ALL THINGS NEW

A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH – 2

In Revelation 21:5 we read “I am making everything new!’ For several months we have been looking at the many new things that God has already done, or is presently doing, through his Son, Jesus Christ, in and for those who believe. God is already in the process of making everything new and we who believe in him already live in that newness.

Yet we also continue to live in the context of the ‘old’: although we have new, eternal, spiritual life, we still suffer and die physically; although we live in a new relationship with God in which our every sin is forgiven, we are still sinners who sin, and who live in the midst of sinners who sin; although we have been rescued from the dominion of Satan, we are still subject to his attacks; although we believe, we are regularly fleeing from doubts and fears. We live in this constant already/not yet tension. Waiting.

In Revelation 21 this tension, this waiting, is ended. The final judgement is over [20:11-15]. The new heaven and the new earth appear, and all is changed.

Of this new heaven and new earth God tells us:

The first heaven and the first earth have passed away [21:1].
The throne of God and of the Lamb are there [22:1,3].
The river of life, and the tree of life, are there [22:1,2,6].
Its inhabitants are the Church [here designated ‘the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, those ‘who overcome’, the bride, the wife of the Lamb – 21:2,9-21].
God’s name is on their foreheads [22:4].
They see God’s face [22:4].
God is there, living with his people as their God and their King [21:3; 22:3].
There will be no longer any curse [22:3]
God will wipe every tear from their eyes [21:4].
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain [21:4].
The old order of things has passed away [21:4].
There is no temple, because God and the Lamb are the Temple [21:22].
There is no sun or moon, because God is its glory and the Lamb its light [21:23; 22:5].
There is no night [21:25; 22:5].
Nothing and no one impure will be there [21:8,27].
Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life are there [21:27].

When we pause and consider this we realise that what is happening here is God’s final and permanent reversal of Genesis 3:

In Genesis 3 sin entered the world: here there is no sin.
In Genesis 3 death entered the world: here there is no death.
In Genesis 3 suffering and sorrow entered the world: here there is no suffering and sorrow.
In Genesis 3 the curse entered the world: here there is no curse.
In Genesis 3 separation from God entered the world: here there is no such separation.
In Genesis 3 we were banned from the tree of life: here the tree of life is restored.
From Genesis 3 onwards we were banned from seeing God’s face: here we see God’s face.
In Genesis 3 the law of sin and death began: here that old order has passed away.
In Genesis 3 spiritual darkness entered human existence: here there is only light.
In Genesis 3 we were cut off from God, the source of spiritual life: here there is constant connection to God and life.
In Genesis 3 we rejected God as our King: here God and the Lamb reign for ever and ever.

Back there in Genesis 3 we humans, by saying ‘Yes’ where God had said ‘No’, brought sin, suffering and death into the world. Here, in Revelation 21 and 22, God completes his sovereign work of undoing and removing the mess we made. 

And here we are confronted with the deep mystery of God’s grace:

That God created us knowing what we would do in Genesis 3.
That God created us already having planned how to rescue us from our sin and its impacts.
That God allowed us to survive beyond Genesis 3 instead of annihilating us on the spot.
That God allowed us to survive as sinners knowing that we would blame him for our suffering.
That God knew, through all of this, the horrific nature and cost of our rescue.

Here is deep, deep grace. Here is deep, deep patience. Here is deep, deep love.

The final judgement could have occurred in Genesis 3:6. But no one would have been saved. This interim, this era of sin and suffering from Genesis 3:1 to Revelation 20:15, is above all an interim of grace in which God gives us the opportunity to personally repent [see 2Peter 3:9]. But it is an interim, and it will end.

In Revelation 21:6 God says: ‘It is done.’ In a one-off, decisive action God brings into existence the new heaven and the new earth. He is the ‘Alpha’, ‘the Beginning’, and he is the ‘Omega’, the ‘End’. The origin and the goal, the implementation and the completion. Here in this new heaven and new earth the eternal purpose of God is complete: Here in this permanent new reality we, who were all our lifetime subject to suffering and death, drink the ‘water of life’ [21:6]. Here in this permanent new reality we are finally and forever home with our Father [21:7].

‘Behold, I am coming soon … Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come. Lord Jesus.’

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012