With the NFL football season now thankfully underway (Is there anything worse in the sports world than that stretch between the end of the NBA finals and the kickoff of the NFL season?! It’s like athletic purgatory.), it’s time to see which team of pros is going to rise to the occasion and bring home that Lombardi Trophy. Maybe it’ll be the other Harbaugh this time.
Whatever happens at the end, one big difference at the start of this season is the fact that we have the real referees out there. It’s easy to forget, unless you’re a Packers fan, that the 2012 season began with replacement refs. The real refs were locked out due to a labor dispute. Let me be nice and simply say that the quality of the replacement refs wasn’t quite up to par with the regular referees. Nah, forget it… they were awful! I mean those guys were way in over their heads and didn’t have a clue how to officiate football on that level. It was a perfect reminder that the replacements are never as good as the real deal in sports. Replacements are only better in Hollywood football with Keanu Reeves at quarterback.
However, that’s not the case with the Kingdom of God. The trajectory of the Kingdom is not bad to worse or even good to worse. It’s bad to most excellent. No passage of Scripture makes this more readily apparent than the culminating visions in Revelation 21-22, detailing the replacement of this age with the age to come when the Old Heaven and Earth are replaced by the New Heaven and Earth.
We see at least eight replacements here in this section of Scripture, but praise be to God, these replacements are way better than what they replaced!
1) Dwelling apart from God is replaced by dwelling with God (Revelation 22:1-21)
2) The temple is replaced by God Himself (Revelation 21:22)
3) The sun and moon are replaced by God’s glory (Revelation 21:23)
4) The need for closed gates is replaced with the joy of open gates (Revelation 21:24-26)
5) A mixture of the righteous and the wicked is replaced with the pure homogeneity of the righteous only (Revelation 21:27)
6) The curse is replaced by blessing (Revelation 22:1-3)
7) The mediated presence of God is replaced with the unmediated presence of God (Revelation 22:4)
8) Death and defeat are replaced with eternal life and reign (Revelation 22:5)
While I’m excited to serve the Lord here on this earth in this age, when I read about what is to come, my heart and spirit scream, “Bring on the replacements!”