Summary: 1) The Appearance (Rev. 21:1), 2) The Capital (Rev. 21:2), 3) The Supreme Reality (Rev.21:3), 4) The Changes (Rev. 21:4-6a), 5) The Residents (Rev. 21:6b–7), and 6) The Outcasts from the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Rev.21:8)
On Monday evening at the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, Stephen Harper promised Israelis that “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.” The prime minister explained that his unprecedented and unmatched support for Israel is not about political calculation, but rather a “moral imperative” and “a matter of strategic importance,”. He talked about the future of Jerusalem as “a matter of [Canada’s] own, long-term interests.” (http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/01/23/father-raymond-j-de-souza-on-harpers-trip-to-israel-the-flame-shall-not-consume-you/)
Our relationship with the heavenly Jerusalem is a matter of our long-term interests. Desiring heaven exerts a powerful influence on believers’ lives here on earth. The John gave the practical effect this should have on believers’ lives: “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3; cf. 2 Pet. 3:14). A genuine and strong longing for heaven also produces the highest and noblest Christian character. Those who spend much time meditating on heavenly things cannot help but have their lives transformed. It brings joy and comfort in trials. Those who focus on heaven’s glories can endure anything in this life and not lose their joy. When they suffer, they can say with Paul, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor.4:17). It is also a preservative against sin. Those who set their minds on things above are less likely to become ensnared by earthly temptations. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:5–6). A genuine and strong longing for heaven will also maintain the vigor of believers’ spiritual service. Those who are negligent in the Lord’s work and make only a token, minimal effort to serve Him, demonstrate little regard for eternal things. They foolishly think that the reward for pursuing earthly things is greater than that for pursuing heavenly things. Finally, a genuine and strong longing for heaven honors God above everything else. Those who focus on heaven focus on the Supreme One in heaven. By setting their hearts on Him, they honor the One whose heart is set on them.
Revelation 21:1-8 unfolds six features of the final and eternal heaven, called the new heaven and the new earth: 1) The Appearance of the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Revelation 21:1), 2) The Capital of the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Revelation 21:2), 3) The Supreme Reality of the New Heaven and the New Earth(Revelation 21:3), 4) The Changes in the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Revelation 21:4-6a), 5) The Residents of the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Revelation 21:6b–7), and 6) The Outcasts from the New Heaven and the New Earth. Revelation 21:8).
1) The Appearance of the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21:1)
Revelation 21:1 [21:1]Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (ESV)
The phrase kai eidon (I saw) is used throughout Revelation to indicate chronological progression (cf. 6:1, 2, 5, 8, 12; 7:2; 8:2, 13; 9:1; 10:1; 13:1, 11; 14:1, 6, 14; 15:1; 16:13; 17:3; 19:11, 17, 19; 20:1, 4, 11). It has introduced each of the climactic events beginning with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in 19:11.
Please turn to Isaiah 65 (p.624)
As chapter 21 opens, all the sinners of all the ages, as well as Satan and his demons, have been sentenced to the lake of fire, as we saw last week from Rev. 20:10–15. With all the ungodly people and fallen angels banished forever and the present universe will be destroyed (20:11), and God will create a new realm for the redeemed and the holy angels to dwell in forever.
The phrase a new heaven and a new earth derives from two passages in Isaiah. In Isaiah 65 God declared:
Isaiah 65:17-19 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. (ESV)
Kainos (new) does not mean new in a chronological sense, but new in a qualitative sense. The new heaven and the new earth will not merely succeed the present universe in chronological sequence; they will be something brand new, fresh, never before seen. God must create a new heaven and a new earth because the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. God originally created the earth to be suitable as mankind’s permanent home. The entrance of sin, however, corrupted the earth and the universe, and God will destroy them (cf. 20:11). What lies ahead for the earth is not a nuclear or an ecological holocaust, but a divine judgment.