Sermon on Revelation 21:1-5
Text: 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. 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. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Have you ever started to make something and, when it didn’t work out, you had to start all over again? For example, you follow the directions for making a cake, but for some reason it didn’t turn out right, and you end up making something else. Or you are balancing your checkbook, and the numbers you have don’t match up with what the bank says. So, you start from the beginning re-figuring all of your numbers. There are quite a few times when you have to start all over again and, I’m sure, there are many times when you wish you could. We would like to make everything new. These are examples from everyday life. Our text also speaks of making something new. We will see that JESUS IS MAKING EVERYTHING NEW FOR US. 1. A New Home 2. A New Relationship and 3. A New Confidence.
Before we start talking about the fact that Jesus will make everything new, we need to look at why everything needs to be made new. The fault does not lie with God. In the examples of the fallen cake or the unbalanced checkbook, the fault lies with us. We do something wrong. God, however, created all things perfectly. At the end of creation, we are told, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good..” (Genesis 1:31) Another way to translate the words “very good” is “perfect.” Everything was originally made perfectly. What caused the perfect world to need to be re-created?
The cause was sin. When sin entered the world, it ruined the perfect creation of God. Not only did it cause trouble in the physical creation, it also ruined the relationship man had with God. Everything was ruined and needed to be made new. The first thing that is spoken of creating anew is found in verse one, “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 we said earlier, the heavens and the earth, that is all creation, was ruined by sin. We see the effects of sin everywhere we look. God told Adam, after he fell into sin, that the earth would produce thorns and thistles. Those thorns are a reminder of sin. Any rust or decay is a result of sin in the world. As Paul writes in Romans 8:20-22, “Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
When the Last Day comes, the earth will be set free from its bondage. A new heaven and a new earth will be created. Whether this means that God will completely destroy everything and create as he did in Genesis 1 or he will return everything to its state of perfection, we do not know. What we do know is that it will all be as new and fresh, as when God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We cannot fully imagine a world completely free of the effects of sin. Our minds are colored by the experiences that we have had. There are so many beautiful pictures of heaven that we can only stand in awe and wonder. When the Last Day comes, Jesus will make a new heaven and a new earth for us to inhabit.
As beautiful as that restoration is, Jesus tells us of one that is sweetest music to our ears. In verse two, John describes this scene, “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 verse might, at first, may cause us to wonder what John is talking about. Will the city of Jerusalem be rebuilt? There is nothing in the rest of the Scriptures that would indicate this. Rather, this new Jerusalem is the believers who are with the Lord forever. We say this for a number of reasons. The first is the following verses, which we will look at later. The second reason comes from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Here, Paul uses the picture of a bride and groom to describe the close relationship between Christ and the Holy Christian Church. Both the passage from Ephesians and verse two of our text speak of the way the bride is beautifully dressed for her groom.
We will be brought into that relationship with Christ. We often think of the marriage relationship as being the closest one on this earth. Mankind was in a closer one. This was a relationship with God, before the fall into sin. Adam and Eve were perfectly in step with God. They wanted what he wanted and despised what God despised. They were his people. However, sin entered the world and this caused man to be spiritually unfaithful to God. Many times in Scriptures, God uses the picture of his people being like a wife who committed adultery. Any time sin is committed, it is spiritual adultery. God had every right to divorce himself from us permanently and to send us away from his love forever in the torments of hell.
But, thanks be to God, who loved his wayward wife. He loved her so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own Son for her. He demanded that sin be paid for and he exacted the price from his Son. He then clothed her with the robe of righteousness that his Son won. He himself has prepared her for the wedding. We could never dress ourselves in our righteousness, for we had none. Rather, when we came to faith, we are dressed in Christ’s righteousness. We become a part of the Holy Christian Church, the Bride of Christ. Our relationship with God has turned from fear to love. We know that we belong to God. We are in this relationship with God.
Yet, everything will be made new. Even the relationship that we have with God right now will be made new. Again, the reason we need to have a new relationship with God is sin. Yes, we have been saved from our sin, but we continue to sin every day. We need to continually ask God for forgiveness. All sin will be purged from us, when Jesus creates our new relationship with God.
Listen to the description of the complete renewal of our relationship with God. “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Verse 3) God had physically dwelt with the children of Israel as they traveled from Egypt to Palestine. He would show himself as he dwelt in the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle. However, a veil separated him from the people and they could only meet him through the high priest. In heaven, God will live among us, but there will be no need for a priesthood. A veil will not separate us from him, because the veil of sin has been taken away. We will live in God’s presence.
We will be God’s people. For all eternity, we will be with God. We will live in his kingdom and enjoy all of the blessings there. As we listen to the blessings mentioned, we are reminded of the list we studied last Sunday in our sermon. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Again, this is impossible for us to completely comprehend. Who of us hasn’t been touched by one or more of these? The crying, mourning and pain is something that we see around us every day, if we are not experiencing them ourselves. Yet, all of these things will be gone. This is because we will be in heaven. We will be with God forever. How we long to enter our eternal home and receive these great blessings.
Did these blessings that God tells us about seem almost too good to be true? Can this really be waiting for me when I reach heaven? There may have been those among John’s original readers that felt the same way. Remember they were undergoing a fierce persecution because of their faith. In order to assure them, and us as well, John is told to “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Verse 5) What we have here is Jesus’ own personal promise that what was written will happen in this way.
Jesus can make that promise because he is the almighty Son of God. As he reminds us in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Since Jesus has been given the authority, he can do as he wishes and that includes all of the promises that he has made to us. He is the one who fulfills the promise, and is even now fulfilling it. Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1&2) Jesus makes this promise to us and he gives us the confidence to trust in him.
Armed with this confidence in Jesus’ promises, we can face the events of our lives until we join him in heaven. Because we have Jesus’ sure promise, we know that whatever may happen to us in this lifetime, it will mean nothing when we reach heaven. Those who have come to faith in Jesus as their Savior need not fear when the storms of life blow. We have a basis for hope to which we cling: Jesus’ promises. With this sure confidence that Jesus gives us, may we continue our journey, trusting in Jesus every step of the way. May our concern be that we use the relatively few years we have living in this old heaven and old earth to prepare for the unending bliss of the new heaven and new earth, where we will dwell with the Lord forever. May God keep us faithful until we enjoy all of the things that Jesus will make new for us in heaven. Amen.
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