Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21: 1-7)
The matter of the new heavens and new earth can be quite overwhelming.
It is God’s ultimate intention.
It is the very last revelation God has given to us.
He has not revealed anything beyond the establishment of that new creation.
We can get very caught up with THIS world and OUR lives that we forget that God is moving towards something beyond the here and now. Even the (wrong) perception of “heaven” being our eternal destiny tends to keep our minds fixed on this world, giving the impression that everything will continue on as always: the only difference being a change of residence from earth to heaven as we each reach the end of our earthly life.
The fact is that this world is coming to an end. This world was NEVER intended to be permanent. It was GOOD when God created it but it was never intended to be His BEST.
From the beginning this world had a limited use. It could never go on forever. This can be seen in God’s command to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”
Has anyone ever considered what the outcome would be if man had never sinned (and therefore death had not been introduced) and had continued to be fruitful, increasing in number… how long would it have taken for the world to become impossibly crowded?
That makes it clear that the maintenance of this world was never God’s intention.
Scripture shows us that God’s ultimate goal has always been a new heavens and new earth which will be the home of righteousness. That is the climax of God’s revealed plan for His creation.
The current creation ALWAYS had a potential for sin. The new creation will have NO potential for sin. The potential for sin was necessary to ensure that God could obtain a willingly obedient people to adopt into His family. Willingness requires the provision of a genuine choice. Such a choice also presents the possibility of wilful disobedience. That of course was the outcome when Adam and Eve willingly disobeyed God’s sole prohibition in eating the forbidden fruit an act that led to condemnation for all men.
Of course God was not taken by surprise. He had foreknown Adam’s sin and a plan for man’s redemption had been ordained even before the world had been created. This plan is glorious beyond our comprehension. It enabled the salvation of mankind without being dependant upon anything within mankind. Sinful man could do NOTHING to bring himself again into right relationship with a Holy, just and righteous God. But God didn’t leave man in that helpless and hopeless situation. While man had no power to save Himself, God was more than able and willing.
It is impossible to adequately describe God’s means of saving mankind. Words like glorious, amazing, brilliant and extraordinary are all inadequate. It has incredible breadth and countless facets, all of which turn the focus back on the redeeming creator instead of the redeemed creature.
He has provided a way through which all of mankind has the opportunity to be freed from the sin that has separated us from Him. That way is an expression of God’s mercy, His love and His justice. It is not arbitrary and favours no individual above another. Mankind is given both freedom and responsibility, making us accountable for our sin but giving us the opportunity to be freed from it. God’s justice demands that sin be punished, and in His mercy He Himself took the punishment for our sin.
All of this is part of God’s grand plan. It all fits together. From the initial creation followed by Adam’s sin right through to the destruction of this world and the creation of a replacement. Every part of the process has a reason. Everything is leading up to God making His home with a family chosen from among mankind; from all ages and from all nations, tribes and tongues.
And who is chosen to become part of this “grand plan”? Those who have trusted in His Son and His righteousness instead of trusting in themselves and their own self-righteousness; those who through the working of the Holy Spirit have recognised how unworthy they are and have sought and submitted to His mercy; those who rely on Him to forgive their sins and to cleanse them from unrighteousness; those who will receive the gracious gift He has freely given.
No matter how much I have tried I continually fail to glimpse the glory of God’s gospel. At times it seems like I’ve almost grasped part of it – but when I try to put it into words no language seems sufficient to translate that partial glimpse into something tangible. I think all of our attempts to put the indescribable into words will continually fail until we meet Him face to face..
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.(Rom 11:33-36)