by Sam E. Stone
The closing chapters of the book of Revelation provide unsurpassed hope and encouragement for the faithful Christian. After all of life’s difficulties, everything is now perfect—and it will continue to be for all eternity. We will always be with God and he will always be with us. Revelation puts everything in proper perspective. The much-loved song has it right—”It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!”
The City of God/ Revelation 21:1-3
A completely new order now exists. I saw a new heaven and a new earth. Although God called the present world “good” (Genesis 1:31), it is not an adequate home for God’s children throughout eternity. Scripture has foretold the destruction of this physical world (2 Peter 3:10-13). Now a renovated universe takes its place. There is no longer any sea. To the ancients, the sea meant danger (Revelation 18:17).
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Scripture describes the eternal home for God’s people both as a city and as a bride. Here the two images are combined. This Jerusalem of hope (Hebrews 12:22) is from above (Galatians 4:26), where Christians have their real citizenship (Philippians 3:20). The imagery of a bride (Revelation 19:7, 8) is often used in Scripture to describe the people of God (Isaiah 54:5-8). Just as the glory of God was present in the tabernacle with the Jews in Old Testament days, now God himself is present in the true, eternal tabernacle in Heaven (Hebrews 8:2; 9:11). God will live with his children and walk among them (2 Corinthians 6:16).
The Gifts of God/Revelation 21:4-8
Like a loving mother, the Lord will remove all tears. Even better, he will remove every reason for tears. No more pain. No more sickness. No more sorrow. No more death. Only joy and peace await God’s children in the New Jerusalem. The old order of things has passed away. Life in this world isn’t fair. The wicked often prevail. The innocent are mistreated. But in Heaven, everything will be different. There will be no sin, so all of the sad consequences of sin will be banished forever.
I am making everything new. The one who revealed this entire message to John—the Christ—is himself faithful and true (Revelation 19:11-16). All his words are reliable and genuine (John 17:17). It is done. This reminds us of the words of Jesus from the cross—”It is finished” (John 19:30). The great work of human redemption is now complete. I am the Alpha and the Omega—the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Not all who start the race finish well. Not all who accept a place in God’s family will keep it (Hebrews 6:4-8). The letters to the seven churches contain a similar warning (Revelation 2:4-7). He will be my son. In ancient times, to be a son meant to inherit all the father had (see 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 89:26-29). In contrast, those who do not share this promise will face “the second death.” Each of the eight epithets (Revelation 21:8) includes a large grouping of the lost. It might be helpful to compare the list in your Bible with one of the modern paraphrases, such as The Message. In contrast to these, the believer will be secure forever in the presence of God.
The Glory of God/Revelation 21:22-27
In earthly Jerusalem, the temple was the dominant structure, central to life and worship for the Jews. In the New Jerusalem, there will not be just one structure where God is worshiped. All will worship him everywhere. The presence of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb fill Heaven with light (see Isaiah 60:19, 20). Bright as the sun is, it can add nothing to the glory of God.
“The nations” are the righteous people of God from all the world (Revelation 7:9). “The kings of the earth” are those godly rulers who will come and lay their crowns before the Lamb (Isaiah 60:3). The gates of the New Jerusalem will never be shut. Ancient cities guarded their gates to protect themselves from an enemy attack. Not so in Heaven. Nothing harmful can ever enter there, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (compare Revelation 3:5; Psalm 69:28). All citizens of Heaven have their name here (Philippians 4:3).
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.