Today we reached the end of The Last Battle in our Narnia read through, so it seemed only fitting to share the last paragraphs.
Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”
“No fear of that, ” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.
“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead.”
“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
“And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of the all the stories, and we can most truly say they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.
All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Reading those lines always brings tears to my eyes – I love how beautifully Lewis captures the Christian hope. Here are a few biblical passages, showing how this hope permeates the whole bible. The first passage is from Exodus and describes the goal of that first great act of the LORD’s salvation for his people – that they would live with him, in his place for ever. That is the hope set before us still.
“You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. The LORD will reign forever and ever.””
(Exodus 15:17–18 ESV)
Then just one of Isaiah’s great passages on this theme:
“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 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.” For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain,”
(Isaiah 25:6–10 ESV)
And all this language is taken up in Revelation:
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.””
(Revelation 21:22–22:7 ESV)
Finally the words I read this morning from 1 Corinthians 15
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.”
(1 Corinthians 15:51–58 ESV)
I love the encouragement of the last verse. I don’t think that “the work of the Lord” is limited to some particularly special types of job, or to “Christian” ministry. I think it is every good work that the Lord calls us to do – the “good works” which Paul says have been prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10) – for me to be a godly husband, father, student, worker and friend. Nothing I do in obedience to Christ is ever wasted.
Maybe that is what the glory and honour of the nations being brought to Christ in that last Revelation passage above relates to – all that a nation has done in obedience to Christ, in obedience to his law in their hearts is somehow taken up into the new creation.
However that works, the encouragement from Paul is clear. Nothing we do out of love for Christ, in obedience to him, in line with his will and his ways is ever wasted – however unseen we may feel that act of obedience is, there is one who sees and one who makes sure that it lasts.
So – as Paul says: “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.”