As I write this lesson, I am surrounded by the mountains and streams of east Tennessee. The Smokey Mountains are a special place to my family and to many in our church. It is a wonderful and beautiful place for us to visit and relax. We look forward to seeing the mist, the wildlife, the history, the blue hue of the mountain, and the friendliness of the people that live there. Our lesson today is about another place, an even better place that we as Christians long to see. We are told that it hasn’t even entered into the hearts of man the things that God has prepared for us. Even so, the apostle John gives us a glimpse. As he reveals Jesus to us, he also gives us a tiny sneak peek into the new and amazing place we eventually will call home.
21 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Many places in the Bible tell us about the earth. The curse pronounced upon the earth for the sin of Adam will one day devour it completely. The earth will wax old, we can watch it breaking down even today. Prior to our lesson, some very catastrophic events have taken place as the wrath of God is released and during the great tribulation. As amazing and beautiful as our planet is, there is coming a new earth that we cannot even fathom. We have never seen what our dwelling place would be like without the curse and effects of sin. Also note, man does not make this possible. This is all the handiwork of God himself.
Earth is cursed because of sin.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Genesis 3:17-19).
While earth exists, the seasons, day, and night shall continue.
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22).
The heavens and earth praise the handiwork of God.
Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and everything that moveth therein. (Psalm 69:34)
When the new earth arrives, we will no longer think of or remember this former earth.
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall be remembered, nor come into mind (Isaiah 65:17).
This earth is temporary- we look for a new earth.
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3: 17-18).
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Is there anything more beautiful than a bride that is prepared for her husband? In our culture, we have lost the symbolism of the bride and groom and the symbolism of marriage as a representation of Christ and His church. We like being caught up in the planning but miss the commitment and love between the bride and groom. Clean, fresh, in love, smiling, and wearing her most beautiful gown, a bride stands before her groom. The visual presentation of the holy city of Jerusalem should read the same. Jerusalem has seen its share of wear and tear, wars, bombs, death, and sadness. This new Jerusalem will have none of the scars or need make-up to cover wounds. It is new and prepared with love.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Can you imagine! We have walked by faith- not by sight. We didn’t walk with Jesus as did the apostles. We have believed in His word alone. There is coming a day when we will dwell with God as Adam did in the beginning. It will not be unusual to see God; He will dwell among us. And who is the “us” that He dwells among? All of the redeemed. All that have their names written in the lamb’s book of life. All that have recognized and believed in the Messiah. What a neighborhood to live in!
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Can we get an amen to this verse? How many tears have been shed in pain, persecution, death of a loved one, the sinfulness of a child, frustration, anger, the list goes on and on. He will remove all tears. There shall be no more separation from our loved ones. No grieving or lacking to make us sad. No pain living in a perfect body that doesn’t age or become prone to disease and sickness. For all these things are gone. Gone!
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is a thirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Have you ever wished for a do-over? Have you ever asked God how long he was going to let things go on that caused grief and frustration? He will make all things new. He reminds us that his words are faithful and true. Just in case we forgot- we can trust Him. When His wrath is finished, and His redeemed are gathered, then it is done. The plan of Salvation, the removal of the cursed world replaced with a fresh new one, is completed. The fountain of the clean, pure water of life is free to all. Let us not grow weary- it is imperative that we overcome. Our true Father wants us in his house. Our true Father wants us to be with him.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Those who belong to God are not fearful. “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The sermon on the mount teaches that sin is not just what our bodies do but where our mind lingers. First on the list of things banished from the new Heaven and the new Earth is fear and then followed by unbelief. No one who denies the power and love of God almighty will be allowed to stand in His presence. Sorcerers and Idolaters have rejected His authority and cunningly devised means and methods of creating their own. Liars? Nothing untrue is welcome into the undefiled kingdom of God. A lot is brought to mind when we hear the word abomination, I wonder how many know that lies are an abomination to God. Christ is truth, untruth will one day be destroyed, along with those who persistently cling to it. A lake of fire, a second death, after the longsuffering and continuous warnings of God, those who adamantly refuse to accept His grace and pardon will receive exactly what they have requested, eternal separation from Him.
9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
Who is the bride of Christ, and what does she look like? She is made up of every tribe and every nation of the earth. God has been creating this astonishing body of believers since the first uttered words of creation, and she stands complete and full of praise for her redeemer. She wears white because she has been purified by Christ. She is “without spot or blemish” because her every need has been provided, and the utmost care has been taken to make sure she is provided for eternity. If you have surrendered your heart and life to the only begotten Son of God, then you are part of this bride.
Earlier in Revelation, we read of the fullness of the curse of sin, the proclamation of “in the day ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die,” will be surely fulfilled. All of God’s created perfection was tainted by the sin of mankind, and the decay will one day be consummate. In the new heaven and the new earth, Redemption is fulfilled, and redemption is consummate. Nothing there is without the perfecting of Christ. “Behold, I make all things new.” You will see this with your own eyes if by faith you have seen Him as Lord, but in the here and now, He is doing a similar work. We come to Christ because we reach the startling realization that there is nowhere else to go, no other offers an answer to the devastation in our lives. He gives us His Holy Spirit to begin a process of making us over, making us new. The process is slow and sometimes frustrating because our flesh gets in the way, but “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
I grow more and more weary of the world, in its present state, every day. Wickedness is everywhere. Children are not safe. What was once common sense is seemingly gone. Our minds are bombarded with wrong ideas, images, and thoughts - sinful and self-willed in nature. I see more friends and loved ones moving on to heaven. More and more of my friends have found disease and sickness. This world is not my home. My father has a better place for me. I can face the reality of this fallen world only by realizing that my heavenly home is far more and far better than I can even imagine. My comfort does not come from man. It is from God. His promises are true, and my faith will not be in vain.