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A New Heaven and a New Earth
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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 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, 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.’ (Revelation 21:1-4)
A Complete RestorationSin entered the world in the very beginning of the first book in the Bible, and it is only finally conquered here in the very end of the last book. Everything in between is one long struggle for the restoration of mankind. God puts his plan of salvation in place, one piece at a time, constantly interacting with men and women who do their little part in the whole.
The Final DestinationContrary to common belief, the Bible does not teach us that heaven or paradise is our final destination, this is but a temporary resting place for the righteous souls. The end is with the New Heaven and the New Earth, but “end” is a misleading word, since it’s really the “beginning”. The New Creation is the beginning of eternity for us, an infinite white page… which goes way beyond anything we can possibly imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Rivers, Trees, Nations and a New JerusalemWe do not get a lot of details about the New Creation, except that it resembles the current creation to a high degree, but in a glorified way. Here are a few glimpses:
- and [he] showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper […] I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 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. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. (Revelation 21:10-24)
- Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 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. (Revelation 22:1-2)
- 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. (Revelation 22:5)
A Two Step RestorationTo avoid confusion with other similar passages in the Bible, it must be pointed out that the restoration will come in two stages. The first stage happens with the return of the Messiah. Messiah Yeshua will then restore the current Israel, Jerusalem and the third Temple. He will come with kingship and authority (unlike His first arrival when He came as a servant). This will start the 1000 years of peace on earth with Messianic rule, also known as “The Kingdom of God” or “The Kingdom of Heaven”. Among the Bible passages that talk about this stage are:
- Isaiah 65:17-25
- Zechariah 8:1-8
- Zechariah 8:20-23
- Zechariah 14:9-19
- Ezekiel 40:1-6
This first stage also has a separate resurrection of the dead for all those who are privileged to participate in this era:
- Daniel 12:1-3
- Revelation 20:4-6
- John 5:25-26
- Matthew 8:11
Only after the fulfillment of this era will the final judgment and resurrection come (John 5:28-29, 2 Peter 3:10-13, Revelation 20:11-15).
An UrgencyOne of the outcomes in the final judgment is the “second death” or the lake of fire. This is a very serious punishment, which was originally only prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41), but it is also an outcome for people who do not repent and continue to do works of evil (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Revelation 22:14-15). Although it is impossible for us to say who will be sentenced to what, because God judges our hearts, it is imperative that we listen to God’s call to repentance today. There is no promise in the Bible that we will live tomorrow.
Listen to what the Talmud says in Shabbat 153a:
We learned there in a mishna that Rabbi Eliezer says: Repent one day before your death. Rabbi Eliezer’s students asked him: But does a person know the day on which he will die? He said to them: All the more so this is a good piece of advice, and one should repent today lest he die tomorrow; and by following this advice one will spend his entire life in a state of repentance. And King Solomon also said in his wisdom: “At all times your clothes should be white, and oil shall not be absent from upon your head” (Ecclesiastes 9:8), meaning that a person always needs to be prepared.
And we must not wait for a sign from God before we repent, the Bible is in itself the biggest sign available, as we learn from the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
Mentioned in this story is also Abraham, who is a key person for understanding the full walk of faith, more about him in the next lesson.
- The restoration of creation is fulfilled in a new heaven and a new earth
- It resembles the current creation, but in a glorified way
- We can only barely begin to imagine what it will be like
- It is crucial to live in repentance every day
A PrayerLord, you alone are everything I need.
You make my life secure.
I am very pleased with what you have given me.
I am very happy with what I’ve received from you.
I will praise the Lord. He gives me good advice.
Even at night my heart teaches me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
He is at my right hand.
So I will always be secure.
So my heart is glad. Joy is on my tongue.
My body also will be secure.
You will not leave me in the place of the dead.
You will not let your faithful one rot away.
You always show me the path of life.
You will fill me with joy when I am with you.
You will make me happy forever at your right hand. (Psalm 16:5-11)