The Deep Well with Erin Davis Podcast

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Episode 2: A Better Country

Erin Davis: Hey, Kesha . . . Do you love to travel, or do you hate to travel?

Kesha Griffin: Love and hate! I have a love and hate relationship with travel. I love to travel to see new cities, but I hate the stress of it all—the packing, the airport, the long waits, the airplane. It's all of that that makes me not like to travel.

Erin: That's exactly how I feel about travel. I like to be to places; I don't like to travel to places.

Kesha: Exactly!

Erin: Also, I don't like to sleep in other beds anymore. My bed is so comfy. I just like to be home in my bed.

Kesha: I remember I liked going to a hotel and being in a nice hotel, but . . . now I am so over it. Just give me home. Home is where my heart is.

This is The Deep Well with Erin Davis, a podcast from Revive Our Hearts. I'm Kesha Griffin.

On our last episode, Erin took us to Revelation 21. This passage describes a city I'm ready to move to today. I bet you are too! It is the home we are all longing for. Here's Erin.

Erin: The first series of books we read aloud to our little boys was The Chronicles of Narnia. I can blink my eyes and picture them in their footed pajamas, nestled close to me and their daddy as they discovered for the very first time, “the world beyond the wardrobe” through those books!

Sadly, that was several years ago. But I asked them before I taught this session if they could still remember—and they could!—the moment when Reepicheep (our favorite brave little mouse) crested the waves and entered Aslan’s country.

Maybe you can picture being snuggled up with your little ones as I read you just a part of it. 

Then he bade them goodbye, trying to be sad for their sakes; but he was quivering with happiness. Then hastily he got into his coracle and took his paddle, and the current caught it and away he went, very black against the lilies.

But no lilies grew on the wave; it was a smooth green slope. The coracle went more and more quickly, and beautifully it rushed up the wave's side. For one split second they saw its shape and Reepicheep's on the very top.

Then it vanished, and since that moment no one can truly claim to have seen Reepicheep the Mouse. But my belief is that he came safe to Aslan's country and is alive there to this day.” ~ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis. Excepted from chapter 16.

Aslan’s country! This part of the story is so permanently seared into our hearts, because it represents a moment, the moment, when every child of God, great and small, will enter the home we’re longing for!

As I’m recording this teaching, it’s mid-August. Two words seem to find their way into every conversation: “coronavirus” and “unprecedented.” Death and fear are the top stories for every news outlet every day. Here in the United States, we are moving toward a presidential election, and both parties have announced that this election determines the fate of our nation.

And though this is normally the time of year when we would be buying pencils and binders and backpacks, and preparing to return to the routine of school, everything looks different this year as schools try to navigate education in the midst of a global pandemic.

And children—my children—are struggling to understand why they can’t hug their teachers, why they can’t give high fives to their friends in the hallway. Families, including my own, are scrambling to adjust. Many churches are still closed or unable to meet in person.

Depression and suicide rates have spiked, the underpinnings of the global economy are fractured at best. From my limited human perspective, it seems the darkness is growing! 

Together, we are looking at a passage of Scripture that has transformed my view of brokenness—the brokenness inside my own heart and in my home and the widespread brokenness I see everywhere else!

Over and over and over in my life, this has become a passage that I turn to when I experience brokenness fatigue. It’s been very precious to me in recent years. Let me read to us Revelation 21:1–5. I hope you’ll read with us.

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. 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 . . ." 

Maybe take a minute right now and underline that phrase, “loud voice.” Your translation might say “great voice” or “loud shout.”

What I want you to know is that this is not a whisper. This is not a whimper. This is the Spirit of God announcing with power in a loud voice what comes next. Let me pick it up in verse 4: 

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." 

As we look around at our communities, which are broken; at our countries, which are broken; at our world, which is broken, Scripture gives us the answer to a critical question that all of our hearts are asking, whether we know it or not: “What are God’s promises for our broken culture?”

Now, anyone who thinks we’re in the darkest moment in human history has not paid close attention to the gap in their Bibles!

There is a four-hundred-year span between the Old Testament and the New Testament when God’s children were waiting to hear His voice again. It was surely a very dark moment. Or the moment when Jesus died on the Cross, which we celebrate now, but when the whole world was covered in darkness! There have been many moments of darkness.

Right now I’m reading a biography of Winston Churchill, and I just got to the part where he made the decision to fire on the French fleet. Now, these were Britain’s allies! Churchill made the decision to fire on them to keep their ships from getting into the hands of Hitler’s army. More than one-thousand French sailors were killed! I had to shut the book and shut my eyes, because it was truly a dark moment in human history! 

Brokenness and darkness have dogged God’s children since the Garden of Eden, and they dog us still.

We face real challenges in this generation! Have you noticed that here in America, the Church is no longer “the home team”? Our conviction that the Bible is God’s best for all of mankind is no longer widely accepted or embraced. But our ultimate hope is not in changing public opinion, it’s not in a single election, it’s not in government policies, it’s not in Hollywood acceptance, it’s not in our human ability to push back against the forces of darkness. 

Our hope is in the day described in Revelation 21:1–3. I’m going to read it to us again: 

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.

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."

Scripture is inviting us to reach out and to grab onto this promise with both hands. Here’s the promise: a new city is coming! The Bible calls it “New Jerusalem,” and it’s being prepared right now by God. This is the true and sure home for God’s children.

The original hearers of John’s words would have thought of Jerusalem as the place where the temple was, the meeting place between God and His people. John is describing a new city, a redeemed city, where we don’t just meet with God. We live with God! A city where our souls will experience true and lasting peace!

For the original hearers, they would have thought Jerusalem was the ultimate place to be. John is saying, “No, there’s a better Jerusalem is coming!” I want you to think about the culture around you; start small. Consider the culture in your own home. Every home has a culture; think about the culture in your own home.

Now, expand your thinking a little bit to your neighborhood. Think about your community; think about your state. In these days there is so much talk about how communities differ and can’t get along—what’s different about how this State this and this State decides this. I want you to think about those differences.

Now think about your country, think about your world, and absolutely pray for revival! Pray for God to appoint leaders who know Him and will follow His Word. Pray for God to win hearts to Him, because that will cause cultural shifts. God hears and responds when we pray for these things! 

Absolutely protect yourself and your little ones from the cultural messages that contradict God’s Word. But put your hope, your ultimate hope, in the City that’s coming! This Holy City, this New Jerusalem, it can feel so far off! Maybe it feels too supernatural to give us real hope when we face the realities of cultural darkness, and when those realities impact our daily lives.

So let’s put some flesh on it. Flip with me to the book of Hebrews chapter 11. You may already be familiar with this chapter of the Bible. It’s often called The Hall of Faith, and it’s one of two such lists we find in Scripture. One is here in Hebrews 11, and we find the Jewish Hall of Faith. 

These are names like Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David . . . even Rahab, who started out as a Canaanite, but became one of the Israelite people. Then in Romans 16, we find the Gentile Hall of Faith, people like Priscilla and Aquila. They were co-laborers with Paul for the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles. People like Epaenetus, the first convert to Christ in Asia.

And Persis, who Scripture simply says, “worked hard in the Lord.” You can go ahead and put that on my tombstone. I bring up both lists because their cultural heritage was very different. Some were Jews, some were Gentiles, and they lived during different eras in history, and they even lived in different parts of the world. 

That means they likely faced different kinds of challenges as they tried to live as children of the light in dark days. Here’s what united them; here’s what unites us: they were citizens of a different city! 

Listen to Hebrews 11:13–16. It is a manifesto for all children of God in every culture and era! “These . . .” Who are the “these”? Well, they’re the heroes, the champions of our faith. 

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

You might circle those words “strangers” and “exiles” in your own Bibles. 

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. 

What city is the writer of Hebrews describing? He’s talking about these people from all kinds of different places. He’s talking about the city found in Revelation 21. 

Hear it again in Revelation chapter 21, verse 2: 

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 

What is more beautiful than a bride adorned for her husband? Think of every moment you’ve been to a wedding, and those church doors open, and you see the bride for the first time. Everyone instinctively holds their breath! That bride is special! She is worth waiting for. This is the description that God gives us in His Word of the place He is preparing—right now, right this very moment—for us!

If we move back just a few verses from where we were in Hebrews, to Hebrews 11:9–10, we read the description of Abraham: 

By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Abraham gave up a stable life to live life in tents because he was looking forward to a city with foundations. That doesn’t make sense, humanly speaking. How could Abraham stand to leave his own country to live in a foreign land? Why would he forfeit the comforts of home for life in tents? For the same reason we can have hope when the culture around us feels foreign. For the same reason we have peace and joy when the world around us treats people of faith like aliens and exiles. 

Because Abraham wasn’t looking forward to a city with foundations built by human hands; he was looking forward to a city with foundations that cannot be shaken. Scripture says the designer and builder of that city is God!

Some translations say that the “architect” and builder is God. From the ground level, the Lord is building a city for His people! He’s pouring the foundation, which is good, because the foundations of this earth are deeply fractured by sin. As the people of God, we do not put our hope in those fractures being repaired.

My family and I live in an old farmhouse, and as old farmhouses tend to do, ours is showing some signs of age. A couple of years ago, the floor in the dining room developed a significant warp. A friend of ours who’s a builder crawled under the house, and he was able to shore that up . . . temporarily.

But he warned us that a day is coming when those temporary solutions for the foundation of our home are going to fail to hold. This is a picture of our broken world. The day is coming when all of our temporary, human solutions are simply going to fail to hold us up . . . but we have hope! Because Scripture gives us the blueprint for a new city—a city unfractured by sin, a city whose builder and architect is God! 

One more important description of this city is also in Revelation 21. This comes from Revelation 21:23–25: 

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. 

What hope can we hold on to when cultural darkness feels oppressive? Even as we push back against the darkness in love and in truth and with prayer, we’ve got to remember we’re pilgrims. We’re simply passing through, and each day takes us one day closer to this city that Jesus is preparing for us.

I was in a Zoom meeting recently, and one of the other people in the meeting had a calendar behind her on the wall, and she had clearly been marking every single day.

Someone else in the meeting said, “What is it that you’re counting toward?” 

And she said, “I don’t know.” 

And I said, “You’re counting towards the day when we are with Jesus!” 

Because every mark on that calendar means we’re one day closer to this city—one day closer to life forever with Jesus. And that’s worth keeping track of!

God has promised us a place where we won’t need anything to fight against the darkness, because there is none. Jesus will be with us in that better city as our Light! Let’s pray. 

Jesus, You’re the Light of the World. Thank You that You’ve prepared a place for us, that it’s foundations will not crack, where darkness will not make it past the city gate. What a beautiful promise! Help us to live in light of that reality. It’s in Your name I pray, amen.

Kesha: If you are a follower of Christ, this country, no matter what country you live in, is never going to be your home . . . but a better country is coming. Erin Davis has been reminding us of that by taking us to Revelation 21. But how shall we live as we wait for this better country? We'll talk about that in a segment we call Erin Unscripted.

But first, so many of us are always on the look out for good Bible studies. We want something that will help us dig in and understand God's Word better. If you appreciated Erin's teaching on this episode, I know you'll also love her lastest Bible study: 7 Feasts: Finding Christ in the Sacred Celebrations of the Old Testament.

Just like you heard on the podcast, this 7 Feasts study is going to be challenging, may take you to a part of your Bible you've never been to before. It will also help you hold on to the hope of all the God has promised for His children.

To get your copy of 7 Feasts, visit ReviveOurHearts.com/TheDeepWell

Erin Unscripted

Kesha: Okay, it’s time for Erin Unscripted, are you ready Erin?

Erin: I’m ready; I love this part. 

Kesha: Okay, so do I. So, Erin, here are a couple of fun facts about me: I love to swim. I was a junior lifeguard at the age of twelve years old. In fact, I love swimming so much that I used to dream that I could live at the bottom of the sea and swim with the killer whales and the dolphins. 

Erin: That’s a good dream; I like it. 

Kesha: I actually used to dream that. My question for you is, because after your teaching of Revelation 21, there is a portion of that that says there will no more sea.

Erin: I know, I’ve noticed that part too. I love the ocean. I don’t know that I love swimming as much as you do. But I love the ocean, and I’m not sure why it says that. But I do trust that God has a good plan. I’m confident that when we get to the New Jerusalem, we’re not going to have lists of the things we missed from Earth. We’re not going to be like, “Man, I really miss . . . fill in the blank.”

Kesha: Right, I think my feelings were actually hurt for just a brief moment when I realized there would be no sea.

Erin: Yeah.

Kesha: Just for a moment. 

Erin: I feel that way about the passage that says there will be no marriage or giving in marriage, because I really love my husband. 

Kesha: Yes.

Erin: And I do not like that idea very much at all. My sons have sometimes said, “Will you still be my mommy? Will we still be a family?” I don’t know the answer to those things.

But this is the way I answer, “I don’t know, but whatever Jesus has in store for us is so wonderful that we can’t even comprehend it.” In fact, Romans says that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard,” no brain comprehended.

Kesha: All that God has prepared for us. We don’t know.

Erin: Right, we can’t. You can could sit here and try and figure out what the new heaven and the new earth are going to be like, But we can’t. I don’t think we’re going to miss the ocean.

Kesha: Yeah like no more sea? Because honestly, I really pictured myself living in the most beautiful sea ever invented, ever created. And being able to live underwater, don’t ask me why, but that’s just what I visualized. Being able to just be underwater for ever and ever, for eternity and to find out there was no more sea, it was like “no more sea.” 

Erin: I don’t know everything that that means, I’m okay with parts of Revelation being open ended.

Kesha: Right.

Erin: I am okay with parts of my whole Bible being opened and not being able to understand them because I’m not God. And I do look forward to the day when I understand more fully, but for now I lean on the Holy Spirit to give me what understanding I can have, and I’m okay with not understanding all of it.

But it’s helpful to think about who wrote these words, initially, though they’re for all of us, and that’s John, exiled on the island of Patmos. He might have been writing to his Jewish brothers and sisters who might have had an entirely different experience with the sea than I did. For me, it’s a place of vacation; it’s a place of rest. I got married on the beach, barefoot at sunset, very romantic. But if you look at the Bible and you look at the history of God’s people, the Israelites, the sea was not that for them. 

Think about them crossing the Red Sea, which was a miracle, however terrifying. It was probably seared into their collective memories. Think about some of the stories with Jesus, where He was in a boat and these storms came along. Maybe some of John’s brothers and friends were fishermen, so they might associate it with work, hard work, or they might have some memories. 

It could be that he could be talking about a totally different context for the sea than we have. 

Kesha: Yeah.

Erin: Maybe it’s no more danger. Maybe it’s no more fear. Maybe it’s no more labor. I don’t know, but I know what God has in store for us is good. 

Kesha: I don’t think I’m going to be missing the ocean either, just knowing that there is going to be no sea was eye opening. So my question for you is, What was the most eye-opening description of heaven that you found in your study of Revelation 21? 

Erin: Oh, that is a good question. Actually the most eye-opening description of heaven is not in Revelation 21, to me, although it is in Revelation. 

Revelation 4 is describing the throne room, and what a wild place that is. There’s all of these creatures, and they’re covered in eyeballs. There’s the elders, there’s the thrones, and everybody is worshiping Jesus—nonstop—holy, holy, holy, holy, holy.

Kesha: Right. 

Erin: And the elders are casting their crowns at His feet over and over. If you think of a quiet place, it is not. There is a lot of activity going there. 

Kesha: Wow! That is a great observation.

Erin: And if you think of it as kind as of sterile place, like maybe it’s all white and there’s just this one gold throne, no! 

Kesha: Nope.

Erin: There are these wild creatures that have all this activity, and so that’s eye opening to me; that doesn’t really fit my kind of sanitized picture of heaven. But more than that. Why that passage is so eye opening to me is because I’m not in it. 

You read about Jesus and His throne, and the question that bubbles up in my heart as I read it is, Where’s your throne, Erin? Who’s worshipping you in the throne room in heaven right now? Well, nobody. That is such a humbling reality to realize that heaven isn’t going to be about me. It’s not going to be about what I think it should be like, or even what I’ve done. It’s all about Jesus. I think it’s going to be a place of great activity. 

Kesha: Yes. 

Erin: Maybe some wild things we could never imagine, but Jesus is going to be at the center of it, and that’s what’s so exciting. 

Kesha: Yes, amen. After your deep study of Revelation, and even Revelation 21, about what have you said, “I would like to know a little bit more what’s behind this?” 

Erin: Well, tears are mentioned twice in Revelation 21, and that’s fascinating to me. Anytime there’s kind of a pattern like that or something that’s unique, I want to know what’s that about? I want to know why, first of all, but there’s elsewhere in Scripture that talks about God keeping our tears in a bottle. I want to know if He’s going to dump them out?

Like, is there like a storehouse of tears somewhere? And since there’s no tears in the new heaven and the new earth, why is He keeping our tears? And my human brain thinks He keeps our tears on earth as a way of being attentive to us. It’s the way I’m attentive to my own children’s tears.

Kesha: Yeah. 

Erin: But what is He going to do with those collections of tears when there’s no more tears? That’s fascinating to me. I don’t know what it’s going to be like for there to be no mourning, and no pain, and no death. It’s in the air we breathe here on earth, and so I just want to know what it’s going to be like; I want to be there. 

Kesha: I was thinking about “no more.” The no more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears, no more mourning, no more death. For me, one thing that I look forward most is no more unwanted, intrusive, traumatic memories. 

Erin: Yes.

Kesha: The idea of heaven being where I do not have to remember those memories that plague me, that cause so much pain and suffering, and cause the mind to suffer. Based on your study in understanding Revelation 21, how do you navigate those painful moments, those painful difficult days that cause pain, tears. How do you navigate that, knowing what you know about Revelation 21?

Erin: Well, I am a person of the flesh, unfortunately. I do live and operate on a broken planet, unfortunately. I’m not in the new heaven and the new earth . . . yet. So I have to learn to live in my current reality even though my hope is in my future reality. I think sometimes as Christians, we can try to put bandaids on our hemorrhages and just say, “Well, we’re going to heaven someday, and someday it’s not going to be like this.” That is so true, and that is so hope-filled. 

However, as you mentioned, I love that you said “intrusive thoughts.” There are times when I am not controlling my own mind. It is full of things I don’t want to think about. My heart is full of feelings I don’t want to feel. It is so good to think on heaven and to know those are not going to exist forever, but I need Jesus right now. I need Jesus in those moments. 

He is both—He is seated at the right hand of the Father, right now in heaven, but He also lives inside of my heart. This is a great mystery. I can’t explain it, but He’s both. And so, it’s not like even Jesus is asking me to just throw those things aside and say they don’t matter because I’m going to heaven someday. No. Scripture says that He looks on us and feels compassion on us because we are sheep without a shepherd. 

Kesha: Yes. 

Erin: I ask Him to be near to me now, not just God in heaven, not just the God of someday, but the God of right now. I think the thing I say to Jesus most often is, “I need You, I need You, I need You, I need You.” Or really, what I say most often is, “I always need You . . . I just remembered it right now.”

Kesha: Yes. Yes.

Erin: I think it’s good to think about how intimate we can walk with Jesus even though we’re not in this new place. In the new place there will be no sin that separates us. We’ll just be in total fellowship with Him. But here on earth we can have fellowship with Him too. So we’re walking it out moment by moment. I say this a lot . . . There’s that song, “I need you every hour.” 

Kesha: Every hour.

Erin: No, I need Him every nanosecond.

Kesha: Yes. 

Erin: I don’t need Him every hour; I need Him all the time. It is mysterious, but He gives us a future hope. He gives us hope for our minute-by-minute realities. And how do we hold on to that exactly? All the things we’ve already said—we park ourselves in Scripture. 

Kesha: Yup. 

Erin: We read it for the billionth time. We read it out loud if we have to. We put people in our lives to read it to us. I have said to my friends, “When I am struggling, I want you to force feed me the Word of God because I can’t feed it to myself.” We sing. That’s why the Bible tells us to sing. We sing because it reminds us what’s true. 

Kesha: Yes. 

Erin: There’s lots of things we can do, but in those things what we’re telling ourselves is, “Jesus is near,” and “Jesus is always going to be near.” We’re going to have a time where all of this is gone, and we’re just with Jesus. 

Kesha: Amen. Thank you, Lord, for that. Amen. 

Erin: Amen. 

Kesha: What do you think of when I say the word "bucket"? The image in your mind right now? I guarantee that you will think of buckets differently after you hear Erin teach the final episode of this series.

Erin: Two buckets: former things and eternal things . . . that's it.

Hear more about that on the next episode of The Deep Well. It’s available now on your favorite podcast app. 

The Deep Well with Erin Davis is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.
 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Teachers

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

About the Guests

Kesha Griffin

Kesha Griffin

Kesha Griffin is a wife and blogger who is passionate about helping women know that the Bible contains everything we need pertaining to life and godliness. As a sexual abuse survivor, she seeks to give Christian survivors hope in Christ for their healing, freedom, and victorious godly living. She is the founder of Bible Thinking Woman, co-host of Kaleoscope podcast, and also has a Facebook support group for sexual abuse survivors within the church. Currently, she is pursuing biblical counseling certification from ACBC. Kesha’s greatest joy is supporting her husband as he serves as pastor of their church in Gardena, CA.