1] Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2] Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3] And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4] And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
5] Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new. ” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
6] And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the end. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7] He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall by My son. 8] But the cowardly, unbelieving, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Having gone past the end even of the existence of this planet, John brings to our attention some new things in the rest of the book.
There’s some discussion about verse 1. John saw a new heaven and a new earth, of that there is no doubt, but the question is, will God create a completely new earth, or just rejuvenate this present one? 21:11 describes the Occupant of the Great White Throne as One from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 22:1 calls them “the first,” indicating the presence of a “second,” that is, brand new heaven and earth.
In v. 2, he describes the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. “Prepared as a bride” implies the splendor he will describe later on.
Vs. 3 and 4 give a great promise: the dwelling of God with men. No longer will there be distance between the Creator and His creation, but He will be their God and I believe there will be fellowship such as was enjoyed in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. In addition, God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. That which is likely to be the description of much of life as we now know it will be no more and those moments of supreme happiness which are occasionally enjoyed now, as in a wedding or the birth of a baby or in the reunion of friends or family will be the norm in that place.
V. 5 gives us the assurance that these words are true and faithful. We can depend on them.
The world will crumble away, history as we know it will cease to exist, and things will be completely new and different. God remains. As Psalm 102:25-27 says,
Of old You laid the foundations of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but You will endure;
Yes, they will grow old like a garment;
Like a cloak You will change them,
And they will be changed.
But you are the same
And Your years will have no end.
For the most part, we want permanence and stability in our lives. We want what we might call a comfort zone. But unless we look to God and follow and serve Him, anything of this world that we look to will eventually disappear, or we’ll leave this life and all those things – then what?
It is only God who remains to the end – and beyond.
He can do that because as verse 6, echoing 1:8, reminds us, He is the beginning and end, the A and the Z, of life and creation. Nothing exists without and apart from Him and nothing is without purpose, even though we may not and probably don’t understand it. After all, how much could an ant understand of chemistry or physics? And that gulf is nothing compared to the gulf between us and God.
But this God who is infinitely different and separated from us, is not an indifferent or distant deity. He didn’t just create the world and then go off to do something else. He is vitally interested in what goes on here, not in the sense of wanting to see what happens next, but because it is His creation. He sees that we can’t really be happy just with “things,” and so He gives a gracious invitation: “I will give of the fountain of life freely to him who thirsts.”
Will more of the things which can’t really make us happy make us happy?
Long before Revelation 21:6, the Lord Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28. Also, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled,” Matthew 5:6, emphasis added.
I believe it was Augustine who said that God created man with a God-shaped hole in his heart and only God can fill it. Adam and Eve thought they knew better – and we haven’t learned anything at all from their experience.
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall by My son,” v. 7.
Human wisdom thinks its foolish to give up everything for some “pie in the sky” later on, as if the devil were a better paymaster than God. But God says that those who are willing to give up things don’t lose. To the contrary, He says, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things.” There is no loss in serving God.
There is one caveat – one warning – in all this.
You see, in order to take hold of what God offers, we have to let go of “things”. That doesn’t mean to leave everything and go to live on a mountaintop. Also, by taking hold of what God offers, we come into conflict with what the world offers. In this country, we’ve been blessed because we’ve have the freedom to do that. In spite of what the revisionists and the skeptics tell us, this nation was founded by men who for all their faults and failures had some respect for the Word of God and the principles of Christianity. They were wary of an “established religion,” having seen and experienced firsthand the evils of a “state church,” which is what the First Amendment is designed to prevent, but they were not in favor of an “established irreligion,” either.
By the way, liberals, skeptics and unbelievers actually need to read the First Amendment. Though it says several other things, the very first thing it says is this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” (emphasis added).
“Prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”
Washington and our other governments should take note of that phrase.
Verse 8 contrasts with verse 7, which was about those who overcome. Verse 8 is about those who are overcome. The world may think little of these 8 sins, and even rejoice in their “right” to do some of them, but God says otherwise, and the day will come which will decide who is right.
The idea has become popular that there is nothing beyond the grave. We die and that’s it. (If you’ve recently lost a loved one, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to add to your grief.)
Scripture tells us this is not true. There is an eternity beyond the grave. For those who know the Lord Jesus, there is life, a life we can only imagine – and that not very well. There’s so much more than harps and clouds. But for those apart from the Lord Jesus, there is only existence – in what Revelation 21:8 calls “the second death” (emphasis added). We can’t begin to imagine that.
The old saying is that there are only two things which are certain: death and taxes. Well, one can finagle his way around taxes. You can’t do that with death. You can’t cheat it and you can’t beat it.
Only through the Lord Jesus is there escape. He came to take the place of sinners and bore the judgment and wrath of God against sin. He came to die in order that we might live.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.