Summary: When heaven comes down one last time our world is changed forever.
“When Heaven Comes Down…Our World Is Changed”
Christmas is over. Weeks, if not months, of advertising, shopping, planning, and anticipation have come to an end. What’s left is cleaning up, catching up, and – for some – paying up. Within a few short weeks there will be a return to normalcy – whatever that normalcy looks like, different as it is for each of us. And the reality is that normalcy is not necessarily a good thing. The overt acts of kindness lessen, politeness dims, peacefulness fades, love weakens and a world of competition kicks into full gear. Nations still war against each other, religions still fight one another, and Christians still harass one another. Witnessing is still difficult and Christians are still opposed in the public square. Nothing appears to have changed, even though we celebrated that in Jesus’ birth heaven came fully down.
Revelation was written for just such a people – a people for whom being Christian had lost its shine, who are discouraged about the state of the church and the world, who are threatened by opposition, who wonder if Jesus will ever really change our world. After all, there was a Roman military presence everywhere they looked, taxes were high, poverty was rampant, unemployment was on the rise, and famine was becoming more common. As if that was not enough, the Roman government was beginning to show its intolerance of Christians. That, in fact, was why John had been banished to the Island of Patmos, where God gave him this mighty revelation. This revelation was written down so that, through its symbolism, the Christians might know how God was at work and would be working history out according to His purpose. And this glorious vision climaxes in one final episode of heaven coming down to earth. And when it does, our world is changed.
How is it changed? First, there will be A RE-FORMATION. Verse 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.” As the prophet Isaiah had prophesied, there will be A NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH. (65:17-23) “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy. I will rejoice over and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more. “No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only the cursed will die that young! In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will long enjoy their hard-won gains. They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they will be blessed by the LORD, and their children, too, will be blessed.” Revelation 21 shows how this grand vision comes to complete fulfillment.
Our world will be changed. Notice the seas as we know them will be gone. This new earth and heaven will have a different climate and be made of a different substance. As well, the sea represented evil so John’s vision communicates that evil will be gone, a thing of the past. It will all be so grand, said Isaiah, that we will not even think about what used to be.
How will this be? Verse 2: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” THIS NEW CITY WILL COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN. What will this heavenly earthly city be like? It will be PREPARED AS A BEAUTIFUL BRIDE. Why this image of a bride? The bride stands for perfection and beauty. Earthly brides are astonishingly beautiful. Can you imagine the heavenly bride? There is a heavenly beauty we cannot begin to comprehend.
The entire city will be beyond our imagination. Verses 9-21 describe this new place in great detail. Time does not suffice to examine all the preciseness of this construction, but here’s what the imagery stands for. The gates and walls (12-14) signify that HEAVEN IS SECURE and protected. Just think of all the security measures that exist in our world. OB units have strict security to be sure mom and baby do not get separated. We child-proof our houses and our medicine-containers. Our schools have security measures in place. Our airports have security measures in place. But heaven is secure. No one and nothing destructive or evil will ever enter. So there will be no fear.