If you were planning to move to a new and exciting city where you intended to live for many years, I suspect you’d want to find out as much as possible about that place before you got there. Gaining some advanced knowledge would not only help satisfy your curiosity, but would also likely increase your desire to go - particularly if the place that you were currently living was a mess. Well, guess what? If you are a born again Christian then you will soon be moving to a glorious new home called Heaven - far nicer than this old fallen world. Don’t you want to know what it will be like? By carefully studying God’s Word, we can begin to acquaint ourselves with this glorious place that awaits us in the life to come.
In our previous sermon, we explored a few characteristics of the current heaven. While many people falsely envision an vast expanse of bright blue sky where the spirits of the redeemed float around blissfully worshipping God, what we actually discovered in the Bible depicts Heaven as a garden paradise. The throne room of God is there, where both the Father and Son are seated. Those believers who go there clearly have some form of a functional human body though it is not their final resurrected and glorified body. Interestingly, the occupants of the present heaven are portrayed as “witnesses” who are carefully watching and concerned about the events unfolding down here on the earth. In addition, they are the same people (have the same identities) in the present Heaven as they did on earth, and even retain memories of their former life.
In today’s message we will turn our attention to the future heaven. In the final two chapters of the Bible, Revelation 21 & 22, the apostle John describes what he calls the New Heaven and New Earth. The present heaven, which we discussed last week, descends from the sky to this earth and gives way to the future heaven. The creation of God is restored to its original pristine condition, beautiful and unscarred by sin or the curse. It will be here - in the New Heavens and on the New Earth - that the children of God will spend eternity with the LORD.
I. WHAT DOES NEW MEAN?
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. - Isaiah 65:17
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. - Revelation 21:1
“And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” - Revelation 21:5a
There is debate among Bible believers as to whether God intends to destroy the current earth and make a brand new one, or restore the current earth into a new and possibly better one. This is an important distinction in that it speaks to the nature of God. Is He more inclined to discard that which has become tainted by sin, or is He more likely to reclaim and renew it? I believe that because our God is in the redemption business, He will salvage the earth and remake it.
Notice that God says, “I am making all things new.” The order of these words matter. There is a big difference between making “all new things” and making “all things new”. “New things” are those that have never existed before - such as the original creation of the heavens and earth described in Genesis 1. “Things new” refers to taking existing things and renewing them or restoring them to their original condition. God is the Master Restorer. He takes great delight in making the old, broken, and corrupted new again.
II. THE NEW JERUSALEM
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,” - Revelation 21:2-3
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God - Revelation 21:10
One of the most prominent features of the New Heavens and New Earth will be the New Jerusalem. This holy city is pictured as a bride that has been adorned for her husband - ie, the Lord Jesus Christ. Its beauty is beyond our imagination, yet John does his best to describe it. The city is made of pure gold - clear as glass, with walls of jasper, and a foundation of precious stones. Twelve pearly gates lead into the city, where its inhabitants walk on streets of gold. We often mistake these to be features of the present heaven, but the Bible clearly lists them as attributes of the New Jerusalem.
The measurements for this heavenly city are also provided. It is perfect cube 1,400 miles wide, long, and high. If it were placed in the United States, the city’s base would extend roughly from the Canadian to the Mexican border, and from the Pacific coastline to the Appalachian Mountains. If pictured like a skyscraper, it would rise high enough to contain over 600,000 stories or floors. It could easily hold billions of people, with ample space for all. If these are literal measurements, and there is no reason to think otherwise, what a colossal city this is going to be!
III. UNENDING LIGHT
23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; - Revelation 21:23-25
And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. - Revelation 22:5
One of the stark contrasts between Heaven and Hell deals with light. If you recall from earlier in this series, one of the descriptors of Hell was “outer darkness”. Conversely, now we see that Heaven is a place of unending light. What is most amazing is the source of this light - it doesn’t come from the sun, moon, or stars. Instead, the New Heavens and New Earth are illuminated by the glory of God. There is no night, which suggests that those living there will have no need of sleep. If you think back to the original 6 days of creation, there was light on days 1-3 before the sun, moon, and stars were finally created on day 4. God was the light, is the light, and will be the light again!
IV. THE RIVER AND TREE OF LIFE
1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. - Revelation 22:1-2
6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” - Revelation 21:6
Notice that the throne room of God and the Lamb, that had previously been located in the present heaven, has now come to the New Heavens and New Earth. Flowing out from the throne is the river of life. It is significant that source of this life giving water is God Himself. On both sides of the river is the tree of life. Some scholars suggest that this singular “tree” is best understood as many of the same type of tree which line the shores on both sides. While there was only one tree of life in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve, it is reasonable that in the future heaven there would be many such trees which all bear fruit and produce leaves for the multitudes who live there. So there may be one tree or many...
IV. A PLACE OF NO MORE
18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. 19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. - Isaiah 65:18-19
“and He [God[ will wipe away every tear from their [the redeemed] eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4
One of the most frequently repeated verses about Heaven teaches us that it is a place of “no mores” - no more tears, no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, and no more pain. How is this possible? Because there is no longer any sin and the devastating curse has been forever lifted. Again we are presented with the vast disparity between Heaven and Hell. Hell is described as a place of torment where there is continual weeping and gnashing of teeth, while Heaven is a place of rejoicing and gladness where there is no crying, suffering, or pain. It is a place of endless comfort and joy.
This future heaven will come into being after the millennium and final judgment. It will be the culmination of God’s redemptive plan - the final act given in Scripture. God will finally rescue and restore His creation, resettling His beloved children in the place that He’d originally made exclusively for them. Before God created man and women, He carefully and meticulously constructed a perfect habitation for them. This place - the natural universe and earth - was designed expressly for humanity to be our most suitable home. That said, it makes perfect sense that our ideal place is and always will be on earth - and our Heaven should be and will be here.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. - Romans 8:18-22
The fate of the world is inseparably tied to that of man. It was our sin that brought disaster upon the earth and it is our redemption that will ultimately lead to the salvation of the earth. Until then, all of creation longs for its release from the slavery of corruption. This will someday take place when God “makes all things new”. The New Heaven and New Earth that is to come will be the final and future heaven - our eternal home!