Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Revelation 21:1-4

1Then 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. 2 I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 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. 4 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.

The Original Intent

1) What do we learn about the future Heaven and Earth? (verses 1-2)

The wording in verses 1-2 is reminiscent of God’s original creation, when He formed the Heavens and Earth from nothing. (Genesis 1:1-2) One day in the future, God will re-create the Heavens and Earth. He will make them new, free from anything that would produce pain, sorrow or destruction. 

Verse 4 says that all the things that previously brought sadness will be no more. The new creation will be like the first one, but without the option of sorrow! A new version of Heaven will “come down”. Through God’s miraculous intervention and re-creation, a new city will be formed like nothing we’ve ever known. This is not a manufactured utopia produced by human effort; it will be a miraculous creation of God, prepared for believers in which to dwell for all eternity.

God’s future “city” mentioned in verse 2 was the same one Abraham, from the Old Testament, sought. The New Testament writer of Hebrews speaks of the city built by God. (Hebrews 11:10) Author and teacher Tim Keller says the “city is God’s invention and design, not just a sociological phenomenon or invention of humankind. [This] city is the fulfilment of the purposes of the Eden of God. We began in a garden but will end in a city.” (Theology of Cities, Tim Keller)

The apostle John, under the authority of the Spirit of God, uses the most stunning imagery he could think of when describing this new city. He tells us the New Jerusalem will be as beautiful as a bride coming down the aisle to meet her groom. Naming Jerusalem in verse 2 makes a connection with those who know the significance of Jerusalem’s earthly location. (2 Chronicles 6:1-6) Yet, describing it as a holy city makes it different from any city anyone has ever known.

The Everyday Application

1) What do we learn about the future Heaven and Earth? (verses 1-2)

Many people think of Heaven as the place believers go after death. While I believe this is true, it is helpful to have a fuller understanding of what Scripture teaches. It’s important to understand that present Heaven and future Heaven are different places. Even though the exact location of the present Heaven is unknown, we do know it is “far better” than being here on Earth. (Philippians 1:23)

Paul assures us in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 that death for the believer means being in the immediate presence of God. At Jesus’ death, He said to the thief crucified beside Him, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:40-43) After He died, Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb. I believe that during this time His soul/spirit went to be in the presence of the Father in Sheol. (What Is Sheol?)

At some point between His death and resurrection, Jesus visited and proclaimed to “spirits in prison” and He released numerous captives from captivity, (1 Peter 3:18-22Ephesians 4:8-10) According to verses like Hebrews 1:38:1 and 9:24-25, we understand that the ascended Jesus is now in Heaven, residing there with the Father. When our loved ones die in Christ, they go immediately to be with Him in what many theologians call the “intermediate Heaven” until the day we all gather to fellowship in the new city of Heaven & Earth. They are indeed “with the Lord”!

While the Bible is not entirely clear regarding everything about Heaven, we do know it is God’s central dwelling place. In a future day, God will come down to reside with us forever, literally bringing Heaven to Earth. Oh, sister, what a glorious city it will be!

The Original Intent

2) Will God dwell with humanity in a different way in the new Heaven and Earth? (verse 3)

Verse 3 says there will be a day when God will dwell among His people. I believe this indicates a glorious future of walking in the presence of God just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden before their sin. (Genesis 3:7-10) Only people of God will inhabit the new Earth; here, they will experience unhindered fellowship with God.

Though the disobedience of Adam and Eve caused them to no longer be able to live in the sacred sanctuary of Eden, Scripture teaches that God’s original intention would not be thwarted by human’s sin. Instead, God’s plan has always included humanity. (Ephesians 3:8-111 Peter 1:18-19) The essence of God’s desire is to live in close fellowship with the people He created. God’s purpose for creating humanity is for there to be a people who would bring glory to Him forever. (Titus 2:11-13)

Theologian, Charles Spurgeon, said, “Paradise God first made upon Earth, and paradise God will last make. Satan destroyed it; and God will never have defeated His enemy until He has re-established paradise, until once again a new Eden shall bless the eyes of God’s creatures. I do not think the glory of Eden lay in its grassy walks, or in the boughs bending with luscious fruit—but its glory lay in this, that the ‘Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.’ Here was Adam’s highest privilege, that he had companionship with the Most High. Brethren, the paradise which is to be regained for us will have this for its essential and distinguishing mark, that the Lord shall dwell amongst us. This is the name by which the city is to be called—Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there.” (Charles Spurgeon)

The Everyday Application

2) Will God dwell with humanity in a different way in the new Heaven and Earth? (verse 3)

Since creation, God has been dwelling with His people in different ways, but He has always been present with us. The Old Testament saints worshipped God from afar. (Exodus 33:12-17)

Thankfully, the prophet Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 7:14 that God would send a sign to the people to demonstrate His accessibility. He told them a Son would be born to a virgin and given a Name that would reveal His identity and presence. Matthew referenced this prophecy in Matthew 1:21-23 in relation to Christ’s birth to communicate the miracle of the Incarnation (God in human flesh).

Jesus Himself was “God with us.” Jesus’ appearance on Earth as a human brought God closer to us than ever before. (John 1:10-14) But as a man, His presence with humanity was temporary. Jesus Christ lived on the earth for 33 years as human, and when He left Earth He reminded His followers they could have confidence knowing He would always be with them through His unseen Spirit. (Matthew 28:20)

Sweet friend, God has been with us. Oh, but ONE DAY! One day in the future, God will come to live with us forever. His glorious desire for us to live in peace and worship Him indefinitely will be fulfilled. Satan will be banished forever, and believers will live in perfect, unhindered communion with our Creator and Savior for all eternity.

The Original Intent

3) Will there be tears in the city of “Heaven and Earth”? (verse 4)

We learn in verse 4 that God “will wipe” every tear from the eyes of His people. Pondering this brings an interesting thought: is this an indication that the new Heaven and Earth will bring about radical change? Since God is going to wipe away every tear after the new creation, does it mean there are tears now in Heaven?

This idea may seem unlikely to most of us because we associate tears with sorrow. And that would feel contrary to what we think concerning what’s next for believers who walk through death right now. Although there is no biblical argument for the current absence or presence of tears in Heaven, we do know from Scripture that Heaven consists of all good things for us. Otherwise, it seems odd that Paul would “encourage” the believers about death.

In his letters to the churches in Corinth, Thessalonica, and Philippi, Paul indicates that believers should rejoice for those who had already died. He assures them that being in God’s presence is much better! His God-given perspective is that death brings eternal joy and peace. (2 Corinthians 5:6-81 Thessalonians 4:13-18Philippians 1:22-23)

Even if there are currently tears for some reason, the prophet Isaiah told the people a time would come when God will remove all tears from His redeemed ones. (Isaiah 25:8) In this new city brimming with people, all the devoted lovers of God will live in perfect peace forever just as the prophet proclaimed in Isaiah 2:1-4. At the very end of time, God will certainly fulfill His promise, “They will be His people … and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (verse 4)

The Everyday Application

3) Will there be tears in the city of “Heaven and Earth”? (verse 4)

Rock singer, Eric Clapton, had a song entitled “Tears in Heaven”. It is one of Clapton’s most heartbreaking songs, based on the tragic death of his 4-year-old son Conor, who accidentally fell from a 54-story apartment. (Eric Clapton) Clapton sings that he’ll get through night and day by being strong, knowing he doesn’t “belong in Heaven” and that he “can’t stay in Heaven.” He assures himself that “beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure”. But as you hear the lyrics, you sense Clapton is definitely not sure! (Tears in Heaven, Lyrics by Eric Clapton)

This uncertainty is the sad reality for many people in our world. But Sister, if you’re in Christ, eternal tears and grief are most assuredly not our reality. In placing our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation, we can face the future with confidence that we do belong in Heaven and that we will most certainly be there forever. It will be a place with no more sin, no death and … NO TEARS!

When Jesus died for our sins, He secured our place in Heaven forever with God. “Many people live in a way that shows they do not agree with God’s message… And now I am crying when I tell you about them. I am very sad, because they speak against Christ’s death on the cross. In the end, God will destroy them… Their thoughts are full of things that belong to this world. But as for us, the home where we belong is in heaven. We are waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ to come from there. He is the one who will come from heaven and save us.” (Philippians 3:18-20 Easy Translation)

The Original Intent

4) What also ceases along with death? (verse 4)

The Bible explains that God uses His people on earth to currently limit the impact of evil. I recently finished a Digging Deeper study explaining this (Ready Day 14). (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

Through His word, God has given us clear-cut guidelines to avoid and overcome evil. He has also granted us power from the Holy Spirit to help us fight temptation. From the beginning, God set in motion a plan to redeem humanity from the curse of sin. Adam and Eve’s failure was not the final word on our destiny or relationship with God. Their Creator would always be their Savior!

Our merciful God has continually been revealing to us His heart of mercy and forgiveness. Even as He dispensed just punishment, God was providing a way for all wrongs to be made right and for evil and suffering to come to a final end. (Genesis 3:15)

The most beautiful aspect of this is found in the foundational truth about God’s new, eternal creation: there will be NO SIN. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is deathbut the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Death will cease as sin will be no more. It is our sin that causes us grief, crying, and pain, but one day, these will be part of the old way of things which will forever be put behind us. The sin that caused them will be no longer, and in the new Heaven and Earth, we will never sin for the same reason God does not: He cannot sin.

Our future incapability to sin will be due to the purchase made by Christ’s blood! (Hebrews 10:11-14) What ceases in the new Heaven and Earth? EVERYTHING sad, bad, destructive, and grievous! (Revelation 21:7)

The Everyday Application

4) What also ceases along with death? (verse 4)

This passage can be summarized with the answer to the probing question from Sam Gamgee to Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, “Is everything sad going to come untrue?” From Revelation 21:1-4, we get the answer.

It is a resounding YES! The saint’s reality is a happily-ever-after story. It is not a fairy tale. It is the sure hope of every believer. The lyrics from Matt Redman’s song, One Day, can be sung with gusto, knowing Heaven is real.

“One day You’ll make everything new, Jesus.
One day You will bind every wound.
The former things shall all pass away – no more tears.
One day You’ll make sense of it all, Jesus.
One day every question resolved.
Every anxious thought left behind – no more fear.
One day we will see face to face, Jesus.
Is there a greater vision of grace?
And in a moment, we shall be changed on that day.

And one day we’ll be free, free indeed, Jesus.
One day all this struggle will cease.
And we will see Your glory revealed on that day.
When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!
We will weep no more.
No more tears, no more shame.
No more struggle, no more walking through the valley of the shadow.
No cancer, no depression;  just the brightness of Your glory;
just the wonder of Your grace
Everything as it was meant to be.”

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