Recently I read Revelation 21–22 with one of my youth group girls, as we were talking about heaven. Barely two weeks later our pastor used those chapters in a devotional before our holiday kids club. Then they started appearing everywhere—in sermons, youth group talks, and articles.
I probably notice these chapters more because they’re among my favourites in the Bible. But I’m also grateful that God has been continually leading me back to them. I could spend a lifetime swimming in the ocean of bliss found in these final chapters of the Bible.
Although this wasn’t the context for any of the times the passages were quoted, I’ve been applying them to my experience of singleness. Revelation brings a much-needed perspective to both singleness and marriage. Singleness is too often seen as the end of the world, instead of carefully considered in light of the end of the world.
Singleness is too often seen as the end of the world, instead of carefully considered in light of the end of the world.
Here are a few scattered thoughts about how Revelation 21–22 speaks into singleness.
1. Hope in what lies ahead
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Revelation 21:1)
This world is coming to an end. We can often think of marriage as providing stability, a permanent cure for loneliness. But ultimately nothing in this world will last—neither marriage nor singleness! They make poor anchors when feel adrift and insecure.
2. Our eternal relationship
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.” (21:3)
No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (22:3–4)
When we reach the new heavens and the new earth, God will dwell with us forever. No barrier of sin or shame will keep us apart. We’ll see Jesus, whose body was broken and pierced for us, and rest in his embrace. There’s no better emotional intimacy we could ask for.
3. Suffering is temporary
“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.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (21:4–5)
This too shall pass. All the pain and the loneliness—for the single and the married—will last only a little while longer. When he welcomes us into eternal bliss, God will wipe away our tears.
4. Jesus offers fullness
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” (21:6)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (22:1–2)
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (22:5)
As a single person, sometimes it can feel like I’m defined by lack. No spouse, no companion, no children, no security. But Jesus offers me everything I need. The Bible paints a picture of God as our source of sustenance, warmth, and light. We will experience this in full when we reach eternity. For now, Jesus offers himself to anyone who will seek him as their living water, bread of life, their shepherd and light. No spouse can fulfill us like this—they’d crumble under the weight of our expectations.
5. How we live now matters
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (21:8)
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (21:27)
Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. (22:11)
Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (22:15)
This point is less warm and fuzzy, but just as important. No amount of pain or loneliness can justify circumventing God’s plan to grab at intimacy now. We must fight against the temptation to lust, pornography, and sexual immorality. Think of the end to which you are headed by God’s grace—perfect holiness for eternity—and aim for that now. Sexual immorality has no place in heaven or among those who belong there.
6. Marriage is a certainty
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (21:2)
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (22:17)
Earlier, in Revelation 19, John describes the wedding feast coming at the end of the age between Jesus and the church. This will be better than any earthly wedding or marriage. So singles, we’re not missing out on the best! The true wedding feast awaits which all others have merely pointed to. We await our groom, and he has promised to come.
7. “I am coming soon”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (21:5)
And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (22:6–7)
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (22:12–13)
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (22:16–17)
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (21:20)
Our groom is coming soon. It can feel hard to believe that sometimes because two thousand years have already passed since Jesus returned to heaven. The things of this earth, including relationships, can seem far more real to us than what Revelation describes.
Our groom is coming soon … Hold on to that promise and let it bring you deep joy.
But the words of the one true living God are trustworthy. Jesus repeats this so we will not doubt: “I am coming soon.” Friend, hold on to that promise and let it bring you deep joy.
I’m thankful to God for bringing me back to this passage time and time again. Singleness isn’t always hard, but when I feel those pangs I know I can find solace in his Word. God knows all my pain and fear, and he meets me with the sweetest comforts. Whether I’m single for another year or another sixty I can keep trusting that the best is yet to come.
First published at casswatson.com