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Entries in Bride of Christ (1)

Tuesday
Nov062018

My Personal End Times: The New Heavens & the New Earth

Revelation 21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on November 4, 2018.

We are now at the last point of our series.  For the sake of time, I have broken this up into two sermons.  It begins with God’s promise to recreate the universe.  Throughout the Bible God reveals to us that He truly is the master of creation, and can even melt it down and recreate it when He wants.  So here we get a brief glimpse of what that new creation will look like, and the wisdom of God who is bringing us to it.

All things are made new

I will use the phrase from vs. 5 for our point because it describes what verses 1-4 are showing us.  The things of this world have grown old through use and abuse, but God has a day in which He will renew and refashion it to where it is both fresh and greater. 

Verse 1 makes it clear that in the last chapter the old heavens and earth were melted down and then sometime after the judgment recreated.  The new “heaven” here means the cosmos or universe and not the spirit realm where the throne of God is.  As for the new earth it is not just renewed, as in being brought back to a fresh state of the same thing.  It is also, refashioned into a different form.  We see this because it shares the detail that this new earth has no sea.  This does not mean that there is no water, but that large bodies of water like the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, or the oceans, for that matter, will be no more.  Throughout the Bible the waters were a great separating instrument to mankind.  It was also used as a symbolic representation of the turbulence of the nations.  Thus God will remove the physical barriers to mankind’s unity and the spiritual problems that drive its constant dissensions.

Verse 2 introduces the New Jerusalem, which comes down from God (i.e. it comes down from the third heaven).  This does not seem to be connected to the old Jerusalem on earth, which would have clearly been destroyed.  This is typically referred to as the Final State (condition), or the Eternal State.  This new creation is what we will inhabit into eternity.  Of course it would be folly to try and comprehend what plans God has for us in the Eternal State, other than to recognize that the emphasis is that now we can do it in perfect fellowship with God.

The New Jerusalem descends from Heaven

The New Jerusalem is compared to a bride adorned for her husband in verse 2.  However, in verses 9-10 it is called the bride of the Lamb (i.e. Christ).  Is the city just a symbol and not an actual city?  The descriptions to follow are far too detailed to treat the whole thing as simply a symbol of the Church.  Just as God’s people have been prepared to live with Jesus in eternity, so the city has been prepared to be the place of our dwelling, which leads us to the next point.

We are told in verse 4 that God wipes each tear from their eyes.  It is not saying that He will do that from then on because all the sources of pain will be no more: death, sorrow, crying, and pain.  Here we see the cathartic or healing experience of God removing any remnants of the old earth and its imprint upon our minds.  This is the ultimate renewing of our minds.  In verse 5 we are told that this plan and purpose of God is “true and faithful.”  It truly is His plan, and He will surely accomplish it.  God will bring it to pass for all who trust Him in this life.

In verses 6-8 we are given several promises from God and a warning.  First we hear the phrase “it is done” connected to that point in time.  This is in contrast to the words of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished.”  They are two different Greek words.  At the cross Jesus used a word that was used to state that a debt had been paid in full.  Thus at the cross it was finished in the sense that Christ had paid the price for salvation.  However, at the New Heavens and the New Earth “it is done” means that salvation/healing has been fully accomplished.  God has completed the task of overcoming the rebellion and corruption of the old universe.

Next the fountains of the Water of Life are promised to those who are thirsty.  There is a beer commercial that loves to use the slogan, “Stay thirsty, mis amigos!”  However, this begs the question.  What are you thirsty for?  You can drink all the beer you want, but it will not satisfy the empty aching in your soul.  If you are thirsty for the Waters of Life that are given to those who put their faith in Christ then you will know satiation that this world cannot give.  We drink from this water by faith.

Then inheriting all things is promised to those who overcome.  This world is our testing ground and the thing we must overcome.  It seeks to destroy your faith in God, but you must overcome it.  Jesus told his disciples that they would have persecution in this life, but then he said, “Fear not!  I have overcome the world.”  Thus we know that He will enable us to overcome the world as long as we lean upon Him.

Lastly, the warning is given.  We are given a list of the kinds of people who will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (i.e. The Second Death).  Most of the list makes sense.  However, many balk at the very first word, the cowardly.  Really?  People who are cowardly will be thrown into the Lake of Fire?  That seems way to harsh.  The point is not that those who are afraid receive the Second Death.  Rather, it is those who let fear cause them not to believe in Christ and instead embrace any of the other things in the list and more (there is no reason to believe the list is exhaustive).  When we let fear cause us to turn back and not overcome the world, then we fall short of the salvation and healing that God has for us.

The New Jerusalem described

For the sake of time I will list the descriptions briefly.  But it is worth spending some time thinking about the things described.  Verse 10 states that John is taken up to a great and high mountain.  This seems to be an allusion to Daniel’s kingdom “not made by human hands.”  That kingdom became a mountain that filled the whole earth.  As John stands on the great high mountain he sees the city coming down like a great mountain itself.  The Bible is replete with the mountain analogy.  The mountain of the Lord that was established in the earthly Jerusalem, pointed to a heavenly mountain of the Lord that existed in the heavenlies.  This New Jerusalem seems to be the ultimate mountain of the Lord coming down out of heaven and having the presence of God (as we see later).

We are told that the whole city is made of precious stones and shines with the glory of God.  In fact everything seems to be made of translucent material that will enable the glory of God to shine through it.  This is similar to the description Daniel gives of the righteous.  He says that they will shine like the stars.  Definitely there is a reference to taking on divinity (an immortal body that is from God).  However, if God has a glory that actually shines, it would stand to reason that we too will have some kind of shining glory, although lesser than that of God.

There are 12 gates around the city named after the 12 tribes of Israel and guarded by an angel.  We are also told that each gate is made out of a single pearl.  This is significant because as we go to the next point we will see that the walls are 216 feet tall.

The wall, that the gates are in, have 12 foundations named after the apostles of Christ and made of precious stones.  We are told that the city is the same length, width, and height and that each side is 1,400 miles.  It would be amazing enough to conceive of a city that was 1,400 miles square, but for it to also be 1,400 miles tall is flabbergasting.  We are not told if it is shaped like a cube or like a pyramid.  If it is like a cube, then it would be more reminiscent of the temple and the Holies of holies, whereas a pyramid shape would be more in keeping with the “mountain of the Lord” motif throughout Scripture and mentioned in verse 10.  Of course we have to point out that the streets are made of pure gold and thus in heaven gold is asphalt. 

Verse 22 tells us that there is no temple in the New Jerusalem because God and the Lamb dwell in it and they are the temple.  There is no separation from God and His people any more.  That, which was important to understand in the past, has now been overcome.  Not only is there no temple, but the city does not need the light from the sun or moon.  This doesn’t mean there isn’t a sun or moon, but that their light is not needed because of the light from the glory of God.

We are also told that the nations who are saved will walk in its light.  I should point out that it is not stated that the city will “land” upon the earth, only that John saw it descend out of heaven.  In light (pun intended) of this description, it would seem more likely that the New Jerusalem would orbit the New Earth as an artificial satellite giving light to the earth below.  However, it is quite possible that it lands upon the earth.  Of course life in the New Jerusalem and on the New earth is left to our imagination.  Do some people live in the New Jerusalem all the time?  Do some only live on the earth, and if so who?  Though many are quick to be dogmatic in answers to these questions, it seems a fool’s errand.  We simply have not been told and thus should wait until the time in which it will be revealed.

One thing is clear, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life may enter the New Jerusalem.  Which brings up the question, is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?  You can make sure that it is today, but repenting of your sins, believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and following His commands.  Will you do this now?  If you do you will have the joy of experiencing the greatest city that the world has ever know because it will have been built by God Himself.

The New Heavens & the New Earth Audio