A New Heaven And New Earth Series
Contributed by Jeff Strite on Jan 29, 2022 (message contributor)
Summary: What does it mean that God is going to create a New Heaven? And what difference can it make to my life that He has promised that to me?
A little boy got on the elevator in the Empire State Building in New York City. He and his daddy started to the top. The boy watched the signs flashing as they went by the floors: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70. And the boy began to get nervous. He took his daddy’s hand and said, “Daddy, does God know we’re coming?” (Leighton Ford, “Hope for a Great Forever,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 96)
Does God know we’re coming? Of course He does… He’s been planning this for centuries. And Christians have had hopes pinned to heaven ever since Jesus rose from dead.
ILLUS: Early Christians built their lives around looking forward to Heaven. Many of the 1st century Christian martyrs were buried in the Roman catacombs, and those underground caverns had walls were filled with inscriptions like this: “In Christ, Alexander is not dead, but lives. One who lives with God. He was taken up into His eternal home.” One historian wrote, “Pictures on the catacomb walls portrayed Heaven with beautiful landscapes, children playing, and people feasting at banquets.” (Ulrich Simon, Heaven in the Christian Tradition – London: Wyman and Sons, 1958, p. 218)
There are numerous songs we sing that declare that same excitement: “I'm satisfied with just a cottage below, a little silver and a little gold. But in that city where the ransomed will shine. I want a gold one that's silver lined. (Chorus) I've got a mansion just over the hilltop. In that bright land where we'll never grow old. And some day yonder we will never more wander, but walk on streets that are purest gold.”
AND “I was once a sinner, but I came pardon to receive from my Lord. This was freely given and I found, that He always kept His word. (Chorus) There's a new name written down in glory and it's mine, oh yes, it's mine. And the white-robed angels sing the story "A sinner has come home!" There's a new name written down in glory and it's mine, oh yes, it's mine. With my sins forgiven I am bound for Heaven, never more to roam.”
Heaven is a place to get excited about. It won’t be boring or monotonous or dreary. Oh no! It’s going to be vibrant and thrilling and exhilarating. Whatever experiences you’ve had on earth won’t even compare to what it’s going to be like in heaven.
Now, with that thought in mind I want to go back to our text. Revelation 21 gives us a stunning portrayal of what heaven will be like, and in these few verses we read this: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. 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 every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Revelation 21:3-5
Now, let’s take this a little bit at a time. I want to start with God’s declaration: “The former things have passed away… Behold I’m making all things new.”
ILLUS: Have you ever watched a show called “Extreme Home Makeover? The idea is that that take the home of a family that has facing hardship and give it a radical makeover. The house usually is sad shape, but by the time the team is done everything is made new and the family is ecstatic.
That’s a great concept. But even after the home receives this extreme makeover, that house will eventually get older and older and shabbier and shabbier. The passage of time takes its toll. But that’s not going to happen in heaven. Heaven will always be new… it will never need a made-over.
But notice - Revelation says this is a NEW heaven and a NEW earth. God is gonna give us something that was never available before. It will all be new!!! You seem Heaven (as a destination) wasn’t available before. In the Old Testament those who died were NEVER spoken of as going to heaven. The Bible either said they went to the grave (or Sheol, as in Psalm 88:3-5), or that they were “Gathered to their Fathers” (as in Judges 2:10). But never heaven. And their tombs weren’t decorated with pictures of landscapes and children and banquets. The walls were bare.
You see, before Jesus came, Hebrews 2:14 tells us that Satan held the power of death. Everyone who died (before Christ) was held under the control of Satan. The dead were literally cut off… from God.
Hebrews 11 tells us of some of the great heroes of faith in the Old Testament. But then it says: “And all these (Old Testament heroes), though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40