TEXT: Revelation 21
I. The New Heaven and New Earth (21:1-8)
The Bible tells us that when the Day of the Lord comes, the heavens will pass away with a roar, heavenly bodies will be burned up, along with the earth and all of the works of men, (2 Peter 3:10). But destruction of the wicked was not God’s final goal. That was just one part of it. The final goal was to make way for a new heaven and a new earth. And the way it is shown to John in this vision is a city coming down out of heaven, descending to earth. God promises that He would have a people dedicated to Himself. He would be their God, and they would be His people (v. 3).
And that’s what makes “heaven” heaven. God being with His people, and His people being with God. His presence is enough. Jesus is enough. He is the greatest reward. But in His kindness, Jesus has prepared wonderful rewards for us. “Behold, I am making all things new” (v. 5). This is not just a renovation, but a full restoration – God returning everything to what it was initially intended to be: perfect creation – no sin, no conflict, and perfect relationship with the Creator.
II. The New Jerusalem (21:9-27)
All through redemptive history, the earthly city of Jerusalem played a central role. It was the symbolic city of God’s people. And now, the heavenly city is called the New Jerusalem, because it will be the place where God will dwell with His people.
-The city radiates God’s glory. With all the description of jewels and beauty, we are meant to see that God’s city come to earth will reflect God’s glory.
-The city is described as surrounded by a great wall. A wall communicates security, protection and strength. In God’s kingdom, His people will be perfectly secure.
-The city has 12 gates. Gates represent access. Each gate inscribed with the names of the 12 sons of Israel. Then you have 12 foundations, with the names of the 12 apostles inscribed. Putting these together, we see the continuity and the connection between the OT and the NT. The access to God comes only through God Himself making that covenant with man. And that covenant is fulfilled and access grated through faith in Christ alone.
-The city is full of jewels. This points us back to the tabernacle of Moses. In the Old Testament, the High Priest had a very specific outfit he would wear, which included 12 jewels on his breastplate. This picture is meant to not only cause us to see how grand and big and beautiful and wealthy our God is, but the connection to the High Priest, who was a foreshadow of Christ, reminds us that this whole city is meant to point us to the Lamb.
There will be no temple, because Jesus is our final sacrifice. There will be no sun or moon because Jesus will be the eternal light. There will be no locked gates because Jesus is our Shepherd who makes us dwell in safety. There will be nothing unclean, for God’s kingdom is a place where only righteousness dwells. That’s what we have to look forward to, church. Heaven come to earth, God will be with His people, and His people with God, never to be separated again. That’s what Jesus has prepared for you.
1. What are some details or descriptions of the new heaven and earth bring you encouragement in trials and struggles right now? Why?
2. How does Revelation 21 bring God’s covenant with man to full completion? What are some hints in this chapter that point back to the Old Testament?
3. How can the holiness of God’s coming kingdom inspire us pursue sanctification now?