Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
“Gate & Stairs” can be considered as the sequel to track 6, “The Preparing”. In that song, I discussed how one of the motivations was my wife losing her dad to cancer, and how difficult that experience has been for us. The seemingly endless pain of life in the fallen world is almost too much to bear, and patience for this to all be fixed is often hard to say the least. While we wait for Christ’s return, we fast (see Mark 2:18-22), longing to see Him and feast with Him again. We cry, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:17), and He promises that He will come soon (see Rev. 22: 7, 12, 20).
In grieving my father-in-law’s passing and seeing the pain that death causes, my wife & I have cried these things more times than we can count. Often we cry them from hope; often we cry them from pain. Jesus, in His own unique way as fully God and fully man, knew this feeling as well. Seeing the pain, heartache, and death that sin brings, “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Our choice to go after something other than God meant that we left our true Good Shepherd for things that would not satisfy, and the result was endless wandering and hurt. The wages we earned from that sin was death.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5). And because we have been made alive together with Christ, we trust in the hope of His return to right what has been made wrong.
God hinted at this coming day through Isaiah. At a time when Israel was being led away into captivity, Isaiah promises that this is not the end for God’s people. Not in their immediate peril (which we address in “Into Exile”), and not in the long term. Isaiah tells us in chapter 25, verses 8-9:
“He will swallow up death forever; and the LORD God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Revelation 21 was the inspiration for “Gate & Stairs” – the final outcome of these wrongs being put right. As my wife & I have wept many times over the pain of death, we have read the promise of God in the end: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
“Gate & Stairs” exists in two distinct movements. The first looks longingly for the new heavens and new earth in the midst of pain and despair. We look BACKWARDS towards Jesus’ work while we look FORWARD to His return. In the meantime we are caught in the middle, what is often called the “already and the not yet”. Jesus brought with Him glimpses of the kingdom of God fully realized, and attested to how things should be, but we’re not there yet.
The second movement of “Gate & Stairs” is Revelation 21 – the new Jerusalem descending, and these things being put right.
- How to Create an In-Ear Monitor Mix - August 18, 2017
- Delegation Produces Growth - June 5, 2017
- What Hinders Collaboration? - May 5, 2017
- Ministry Must Spring From the Word - April 14, 2017
- An Artist’s Guide to Managing Schedules - March 10, 2017
- You Are Not Alone (A Song For The Elect Exiles) - January 23, 2017
- The Lie I’ve Believed About Rest - April 18, 2016
- What Does A Shepherd Do? - April 11, 2016
- Part-Writing For A Worship Song - March 22, 2016
- Flying Solo: Ditching The Music Stand - March 16, 2016