Why this is important: Jesus, the Messiah and my Master, walks over to me. He reaches out His hand. Slowly He wipes away my tears. He dries them off very carefully. No more mourning. No more crying. No more pain. That is all in the past.
The new plan has kicked in. Jesus is making everything according to the new plan. His goal and His strategy is now the order of the day. Not there yet but closer every day.
Jesus is in control. He is in power and will bring every aspect of the plan to a close. He executes every detail. No worry or concern.
We can count on it. It is a fact. We can write it down for He is faithful to bring it all to pass. The new plan is done.
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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. 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.
English Standard Version. (2016). (Revelation 21:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The first heaven and earth were prepared for the first man and woman and their descendants. God had readied everything for them when He placed them in the Garden. Unfortunately, our first parents sinned, ushering death and decay into God’s beautiful world. Creation is in bondage and travail, and even the heavens “are not clean in His sight” (Job 15:15).
God has promised His people a new heaven and earth. The old creation must make way for the new creation if God is to be glorified. Jesus called this event “the regeneration” of the earth (Matt. 19:28), and Peter explained it as a cleansing and renewing by fire (2 Peter 3:10–13). Bible students are not agreed as to whether the old elements will be renewed or whether the old will be destroyed and a whole new creation ushered in. The fact that the Greek word translated new means “new in character” (Rev. 21:1, 5) may lend credence to the former explanation.
“No more sea” does not mean “no more water.” It simply indicates that the new earth will have a different arrangement as far as water is concerned. Three fourths of our globe consists of water, but this won’t be the case in the eternal state. In John’s day, the sea meant danger, storms, and separation (John himself was on an island at the time!); so perhaps John was giving us more than a geography lesson.
Even despite Scripture’s description, it is difficult to imagine what the eternal city will be like. John characterizes it as a holy city, a prepared city, and a beautiful city, as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day. He amplifies these characteristics in Revelation 21–22.
But the most important thing about the city is that God dwells there with His people. The Bible gives an interesting record of the dwelling places of God. First, God walked with man in the Garden of Eden. Then He dwelt with Israel in the tabernacle and later the temple. When Israel sinned, God had to depart from those dwellings. Later, Jesus the Messiah came to earth and “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). Today, God does not live in man-made temples, but in the bodies of His people and in the church.
In both the tabernacle and the temple, the veil stood between men and God. That veil was torn in two when Jesus died, thus opening a “new and living way” for God’s people. Even though God dwells in believers today by His Spirit, we still have not begun to understand God or fellowship with Him as we would like; but one day, we shall dwell in God’s presence and enjoy Him forever.
The eternal city is so wonderful that the best way John found to describe it was by contrast—“no more.” The believers who first read this inspired book must have rejoiced to know that, in heaven, there would be no more pain, tears, sorrow, or death; for many of their number had been tortured and slain.
In every age, the hope of heaven has encouraged God’s people in times of suffering.