The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH
- The expression “And I saw” is found continually throughout the book of Revelation (cf. 19:11, 17, 19; 20:1, 4, 11, 12; 21:1, 22).
- This indicates a new prophecy, following the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).
- Revelation 21 teaches that there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
- These will replace the old heaven and the old earth (cf. Revelation 20:11).
- The new heaven and new earth presented here are not simply the old heaven and earth renovated, but an act of new creation.
- There are several references in the Bible which teach that this present world will be destroyed (Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17; 21:33; II Peter 3:10, 11).
- This present earth and heaven, the scene of the struggle with Satan and sin, shall be displaced by an entirely new order suited for eternity.
- John Walvoord says, "The whole structure of the universe is operating on the principle of a clock that is running down. Though many billions of years would be required to accomplish this, the natural world would eventually come to a state of total inactivity if the physical laws of the universe as now understood should remain unchanged. What could be simpler than for God to create a new heaven and a new earth by divine fiat in keeping with His purposes for eternity to come?" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- In other words, the clock is slowly running down, but God is going to pull the plug on the clock!
- No description is given of either the new heaven or the new earth in Revelation 20:1 except for the statement, “There was no more sea.”
- Today, more than three quarters of the earth is covered by the oceans, but the new earth apparently will have no bodies of water except for the river mentioned in Revelation 22:2.
- I have to admit I have always been a little bothered by that statement in Revelation 21:1, "and there was no more sea," because I love the ocean.
- I read something the other day by a preacher (in heaven now) named Ray Stedman that I found very interesting. He said, "A man said to me last week, 'I don't think I'm going to like the new heavens and the new earth, because I love the ocean.' I understand that feeling. I love the ocean too. But the one reason we have a salt sea that covers more than half of this planet is because it is God's great antiseptic to cleanse the earth and make life possible on earth. Had it not been for the ocean, and the salt in it particularly, life on this planet would have ceased many centuries ago. It is the ocean that purges, cleanses, and preserves it. The sea is an antiseptic in which all the pollution and filth that man pours into it is absorbed, cleansed and changed. But there will be no more pollution, no more filth, no more need for cleansing in the new universe. Though we are not told this, I think there will be large bodies of fresh water, larger even perhaps than the Great Lakes, that we may enjoy in that new heavens and new earth" (Bible Studies in the Book of Revelation).
- Only a few other passages in the Bible deal with the subject of the new heaven and the new earth, and these are often in a context dealing with the millennial kingdom (cf. Isa. 65:17; 66:22; II Peter 3:13).
- Referring to these three passages, John Walvoord says, "The fact that millennial truths are mentioned in the same context in all three of these major references has often confused expositors. However, it is a common principle in prophecy to bring together events that are distantly related chronologically, such as frequent reference to the first and second comings of Christ, actually separated by thousands of years (Isa. 61:1-2; cf. Luke 4:17-19)...If all the passages are put together, the sequence of events becomes plain, and the allusions to the new heaven and the new earth are clearly set forth in the book of Revelation as following the millennial kingdom and immediately preceded by the destruction of the old earth and heaven, as previously mentioned" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- Referring to our Lord's millennial kingdom, Psalm 72:8 says, "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea." Therefore, Revelation 21:1 must refer to the eternal state which will follow the millennial kingdom.
- Zechariah 9:10 says the same thing: "His dominion shall be from sea even to sea."
- Other millennial prophecies which speak of the sea include Isaiah 11:9, 11; Ezekiel 47:10, 15, 17, 18, 20; 48:28; and Zechariah 14:8).
- Walvoord says, "Therefore it is easy to distinguish the difference between the millennial kingdom and the eternal state which will follow"(The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- And, "the evidence of Revelation 21:1 is so specific that most commentators do not question that the eternal state is here in view" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
THE VISION OF THE NEW JERUSALEM (21:2)
- After mentioning the new heaven and the new earth, John says, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (21:2).
- Back in Revelation 11:8, the earthly Jerusalem is referred to as "Sodom and Egypt." Here we see a contrast -- the new Jerusalem is referred to as “the holy city, new Jerusalem.”
- Jerusalem is called "the holy city" in Nehemiah 11:1 and 11:18.
- It's also called "the holy city" by Isaiah and Daniel.
- It is called “the holy city” in Matthew 4:5 and 27:53.
- But the picture changes when we get to the book of Revelation. The old Jerusalem has been polluted and corrupted, and God's people look to the new Jerusalem.
- Revelation 3:12 refers to “the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God.”
- The new Jerusalem will come down from God out of heaven. The language seems to imply that it has been in existence in heaven prior to this event.
- This could be what our Lord meant when He said in John 14:2, “I go to prepare a place for you.”
- Many of the Scriptures which people associate with heaven are actually prophecies describing the new Jerusalem (cf. 21:21).
- Some Bible teachers think that the new Jerusalem will be suspended above the earth during the millennial reign of Christ, but this is speculative and is not clearly taught in the Bible.
- The new Jerusalem is contrasted with the earthly Jerusalem.
- And just as the false bride, "Mystery Babylon the Great" (Rev. 17 & 18), was both a city (Rome) and a woman, the new Jerusalem is also called both a city and a woman (21:2).
GOD WILL DWELL WITH MEN (21:3, 4)
- There are twenty-one references to “a great voice” or “a loud voice” in the book of Revelation, and Revelation 21:3 is the last one.
- The voice declares, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men” (21:3). Before King Solomon built his temple, the tabernacle (tent) of God in the wilderness is where God dwelt.
- Of course God is omnipresent and cannot be restricted to a tabernacle. King Solomon acknowledged this in his prayer of dedication. He said in First Kings 8:27, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?"
- The book of Hebrews and the book of Revelation also refer to the tabernacle of God in heaven (Rev. 13:6; 15:5).
- The tabernacle in the wilderness was patterned after the temple in heaven (cf. Ex. 25:40; Hebrews 8:4, 5).
- "The tabernacle of God is with men" (Revelation 21:3) signifies that God will be present with men in the new earth and in the new Jerusalem -- “And He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
- The word for “dwell” is the verb form for the noun translated “tabernacle.”
- John 1:14 says, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt ("tabernacled") among us." The word translated "dwelt" means, "to set up a tabernacle."
- In contrast to their former suffering, God is stated to “wipe away all tears from their eyes” (21:4; cf. 7:13-17).
- "And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (21:4b).
- Not only will the old earth and heaven pass away, but all those things associated with the old earth -- death, sorrow, crying, and pain -- will vanish.
- All those things which bring sadness, and which would mar the situation in the new heaven and the new earth, will be gone forever.
GOD WILL MAKE ALL THINGS NEW (21:5, 6)
- Verse 5 tells us that the Lord Himself is now speaking. And John is instructed in verse 5: “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
- It is not stated if it is God the Father speaking or the Lord Jesus Christ. First Cor. 15:24 says that at the end of the millennial kingdom, Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God the Father.
- However, the voice from the throne of God says in verse 6: “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”
- In Revelation 1:8 and 11, the Lord Jesus Christ is called the "Alpha and Omega," emphasizing that He is eternal -- the first and the last (cf. 22:12, 13).
- These are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.
- Three promises are made in verses 6 and 7.
- "I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." This refers to the abundant blessings which flow from our salvation (cf. John 4:13-14; 7:37-39).
- "He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Rev. 21:7; cf. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). To be an overcomer you must be saved (cf. I John 5:4, 5).
- "And I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (21:7). Are you a child of God? (II Cor. 6:17, 18). Some people say they are children of God but they live like children of the devil.
- Some one said that the book of Romans is the book of the "much mores" (Romans 5:9 and 10 says, "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.") and the book of Revelation is the book of the no mores."
- Revelation 7:16 says there will be no more hunger.
- Revelation 18:21 says there will be no more Babylon.
- Revelation 20:3 says there will be no more Satan.
- Revelation 21:1 says there shall be no more sea.
- Revelation 21:4 says there shall be no more death, and no more sorrow, and no more crying, and no more pain.
- Revelation 21:22 and 23 says, "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
- Revelation 22:3 says, "And there shall be no more curse."