Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Revelation 21:1-4 A New Heaven and New Earth: Eden 2.0


KEY TEXT: Revelation 21:1-4 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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. 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."

KEY THOT: The Millennial Reign (a.k.a. Millennium) will take place on old planet earth existing under the old heavens (the present universe of billions of galaxies & stars). It will be a mixed blessings where Christ rules from Jerusalem as King of kings and Lord of lords with all the saints. Believers will be co-heirs with Christ over the nations. The Millennium is not the New World Order (consummated Kingdom of God) for it involves elements of the Old World Order--sinful humanity living on the old earth under the old heaven. This old world order will be completely destroyed before the New World Order can be revealed: "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed...  waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which 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 (brand new Creation) and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:10-13). 

Paul mentions this new reality when he compares the suffering of believers with the birth-pains of the old creation: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now" (Romans 8:18-22). The consummated Kingdom of God is not just a new redeemed people under Christ but will include a new glorious Creation.

Revelation 21 introduces an entirely New World Order--a new redeemed humanity coming dwelling on a new earth under a new heaven, a restoration of Edenic Paradise 2.0: "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." And the new redeemed humanity (Bride of Christ) that has been dwelling with Christ in the new Jerusalem during the Millennium will be taken up out of the old earth to Heaven before the old earth and old heaven is completely destroyed and dissolved. When the new heaven (universe) and new earth come into being, the Bride of Christ in heaven will descend onto this new earth (Eden 2.0): "coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (v.2). This is the new house that Jesus has prepared for His Bride.

In this new fusion reality where heaven and earth are one contiguous reality, the dwelling of God is no longer just "up there" but "down here", for space-time will be an irrelevant concept: "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. 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." This is the ultimate destiny for the redeemed in Christ. We won't be "up there" in heaven but heaven will come down to earth. So will the Lord's Prayer be answered: "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt 6:10). This consummation of God's kingdom will not last for 1,000 years but forever and ever. Praise be to God!

In the meantime, we have an important task to do. Not engaging in self-preservation "programmes" but to be witnesses and ambassadors of this new spiritual reality in which we partly experience through the Holy Spirit, as Paul describes in Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Our life mission must not be limited to this old world order, for everything we store up here and build up here will one day be burned up and dissolved in the Great Fire. Instead, we should invest our time and money in the souls of men and women which are eternal. Whatever houses and buildings we now own, whatever wealth we have now stored in our bank accounts, and whatever gold bars we have kept in our safe deposit-boxes will one day be gone. Absolutely nothing will remain when God burns up the entire Universe. Only our souls remain and will enter this eternal home of a new heaven and new earth.

May this vision of our ultimate destiny keep us focused on what really matters and on what is really real.

Abba-Father, what a joy to know our ultimate destiny is this new heaven and new earth which You have prepared for the Bride of Your Son, Jesus Christ. May You continue to help us re-order our priorities, so that we may invest in eternal realities that will last forever. Amen. 

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