Scripture Focus: Revelation 21:1-8
There remains much interest in the afterlife in culture even though it is often misguided and incorrect. The theme has always been prevalent, and seems to ebb and flow somewhat as reflected in pop culture and media. While much interest remains, there is also much confusion. 72% of Americans say they believe in heaven- defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.” Only 58% also believe in hell- a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.” (Pew Research Center- Most Americans Believe in Heaven. . .and Hell).
The flipside of interest in the afterlife in culture is denial of it or apathy toward it. Many people even in churches are chasing instant pleasure and material possessions and worldliness dominates their lives. There is a significant amount of self-focus and overemphasis on the here and now. The Bible makes it clear followers of Jesus are to focus on heaven. There are more than 500 references to heaven in the Bible and more than 50 in the book of Revelation alone. Everything connected to our spiritual life and ultimate hope is found there. Heaven is real place not just a state of consciousness and it is the dwelling place of God.
Jesus holds the keys to eternity- Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look- I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.
What will eternity with God be like?
V3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.
All things will be made new.
By this time, every sinner from every age along with Satan and the demons will have been vanquished to the lake of fire, banished forever from the presence of God. God will create a new heaven and a new earth where all of his children and the holy angels will live forever.
V1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
Isaiah 65:17 For I will create a new heaven and a new earth; the past events will not be remembered or come to mind.
Isaiah 66:22 For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make, will remain before me, this is the Lord’s declaration, so your offspring and your name will remain.
A New Creation-There will be a New Heaven and a New Earth. God created the world as the permanent home of people, his special creation.Then sin thoroughly corrupted all of creation. Isaiah 24:5 The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. The new creation will come as a result of divine judgment. New = brand new, never seen before.
2 Peter 3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness, as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat. But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
There will be no more sea. Nearly 75% of the world is currently covered by water with only 2.5% of it drinkable. We have a water-based creation. 68 percent of the fresh water on the earth is found in icecaps and glaciers, and around 30 percent is ground water. The sea has symbolically been viewed as a mark of the old creation representing disorder, violence, and hostility toward people.
V2 I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
A New Capitol- the new Jerusalem
This will be a literal city. In history there has been the City of David, the original Jerusalem referred to as the holy city in the Bible. In the future there will be a renewed Jerusalem where Jesus will rule during the 1000 year millennial reign. The new Jerusalem will be completely new indwelled by holy people who will reside together in unity. This is the place Jesus promised to prepare in John 14. The city will come down in the future in the midst of the new heaven and new earth. The throne of God will be there. The city is referred to as a bride.
A Jewish wedding in times past had several parts.
The betrothal, similar to our engagement but more binding, was first. The betrothal of the Lord’s bride took place in eternity past when God the Father promised God the Son a redeemed people.
The presentation of the bride took place next in the Jewish wedding and it was a time of celebration and feasting leading up to the wedding. The presentation of the church, the bride, will take place when Jesus returns.
Then was the ceremony, which is represented by the marriage supper of the Lamb throughout the millennial kingdom.
The final stage of the wedding was the consummation, which parallels with eternity. John saw the bride adorned for her husband.
All things will be made new.
Death will be no more.
V4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.
God gave life and intended for it to be perpetual and uninterrupted. Death came as a result of judgment upon sin.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.
Death is a reality for all of us. When King David was preparing his son Solomon to follow him in leadership, he said in 1 Kings 2:2 I am going the way of all the earth. He meant he was about to die, and he recognized the unalterable reality that every life ends in death. We all have experienced it. Many deny it, and try to delay it as much as possible.
The attitude of the Apostle Paul sets an example for us- Philippians 1:21-24 For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ- which is far better- but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
In eternity with God, there will be no more death.This is the promise of the resurrection in Christ, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 15.
50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. 54 When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.55 Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting? 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. . .grief, crying, and pain will be no more.
This represents the fact there will be nothing in eternity with God to be sad about!
Billy Graham-The most essential truth about Heaven is this: We will be in God’s presence forever. And because we will be with God, no harm or evil can ever touch us again. This is one of the most moving descriptions of Heaven in all Scripture.
There will be no sense of loss, regret, or sin.The fallen creation will be gone forever! The Lord reiterates in v5 that he will make all things new. He says from the throne, these words are faithful and true, it is done!
V6 The Alpha and the Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet)- the beginning and the end. God started history as we know it, and he will finish it and we will join with him in the eternity he has prepared for us.
Death will be no more.
The water of life will flow freely.
V6. . .I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life.
Isaiah 55:1 Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the water.
John 4 tells of a time when Jesus was walking through Samaria. He stopped to rest at Jacob’s well in the heat of the day. A woman came for some water. Jesus asked her to give him a drink. The woman was surprised that a Jewish man would ask for a drink from a Samaritan woman. Jesus said if you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you give me a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. The woman was confused because Jesus had nothing to draw water with. She was not understanding he was talking about spiritual water. Jesus said in vv13-14 Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.
The water represents eternal life.
There are two ultimate realities contrasted here for the future:
Heaven, in the eternal presence of God, is one reality. (Reserved for believers)
V7 The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.
Hell, forever separated from the presence of God is the other reality. (Reserved for unbelievers)
V8 But the cowards, faithless, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars- their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
How can I be sure to spend eternity with God?
John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.