Summary: We experience the renewal of the new heaven and new earth by thirsting for God and overcoming through faith in Jesus.
Christians frequently speak of “going to heaven.” And that is certainly appropriate. But the much more common picture in Scripture is that of heaven coming down to us. In fact the Bible is framed by two instances of heaven coming down to earth. In Genesis God comes down to earth and walks with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. And in the last two chapters of Revelation we see heaven coming down to us so that once again God can have intimate fellowship with His children.
In between those two events, we find a number of times when heaven comes down to earth. Obviously the most important and notable of those occurrences is the incarnation of Jesus where God takes on a body of flesh in order to bring heaven down to earth and dwell among His people.
This morning, we’ll be introduced to that final time that heaven will come down to man. Turn in your Bibles to Revelation 21 and follow along as I begin reading in verse 1:
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. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “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. 4 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.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Here in this passage, we have a picture of an unbelievable renewal that will take place when heaven comes down to God’s children. There are three major aspects of that renewal that are revealed to us in this passage.
When heaven comes down, God’s children will experience:
• A renewed inhabitance
The first thing that we discover in this passage is that God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth. This is a direct fulfillment of the words of God given to the prophet Isaiah:
For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
Isaiah 65:17 (ESV)
There are actually two different words in Greek that can be translated “new”. The word “neos” indicates something that is new chronologically and is in contrast to something that is old. For instance, if I were to go down to the local auto dealership and purchase a brand new automobile, it would be “neos.”. But the word that is used here in Revelation is the Greek word “kainos”. It is used to describe something that is new qualitatively. If I were to take an old automobile and restore it to like new condition, it would be “kainos”.
So when God says that He is going to make all things new and create a new heaven and a new earth, the idea is that it will be qualitatively new and fresh. Certainly after all of the destruction that we have seen throughout the book of Revelation, God will need to make everything new in order to prepare it to be our eternal home. Although we don’t know exactly how and when God is going to do all this, we do get a few clues from Scripture, including these words written by Peter:
… the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:12-13 (ESV)
As we’ve discussed before the current creation has been corrupted by man’s sin so that it is no longer the perfect place that Adam and Even enjoyed before the fall. That’s what Paul is describing in Romans 8: