The End of the World: “A Whole New Day” – Revelation 21:1-22:5

She got out of bed and pulled on the bathroom door – but the handle came off in her hand. Without her glasses (which were inside the bathroom on the back of the sink), she tried hard to get the long spine of the door handle back into the little hole so that she could turn the handle carefully, and get the door open. An impending sense of urgency welled up inside her, the kind that can only truly be understood by someone who has been urged to drink large amounts of water, and then found the nearby bathroom “out of order”. Without panic, she kept at her task until the door was opened, and she was safely inside. Looking down at her glasses, now no longer so desperately needed, she thought, “One of these days things are going to start out right for me, I just know it.” The funny thing is, she is right. As a believer, we are facing a WHOLE NEW DAY sometime soon! Human history began in a garden paradise – the Garden of Eden. Someday, time will stand still in a new paradise – a garden park of the New Jerusalem.

Key Principle: God didn’t just promise a new day – He explained what kind of future He has planned for us.

We have all seen way too much demise of morality. We have been fed fear on the news and despair in the movies. This generation seems transfixed with a “Zombie Apocalypse”, or some other form of destruction coming soon to a town near you. Facebook rages, day after day, with Obamacare and impending tax cliffs and the demise of the middle class. Politicians look for someone else to blame and another pot of gold to tap to keep themselves in office – so they have more time to blame and search for yet more cash. The country is run by millionaires that want to tell us why rich people are bad. None of it makes sense…. Aren’t you ready for something NEW? Don’t you really want to get this cleaned up and hit the RESET button? I know there are times I really do – and I LOVE life and have great and positive people that fill my days with laughter and joy!

The end of the Bible is about the NEW DAY that God has prepared for us. I love this story, and maybe it can help set the mood of this passage for us:

A Sunday School teacher asked her class of children, “Tell me what you think heaven will be like.” She got all kinds of answers, but I especially like this one from a third grade boy who said, “Heaven is going to be the happiest part of my dead life.”

Yes, it is true. The best of my life, and your life as a believer hasn’t even been seen yet. We need to spend time here, because our world is NEGATIVE but our future is VERY POSITIVE. The story that God began in a beautiful garden – the story that God pronounced “Redeemed” in another garden  – will, one day soon, be completed in yet a third garden. Revelation 21 sums it all up in words like: 21:5 “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” …and 21:6 “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end…”

I don’t usually like “The End” screens. They bring a story to conclusion, and then I feel let down. This one is different… really different! The Bible unfolds the tale: All judgment was past. All sin, with its deep and wretched stains, fades into mere memory. The Great White Throne was swept into the shadow of past things. Hades was swallowed in the Molten Lake of forever. Satan and His evil hoards were consumed and perpetually blocked out of God’s land of incessant celebration. God saw that it was time to tear it all away and rebuild the new land of Promise.  When the END comes, the beginning of the NEW DAY of ETERNITY will not bring sadness – but JOY. God describes exactly what the NEW DAY looks like, with no less than ten descriptions…

Our eternity is in a NEW place.

Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”

On author wrote: “Most of my life I’ve lived in older houses where somebody else has lived before. They’ve been nice enough, I suppose, but I’ve always thought that it would be a lot nicer to live in a brand new house, my house, a special place that belongs to me. … this passage says is that a we’re going to have a new home in a new city, with a new heaven & a new earth. It’s all going to be brand new. Unfortunately, heaven has met with bad press by those who do not understand what God has prepared for those who love him. People see heaven as sitting on a cloud wearing a halo, while little angels play harps as they float through the heavens. Others see it as an unending church service, or singing hymns for all eternity. Some think of it as a sort of a celestial retirement city. It all seems like an apparition — so unreal. No wonder so many people see heaven as a place of numbing boredom, or secretly say to themselves, “Is that all there is?

The fact found in the scriptural glimpse is this: Eternity is something NEW. There is nothing you have ever lived that compares to it. There are words that will completely lose their meaning – like  watches, like historians. There is no time and there is no story to tell – it has been told. God has spoken and we will all know Who He is – and that was the point of human history. We are living in a movie that illustrates to all the cosmos Who God is in all His glory and what God is like in all His nature.

Think about that place with me. Every stain of sin, every evidence of evil will be vanquished! The old order and the old earth will be completely obliterated! The physical quality of our planet will be profoundly changed; the bodies we experience it in will be unfailing! The unimpaired souls – no longer inflicted with sin nature – will shine. Our spiritual investments, stored up for us in this life will be opened for us to enjoy. God revealed it all, and you can’t make up stuff this good! John saw a new heaven and earth – the old atmospheric heaven was replaced. Terra firma was recreated and the physical properties of the new were very different than the old. In our time, we live on a planet dominated by the sea – but the new one is not like the old one. That one feature is a HINT of how different things are going to be in the future.

Even lost men have dreamed of an afterlife. The archaeology of ancient Egypt can demonstrate the reality that Egyptians spent years building the pyramids – a  monument to the afterlife. They used hundreds of thousands of slave laborers, and great families buried their loved ones beneath these ancient monuments with supplies of food, clothing, & other treasured articles  – all in the hope of life after this one. In every culture on the planet, men have shown they love life and thirst for more beyond the short 100 year stint on planet earth. Only recently has a shift been detected…

The unparalleled prosperity and relative security of our time has yielded in modernity a new phenomenon – those who want to make this life into a Heaven existence. The focus on the afterlife has waned in the prosperity of the modern western culture. Some have tried to focus life on the material – an “I want it all. I want it now. Grab for all the gusto you can get. He who has the most toys when he dies, wins” mentality. This gave rise to the need to fix all of life’s disappointments this side of heaven ideology. It has affected even the western church. People are increasingly walking in the door wanting answers to THIS LIFE – with less focus on the next life. They want more counsel on easing today’s pain than encouragement to look to tomorrow’s reward. We are thinking too short and too small – we are not thinking as those historic Christians who paved the road before our time thought.

When Jesus said that He came that we “might have life, and have it more abundantly”, He surely had the joy that I have experienced in my life in mind. He wanted us to see life as more than the medieval “veil of tears” through which one longed for Heaven to put a salve on the open wound of daily horrible life. A healthy view of Heaven isn’t about ignoring earth – it is about perspective. It nags us with the happy question: “What will all this mean in 100 billion years?” We cannot make all decisions based solely on that criteria, or we would not care for many mundane aspects of life in a godly way. Yet it is worth recalling to help put ourselves in perspective. Not everything we stress about is worth the anxiety we are putting into it. Old things will pass away… new things are coming. The same Jesus also reminded: “What profit is there to a man who gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” Christianity is about BOTH this world and the next – for they are tied together in the God that made both –and gave both as a gift to us!

Here’s the great news – eternity will be a NEW PLACE. No sense in asking too many questions about: “Will it be like this?” or “Will it be like that?” – since the newness implies we don’t have anything that can really compare to it. The food doesn’t taste like “chicken”. 🙂

Our eternity is in a PREPARED place.

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband…9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,

When Jesus said in John 14: “I go to prepare a place for you.” He didn’t simply say He would prepare an IDEA – He said it was a PLACE that was being prepared. Look at the text for a description of the completion of the work, and you will find four incredible features:

First, it was HOLY. The term HOLY is the term DISTINCT. It is the word for “something that exists specifically for a purpose, and used properly only for that purpose. It is used in the Scripture for God – Who is absolutely unique and cannot be shaped to be anything other than what He is. It is used for the Sabbath of the Jewish people. It is used of sacrifices. It is used for the believer’s body and the believer’s use of sexuality. This is a city that was made for exactly one purpose – and its unveiling in the future has been foretold in elegant anticipation!

It was a CITY. It was built for cohabitation, relationship, sharing and activity. Eternity is not somber, still, passive and always serenely pastoral. There is a bustling city planned in the midst of the countryside. There will be beauty, but there will be activity. The story doesn’t end on the farm – but in the engaging place of a city.

It was carefully ADORNED. The description of the city was as an “adorned” bride. The gasp of the crowd that is familiar with the first appearance of the bride should be anticipated when God lowers the city into view. The sheer creative genius of the Almighty will again astound us. I remember seeing my bride in her beautiful dress at the back of the church – what a magnificent sight! She was adorned for the day – and so will that city be.

It was made IN ANTICIPATION. The bride dresses for a planned event – and the city is prepared in that same way. It came from the preparation bays of Heaven and was “launched” with every anticipation that those who gaze on it will be overwhelmed. Every part was hand chosen – in the mind of the preparing Savior.

Don’t feel badly about anticipating a new body and a new city. The Bible reminds us: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21). All creation is waiting for this – and we should be too! Remember to thank Jesus today for the preparations He is making for the world to come!

Our eternity is in a SHARED place.

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,

I have some good news and bad news for you. Which do you want first? OK, the bad news – your place in eternity is a shared one. You won’t live alone! The good news – Jesus is your roommate!

The feature of eternity that will occupy us most fully is the company we will keep. It will be great to see, sit and chat with, discuss and inquire from great believers of the ages. Family, friends, and fellow worshipers will amaze us. We will laugh and we will love the ages together. We have never felt so accepted and so complete at any time on this earth. At the same time – we will be transfixed with the sight of the Creator, and the sight of the Redeemer.

At last we say, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for [us], who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

  • There is no need to scrape to gain what is needed – God has made, offered and protected it all.
  • There is no need to protect what we have left over – to tuck it in “Heavenly Tupperware” and refrigerate – for there is no spoiling and no fermenting.
  • There is no need to repaint – for the colors never fade.

At the end of the day, we will find a NEW DAY in which our Savior will dwell in our ranks, eat together with us, and share life. We were created for a day like this – and in such a day we will joy and revel without end. He will be there – that is all we need remember!

Our eternity is in a COMFORTING place.

Revelation 21:4 “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Think of that place!

  • We will live with no more crying, no more sighing, no more dying!
  • Funding health care will be a moot point – there will be no hospitals and no grave yards!
  • Death will not only lose its sting, but the word will lose its meaning!
  • Satan will not be able to get a passport. He will be forever destroyed in the bottomless pit.
  • The fallen and rebellious angels will be shattered.
  • There will be no need for cosmetics beyond a single balm – words for aging, sagging, wrinkles and blemishes will slip from our vocabulary!
  • The water of life will quench our thirst!
  • Nothing will ruin, rot, or rust.
  • There will be no itching, no blindness, no deafness, no diabetes, no cancer, no heart attacks, no pain.
  • We will be together. There will be no divorce, no child abductions, no trgic accidents
  • There will be no more bills!

One Pastor told me: There was a five year old girl who was on her first night away from home – she had never stayed the night at a friend’s house before. She found herself a bit nervous, but wanted to give the experience a try. In the daytime, she was fine. As night fell, she began to show her nervousness. Her friend’s mother saw what was happening and asked: “Honey, are you getting homesick?” With beautiful childlike innocence she replied, “No ma’am, I’m getting here sick!

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever get “earth sick”? It is a sign of the times if you know Jesus but really don’t think that way… and some of us need to grow to “long for His appearing” more than we long for another car or TV set.

I love the reminder of Paul in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.“

If you follow Jesus, there is coming a NEW DAY for you. Every wrong done to you in this life will be made right. Each injustice will meet face to face with absolute justice. Every sorrow will be reversed, and joy will wash over you like a thundering waterfall pressing against your deepest parts. Today seems so powerful, but it will fade away….Isaiah long ago foretold: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17). He goes on to say, “They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.” (Isaiah 65:23-25). Our eternity is a COMFORTING place.

Our eternity is in a FREE place.

Revelation 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

God built our future home for us, and invited us into it at His cost. His only requirement is that we trust that He is able to do exactly what He said. Failure to trust His Word about this leads to failure to live inside His Word in every other area. If I trust God about what I cannot see, I will learn to trust God about what I can see.

The old preacher, R.G. Lee, used to say: “Heaven is the most marvelous place the wisdom of God could conceive and that the power of God could prepare.”

Notice that verse 6 uses FREE WATER as the illustration of God meeting the need.. Have you ever been in a desert during the heat of the day. In the Near Eastern deserts, where I have spent considerable time – the mid day heat is so intense that an egg would quickly fry on a rock in the open sun. The sound of “sizzle” is all about. God will open up the water hydrant of refreshment – and it will all be FREE to us. It was expensive for Him – but offered freely to us. Our eternity is a FREE place.

Our eternity is in a FAMILY place.

Revelation 21:7 “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Look at the terms in the passage for the plans of our future experience. Terms like “inheritance” and “son” unmask the relationship of the future – we will be in a FAMILY place. It is worth noting that even today, being is a family is a daily choice. People choose to come together to build a family, and others make the choice to walk out on one another almost every day in our world – but God illustrated His relationship as one of family. We are related by a CHOICE we made.

Relationship is what makes Heaven… well, Heaven! If the streets were gravel and not gold, if the walls were particle board and not jasper, if mud was knee deep and weeds over our heads, it will still be heaven because we are SONS of the Creator and family with the Savior!

In 1991. British singer Eric Clapton lost his five-year-old son named Conner, after the boy fell from the window of their forty-ninth floor Manhattan apartment. Clapton sequestered himself in agony and finally poured out his grief in song and wrote “Tears in Heaven.” In the song he asks the question: “Would you know my name – If I saw you in heaven? Would it be the same – If I saw you in heaven?

That’s a good question! Will we KNOW one another? In the text there is every reason to believe that we will know ourselves and each other. Our relationships will not be lost, but rather renewed. As John wrote long ago: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Imagine that! Like Jesus! The stench of our fallen nature will be cleansed so thoroughly that we will be capable of intimacy in relationships without stain of selfishness. Even our love and commitment to God will cease to be compromised by ego and evil desire. Our relationships will be unspoiled – because our eternity is in a FAMILY place.

Our eternity is in a BRIGHT and BEAUTIFUL place.

Revelation 21:11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall…. 18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Heaven is filled with beauty beyond our richest earthly experience! That reminds me of a story told by a Christian author:

A wealthy Christian became obsessed with the notion of taking some accumulated earthly wealth to Heaven. He knew the Bible notes we “can’t take it with us”. He was so transfixed that he continually prayed that God would give him special permission to take some wealth to heaven. After a period of particularly persistent prayer, God said, “Fine, enough all ready! You can take one suitcase with you into heaven.” From that time on the man began to make plans. He began packing his most valuable things. It came about after some years that the man died. Now you know how these stories go… he went to Heaven and met the saint at the gate …. None other than St. Peter, who noted that he was dragging his suitcase behind him. Peter stopped him and said, “Wait a minute. What do you think you’re doing? You’re not allowed to take anything into heaven.” The man replied: “You don’t understand. I have special permission from God Himself to take this suitcase into heaven.” Peter rubbed his beard & said, “Well, that’s very unusual. I can’t imagine God letting you do that. Let me look inside your suitcase & see what’s there.” So the man dragged the suitcase over, and as Peter opened it he was quite puzzled to see that it was filled with gold bars, gold bricks and gold ingots. Peter said, “Well, all right. If God said so, I suppose you can take that in if you want. But why in the world did you go to all this trouble just to bring more pavement into heaven?” (sermon central illustrations, adapted).

Heaven’s wealth scale dwarfs whatever you are thinking! John does the best he can at describing heaven, but he is limited by language and experience. The richness of heaven is so great that they walk on gold, use precious jewels for foundations, and dwell in lavish buildings all made by the Creator of the universe! What a BRIGHT and BEAUTIFUL place this will be!

Our eternity is in a HUGE place.

Revelation 21:16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

Will there be room for everyone? The city alone (which nowhere says it will contain all the inhabitants of the future) was measured as 1,500 miles cubed… room for every human who has ever lived if they had all been saved. Our eternity is in a HUGE place.

Our eternity is in a COMPLETED place.

The record first unfolds what is MISSING in this place, then what the FEATURES of the place are. It is like the vacation brochure that first promises a “break from traffic” and a “place to relax”.

First, what ISN’T THERE? Revelation 21:22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Nothing needs to be renovated or restored. In fact, many of the things that took up our energy to provide in our old life will slip away – and we won’t need to work to keep it all together.

  • We won’t need a temple – because God will live with us.
  • We won’t need a celestial light – because God’s glory will shine for us.
  • We won’t need a nightlight – for God’s glory never sets.
  • We won’t need a key – for closed gates and locks will be meaningless.
  • We won’t need a confessor – for sin will have no more place there.
  • We won’t need defensiveness – for everyone we meet will be what God intended them to be.

We won’t need these things because God will complete everything He started at the beginning of the first book of the Bible….

  • In Genesis 1:1 God created the heavens and the earth; in Revelation 21:1 God will create a new heaven and earth.
  • In Genesis 1:16 God created the sun; in Revelation 21:23 there will be no more need for the sun.
  • In Genesis 1:5 God established the night; In Revelation 22:5  God abolished night.
  • In Genesis 1:10 God created the seas; In Revelation 21:1 God dispensed with the seas (which may have been a comfort to John who was exiled and separated by seas from his family and friends!)
  • In Genesis 3:14-17 God announced the curse; In Revelation 22:3 God rescinded it forever. Satan would no longer touch the earth, let alone crawl its surface. The new earth would yield without question the fruits assigned to it.
  • In Genesis 3:19 Death entered the world; in Revelation 21:4 death is dismissed forever.
  • In Genesis 3:24 man was driven from paradise; In revelation 22:14 he stands in Paradise regained.
  • IN Genesis 3:17 Sorrow and pain grew from the rebellion; in Revelation 21:4 Sorrow is cut off forever. Tears and pain are satisfied forever.

Next, what WILL BE THERE? Revelation 22:1 “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

  • God’s life will flow as a river from His throne to His people – it will be clear, crisp and refreshing. All of life’s thirsts will be quenched!
  • Spanning the river will be a tree of life – with its ever changing, always delicious fruit. All of life’s hungers will be satisfied!
  • Covering its branches will be bountiful and beautiful leaves – whose oils will produce a healthy and comforting balm for all to partake. All of life’s discomforts will be settled!
  • The ground will yield no weed – for the curse is forever broken. All of life’s disappointments will be contented!
  • Distance from God will evaporate – for we will see Him face to face. All of life’s strain will be eased!
  • There will be no need to read the story of redemption – for our very salvation will be revealed on the markers upon our heads. All of life’s insecurities will be erased!
  • There will be no night for pain to increase and darkness to overcome – for God’s light will shine in unending power. All of life’s anxiousness will be calmed!
  • There will be no need for rulers – for each will have his place to reign. All of life’s tension will be relieved!

Our eternity is in a PROMISED place.

Revelation 21:6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. 7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.

Our faith is not made up – it was revealed by the God that made us. Our destiny is not the stuff of dreams, but the uncovering of truths revealed by a Sovereign who is timeless and already exists in that place. His Word is His bond, and His Word has been made known. The one who believes His promises awaits His appearing. The one who truly trusts in God’s words concerning the hereafter carefully measures his life in the hear and now. Sloppy living comes from slipping belief. He has promised me a future home, and demanded only that I trust Him to provide it as He said! God didn’t just promise a new day – He explained what kind of future He has planned for us. Want to join in? He has paid your way!