“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.”
Revelation 21 begins the final section of the book. Pastor, preacher, theologian, and early radio pioneer Donald Barnhouse put it like this, “In this chapter we see that the history of time is finished; the history of eternity is about to begin.” Just as Jesus promised, the heavens and earth have passed away, and in its place a new heaven and earth have been created. The word ‘new’ carries the idea of what we might call “new and improved.” Just as our heavenly bodies will be superior to our earthly ones, so will the new heaven and earth be far beyond anything we ever experienced here. John goes on to describe just a little of what we have to look forward to.
Heaven is a place where we will experience fellowship with God. No more will we look at God through the stained glass of human experience. Today our understanding of who God is, and how He feels about us, is often confused by the difficulties we face. Some, because of difficulties in their past, have a hard time relating to God as father. Others, because of pain, struggle to understand His love. The day is coming, when we will dwell with Him and see Him as He really is. This is the essence of God’s desire and man’s purpose. God desires to live in close fellowship with man, and man’s purpose is to be the people of God.
Heaven is a perfect community. All sin, and everything that defiles, is removed from heaven, and we will live in perfect harmony with one another. The idea of heaven being a lonely, isolated, and boring place, where we go through eternity as ghoulish figures without purpose, is totally foreign to the Bible. Heaven will be a place of community. We will sit together with the heroes of old, our saved friends, and our loved ones, and forever be in the presence of the Lord. Heaven will include feasting and celebrating, with those from every nation, tribe and tongue, as we experience glories that this life could never reveal.
John is reminded that entrance to heaven is solely for those whose names are in the Book of Life. The only way to ensure that your name is there, is by placing your trust in Christ for salvation. If you have never done so, pray right now, “Jesus I ask you to come into my life and forgive me of my sin. I want you to be my Savior and Lord.”
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Questions for Revelation 21
Up until this point we have seen the church age, the scene in heaven after the rapture, all of the judgments of the Great Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, His millennial reign upon the earth, and the final judgment of Satan and all who opposed God. Having removed His enemies we now take a look at the New Heaven and Earth.
1. Read verse 1-5. Why do you think that God is starting all over with a brand new Heaven and Earth?
2. In verse 2 we see New Jerusalem. Galatians 4:26 and Hebrews 12:22 are suggestive of this city. What three things does this verse tell us about this city? We will see more of this city later in this chapter starting in verse 9.
3. In verse 3 we read of God being with His people. Read Matthew 1:23, and John 14:16-17. How has He been with us already?
4. Note verses 4-5. If you are going through great difficulty or pain in your life right now, take heart. God will bring it to an end and will comfort you.
5. In Revelation 18 we saw the fall of the world’s economic system, which could be summed up as everything has a price, even the bodies and souls of men. Look at verses 6-7. What is the economic system of the Kingdom?
6. In verses 9-10 we learn more of the heavenly city New Jerusalem. What does verse 9 tell us of those who live there? Look up Ephesians 5:25-32 for how Jesus cares for His bride, the church.
7. Verses 11-21 give a fantastic description of some of the details of this city! Heaven will be amazing, and God gives us these pictures of it for us to be encouraged by the good that is coming. It is right and good for us to look forward to heaven. Do you?
8. In verses 22-23, what two things are missing from the temple? What takes the place of these things?
9. Note verses 24-27. What things are brought into this city? What can never be brought in? We should always be thankful to Jesus that He has removed our sin from us at the cross, or we would never be able to enter heaven. If you have never put your trust in Jesus and His work at the cross, do so now, and the doors of heaven will be open for you!