Revelation 21: 1
Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
Isaiah 65: 17-19; 25
‘See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice for ever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more....
...The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,’
says the Lord.
Yesterday we saw that Heaven is the invisible/spiritual world which is all around us, as well as that part of it where God lives and rules and reigns. So that’s where heaven is right now.
The next question is therefore: IS THIS THE HEAVEN WHERE WE WILL SPEND ETERNITY?
As Christians, we often talk about spending eternity with God, in Heaven. We ask, 'If you died right now, would you go to Heaven?'
In one sense, this is right, and yet as we study the Bible we see that our eternal destination, the final heaven we long for – isn’t heaven at all, but it’s something much more material and substantial and solid.
Revelation 19 and 20 make it very clear that one day Jesus is going to come back, He will return to earth, defeat and destroy all that is evil and opposed to God once and for all.
“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.” (Rev 20: 10)
Then the dead will rise, every person who has ever lived will stand before the throne for judgement, and those who belong to God are taken to be with Him for all eternity.
“I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…..each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire… Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20: 12)
So everything that is anti-God, everything evil, impure, sinful and unrepentant is gone, it’s removed from God’s creation. There’s been a purging, a clearing out. The Devil and Death are destroyed.
As hard as some of this language is, as I said last week, if we want the new, we’ve got to get rid of the old. If we want a place which has no sin or violence or abuse or hatred or any other evil – then that stuff has to go somewhere, it has to be dealt with, it must be destroyed.
And so all that is left is God and those who belong to Him. His people and His angels. And now He creates, or recreates, the place, the new home for us, where we will spend eternity with Him.
Look at Revelation 21: 1:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
John sees this vision, the curtain is pulled back on the future, and he sees that one day, when all is said and done here on earth, one day - there is going to be a new heaven and a new earth.
There are two words for ‘new’ in the Greek – NEOS and KAINOS. In the book of Genesis when God first created the world, it was NEOS – something new which has never existed before. Totally new in every way. Like buying a site and building a house from scratch – it would be a Neos house – completely new.
The other word for new is KAINOS – which means ‘that which is better than the old.’ Some of you will have heard of 'upcycling'. It’s taking waste or stuff that’s been used up and instead of throwing it away, it is converted or re-created into something useful or beautiful. The upcycled items are new, and yet they aren’t new. The bear some continuity with their past. They are a re-creation of a former creation. It is KAINOS – new.
The Bible teaches that one day there will be a new heaven and earth. But God isn’t going to completely destroy or throw out the old heaven and earth. Rather it will be KAINOS – it will be a re-creation of creation, a total makeover, which bears some continuity to the creation we have now, but which is vastly improved and superior in every way.
So when you think about it, the story of the Bible doesn’t go from beginning to end, but from beginning to new beginning.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this earth needs a new start, that this creation we currently live in isn’t all it was designed to be. It’s wearing out, it’s not working like it should.
Our bodies are getting older and as they do – they slow down, they decay, things don’t function as good as they used to. We can get all the plastic surgery we want, we can eat healthy and exercise, we can wear the best anti-aging cream – but our bodies continue to age and wear out and fall apart.
And creation is exactly the same.
We tend to think about sin and salvation as only being about me and my soul. We think of sin as just affecting humans. But when Adam and Eve sinned and fell, the curse that sin brought didn’t just affect men and women – the whole of creation was affected and infected by sin. It became cursed. Every single part of it. The environment, the ecosystem, the seas and land and crops. All of it is ruined to some degree by sin.
That’s why in Romans 8: 19-22 Paul writes:
“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (19-22)
We live in a fallen creation, an earth which is decaying and dying, just as the human body as it gets older decays and eventually dies. That’s why we have earthquakes and tsunamis and famine and floods and volcanoes and hurricanes. Creation wars against us. Creation has been affected and infected by sin.
But God makes it very clear - one day He is going to take this whole entire creation – heaven and earth - and He’s going to redeem it, renew it. He’s going to make it completely new. Not just back to the way it was before – but even better, vastly superior, perfect in every way, all evil removed, no longer cursed, abundant and fruitful and fulfilling its fullest potential.