Rev 21:2                   A New Heaven and a New Earth                                    8/20/2006      ßŕ   

  • After the Judgment (Rev 21:1-4)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       The New Universe (Rev 21:1, 2Pet 3:10,13, Isa 65:17-19, Job 1:6)

 

 

 

 

 

  • There Was No More Sea (Mic 7:18-19, 2Cor 5:18-19,14, Rom 5:5)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       The New Jerusalem (Rev 21:2, Mat 27:51, Gal 3:28-29, Mat 27:53)

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Shadow and the Substance (Gal 4:26, Heb 11:10,16, Rom 4:13, Rev 3:12, Mat 25:34, 41)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       The Unity of All Things in Christ (Eph 1:9-11, Col 1:12-20)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 21:1 (2X). Throughout the first 20 chapters of Revelation we have seen the powers of evil at work. We have seen how the Devil and his servants, including his human servants, have fought with intense hatred against the Almighty and sovereign God of heaven and earth. That fight began in the Garden of Eden where the first sin was recorded, since up to this point in time God made everything good; He made it not perfect, but good. This battle greatly intensified at the beginning of the FTP when Satan and his demons were loosed out of the Bottomless Pit. God showed us this battle from several perspectives. He showed it symbolically as the cloud of locusts out of the Bottomless Pit, representing a cloud of demons overtaking the world. He also portrayed it as an army of 200 million horsemen, representing Satan’s army of 200 million demons overtaking the world. He showed it to us as a beast rising up out of the sea and another beast rising up out of the land, together representing Antichrist, deceiving the masses of mankind over all the earth. He showed it to us as the church which has gone apostate, symbolized as the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters, who is at the same time called Babylon the Great, the bride of Antichrist. All these are representing the powers of evil that are totally destroyed at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And now all these destructive spirits and people have been cast into Hell, their judgment is completed, but God’s program is not finished. Now we must consider the events:

  • After the Judgment (Rev 21:1-4)

Re 21:1-3  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.                   And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.          And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Re 21:4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Therefore the title of the sermon today is A New Heaven and a New Earth (2X). We have here in these four verses a general statement about the final glory. It speaks of 4 things: The new creation, the New Jerusalem, God’s tabernacle with men, and the eternal economy of things in the final state. It is in this sequ. that we find these things in Rev 21:1-4, and it is in this sequ. that we shall discuss them.

#1.       The New Universe (Rev 21:1, 2Pet 3:10,13, Isa 65:17-19, Job 1:6)

Please turn in your Bibles to the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 2Pet 3:10 (2X). God said in Rev 21:1,

Re 21:1 ¶  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

What passed away? The earth passed away, and the heaven. Which heaven? The blue sky, or the firmament where the sun and moon and stars are, or heaven where God and His angels dwell? We do not get a clear indication from Rev 21:1 which heaven passed away. But God addressed this in 2Pet 3,

2Pe 3:10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

In other words, the heavens (plural) shall pass away. It means that the firmament where the stars are, shall pass away. It means that at least this entire galaxy shall be destroyed, together with this earth. Let us think this through for a moment. Our galaxy contains about 40 billion stars in a disc of about 100,000 light years in diameter. Consequently, when a star at one end of the galaxy explodes in a supernova, it will be observable at the other end of the galaxy about 100,000 years later, because that is how long the light travels through space to reach from one end of the galaxy to the other. This gives us a better perspective on the great miracle God is doing when He destroys the heavens and the earth. You see, God does not need 100,000 years to do what He promised in 2Pet 3:10. God shall destroy this entire galaxy in a time frame of 1 day, or shorter, and we shall all see it immediately while it is taking place. The next question is whether these heavens (plural) include the heaven of heavens where God and the angels dwell. Can we see that here in 2Pet 3? Please drop down to verse 13,

2Pe 3:13  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

We look forward to new heavens and a new earth where only righteousness dwells. Can we say that the present heaven of heavens is a place where only righteousness dwells? No! About 2000 years ago Satan and his fallen angels were cast out of heaven. It means that they have defiled certain parts of the present heaven by their presence. 2Pet 3:13 says that God promised to create a new heaven that has not been defiled by the Devil and his demons. Can we get support for this in other parts of the Scriptures? Please turn to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 65:17 (2X). In this chapter God outlines two groups of people, those who walk after their own thoughts and forsake the Lord, and those whom God will choose to be His servants. And beginning in verse 17 God begins to describe the beautiful destiny for His servants in the New Heavens and the New Earth. God says in Isa 65:17-19,

Isa 65:17-19  For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.        But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.       And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

This passage speaks of the NH&NE and of the New Jerusalem that we read about in Rev 21. And God said in verse 17, “the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind”. What does that mean? It means, God promised that the new heavens (plural) that God creates for His people shall have no more remembrance of Satan and his fallen angels; no more remembrance of Satan as the prince of the power of the air, and no more remembrance of Satan going in and out of heaven as we read in Job 1:6. And thus, the present heaven shall be done away. The first heaven and the first earth have been under the influence of sin and of the curse. That first creation as it developed through sin and the curse, and as it has been affected by all the works of Satan and of sinful men cannot serve as the proper sphere for the New Jerusalem and as the Tabernacle of God with men. It must pass away. The first heaven and the first earth have served their purpose. But then, God said in Rev 21:1,

  • There Was No More Sea (Mic 7:18-19, 2Cor 5:18-19,14, Rom 5:5)

Why did God make it a special point to mention: “There was no more sea”? Please turn in your Bibles to the prophecy of Micah, Mic 7:18 (2X). You find the prophecy of Micah about two thirds down in your Bible, after Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, and Jonah (2X). Is it not logical that when God destroys this entire earth He will also take away the seas and the oceans that are on this earth? And since this is true we must interpret the statement: “There was no more sea” from another point of view. This passage of Micah extols the greatness of God’s mercy. We read in Mic 7:18-19,

Mic 7:18  Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Mic 7:19  He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins (the remnant’s sins) into the depths of the sea.

Here is the reason why God said in Rev 21:1, “There was no more sea”. When Christ paid on the cross for all our sins, all our sins were cast into the depths of the sea. And when God removed the sea all our sins are gone, completely gone. They will not be remembered nor come into mind. God will never bring them up again. So great is God’s compassion upon us. And paraphrased verse 18 says: Who is a God like unto this God, who pardons the crimes against Him with such great compassion, and who delights in mercy, and who “passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage”. Do you see that in verse 18? The only reason why this righteous God can pass by the transgressions of the remnant of His heritage is, because Christ paid for those transgressions the price that had to be paid, and He paid the full price, the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. The Lord Jesus Christ did not pay for the transgressions of everyone in the whole world, but only for the transgressions of the Remnant chosen by grace. You see, this verse, Mic 7:18, clearly tells us that the Atonement of Christ was only for the sins of the Remnant of His heritage, where the word “heritage” refers to His congregation, which is both the congregation of Israel in the OT, as well as the church in the NT period of time. Please turn in your Bibles to the 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 5:18 (2X). Not the entire congregation of Israel was saved, only a Remnant chosen by grace. Not the entire NT church is saved, but only a Remnant chosen by grace. But who are we to point out whom God has chosen and whom He has not chosen. We are commanded by God to actively engage in the ministry of reconciliation. We must pursue this eagerly, especially to those in our immediate family. We must remember that God says in Mic 7:18, “He delighteth in mercy”. How do we know to whom we must bring the Gospel and to whom we should not bring? We should NOT bring it to those of whom we know that they will rise up in anger against us for bringing them the Gospel. Remember, “we must not cast our pearls before swine, lest they rend us to pieces”. But certainly we must bring it to our immediate family, for they will not rend us to pieces when we do that. And certainly God placed us in our family so that we will proclaim to them the Gospel, because we love them. They could die today without ever having heard the Gospel. And if we keep our mouth shut, it means that we do not love them, and you know from 1Cor 13 what great part love is in the life of a saint. God says in 2Cor 5:18-19, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation”. This is what we do when we truly believe that our God is a God who “delighteth in mercy”, and this is what we do when we truly have been saved, because God says in 2Cor 5:14, “for the love of Christ constraineth us”. The love of Christ is “the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom 5:5). Please return to the Rev of Jesus Christ, Rev 21:2 (2X). Now we have come to the main meat of this passage in Revelation.

#2.       The New Jerusalem (Rev 21:2, Mat 27:51, Gal 3:28-29, Mat 27:53)

To gain a good understanding of this passage we must not focus our attention on the external aspects of the state of our final glory. Those external aspects are incomprehensible to us, living in this universe, for God is going to bring us into a totally new universe, not describable in terms of this universe. That is why God describes the New Jerusalem and the NH&NE in symbolic language. And if we take this symbolic language literally we will arrive at a totally ridiculous picture of what eternal life really is. The central idea of that final state of glory lies in the New Jerusalem and the Tabernacle of God with men. These two concepts: the New Jerusalem and the Tabernacle of God with men embrace the eternal spiritual relation between God and His people, which is the essence of the blessedness and beauty of their final state of glory. We read in Rev 21:2,

Re 21:2  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

We must keep in mind that this is a vision, and it is a vision of heavenly things. In other words, we must not think of a literal city coming down out of heaven. Just like Babylon was not a literal city of Satan but represents the bride of Antichrist, so the New Jerusalem is not a literal city of God but represents the bride of Christ. Let us look at the development of Jerusalem in Scripture. Jerusalem is manifested in a threefold form. First it was the capital of the Promised Land of Canaan. Secondly, as the capital of the land of Judah and Israel all the way to its destruction in 70 AD it was a picture of the NT church in the broadest sense of the word. For example, God uses this metaphor in Rev 11:1 and in Zech 2:1. In the third place, Jerusalem is also symbolizing the perfected church, the Bride of the Lamb in glory. This is the idea of the text in Rev 21:2. Jerusalem here is not a literal city, but it is the church triumphant in perfect glory. This city is called the New Jerusalem, not just Jerusalem. Why, and what does this mean? First look at the old city of Jerusalem. The idea of that city was that there God dwelt among His OT people Israel. From there He had communion with them. From there He blessed them with the blessings of salvation as it was foreshadowed in the Ceremonial Law. From there He reigned over them and protected them from the enemies who were all around them. But we must remember that this earthly Jerusalem was imperfect at best. The relationship between God and Israel was more or less external. It is true that God dwelt among His people, but He did not dwell in them, and neither did the presence of God fill the city. The only place where God said that He dwells was in the temple and that only in the Holy of Holies. And thus, in the OT time the city of Jerusalem existed only as a type, or a picture, of the NT church where God will indwell His people and fill them with His Holy Spirit. This typical form of Jerusalem passed away when Christ died on the cross. God gave us the sign of the end of that era by tearing the veil in the temple. We read in Mat 27:51 that at the exact moment that Christ died the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. This brought great consternation among the Jews, for suddenly the Holy of Holies was exposed. God indicated thereby that He no longer considers the Holy of Holies as His dwelling place. Therefore the temple was no longer the temple of God. Therefore Jerusalem was no longer the city of God. Therefore the nation of Israel was no longer God’s favorite nation where the Gospel resided and from where the Gospel was preached. All this came to an end when Christ died. From that moment on the nation of Israel became just one of the many nations on earth out of which God drew His Remnant chosen by grace. God states this so clearly in Gal 3:28-29, where He said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”. All this instantly became the law of God when Christ died, because God tore the veil in the temple. Secondly let us now look at the church of the NT dispensation. The church in Jesus Christ is the city of God of the NT dispensation. It is not a city of bricks and mortar. And God does not merely dwell among His people, but He dwells in them, and God the Holy Spirit fills their souls. Therefore we have spiritual communion with God and are spiritually blessed. The Lord reigns over us from within. But this NT form of God’s dwelling place is still imperfect. We can see that because not the entire church is filled with God’s presence. There are still unbelievers and hypocrites in our midst. Moreover, the communion between God and His people is not perfect, for sin still reigns in our members. And thirdly that is why God created the New Jerusalem. Let us now look at the New Jerusalem, which is realized ultimately and fully in the perfected church, which is called “the church triumphant”. This is the perfect city of God. It is the holy city that was mentioned in Mat 27:53 where the resurrected saints “went into the holy city and appeared unto many”. In this holy city there is no sin and no power of evil. It is perfectly consecrated to God. And as such it is also beautiful, adorned as a bride for her husband, the Lord Jesus Christ. This then is the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven to dwell on the new earth, and so to fill all new creation.

Let us now consider:

  • The Shadow and the Substance (Gal 4:26, Heb 11:10,16, Rom 4:13, Rev 3:12, Mat 25:34, 41)

In religious literature this is also known as the type and the antitype, but I think that the shadow and the substance are easier to understand. When you see a tree which has a shadow, you know that the shadow has no substance in itself, but the shadow is pointing to the tree, and the tree has substance. There are many instances in the Bible where we can point to the shadow and the substance. For example, all the animal sacrifices offered in the OT were shadows pointing to Christ who would be sacrificed on the cross for us, in our place. All those animal sacrifices could not take away one sin, because the shadow has no substance. But Christ, offered up only once, paid in full for all the sins He intended to pay, because He is the substance of all those shadows. In like manner, the OT temple in Jerusalem was a shadow of the church consisting of all the NT saints. The OT temple consisting of precisely cut stones, no mortar, was just a shadow, or a picture, of some of the characteristics of the NT saints, who are also represented by precisely cut stones together forming a spiritual temple of God. The physical temple was the shadow; the spiritual temple is the substance. But looking into the future, the earthly church is only a shadow of the New Jerusalem, which is ultimately the substance which cast a long shadow down through the centuries as the church, and further back as the physical temple in Jerusalem. The earthly church is called the church militant, for we are always in a battle, and the New Jerusalem is called the church triumphant. Please turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 11:10 (2X). But the New Jerusalem is also the substance of the old Jerusalem, which is the shadow. It may sound strange, but the city of bricks and mortar is the shadow, whereas the spiritual city in heaven is the real thing, the substance. Let me read to you several verses that speak of this matter. We read in: Gal 4:26  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Furthermore, Abraham understood that he did not inherit just the land of Canaan. We read in Heb

Heb 11:10  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

You see, Abraham not only understood that he was to inherit the world, the new world (Rom 4:13), but also he understood that those who would become his spiritual children are going to be represented by a city that is called the city of God. Please drop down to verse 16, Heb 11:16,

Heb 11:16  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Moreover we read in Rev 3:12,

Re 3:12  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

It has been suggested that we may look upon the NH&NE as going to be created out of the ashes of the first heaven and the first earth, and that it may be compared to the resurrection of the body. The old body is not annihilated, but it is renewed into a glorified body. So the renewal of the universe is not an essentially new creation but it is a renewal of the old creation into something much more glorious. This is an attractive idea, as if the old creation was just a shadow of the new creation, which is the true substance that shall abide forever. However, it does not agree with other parts of Scripture. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, Mat 25:34 (2X). The Lord Jesus told us here the parable of the sheep and the goats on Judgment Day. This is not the real scenario of the Judgment, since it is only a parable. We may not unravel a parable so that it teaches us doctrine that will be contradicting other parts of the Bible that are not in parable form. That was not the original intent of the parable. Here in the parable of the sheep and the goats the Lord Jesus set the sheep on His right, and the goats on His left, and then He says to the sheep in Mat 25:34,

Mt 25:34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Do you see what I see? “The kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” means that it has already been prepared from the foundation of the world. God already created it, but it is empty, waiting to be inhabited by the saints after the Judgment of all the unsaved. This certainly puts more stock in the statement by God in Ex 20:11, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day”. After six days God was done creating. He even created the NH&NE at that time. The Greek text is even more emphatic about this. The Greek text of Mat 25:34 says, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom having been prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. We wonder if God has also Hell already prepared. We read in:

Mt 25:41  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

And literally the Greek text says “everlasting fire, having been prepared for the devil and his angels” Indeed God has it all prepared in advance. It must be true, for after six days God ceased creating out of nothing. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:9 (2X). And thus we have seen that the New Jerusalem is not a city, but it is the Bride of Christ that comes down from God out of heaven, and this Bride of Christ is going to inhabit the NH&NE which has already been created from the foundation of the world. What we then are seeing is:

#3.       The Unity of All Things in Christ (Eph 1:9-11, Col 1:12-20)

The new creation shall be perfect, the fit dwelling place of the perfected people of God. All creation shall be united in Christ. Heaven and earth and all things and people contained in them will be united in one, that is, in Christ. And thus we read in Eph 1:9-11,

Eph 1:9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Eph 1:10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things

in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

In other words, the will of God, which He has purposed in Himself, would be revealed in the fulness of times, and then we will see how all things, both in heaven and on earth, will be united together in Christ. God also says this in different terms in Col 1. Please turn in your Bibles a few pages to your right, to the Epistle to the Colossians, Col 1:12 (2X). In this passage of Colossians chapter 1 God tells us that we must ask Him for His grace to fill us with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. And then we read in Col 1:12-20,

Col 1:12-13  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:                   Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Col 1:14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Col 1:15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Col 1:16-17  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:    And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Col 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Col 1:19  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Col 1:20  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Therefore, all of heaven and earth shall be united in Christ. The New Jerusalem shall have its dwelling on the new earth, yet it shall inhabit all creation. And the whole creation shall be heavenly, made like unto the risen Lord. In that creation all things shall be perfectly adapted together to serve the resurrected and glorified church in Christ, in order that we may serve Christ perfectly and enjoy the fellowship of God Himself forever and ever.

 

AMEN.

Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.