New Heaven and New Earth
We now come to the most beautiful chapters in Revelation, perhaps in the whole Bible. A man knows that this world is not what he was created for—he knows this instinctively, we might say. We come to know sometime in our childhood that this world is broken, and it shouldn’t be. A man with an ounce of reflection knows that this can’t be all there is. And if it is, why bother? Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
But God has created man for something far greater—a new world, a regenerated, re-created world where all is right, where there is no more sorrow and brokenness, injustice and wrongdoing. What’s more, a man knows that this place must be filled with the divine, that he may finally find his place with the One who created him with this longing in the first place. The man fears Him, but still wants to be with Him, for deep inside he knows that this One—this God—must be good and true.
And God is, for He has answered this longing. John first sees a new heaven and new earth. We should not think them to be divorced from the old heaven and earth but a renovation of which Apostle Paul spoke in Romans 8:19-22. Moreover, John sees “the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The way the passage is written, it could be that this blessed city encompasses the whole of heaven and earth or is at least equated with it (NICTC, 1109-1111). A sea is missing as it often represented chaos in the ancient world.
But as wonderful as this new world shall be, it’s wonder and beauty is predicated on the One whose dwelling place it is: God’s. “He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. 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.” Are there any more gracious words than these? Is this not the hope of every Christian, indeed, of even unbelievers in their truest moments? God created us with this hope—and He has made a way for this hope through His Son Jesus Christ. Saint Augustine said it best, “Our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” (Confessions I.1). Alas! It is for this that we “purify ourselves as He is pure” (1 John 3:3), that we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call” (Philippians 3:14), that we constantly “set our minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). For this is worth it all; for this we were created.