by R.C. Sproul on Youversion
Heaven on Earth (Part 1)
At the conclusion of the book of Revelation, John relates an awesome vision. He gazes upon “a new heaven and a new earth,” which, he says, replace the original of each, which have passed away. Other passages in Scripture indicate that this heaven and earth are not entirely new but are renovations of the originals (Isa. 65:17–25; Rom. 8:21–23), renewed much as believers’ bodies will be transformed.
Coming down from the new heaven into this new earth, John sees “the holy city, New Jerusalem.” It is, he tells us, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Later in this chapter John mentions this city again, telling of an angel who refers to it as “ ‘the bride, the Lamb’s wife’ ” (21:9–10). Scripture elsewhere makes clear that the bride of Christ (the Lamb) is the church, the people of God (Isa. 54:5–8; Eph. 5:25–27; Rev. 19:7). Thus, John is seeing the entire body of believers from every time and place, made new in the consummation of all things, being placed back on the physical earth to live for eternity in their physical bodies.
There are many features to this new earth to elicit our wonder and praise, and we will look at a number of them in tomorrow’s study. Today, however, we will focus on one, the most wonderful feature of all. John tells us that he hears a voice declaring, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
During the time of Israel’s desert wandering, the sign of God’s presence with His people was the tabernacle pitched in the center of the camp. There, in the holy of holies, the presence of God was said to reside. Much later, the apostle John began his gospel by noting that Christ “dwelt [literally “tabernacled”] among us” (John 1:14). Those, however, were essentially “temporary stays.” What John sees is the establishment of God’s permanent residence among His people. In fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17:7–8), as well as the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:33), God settles with His people, to be God to them. As in Eden of old, men and women walk with God in the cool of the day. Here we find the highest blessing man can know—intimate fellowship between creature and Creator. This is truly heaven on earth.
CORAM DEO Living before the face of God
The hints in Genesis about life in the Garden of Eden before the fall are heartbreakingly poignant, especially compared with Scripture’s accounts of the terror that fallen man experiences when he encounters God. By God’s renewing work, we shall be able to live as Adam and Eve did. Praise God for the beauty of His unfolding redemptive plan.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”Revelation 21:1-8