New Heaven, New Earth – Revelation Bible Guide Day 27
March 27, 2018
This is the second death, the lake of fire; 15and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Day 27 – 6th Tuesday
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
5And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6Then 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 as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Points of Interest
- “heaven” – Heaven in both 1st century Hebrew and Greek didn’t mean “where you might go after you die.” It meant both the skies – the actual place birds fly and clouds appear – and the “invisible realm of God invading us.” Heaven is “the metaphor that tells us that there is far more here than meets the eye.” So it is both future and present tense. “Calling the word heaven a metaphor does not make it less real; it simply recognizes that it is a reality inaccessible at this point to any of our five senses.” (Peterson, Reversed Thunder, 169)
- “a new heaven and a new earth” – In ancient cosmology, “heaven and earth” are shorthand for all reality – the earth, the skies, realms visible and invisible. Jesus isn’t replacing material reality with an immaterial heaven, but remaking everywhere and everything in creation.
- “the sea was no more” – For ancient Jews, the sea represented chaos and turbulence. No sea in Jesus’ new heaven and new earth meant for them peace, order, and harmony – nothing to fear. This is part of the present work Jesus has begun and will complete in the future.
- “the holy city… prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” – We’ll talk more about the city tomorrow, but for now, we note John’s mixed metaphors. What Jesus is doing amongst people that love Jesus is like building a new city and is also like preparing a bride to marry him.
- “the home of God… He will dwell with them” – God’s presence is what is most new about this heaven and earth. God’s presence is the source of the comfort, the presence that removes death, and the force that is driving away danger. The noun “home” and the verb “dwell” are the same here, both meaning “tent” or “tabernacle.” Jews, before they built a temple, set up a tent for God to live in, as a symbol that God travelled and lived with them. Jesus is making this symbol real now.
- “See I am making all things new” – This is parallel to the opening “new heaven and new earth” statement. There are narrow teachings on the good news of Jesus that say it is only about forgiving sins or avoiding punishment. Revelation, as with other places in the New Testament, has a really expansive version of the good news, that Jesus is renewing all things – from work to politics to real estate to ecology to our own emotional and psychological experience of life.
- “It is done” – As future tense and unaccomplished as this vision sounds to us, God is confident that it is finished. This experience has begun and will not be stopped.
- “To the thirsty” – Evocative of Isaiah 55’s prophecy and Jesus’ own words about being living water that deeply satisfies, John’s image of a spring of living water evokes refreshment, satisfaction, and delight.
- “Those who conquer” – This has been the goal since the opening letters to the churches in Chapters 2 and 3, that people and communities not give up on persevering in faith, even in the face of all of life’s challenges and grief. Mama and Papa God is here unseen, and has a great inheritance for us, the children.
This week, as Easter approaches, and Revelation climaxes with its vision of a new heaven and a new earth, we’ll look to cultivate hope. What have you experienced so far of the new heaven and the new earth? Any ways you’ve experienced comfort or satisfaction or protection from God? However small or large that is, what does it mean to you that there is infinitely more where that came from? Ask God to grow your hope that the best of your experience of God and the best of your experience of life is yet to come.
A Direction for Prayer
Pray for your six, that they will experience more of God’s comfort in sorrow and greater hope that Jesus is making all things new. Ask that Jesus will encourage each of them today in the particular place where they are most tired and discouraged of the reality they see and know.
The Bible Guide
This blog post is part of a Lenten journey through the book of Revelation. Every year during the season of Lent, we take a focused look at a portion of Scripture as part of our communal spiritual practice. This year, we are exploring what it means to be Children of God in a Fractured World, with Revelation as our lens. On Sundays, we’re exploring this with our sermons; on weekdays, we’re doing so with our bible guide. The bible guide series starts here.