Focal Passage: Revelation 21:1-7
John moves from a vision of doom and gloom in chapter 20 to a vision of glory in chapter 21. I don’t take great pleasure in attending weddings. I usually only attend if I am forced to or there is the promise of good food. One wedding that I have already made sure I will be attending is the marriage supper with the Lamb. John describes this union in chapter 21.
The words “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” have led to two schools of thought. Some see this as a complete destruction of the old heaven and old earth. While others see this as renewal and restoration instead of destruction. Another difficult phrase is “there is no longer any sea.” Many thoughts prevail on the meaning of this, but it appears anything associated with strife or evil will cease to be.
The New Jerusalem can refer to a place or a people. It could refer to both. The New Jerusalem represents all believers. At the same time, it refers to the place where all believers will be gathered. The phrase “coming down out of heaven” points to the reunion of God and His people dwelling together. The preparation that John mentions is the believers preparing to meet their Lord (husband).
Then John hears a command to “Look.” He was told to look because something big was about to happen. God is making His dwelling with His people for all of eternity. The completion of another promise is mentioned in verse 3. God says they will be His people and He will be their God. This hearkens back to the promises found in Exodus 6:7 and Leviticus 26:12.
In verse 1, John mentioned the first of seven things that will not be a part of the new heaven and the new earth when he mentioned the sea. He shares the other six in verse 4. David Jeremiah said, “This is a total reversal of the curses found in Genesis 3.” All pain, tears, and mourning will no longer be a part of our experience. Jim Shaddix said, “When all things are made new, the heartaches of life will be forgotten.”
John is told a second time to look in verse 5. God wanted him to fully understand what He was about to say. He told John and the universe that He was making all things new. He instructed John to write it down because it was certain to take place as God had said. He then tells him that “It is done!” When this was said to John, it had not yet come to pass. We must remember according to God the future is already finished. We do not have to hope that it will be done, but we can know for certain that it has been done. How? Because the One who said it is the Beginning and the End. We are reminded again what God starts He finishes! He ended verse 6 by sharing that the experience of the new heaven and new earth is only for those who were thirsty and drank from the water (eternal life) that God freely gave them.
There is an old saying that goes, “to the victor go the spoils.” Nowhere is this truer than in the new heaven and new earth according to verse 7. The spoils will be that each of us (my son) will inherit these things. What are these things? The blessings of God and also the presence and fellowship with God for all of eternity.
Once John received the vision of the new heaven and new earth in chapters 21 and 22, you can see why he ends the book by asking the Lord to come quickly.
— Styers is pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Junction