Friday, July 03, 2015

The Eternity We Await

On Monday, I finished my 16th time through the Bible, and because my reading plan takes me through Scripture canonically, I start with the creation of the earth and I end with the destruction of the earth. It's not a particularly pleasant picture if you leave the story there, however. And God doesn't.

Revelation presents the new heaven and new earth in its closing two chapters, and this eternal picture is one of glory, victory, perfection, and majesty. This was the revelation God gave to John, while he was in exile away from all other human companions. And here, on the isle of Patmos, the Lord provides His presence to John and commands him to write what he sees and hears.

Revelation 22 describes some of the characteristics of the new heaven, and I found it interesting to compare and contrast them with the newly created earth of Genesis.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need to light of the lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5, ESV)
Here, the angel shows John what this new Jerusalem looks like. The water of life flows from the throne of God, representing eternal life given to all God's children. In the Garden of Eden, God provided water as a source of nourishment for people, plants, and animals. He used it later as a means of judgment. Christ, in His ministry on earth, proclaimed Himself to be the living water--whoever drinks from it lives forever. "Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14) In eternity, Christ will be our eternal life, physically and spiritually, and we will reign with Him forever. This water of life will never end.

The tree of life, once resting in the Garden, now is pictured here providing satisfaction and life by its fruit. Once inaccessible because of man's sin, the tree of life's blessing and healing is now freely available to all who believe. Sin's presence, too, will be nonexistent, for Jesus bore that curse on the cross, and in the new heaven and earth it is completely gone. God will never need to judge sin, forgive sin, or remove it from our lives because it will have no hold over us again, and it's curse will have vanished.

There won't be a physical temple in the new heaven and earth, but His children and the angels will worship Him nonetheless, for Christ is our temple. We will worship at the throne of God and the sacrificed Lamb, and we will praise Him for all eternity. We will see His face. Adam and Eve were once banned from direct communication with God, but as citizens of His kingdom, we will be completely holy and able to look on the face of a holy God without fear of consequences. And He will know all His people, for His name will be on and in us. We are His possession, bought with a price--His blood--and no one can pluck us out of His hands.

Night and day, created at the beginning of this world, to give us time for rest, growth, seasons, months, and years--this will be gone, also. The darkness of the night will be scattered, for the Lord's glory will fill the earth and heaven. Lamps or the sun's light would not help, nor could they compare, for the brightness of God's glory reaches further. Jesus is light, and in Him is no darkness at all; therefore, darkness will flee, and light will reign. We will reign with Him, for as His servants, we are also His citizens. Citizens of the better country--the heavenly country that the faithful of Hebrews 11 earnestly desired. There will be no more hoping for eternity, no more faith in that which we can't see, because we will be there and we will see Him and live in His holiness. We will love and serve Christ in a state of perfection for all of time. That will be glory. That will be victory.

C.S. Lewis summed it up well in his last book in the Chronicles of Narnia:
Aslan: "The dream is ended: this is the morning."And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginnig of the real story. All their life in this world...had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. 

So I will drive these roads in thunder and in rain
And I will sing your song at the top of my lungs
And I will praise you, Lord, in glory and in pain
And I will follow you till this race is won
And I will drive these roads till this motor won't run
And I will sing your song from sea to shining sea
And I will praise you Lord, till your kingdom comes

Till there’s no more faith and no more hope
I’ll see your face and Lord I’ll know
There’s no more faith, there’s no more hope
I’ll sing your praise and let them go
‘Cause only love, only Your love remains
Only love

("No More Faith", Andrew Peterson)

4 comments:

  1. Excellent post. :) The new heavens and the new earth are the new and better Eden, and it reminded me of when I taught on that during week 15 of the 3:15 Defenders series.

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    1. Thank you. :D I liked writing this one especially. I went back and read your notes from that study. God showed Himself clearly to be the one and only Creator at the beginning and at the end of time. Thanks for commenting. :)

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  2. Excellent post. Congratulations on your 16th time through the Bible.

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    1. Thank you. It's been a good journey.

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