees the city coming down. And standing at the end of a line of great men of faith who precede him, who “desire a better country” (Heb. 11:16), John rejects the kingdoms of this world, fixes his eyes on Christ, and descends the mountain, putting his hands to the plough and building up the One City of God among the many cities of men.
Oh Lord, pry our eyes from the world as it stands and show us, as you did your servant John, our New Jerusalem from above, adorned like a Bride, shining resplendent in jasper-brilliance, gold and glass, chrysoprase and pearl. And give us, O God, the strength to build:
O holy city, seen of John, where Christ, the Lamb, does reign, within whose four-square walls shall come no night, nor need, nor pain, and where the tears are wiped from eyes that shall not weep again!
O shame to us who rest content while lust and greed for gain in street and shop and tenement wring gold from human pain, and bitter lips in deep despair cry, “Christ has died in vain!”
Give us, O God, the strength to build the city that has stood too long a dream; whose laws are love, whose ways are servant-hood, and where the sun that shines becomes your grace for human good.