“I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and 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 from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away.”
Beloved, these things are closer than we think. They are not obvious to the uninitiated and are not outside the bounds of present reality. The Lord lingers, that the elect will be gathered in, but His footstep hovers on the threshold of the door. The end will come and the LORD will be exalted and we bless His glorious name for that fact. We wait with great expectation, every day could be the last, and the things of this world pale into less and less significance. We must be ready – our households must be ready as in the days of the Passover. We must be ready to flee.
“Let you be dressed and your lamps burning. Be like men watching for their lord, when he returns from the wedding feast; that when he comes and knocks, they may immediately open to him. Blessed are those servants whom the lord will find watching when he comes. Most certainly I tell you that he will dress himself, make them recline, and will come and serve them. They will be blessed if he comes in the second or third watch, and finds them so. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore be ready also, for the Son of Man is coming in an hour that you don’t expect him.”
The earth has passed away and we see into another new domain, the heavenly scene where the new heaven and new earth has been constituted. All divisions have gone and there is a new reason for living and being. We do not know what that will be like, for we would not understand it in this body and mind. We must wait for the glorified body and the renewed mind.
John sees the holy city, The New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, adorned with the gold of Ophir for her wedding day. A loud voice announces the arrival of the bride, which is the entire body of the people of God. Death has long been annihilated from their psyche and all tears, mourning sorrow and pain has passed away, never to be remembered any more. All the things of this life that we remember now and that hurt us will not even enter our minds and we will be taken up with the beauty of Christ and each other as we stand in His glorious presence. This is the day we have waited for all our Christians lives and this is the day when we will fully enter into our inheritance of the saints of God.
“Listen, daughter, consider, and turn your ear. Forget your own people, and also your father’s house. So the king will desire your beauty, honour him, for he is your lord. The daughter of Tyre comes with a gift. The rich among the people entreat your favour. The princess inside is all glorious. Her clothing is interwoven with gold. She shall be led to the king in embroidered work. The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to you. With gladness and rejoicing they shall be led. They shall enter into the king’s palace.”
It is difficult for us to think about how different heaven could be or what the reality of the scene in the vision will be like. We cannot visualise it, nor should we try to do so, for it is outside the bounds of our understanding at present. We have not received our glorified bodies and minds and therefore are not prepared for that glorious time. We think about it with longing and with desire, for it is the sure and certain hope of the Christian believer. It goes beyond the grave, the grave is beaten already and death is already vanquished, so we look beyond in the light of the day of heaven and rejoice. Our dearly Belovèd will be there and we will see Him face to face and speak with Him in person.
We look at this scene sparingly for we must endure the troubles of this life and overcome them to receive the reward in that better land. There will be rewards and crowns and we shall lay them at the feet of Him who made it all possible for us to do what we did for Him and for His people. We keep our eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, and the one who will bring us safely to that heavenly shore.
“But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels, to the festal gathering and assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better than that of Abel.”
In the troubles of this life and present reality, we lift our minds eye to that glorious time and know that we will be there, because of our Saviour. This is the source our comfort when all earthly lights go out and all comforts in this world fades. When others leave, we know He will never leave us and will bring us safely to our heavenly home. This is the Christian’s great hope. This situation will not last and God will one day lift us high and give us our full and free salvation of body, mind and soul. We struggle as yet, but only for a short time. Our doubts and fears are not forever, and deliverance is near. Sin will not always trouble us, and one day it will be gone for good. Until then, we fight and pray and obey the Lord in all things.
“What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!”