How Now Shall We Live? – Revelation 21:1-22:6 07/25/21 (Change of plans)

How Now Shall We Live? – Revelation 21:1-22:6 07/25/21


Our text today is admittedly long. That’s probably appropriate since it introduces us to “eternity.” The text is Revelation 21:1 – 22:6, which I encourage you to read through. Chapter 21 begins with the now familiar words, “and I saw.”[1] But the first word in the verse, is translated as “now.” That’s a mistake, it’s literally the logical connective “and” (καί)[2] which tells us that this passage should be understood to logically follow on the heels of the material introduced in Revelation 20:11.


As we look at the world around us, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that our current heaven and earth were, initially, intended to be our permanent home.[3] It feels as if, somehow, mankind’s sin against God was a surprise and He had to shift from Plan A to Plan B. That’s incorrect. God was not surprised by our sin, and the plan to address it was in place before He even began the creative process. Ultimately, God knew that what He had made would need to be replaced to ultimately deal with the problem of sin.


Jesus’ death addressed the penalty of the sin, the Holy Spirit breaks the power of sin in our lives, and ultimately the Father will address the presence of sin. No trace of evil, in any form, will remain in the New Creation.[4] The opening verses of chapter 21 give us a brief description of the New Heavens and the New Earth.[5] As monumental as this is, we are given an amazingly small amount of information regarding what this will be like.[6] Personally, I cannot help but wonder if that might be because it’s simply too wonderful for us to comprehend? I suppose the message from God is, “Trust me on this.”


Replacing the first creation is a new creation that is qualitatively different.[7] The word “new” (καινός) is normally used to indicate newness in terms of quality, not simply replacing one with another of the same kind.[8] The new creation will be qualitatively different from the old one.[9]


It is an interesting detail that the New Jerusalem is pictured “coming down from heaven” rather than being included in what’s being created new.[10] This begs the question, has New Jerusalem been in existence all along?[11] Some biblical interpreters understand Jesus’ words in John 14:2-3 to be referring to this city.[12] We could certainly spend a lot of time speculating, but we would be no closer to solid answers. The Scriptures simply do not tell us. Now what we do know is the sting of death is permanently removed; Revelation 21:4.


Because of Adam’s sin, and our very successful track record of following in his footsteps, there are consequences. Even in salvation the consequences of sin remain a reality in the life of each of us. Death and pain, loss and suffering, are a part of life. That will not last forever. In eternity God’s people will experience an intimacy with God, the Source of life, which is impossible today in a world where sin and death are still present.[13] The new order of things will be free of sorrow, pain, and yes, even death.[14]


The One who brings these universal changes to our experience is the same One who died for our sins, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the first One and the last One, the Alpha and Omega.[15] All of the people of God, all those saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, along with the heavens and earth, will be transformed into a new creation.[16] The essence of our salvations is nothing less than living in intimate, personal, relationship with God.[17] Now God’s plan of redemption is complete, it was initiated with the declaration that man’s sin had been atoned for in John 19:30. Now, not only is the penalty of sin addressed, and its power broken, now the presence of sin is gone as well.


The descent of the New Jerusalem is explained as being that which facilitates God now dwelling with His people.[18] Now the emphasis is on the inner life of the City.[19] Paradise lost is now paradise regained.[20] It all centers on God, the source of life, pictured as flowing from His presence to the city, to His people.[21] This is essentially a restatement of Revelation 21:1-8 in very much the same way we saw the three judgment cycles of seven restated from different perspectives.[22]


The overall impression that we get about the city is language expressing the brilliance of jewels.[23] It is almost certain that the beauty of the city has symbolic meaning, and John’s vision gives us no interpretation.[24] The symbolic language surrounding New Jerusalem and the description of the city could engross us for a couple of weeks. Suffice it to say it conveys a feel of grandeur and glory, whether it is literally a cube or not… I don’t know.


It is, however, reasonable to understand that this is where the saints will live, and we can therefore expect that, regardless of the details, it is a literal future city that God provides for His people.[25] Even though we’re left with more questions than answers, what we do come away with is that our future state will be filled with beauty and glory.[26]


It’s easy to get bogged down in all the details, but let’s not miss the point.[27] Jesus is coming back, and He will take us to be with Him.[28]


This will happen when it happens.


Regardless of the time, regardless of the trials and suffering of this life, these will fade into insignificance in light of the glories of that new place. What John’s does is pointedly reveal that all peoples, accepted based in their faith in Jesus, are now a part of true-Israel’s redemptive blessing.[29] In our final glorified state death will no longer be a part of our experience, we will never again experience grief, or sorrow, or pain.[30] The “curse” of “death” and all that it entails, which first entered humanity’s experience in the first Eden, will be removed in the last Eden.[31]


Now… are you on track for admittance? How you answer this question in your heart of hearts is more important than anything else you could ever do. The answer to that question should inform everything you do for the rest of your life.

[1] John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 983. [2]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 21:9. [3] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 592. [4] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 593. [5] John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 983. [6] John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 983. [7] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 1040. [8] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 1040. [9] Bruce Metzger, revised by David De Silva, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.: 2019), 128. [10] John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 984. [11] John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 984. [12] John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 984. [13] John F.