Review (Revelation 20)
The Devil was bound a thousand years in “the bottomless pit: (20:2-3), and those who survived the Great Tribulation enjoyed a season of peace, for Christ reigned upon the earth (Millennial Kingdom, 20:4-6). When the 1,000 years had ended, Satan “was loosed out of his prison” and went forth to deceive the nations of the earth (20:7-8). He gathered their armies to war against the saints of God, and “the beloved city” (Jerusalem) where Christ reigned (20:8-9). Suddenly, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them” (reminiscent of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, 20:9b; Genesis 19).
The Devil, the Antichrist (beast) and the false prophet were “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone….and [continue to be] tormented day and night for ever and ever” (20:10). Tragically, the judgment of the Great White Throne followed, and all whose names were not in “the book of life… were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (20:12-13).
A New Heaven and A New Earth (21:1-3)
The judgment of unbelievers having ended, John beheld an incredible sight–“a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (21:1). The “new heaven” and the “new earth” were and are literal places the Lord prepared for His people (John 14:1-3), as the old world, scarred by sin, was no more. Interestingly, while our earth is three-fourths water, the new earth will have no sea (21:1b).
John described what he saw, writing, “I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2). The new Jerusalem was untainted by the sin and wickedness of man. She was a “holy city,” like the bride for whom the groom comes, without flaw or blemish.
Then, John “heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (21:3). The identity of the one who heralded the news was not given, but God’s presence in the midst of His people was a wonderful sight. Because of His grace, and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption through the sacrifice of Christ, God was no longer a great way off, but was in the midst of His people.
All Will Be Perfect (21:4)
Revelation 21:4 records a promise suffering saints have cleaved to for two millennium. We read, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (21:4).
Notice there are five fundamental differences between the old earth and the new earth. The first difference, there will be no tears in eternity. There are many things about this world that brings believers to tears; however, with the Lord dwelling in the midst, never again would a tear be shed. Another change was, “there shall be no more death” (21:4b). Imagine, a world without death! Isaiah prophesied of that time, God “will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). Paul, reflecting on Christ’s resurrection, and the promise of resurrection for believers, wrote, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).
The third and fourth difference observed by John in the “new heaven” and the “new earth,” was the absence of sorrow and crying (21:4c). Every sorrow, every grief, every disappointment had been carried away (Isaiah 53:4).
Lastly, the new heaven and new earth was a place untouched by pain (21:4d). It is true, there will be no physical pain in eternity (our bodies will be free of sin, and its afflictions). Yet, if you have lived long, you are aware there are pains far worse than physical illness or maladies. There are pains that stab the heart, distress the mind, and pierce the soul. Some bear the guilt of sins past, others the sorrow of the death of loved ones. There are also the pains of loneliness, and rejection.
Closing thoughts (21:4-5) – Can we be sure there will be “no tears… no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying…[or] pain” in eternity? (21:4) Absolutely! John was assured, “the former things are passed away” (21:4). Then, the Lord declared, “Behold, I make all things new” (21:4). John, it seemed, was so moved by the promises and the sight of the new heaven and new earth, he forgot to write down what he had seen and heard. Therefore, the Lord commanded him, “Write: for these words are true and faithful” (21:5).
I close, leaving so much that might yet be observed, but encouraging you to embrace the hope and promises, for they are sealed by the Word of God, and His sovereignty. And so, we await His coming, and the promise, “Surely, I come quickly” (22:20).
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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