A New Heaven And A New Earth
Key Verse 21:5
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
This chapter of the book of Revelation seems to be a chapter of promises fulfilled and promises to be fulfilled. Together with the final chapter of Revelation, chapter 22, this is the climax of history and of all God’s set purposes from the beginning of time until the end. This is the end of all things as we know them, and the beginning of all things new — things we do not yet know. What we see here in these chapters is an end, and at the same time also a beginning. While we have a picture of the end, it is still almost impossible for mortal human beings to comprehend what we are actually looking at. Paul says it perfectly when he writes these words: “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9) Truly we cannot begin to perceive what we read in these last 2 chapters of Revelation. Yet, the words were written for the children of God who from time immemorial have waited for this day to come. Yet the words are written for us to meditate on, to embrace and to hold to in our hearts. They are written so that we may be assured without a shred of doubt that the end of all things will come, and a new beginning will also come. The author of Revelation tells us that those who read these words are blessed. And blessed are those who believe them and take them to heart. We can only say “amen” to what we read here. May the Christ who sits on his throne in heaven bless you to and etch these words upon your hearts.
Read verses 1-5. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
Noting in this world lasts forever. And everything will spoil, fade and eventually perish in time. This is a truth that has been tried and tested over the millennia throughout which humanity had its existence on this earth. Ever since the human race came to be on the face of the earth, human beings have witnessed a time of birth and growth, and a time of waning and death for all things. Adam lived in a world without death and without decay. We do not know how long he lived in a world like that before sin came into the world. But as soon as sin entered the world, also came with it everything we have come to dread and even loathe. Then came death and with it came the spoiling and decay, the corruption and the death of all things. The world explains decay and death in their own way, creating philosophies to try to understand and accept the concept of death in the midst of life. But those who have faith in a Living God and who have come to know his Son Jesus, have a completely different view of decay and death. Simply, Christians do not accept the notion that death is final. We believe that death came as a result of sin. And that Jesus has defeated death. We also believe everything else the Bible teaches. We believe that Jesus came to make all things new. We believe that the world which was subject to decay and to death, will one day perish as written in the Bible and that God has promised us newness— a new of everything. He promised a new life, and a new body, a new earth and a new heaven. We may not understand what all this means, but we believe it deeply in our hearts, and we wait for the newness of all things according to his great promise.
In these first five verses, John witnessed with his own eyes what this newness was like. He saw the old earth and the old heaven pass away, and he saw the new earth and the new heaven come to be. He also saw the holy city of God, descend from above. He described it as a beautiful bride prepared for her bridegroom. And he heard a voice proclaiming the very thing that all the people of God from the beginning of time until the end had been waiting for. He heard a voice fulfilling the promise of ages. He heard that the time had finally come for God to dwell with his people, and for his people to dwell with their God. Finally, what Adam had undone by his sin was being remedied. When Adam sinned, all of humanity were cut off from God and from the life of God. The world had plunged into an impossible kind of darkness. The world and its people lived for generations away from God, cut off from the very source of life that gives life to all things. When humanity was cut off from God, the world was plunged into the darkness we see every day. Every person who is born to this world, in time comes to see the effect of being separated from God. Many deny it, but in the depth of the human heart men know that they are far from God, for without God this world can witness nothing but sorrow and pain, and evil and corruption. Men do things they really do not want to do, and they do not know why they do them. But in their hearts they know they do they because they are living in a world apart from God. But God did not leave us without a hope. He promised a Savior. And he sent him. And he promised that whoever calls on him, will be delivered out of darkness. And it was so. Every man or woman who has ever confessed Christ as Lord had a taste of what it is like to have God back into their lives. The separation from God was over. And a new life given to those who confess Jesus. Still however, even those who confess Christ must live in this dark world. But God promised even further than that. He promised the day would come when our union with God will not only be like a thread of heaven and the overseeing of the Holy Spirit, but that our union would be complete.
And so it will happen. The promise would come true. God will come to dwell with his people and his people will dwell with him. The glorious day will come at last— someday— but it will come. it will come because John witnessed it, and because we read it so, and so it will be. And this reunion with God will not be as it is for us now, for those who unite with Christ but still live in a world full of sin and temptation and trouble and sorrow and pain— a world we must endure and a world we must live in until God’s purpose is fulfilled. The reunion with God will be as such. Look again at verses 3 & 4. That union in that new world will be tangible and wondrous. As soon as we meet with God in that new world, all that we know and have ever known of sorrow and pain will be gone forever. There will be no more tears. No one will have reason to weep any more. In this world we taste suffering because we live in a world still tainted by the evil one who oppresses with such cruelty that we cannot begin to fathom. He who had taunted us and who had pressed us and made our lives miserable out of his hatred for our Lord and for us, will be gone. The new world will not be touched by him any longer. It will be for us as it was for our ancestor Adam before he was cast out of God’s presence. We wait for that day with eagerness. For that day, and for the wonder of having Christ rule our lives and our hearts without interference, we endure— even if we have to suffer a little longer— we endure all things. For the promise of the Christ who purchased us with his blood had been fulfilled. Now the promise of reuniting us with our God will also most assuredly be also fulfilled.
Read verse 5 again. “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” The words “I am making everything new” remind us of what the Lord Jesus told his disciples the night before his crucifixion. He had told them and us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4) Yes we know the way to the place where he is going. He was going to heaven to sit at his father’s right hand. He was going to heaven to make everything new. He was going to prepare a place for us. And as he said, if he went to prepare a place for us, he will be sure to come back to take us to where we will live with him forever. “I am making everything new”. It is a promise we must hold on to. Look at verse 5 again. He commands John to write down the words of the promise, so as to etch them as in stone. To say the words of the promise and then to make John write them down as well is an emphasis on the truth of them. we do not need emphasis on the word of God to believe them and hold them in our hearts. Yet God compelled John to write them down. We ought to write them down as well, in our hearts, on paper, we ought to memorize them and recite them. we ought to learn them and teach them. there is nothing in life more important or urgent than holding on to the words of God— to the word of his promise.
Read verses 6-8. “He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.’” It is done, the Lord said— It is done! Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus was crucified on the cross for the sins of the world. He was paying for sins he did not commit, but which all humanity had committed from the beginning of time till the end. He was paying for the sins that you and I committed and will commit until the day we too rest and sleep until the day of resurrection. But Jesus paid on that day for our sins. As he was dying he also said the same thing we read here. He said: “It is finished.” His suffering was finished. But also the payment was done, redemption and salvation were not possible because Jesus finished what he came to do. He had paid the price. But it was not the end. There will be yet another time when it will also be finished, it will be done. It will be done when he finally unites us with his Father, and weds the church he died to make his own.
But until then, listen to what Jesus is still saying in the book of revelation, even at the end of time, and the beginning of a new life and a new world. Jesus extends an invitation to the thirsty to come and drink the water of life, come and drink from the wells of eternal life that come from his mouth. When Jesus was still with us on this tired and old earth, when he was raising disciples to bring the gospel of life to the world, he also extended the same invitation to people to come and drink from him. His words are life and the source of life. So Jesus was extending an invitation to the thirsty to come and drink. The word “thirsty” is very interesting. Jesus knew that the people were thirsty. They were thirsty in their souls. And Jesus knew that nothing but his words of life would quench the thirst that the souls aches from. The whole world is thirsty. In truth all people are thirsty in their souls. I knew a young man who was so thirsty in his soul, his heart ached day after day. He claimed to be a believer, and he spoke the name of Jesus and he quoted from the Scripture. But when I witnessed his day to day life he seemed to be one of the thirstiest people I had ever met. When I said, drink from the words of God, he usually said “I know I know.” But he was seeking to quench his thirst elsewhere. He was desperate for attention especially from women. He did not know that he was stealing their hearts from God. he did not know that no woman could quench the thirst of his soul. He did not know what a wretch he was before the very Lord he claimed to witness to. Men in our generation as well as women, want to satisfy their souls by drinking from each others’ wells. But the Bible tells us about the wells of human companionship, and of human attention, and of human friendship and such: Listen to what Jeremiah 2:13 says of the wells that come from the human source. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” All human wells are empty and broken. Young people who are most vulnerable to the devil’s deceit believe that they can satisfy each other. They spend half their lives trying to drink from empty wells but they cannot be ever satisfied. On the other hand, the Lord then and now, and even in that remote day when Jesus will send the final invitation to empty souls saying: “come and drink” and “for free” — till then there will be an open door to come and drink. The time will come when the door will close and no soul can ever reach the Lord whose well is life giving. Take heed young people— you who are paying too much with your own soul to satisfy its thirst. The price you pay for attention from a man or a woman is too high. There is nothing there. Its an empty well. But come and drink from Jesus and his living water. It is free by the grace of God, it is free and it alone can satisfy.
Look again at verse 7. God promises those who overcome the temptation of drinking from empty wells, those who overcome the temptation of spending their life fortune on things that perish, those who overcome their own pride and humble themselves to learn the truth as a disciple, as a learner, as a babe who needs to be nurtured in Christ Jesus and raised in Christ Jesus— to those who overcome the passions of their youth, and who overcome the need to be satisfied by the glitter of the world, and the empty wells of other human beings more thirsty than themselves— those who overcome. To all who overcome, Jesus promises to take you in as a son and a daughter. We must overcome. If the Lord counsels us to overcome, there must be a way to overcome. And it is the way of faith and of holiness, it is the way of holding on to his words of life, it is the way of living no longer for me but of living for Him who is worthy. To him who wants to overcome, the Lord himself will give him or her the victory. Believe this! Believe this because the alternative is frightening. Read verse 8. “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Who are the cowardly? The cowardly are those who have no faith. They are those who fear the world and who fear others and who fear each other, and who fear today and tomorrow, those who fear who have no faith at all. They are cowardly. They are the ones who cannot stand up in the faith to declare what is truth of God and what is Satan’s deception. They know the truth, but they are too cowardly to confess it and live in it. The Lord wants us to overcome all things by faith. We need faith, and for those who genuinely have no faith but want faith, the Lord is gracious enough and will give them according to the hearts desire. To those who desire faith God gives faith in abundance. Let us not be cowards who are too fearful to live by faith and uphold the mission God called us to. Let the young people stand in faith even if it does not make them popular. Who are the unbelieving? The unbelieving are those who are stubborn and rebellious in their hearts against the truth of God. Who are the vile? The vile are those whose thoughts are always tainted with impure and unclean things. There is no excuse for anyone who harbors vile thoughts because the Lord cleanses hearts according to his promise and the Lord has given us a sense of repentance and of coming to him for grace. Those who harbor such corrupted thoughts, and hold on to them in the secret recesses of their hearts are vile in the sight of God and there is no room for them in the presence of God. Who are the murderers? They are those who kill the body. But also those who kill the soul. Those who lead other souls to walk in paths of impurity, and of rebellion against God. in this world there are many murderers especially of the soul. More are the soul murderers than those who kill the body. The Lord has given us a task to care for the souls of others, and not to harm them. we ought to take this to heart and care for the souls of others by giving them the word of life, by leading them to Jesus from whom they can drink of the living water for free. Also those who live reckless lives that lead to destruction and lead others to destruction are soul murderers as well. Who are the sexually immoral? They are those who have no sense that life should be centered around Jesus and not around their physical pleasures. It is sad how many people live lives that are centered around their own desires, and among them there are those who confess Christ. We must not be like that. Who are those who practice magic arts? They are those who would meddle with evil and plot for evil and at the same time denying God. Who are the idolators? They are those who worship things that are of man rather than worship the one true God in spirit and in truth. Our nation today is full of idolators who worship not God but who worship the gods of pleasure and of material goods. Who are the liars? They are those who do not stand on the truth of God. they are all liars. But thanks be to God who has given us his word and his life, who has given us his grace and the faith by which we live. With these we can overcome the world and all that makes the heart and soul vile.
In verses 9-21 is the glorious description of the city of God. It is dazzling paradise beyond our ability to comprehend. God gives us a description in order to help us hold this image in our hearts while we live in a world that is soon to decay and perish. All we can say after reading such a poem is that it is beautiful. And what is more amazing is that it is ours! It belongs to you and to all whose name is written in the book of life. it belongs to the man woman of faith. It belongs to those who love Jesus more than this world. It belongs to those who drink from the words of Jesus, and who fill their souls with the words of Jesus, to those who love Jesus more than they love life. It is theirs!
“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.”
Read verses 22- 27. “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Not everyone will be allowed into the new Jerusalem, but ‘only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.’ And the Lord has made Eternal life available to us only because of what Jesus, the Lamb, has done. He has given his life so that we may not die, but live with him forever. This is what Jesus once said a the last supper before his crucifixion. He taught us what eternal life is. He said: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Read our key verse, verse 5. “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”