“I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1). “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Rev 21:22). Here are two more of John’s eye-witness accounts, two more of what “I saw,” when caught up into heaven and into the future.
The last three chapters of the book of Revelation show us something of what a new heavens and new earth will be like. There are lots of “new” things and lots of “no” things (things that will be no more).
Think first of what will be absent. There will be no more sea, nothing to divide and separate. Human life depends on the hydrologic cycle: evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. But in that day, life will be sustained by divine power and there will be no need for the sea any longer.
There will be no more death. Can you imagine a deathless world? Life which is really life? No specter of death hovering over you, no funeral cortege ever to wind its way to some desolate cold and windy cemetery (not sure why it always seems cold, windy, and rainy in cemeteries). And linked with the absence of death, no more sorrow, crying, or pain. All of these things linked with our former life, with our bodies which have been humiliated by sin, will be no more forever. We will have bodies raised in power and glory, not just by power and glory!
Then there will be changes in the cosmos as well. No sun, no moon, and no night. Does this suggest an eternal day? Our bodies will never weary and not need sleep. No longer will there be the “terror of the night” (Ps 91:5). Darkness will be banished, relegated to an old creation. All will be light. The sun which warms will no longer be necessary as we will walk in the light and warmth provided by the Lamb (Rev 21:23). Locked and barred doors and windows linked with earth will be exchanged for a gate that will never be shut. There will be continual access to the city. No lockdown in that day or “shelter in place” orders will ever be issued.
The curse will be no more (22:3). All the direct and indirect effects of sin will be gone forever. All the injustice of earth, the triumphing of the wicked and the oppression of the poor, the persecution of the godly, and the arrogance of the proud. No more disease or COVID-19 pandemics to bring the world to the brink of chaos!
And no more flesh to struggle with day by day! What a change! All the value systems of earth will be forgotten. Only what God values will remain.
But perhaps best of all, there will be no physical distance between us and the Lord Jesus. “His servants shall serve Him, and they shall see His face.” To serve undistracted, free from all the tainted motives which we struggle against, the half-hearted devotion, the self-awareness that plagues us – is a service to be coveted.
What about the “new?” Instead of listing all the new things which will mark that day, as seen by John, just listen now as the King ascends to His throne and gives His grand inaugural address to a worshiping and wondering world. “Behold, I make all things new.” “All things,” not just somethings. What is going to make this inaugural address unique is that there is an Administrator Who is able to carry out every part of His platform. His agenda will be totally “new.” He will start out with a New Heavens and a New earth. There will be a New Song to fill the streets of that New City. We will have new bodies, bodies suited for a celestial sphere and a ceaseless service. We will have bodies pulsating with life as we never knew it here on earth.
We will have a “new name” (Rev 2:17), an expression of His appreciation of us! We will live in the enjoyment of that for all eternity. Everything is going to be new. And as C. S. Lewis so eloquently described it, as we go further up and further in, we will continually discover more “new” things and revel in the grace that has brought us there.
As the pandemic and the resultant lockdown, distancing, mask-in-place situation drags on, we long for change. We want our “liberty” back and restrictions lifted. Whatever day it is that the change occurs, and we can walk around, shake hands, hug and greet, will be a great day. Going from restrictions to liberties is a thrilling thought. But that pales before the prospect of the ultimate change when there will be no more of all that has been the result of sin, COVID-19 included, and everything will be new!
Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Better to travel expectantly than to arrive.” In other words, the expectation during the trip is better than the actual destination. We have all known that when it comes to plans and vacations on earth. But it will not be that way when we get to heaven. The expectation will pale before the majesty and wonder of the arrival!