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November 9, 2023

Revelation Part 22

When the 1000-year reign of Christ is ended, God will gather up and judge the world that rejected His Son.





When the 1000-year reign of Christ is ended, God will gather up and judge the world that rejected His Son. This will include every person who turned his or her backs on Jesus. The judgment of the lost will take place around the great white throne of God. Face to face with the Sovereign Maker of the universe, no man will be able to escape. Chapter 20 concludes with the sobering statement: “if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” The Bible refers to this event various ways – “the day of judgment” (2 Peter 3:7), “the day of the Lord” (Joel 2:1), “a day of reckoning” (Isaiah 2:12), “the day of His anger” (Job 20:28), and “the day of the wrath of the Lord” (Ezekiel 7:19). Whatever you choose to call it, it is a time at the end of human history and after the Millennial Kingdom when a righteous and holy God will stand in judgment of unrepentant mankind. Lost in their sins, without Christ, a masse of humanity is ushered off to their eternal punishment never to be heard from again.

The Book of Revelation does not tell us this, but apparently at the same time God metes out punishment on the lost, He will destroy the earth as we know it. Listen to these words from Second Peter: “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist” [the earth and the atmospheric heaven that surrounds it as we know it today] “are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly… But 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. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:7,10-13)

 The idea Peter presents about new heavens and a new earth takes place here in Rev Ch 21. So let’s read about it…

V 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.

The word “new” that is used here and that was used in 2 Peter Ch 3 means new in kind as opposed to new in time. When a baby is born we say that it is a “newborn” baby. It is new in time having just arrived. New Years Day celebrates the arrival of a new year, again, referring to new in time. But the new heaven and new earth are new in kind. There has never been anything like them before. They will be completely different than anything God has ever made before. They are new in kind.

The best picture of this in the natural world that we live in today is the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly. The same insect takes on a totally new and different form. It is completely different than it was previously. Let me make this personal. Our salvation. The Bible says we are new creature (ESV creation) in Christ. When I was 10 years old I got saved. When the kids at Royalgate Elementary School saw me the next day I looked exactly the same to them on the outside, but on the inside I was a new person, totally transformed. I was new in kind. I had a whole new outlook on life, a whole new relationship with Christ. Indeed for me the old things had passed away and new things had arrived. That’s the idea here about a new heaven and a new earth. It is not that God destroys the old and creates something completely new. They are transformed by fire. God dissolves the old and transforms it by fire into a different form.

When Adam and Eve sinned, their sin not only impacted humanity, but it caused the entire earth to be cursed as well. In the end, God purges the old earth and its atmosphere by fire in order to remove all of its sin and sickness and death and disease. He makes a whole new earth – new in kind. He also makes a whole new heaven [this heaven does not now exist]

We can barely comprehend what the new heaven and the new earth will be like because right now they don’t exist in that form. Getting us to comprehend the incredible glory of the new heaven and the new earth is a bit like us trying to explain the Internet to Christopher Columbus. It is not that Christopher Columbus was a stupid man for he certainly was not. It is just that the things of our modern computer age that we take for granted were not a reality in his world. For us humans the concepts contained in Rev Ch 21 are literally  mind-boggling. I said all that to make a point – this chapter is very difficult for us to understand. But we’ll try our best.

The phrase “and the sea was no more” apparently means that the new earth will not be two-thirds covered by oceans like our earth is today. There will be rivers and bodies of water, but no oceans. No more tsunamis, no more typhoons, no more tidal waves and no more hurricanes. For those of you like my mother who loves the ocean and seascapes, you can be sure that whatever new beautiful form God chooses to endow the new earth with, it will be even more beautiful than what we see today.

V 2: And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

The new Jerusalem is the eternal dwelling place of the saints and is fully described later in this chapter. We’re not just going to dwell in a mansion. We are going to live in a holy city. Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom is even now preparing the eternal home for us, His bride the church. Here in Chapter 21 He is getting ready to usher His bride in. 

In John 14 Jesus told His disciples, “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3). 

There are a lot of rather fuzzy ideas of what heaven will be like. Not a lot of details are given other than what we find in these last two chapters of Revelation. So, let’s just focus on what we DO KNOW. We know that our heavenly dwelling will be a real place. We know that God personally prepares it for us. Just as sure as we have an earth consciousness and a present reality, so too we will have a heaven consciousness and that will be real. Heaven will NOT be some sort of ethereal, intangible, pie in the sky whatever spiritual existence. It will be a real place. It will be absolutely incredible! 

Our senses will be overwhelmed at its beauty and grandeur. The problem is that because we have never seen it, we cannot understand or appreciate it now. How many of you have ever visited the Grand Canyon? You know what I am talking about when I say if you have never been to the Grand Canyon you cannot fully appreciate its vastness and beauty. You have to go and see it for yourself. So, we can know and acknowledge that heaven will be wonderful, but we cannot fully fathom just HOW wonderful it will be. The great preacher R.G. Lee once said, “I’ve got a home in heaven, but I’m not homesick.”

Let me give you another illustration from a personal experience I had years ago. When I was at Texas Tech some 40 years ago I signed up for a ride share over the Christmas holidays from Lubbock to Colorado where my parents were living at that time. Four of us rode together. Before the trip I had never met any of them. Two were foreign students from Poland who had never before been to Colorado and were going to stay with a friend. The other guy was from Colorado. As we transitioned from the rolling hills and boring landscape of the panhandle into northern New Mexico the scenery started to become much more picturesque. Mountains became visible in the distance. At one point one of the Polish students began to snap photos out the car window of the mountains of Raton Pass. I remember the guy from Colorado remarking to them, “Save your film, fellas! You think that’s something? Just wait. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Having been to Colorado before I knew exactly what he meant. Spectacular beauty, much greater than this, awaited us just up ahead in Colorado. Whatever our minds imagine heaven to be like falls well short of what will be its beautiful reality. So just wait. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

V 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.”

Heaven will not only be a beautiful place but it will be a place where we can enjoy perfect and sweet fellowship with God. In the O.T. God came to dwell on earth with His people Israel. In Revelation we see that we will get to go to that heavenly city to dwell with God.

V 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.”

Apparently God will erase from our minds all remembrance of the unpleasant things of our life here on earth. There will be no more tears because there will be no more sorrow, sickness or pain. There will be no more death because there will be no more sin. That definitely sounds like a place I want to be!

V 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.”

Think about it. “All things new.” I love to eat good old Texas BBQ and there is no indication that it will be on heaven’s menu, but the food that is served in heaven will be literally out of this world! We all really like our football here in Texas. Again there is no indication that there will be football in heaven. But whatever God replaces football with I am sure will be much, much better. I love my wife, but the relationship I will have with her in heaven will be even better. There is nothing about our life on this earth that we will miss.

V 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.”

For a brief moment Jesus steps back into our present reality to remind us that He and He alone fully satisfies our every need. He provides us with life in abundance.  What He says here sounds a lot like what He told the woman at the well in John Ch 4: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again [pointing to the well], but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

If you will recall from our study of John the woman’s response to Jesus is our response as well – “Give me some of THAT water!” Here in Rev Ch 21 we see the fulfillment of what Jesus told the woman at the well – a spring of the water of life.”

That last phrase “without payment” means that what Jesus provides us costs us nothing. It is a free gift from God.

V 7: “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

Heaven is a promise for all who overcome the world, those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (1 John 5:5). There is no closer male bond than that which exists between a father and his son. Yet that is the very special closeness that we are promised with our Lord. That’s not just a promise for later when we get to the new heaven, the new Jerusalem, but it is a promise for us even today.

V 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.”

There are two kinds of people in this world: believers and unbelievers.  Here is yet another reminder that only those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their personal savior and believe His promise to save them will be saved. The reason why the people mentioned in this verse will reside forever in the lake of fire is because they rejected Jesus Christ. People reject Him for three basic reasons, which are indicated in this verse:

Fear – “the cowardly”

Unbelief – “the faithless”

A desire for sin – “the detestable” (mentions several sins)

The end result for all of these is the same, the lake of fire, the second death.

The rest of the chapter describes in glorious detail the eternal dwelling place of the saints, a perfect utopia far greater than the Garden of Eden. I will not even pretend to understand fully all that’s written here…

V 9: Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

The angel mentioned here is one of the Revelation Chapter 16 angels.  He is going to show John a vision of where the bride of Christ, the church will dwell during eternity. We will go into detail next week but for now let me just read it to you. READ V 10-27.

Like I said, you ain’t seen nothing yet!! Just wait.



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