Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This lesson concerns parts of the final chapter of Revelation.
Revelation 21:1 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.
John sees what Isaiah had seen.
Isaiah 65:17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
And he saw what Peter anticipated.
2Peter 3:13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
John says that he sees a “new” heaven and earth. This is not just “another” heaven and earth, but ones new in kind. This is not just a second edition of what he’s known before, but something fundamentally different. “the sea was no more” In Revelation 13 the beast comes out of the sea. In Daniel 7, the four winds churn the sea (?humanity?) and out of it comes 4 great beasts representing kingdoms. The sea is never still or fixed, but rather is always changeable. Some scholars read this “no more sea” as a statement that humanity will be producing no more “kings” and the forces of evil will no longer be effective.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem. Physical Jerusalem is often called the holy city in the Old Testament. For example, there is Isaiah 52:1.
Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.
This, John sees, is from God. This city is from Him, built by Him. It is therefore both permanent and flawless, eternal and without blemish. And what is this city? It is God’s church. This city, this bride is God’s elect. These figures are familiar Biblical figures.
Jeremiah 2:2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.
Jerusalem is God’s bride. John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the bridegroom.
John 3:29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
Jesus pictures Himself as the bridegroom in the parable of the 10 virgins of Matthew 25.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, 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.
This is the fundamental promise of all Biblical revelation, that God will dwell with humans and be our God.
Leviticus 26:11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.
12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
Ezekiel 37:27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
This is the fundamental expression of God’s purpose for us and His whole creation. It has been His intention from the beginning. He walked in the garden in Genesis 3. The promise here in Revelation 21 is that this purpose will be perfectly accomplished in eternity.
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
These are the wonderful consequences of God’s presence with us in eternity. These promises have been made throughout the Scriptures. There are the words in Isaiah.
Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 35:10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. …
Former things have passed away. Paul said something similar.
2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
This is more than simply that unpleasant circumstances have passed away. There is a new relationship with our Creator. There is a new nature that we partake of. The new has come. What has come is freshly consistent with God’s nature and purposes. To this point, because of our rebellion and that of our first parents, all has not been so. But “the former things,” the things having to do with the first heaven and earth, have passed away.
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Behold I am making all things new. It is God’s doing. He will get the credit and the new order will be consistent with His nature. The words are trustworthy and true. They are accurate, incorruptible, and faithful. And they are genuine. How could it be otherwise?
6 And 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 from the spring of the water of life without payment.
It is done. God’s word is as good as gold. Things will work out as He has ordained. He’s the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. But this is not just first and last in time, it is first in terms of origin, and last in terms of goal. He is both. The “I” is emphatic. The point is that He sovereignly rules over all that is.
To the thirsty I will give. This is repetition of the promise first made through Isaiah.
Isaiah 55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
Isaiah 49:10 they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.
Recall that in Chapter 7, verses 15-17 John saw God with His people and they hunger and thirst no more. This is from the spring of the water of life.
Psalm36:7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
The water is without payment. God’s gift is not grudging.
7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
The one who conquers/overcomes will have this heritage. This was the word to the 7 churches in Chapters 2 and 3. Here at the end of the book is the final encouragement to endure.
8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
In verses 9-21 there is a picture of heaven. Two things to note in them are first the continuity of God’s working. There are 12 tribes/gates and there are 12 apostles/foundations. Second, there is the enormity and perfection of what God has done. The city is a perfect cube. So was the Holy of Holies.
1Kings 6:20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high, and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid an altar of cedar.
The dimension of the new Jerusalem is 12,000 by 12,000 by 12,000 stadia. That is 1,500 miles by 1,500 miles by 1,500 miles. This is simply huge.
John goes on.
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
This only makes sense. Who needs a temple in a city that is the reality that the Holy of Holies only hinted at? God is everywhere worshipped and adored. Recall Jesus speaking to the woman at the well.
John 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
God is the light of eternity. Far from being “gods” like many in the first century thought, the sun and moon aren’t even in the picture. Who needs them with the light of Christ? There is no need of a temple where God is and there is no place for light alongside Him.
24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Messiah, Jesus is the light.
25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.
Isaiah 60:11 Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession.
What reason would there be to shut up the gates? They surely don’t need to be shut for security sake!
27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
This is no universalist picture. It is those whose names are written in the book of Chapters 19 and 20. It is the redeemed.
2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.