The Dwelling Place of God Is Finally with Men
Here is indeed one of the most beautiful chapters in all of Scripture. We have finally come to the end of our journey. This is why we said early on that Revelation completes the Bible, that it answers Genesis. For here we find what our hearts were longing for all along – and that was God. As Saint Augustine said, “He has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Him.” In this chapter do we see that final rest attained, our hearts’ desire realized.
We first spy a new heaven and a new earth. I was once asked, “I understand a new earth, but what was wrong with the old heaven?” I’m not sure I know the answer to that, except to point to verse five where God says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” It seems that the emphasis here is on the new creation God is making. As for the lack of a sea, the sea was the place of demonic forces throughout Revelation. I don’t think we need to take this verse literally, only to say that no demonic forces will occupy the new heaven and earth. Then we see the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. This reminds us that man cannot bring the kingdom of heaven. Only God can do that. It is His gift. All the attempts that man has tried to bring a heaven to earth (and here I think of Marxism and all the human misery it has caused) have collapsed in utter ruin. The best we can ever do is to faithfully and humbly administer the three institutions He has given us – home, church, and state – according to His word and in that order.
Furthermore, the New Jerusalem is a place where there is no more pain, no more tears, “for the former things [will] have passed away.” And the most important blessing is the grand fulfillment of the promise He has made to all the saints: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man … and God Himself will be with them as their God.” This was the original promise He made to Moses, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12), and to Abraham before him. In heaven, this promise will be experienced in person. And then God Himself told John to write these things down, “for these words are trustworthy and true.” Of course they are, for they are God’s. But He wants us to know that this is our sure and certain heritage; He wants us to know what we have to look forward to, that the hope of the New Jerusalem inspire us to greater holiness and perseverance. Thus, we hear the word of warning along with the word of assurance. We must remain faithful to the end. And if we remain with Him, we know that He too shall remain with us.