Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A New Heaven; A New Earth

Life in Christ is all about new stuff. We looked at some of it in my previous article.

Grow Barefoot is also getting ready to release a new book, “Everything We Need: God's Path to Know Him Better.” I know many of you are looking forward to this release; please bear with us (and pray for us) as we work through some technical difficulties that are holding back the release.

In light of our focus on all things new, below are excerpts from the study where we discuss the new heaven and earth of eternity. Let your imagination wander and enjoy…

New Heaven and New Earth

Let’s enter the new heaven and the new earth together and see what awaits us in eternity. Other than some final closing remarks, the last two chapters of the Bible are dedicated to its description. The current heaven and earth may be good reference points for our imaginings of the new heaven and earth but we can’t limit ourselves to the nature of the current system. For example, we will read about a tree in these chapters. I see no reason to think the tree isn’t like a tree we have now. I also see no reason to limit its size, the intricacy of the leaves, the grandeur of its shape, or the vividness of its colors. We can’t know any of these things for sure, but we are free to imagine!


To get our imagination started, please read Revelation 21. A city may seem out of place in eternity but that is exactly where the description of the new earth begins. The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, is “prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (21:2). Scripture first mentions the current city of Jerusalem in Genesis 14:18 by the name Salem. Later, the name changed to Jerusalem. God dwelt in the temple in Jerusalem. The city itself was also the home of the kings of Israel, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, and the capital of the modern-day country of Israel. Hopefully you can see that God didn’t randomly select Jerusalem as the name for the Holy City. The new Jerusalem will be the dwelling place of the final King of Israel, the resurrected Jesus Christ. Indeed, John, the author of Revelation, records a voice from the throne in heaven 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” (Revelation 21:3).


The new Jerusalem is also the place where God will once again dwell among His people. He did so in the Garden of Eden; after He restores all things, He will do so again. The Garden of Eden was a place of paradise before the curse of sin, death, pain, oppression, thorns, and unfruitful labor. Likewise, in the new heaven and the new earth, “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” (Revelation 21:4).


We studied several verses in this book which refer to our inheritance as believers in Christ. Even one of our key verses says that we “may know…the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). The inheritance promised Abraham in the book of Genesis, which we share in as his spiritual children, finally comes to fruition in the new heaven and new earth. John was inspired to write, “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son” (Revelation 21:7).


The outcome of the two paths we have studied throughout this book is also completed. A few verses earlier, in Revelation 20:15, the lake of fire awaits those who chose not to follow God’s path. Therefore we read in Revelation 21:8 that “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars” have no place in the new heaven and earth. God created the lake of fire “for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Satan attempted to exalt himself above God, and thereby lower God’s position. Neither angel nor man will lower God; therefore, He condemned Satan and the angels who followed him to the lake of fire. Every man since who, in effect, does the same thing by rejecting His need for a Savior, receives the same destiny. Those who reject are those who have no place in eternity with God. Those who believe and follow have a place in the new heaven and earth. Later, in Revelation 21:27, John reiterates again, “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.”


I’m sure many of us, if not all, have attended a wedding ceremony. In many cultures around the world, nothing compares with the beauty and elegance of a wedding. In an American wedding, the tension and excitement mount when the music shifts to Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.” Heads tilt and necks stretch as attendees strain to catch a glimpse of the bride as she enters the room. Adorned in the most beautiful gown she will probably ever wear, she is stunning as she slowly proceeds down the aisle to her waiting groom. In this passage, one of God’s angels says to John as part of his revelation, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:9). John describes what the angel showed him, “It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:11). If you skipped the reading of Revelation 21 earlier, you’ve got to go back and read this part now. Verses 11-21 describe the bride in all her beauty; you’re missing out if you don’t stretch your neck so you might also catch a glimpse of the bride.


Throughout history, the temple has dominated Jerusalem’s skyline. Virtually nothing surpassed the grandeur and beauty of the temples built by Solomon and Herod. Even now, with no Jewish temple, we recognize the city by the Temple Mount. Yet we read in Revelation 21:22, “I did not see a temple in the city.” The lack of the temple must have surprised John’s first-century mindset. Earlier I wrote that God allowed the Romans to destroy the temple in AD 70 because Jesus’ crucifixion was the final sacrifice and God the Spirit now dwells within man. Likewise, in the new heaven and earth, the temple is non-essential; God Himself is the temple.


Many of us are probably used to a city with no temple. However, I guarantee this next omission will be new and amazing for all of us. The city has no need of a sun or a moon to light the way. “The glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Revelation 21:23). God created light and darkness, day and night, on the first day of creation. He didn’t create the sun, moon, and stars until the fourth day. Similarly, John separated the sun and moon from day and night in this passage. Later, in verse 25, he wrote, “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this excerpt from “Everything We Need: God's Path to Know Him Better."

No comments:

Post a Comment