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"I Am Making Everything New!"

Revelation 21-22

Jim Davis

Martin Van Buren, then governor of New York state, wrote the following letter to President Andrew Jackson in early 1829:

"The canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of a new form of transportation known as 'railroads.' The federal government must preserve the canals for the following reasons:

"One. If canal boats are supplanted by 'railroads,' serious unemployment will result. Captains, cooks, drivers, hostlers, repairmen, and lock tenders will be left without means of livelihood, not to mention the numerous farmers now employed in growing hay for the horses.

"Two. Boat builders would suffer and towline, whip, and harness makers would be left destitute.

"Three. Canal boats are absolutely essential to the defense of the United States. In the event of the expected trouble with England, the Erie Canal would be the only means by which we could ever move the supplies so vital to waging modern war.

"As you may well know, Mr. President, 'railroad' carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by the 'engines' which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock, and frightening women and children. The Almighty never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed." [The American Spectator, Jan 1984. Page 31.]

When we get to heaven we will probably realize that our ideas about heaven right now, are about as silly as Martin Van Buren’s ideas about railroads. Heaven is not an easy subject to delve into, because it is beyond our comprehension no matter how we explain it.

In the book of Revelation John gives us a glimpse of heaven.

Revelation 21:1-5
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (NIV)

Jesus said, "I will make all things new!" This is precisely what heaven is all about--the removal of all of the negatives time and space imposes through the curse of sin. In Revelation 21, 22, John gives us the essential characteristics of heaven.

A Fresh Start without Satan's Interference

Initially, John is impressed by what does not exist in the new heaven and new earth. We all know what Satan did to Eden, but we can hardly imagine a new Eden without Satan. Heaven's absence of evil, Satan, death and Hades are obvious since all have been consigned to hell. This can only mean one thing--LIFE, i.e. eternal life. Can you begin to understand the significance of eternal life without the presence of evil?

When Satan entered this world through sin, he separated us from God's presence. Heaven is designed to restore what we lost in Eden. Heaven will be a place to fully enjoy God's presence in Satan's absence.

Revelation 21:22-27
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (NIV)

The world around us tends toward unfairness, danger, and disappointment, and ultimately it will leave us unsatisfied and disappointed. We live in a world controlled by our adversary.

Ephesians 2:2
" . . . in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." (NIV)

Satan's evil rule of this world brought death to us by tainting every blessed instinct given to us by God. Can you even begin to imagine how beautiful Adam's relationship with Eve was as they lived in total innocence? The moment they sinned their nakedness and their shame drove them away from each other and God. If you don't believe that shame still exists, ask yourself why you wear clothes everyday. All that brings death and separation will be absent in heaven.

Revelation 21:6-9
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (NIV)

All that brings death and separation will be absent in heaven. John describes heaven by what is not there. "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain . . . But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Rev 21:4, 8 NIV) The second death will mean the death of evil for all eternity. We have heard of movies entitled "The Evil Dead" but heaven is about "The Death of Evil." A world without evil is beyond our wildest imagination to comprehend.

The curse of sin has filled this world with tears. We find them at every turn of the road. Things may look bright for us for a while, but then comes some blinding disappointment out of nowhere to rob us of our hopes and dreams. How many of us know the bitter tears of disappointment?

Moses spent all his life with one great goal in view. His supreme ambition was to lead the children of Israel into the Promise Land. Just as he was about to realize the fulfillment of all his aspirations and dreams, he met disappointment. God said, "Moses, because of your disobedience, you will not be able to go into the Promised Land." Sin deprived him of his hopes and dreams. You can all but see the tears coursing down his cheeks.

We have our own disappointments and tears. A man worked all his life saving for a new home. He built the home and lived in it two days before sin's curse of death stripped him of all his earthly hopes and dreams. Others have experienced the bitter disappointment of children failing to live up to their potential. We build castles in the sky only to see them come crashing to earth. We dream bright dreams that never come true. We have high hopes that never materialize.

In the slums of London there lived a poor man and woman who had only one child. They made sacrifices to give this child a good education. They sent the child all the way through the university. The child graduated with honors, majoring in chemistry. On the graduation day the child was given a position as a chemist in a great chemical plant. With the first money earned, the child moved the parents out of the slums. Their dreams were coming true just as an explosion at the chemical plant made their child an invalid for life. Surely they shed the tears of shattered dreams. Yes, this world is full of tears.

In heaven there will be a new beginning as God wipes away every tear (21:4). Our tears will be wiped away as God wipes out the curse of sin. The greatest thing about that day is that it will be the last time we will ever need our tears wiped away. Satan entered this world for the purpose of filling it with tears of mourning to rob us of tears of joy. When Christ comes he will destroy the very reason for our tears as he restores the bliss of Eden.

The natural result of evil's death will be the destruction of sadness and mourning the curse of sin has brought. There will be no mourning in heaven because the strife that brings mourning will have ended with the destruction of Satan. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). Our personal struggle with sin brings mourning as we long to be a better person. We know what is lacking in our personal lives; yet we are powerless to do anything about it. Sure we have forgiveness but this doesn't end the struggle. We are like the apostle Paul, we mourn over what ought to be, but find it impossible to do what we ought to do (Romans 7:14ff).

A Fresh Start with A New Nature

Heaven will give us a fresh start with a new nature. Many of us need the prayer of the old saint who prayed, "Lord, keep me alive while I'm still living." We have all struggled with the death our old nature seeks to bring to our lives. However, in heaven we will have a new nature because the curse of sin will be destroyed. In heaven "No longer will there be any curse."

Revelation 22:1-5
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (NIV)

Peggy Noonan, former correspondent with CBS News and speechwriter for presidents Reagan and Bush, insightfully observes:

"I think we have lost the old knowledge that happiness is overrated -- that, in a way, life is overrated. We have lost, somehow, a sense of mystery -- about us, our purpose, our meaning, our role. Our ancestors believed in two worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generation of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it has caused such unhappiness. The reason: If you do not believe in another, higher world, if you believe only in the flat material world around you, if you believe that this is your only chance at happiness --- if that is what you believe, then you are disappointed when the world does not give you a good measure of its riches..."

Our preoccupation with our own advancement breeds tension, trauma, and sometimes tragedy in our most prized relationships. Our clamor for earthly power and prestige steals time, energy, and attention that we could give to our children, spouses, and the less fortunate. Too many lives are poured into the bottomless bucket of this world, and after all is said and done, the bucket is still empty.

The world is crying for something better. Look at the hatred engendered in our world through the rule of Satan. Look at the poverty in the third world countries, which is the direct result of evil. There is no other way to account for this hunger and starvation other than evil. There is enough food to feed the world. Why aren't the hungry fed? Even in our affluent society there is a cry for something better. We mask our deepest cries as we run to and fro seeking something to fill the void in our lives. Oh how we long for heaven where this mourning will end. In heaven there will be no aging, fading, failing, being frustrated, or being deprived.

Heaven is a place where hearts will be healed. Imagine living without ever getting angry, frustrated, discouraged, depressed or despondent. John writes, "On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (22:2). If you have ever been sick, you know how great it feels to get well. Try to imagine spiritual healing that removes the infection of sin from our souls for all eternity. Try to imagine what it would be like to always think clearly and plan deliberately without any distractions. Imagine living for a purpose with the absolute confidence that nothing can interfere. Imagine doing all of this with nothing less than purest of motives.

The greatest healing will be the healing of relationships, which will be the result of our new nature. It seems the more crowded our world becomes the more difficult it is to sustain relationships. As we look across the globe we realize the difficulty of world peace, but in heaven access to the tree of life will bring healing to the nations.

Revelation 21:23-27
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (NIV)

A Fresh Start with A New Body

Presently we live in a natural body subject to death and decay. A new order where evil is banished forever will destroy spiritual death forever. Spiritual death is the cause of physical death, although it is more fare reaching than the physical grave, for it taints our souls with sin. In reality it was the death of the soul that brought death to our bodies. It is a death that separates us from everything pure as it taints every thought and every motive we have to the extent that not one of us knows how to do good (Romans 3:10-23). Sin separates us from ourselves just as it separates our souls from our bodies when we die physically.

With the destruction of spiritual death we will have a new body, with a new nature, with both living in perfect harmony. The Bible makes no effort to describe the kind of bodies we will have. We do know that we will be able to recognize each other (Luke 16:19-34; Matthew 17:1-5), but we don’t know what kind of body we will have.

1 John 3:1-3
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (NIV)

We may not know what we will be but we will be given a new body, like the old and recognizable, but different. There will be no disease or decay for this body. It will be strong and powerful not subject to death. It will be a perfect and glorious body.

Try to imagine a new body with a new nature. Our new bodies will not be subject to temptation. The resurrection bodies we enjoy in heaven will be not be limited by the space-time restrictions our present bodies are, such as the 24-hour-day, waking and sleeping, or the 70-year lifespan.

Try to imagine life without physical death. Methuselah lived 962 years but he died. We can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to live almost a 1,000 years, but in heaven we will have eternal life. Life without the possibility of death stretches our minds to seemingly impossible realms.

When Christ makes all things new there will be no hospitals because pain will have been destroyed. I knew a preacher who got married as a young man and while the couple was on their honeymoon they were involved in an automobile accident that paralyzed his wife from the neck down for life. The curse of sin invaded their lives, but in heaven our eternal bodies will not be subject to this type of destruction. The quality of life we will enjoy there is beyond anything we can imagine.

Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (NIV)

Imagining what the resurrection body will be like is about as easy as trying to explain to a caterpillar crawling along a twig that someday it will have beautiful wings and be able to fly.

A Fresh Start with A New Home

In heaven we will enjoy God’s presence without Satan’s interference, we will enjoy a new nature, we will enjoy a new body, but we will also enjoy a new home.

Revelation 21:1-3
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (NIV)

Revelation 21:9-12
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. (NIV)

Revelation 21:19
The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. (NIV)

John 14:1-6
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV)

Most of us know what it is to live without what only a few can have; sometimes it reveals an emptiness that is impossible to fill in this life. But this emptiness will be filled for everyone in heaven. The "value" of something we have on earth depends on the scarcity of the thing, i.e. the fact that fewer people have it gives a thing more value. However, whatever experience we enjoy in heaven will be magnified, not by the fact that others are deprived of it, but by the fact that others enjoy it, too.

Conclusion:

What difference does it make to know that heaven exists? That knowledge can keep us from wasting our lives, can give meaning to our daily struggles, and comfort us when trials come.

The most frightening thing about that day is that there will be tears. There will be tears for those who miss heaven shed by those who are going to heaven. There will be tears shed over the loss.

Matthew 16:24-26
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (NIV)

All that we have, are, and accumulate must be seen as resources by which we can influence and impact the world beyond. Even our tragedies are viewed as events that can bring eternal gain.

Matthew 6:19-21
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)
 
 
 
 

 

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