– Revelation 21:4
The New Heaven and Earth
When the Apostle John was writing down these revelations from Jesus Christ (Rev 1:1), he must have been at a loss for words when he “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” (Rev 21:1). Why would there be no need for the sea anymore? To the Israelites, the sea was something they feared because it symbolized death. Since we’re to receive a new heaven and a new earth since the old have passed away, does this mean the sun will no longer be around? It says in Revelation 22:5 that “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever,” so perhaps the new heaven and new earth won’t need direct sunlight for plants and animals to exist, or for light to see because the Shekinah glory of God will light the whole earth. It could be that God’s glory is so powerful that you can’t even see the sun, like we can’t see the stars during the day because of the sun. I’m not sure, but I do know this; it’s going to be totally amazing.
The Old Heaven and Earth
Why would we need a new heaven and a new earth? What’s wrong with the old? The Bible says that the whole creation groans, awaiting its own redemption, just like the children of God. The Apostle Paul wrote that the whole “creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves” (Rom 8:19-23a). There are times when the earth will remind us by certain natural catastrophes. This earth needs replacing. It’s almost like its heavy laden under the weight of the sins of mankind. The Apostle Peter wrote about a fire that is coming someday to a planet near us; specifically, the earth! Peter wrote that in the context of how we should desire to live a holy life before God. Peter writes, that it’s “by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2nd Pet 3:7), and that will happen someday when “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2nd Pet 3:10).
God Dwells With Us
The 21st chapter of the Book of Revelation is very special to believers because that’s when our promises are finally fulfilled. This revelation from Jesus Christ (Rev 1:1-2), which was recorded by the Apostle John, tells us that “the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev 21:3), so not only will we behold the face of God, God Himself will dwell with us and He will be our God, and we will be His people…for time without end. Believer’s will apparently have a new name, but better than that, God’s children will finally “see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads” (Rev 22:4). One of the names Jesus was foretold to be called was Immanuel which means, “God with us” or “God dwells with us” (Isaiah 7:10-14), as John writes in the first chapter of his gospel that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Just as Jesus dwelt in human flesh but remained God, He dwelt with His disciples and was God. Someday (soon?), God Himself, even in Jesus Christ, will dwell with us. As for me, I will fall down before Him…because we are finally with Him and will forever dwell with Him.
Former Things Passing Away
Let me speak openly and honesty. I am so sick and tired of sin that I cannot wait for that day to rejoice to be saved to sin no more. One of the former things that will pass away that John doesn’t mention is sin. He gets to that in chapter 22, but for now, I think it’s important to mark the end of sin. Our nature will have been changed at Christ’s appearance and we will be what He is like now. John wrote earlier that “we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared to us, even in our imagination, but “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1st John 3:2). Of course, we won’t be like Jesus Christ Who will be in all of His splendid and magnificent and awesome glory; however our bodies will be incorruptible and our sin nature will be gone. That means we can’t be corrupted by sin anymore! When sin is no more, there are other things that become extinct, like “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4). With all of the old things passed away, Jesus’ words make good sense to us as He said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5). With the new, there’s no more room for the old things like death, sorrow, pain, suffering, and yes, even sin.
Why does John tell us that all these things will pass away? Believers from Abraham, to Moses, to David, and all the way through today, have suffered much for their faith (Heb 11), so John wants them to fix their eyes on Jesus. He wants the church to rest in the fact that suffering and death are going to end someday. There is no place or room for them in the kingdom. What has passed is passed, and what is to come, not even words can describe (Rom 8:18), so I won’t even try.