Revelation – Lesson 13
In chapter 21 we move from time into eternity. Have you ever dreamed of a peaceful, crime-free world where locks and security systems were unnecessary and where war and poverty are not present? Imagine an earth where Satan and sin have no place. It is no wonder that heaven rejoiced. The glorious, peaceful eternal kingdom can now come to a new earth. God has prepared well for his beloved people.
DAY ONE: THERE IS A NEW CREATION.
READ: Revelation 21:1-8
A. THERE IS A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH.
John begins to describe what he sees next. Since the Old Testament prophets did not often see beyond the earthly or millennial kingdom, this must have been an awesome sight. Everything is new and different. The most mind-blowing change is that there are no oceans or seas. However, it will have a life-giving river. (22:1)
For those who love the seashore, this may seem like a disappointing omission. When we remember the calamities that come from the sea and the division the oceans cause among nations, we can look forward to a new water arrangement designed by God. Perhaps the cleansing properties of salt water will not be needed on a pollution-free earth.
Is this new earth a renovated earth or a completely new earth? Some scriptures seem to suggest a completely new earth:
- Isaiah 65:17
- Revelation 21:1
Other scriptures seem to suggest a renovated earth:
- Matthew 19:28
- 2 Peter 3:10-13
- Revelation 16:17-20
Perhaps the confusion is solved with a renovated earth in the millennial kingdom and a completely new earth in the eternal kingdom. Time will tell!
B. THERE IS A NEW JERUSALEM.
There will be a new “holy city.” It comes down from heaven fully prepared by God. It will be dazzlingly beautiful. John compares the city’s appearance to a bride. On her wedding day a bride is adorned in her most beautiful and extravagant clothes. God puts that same kind of effort into the city for His beloved. God is well known for the beauty of his creation, but this seems to be his crowning achievement. It will be a sight to behold.
C. THERE IS A NEW LIFE WITH GOD.
Before he describes the details of the appearance of the city, John tells of the most glorious aspect of the New Jerusalem. All of God’s people will live together with Him! It is not good for man to be alone, and he will never be lonely again. There will be no tears, no death, no mourning, no crying and no pain. God’s people will all live together with Him in loving harmony. The new order is altogether different from the old.
This kind of perfect place with holy people and God’s presence is hard for us to imagine. Some have even suggested that it sounds boring. But God can be trusted to make the surroundings fit the needs perfectly. Only the overcomers will be at home there. All the unrepentant sinners will be in their home with the doomed masters they have chosen. They will experience the second death. The first is physical death and then spiritual death or eternity without God. On the other hand, believers will be able to drink freely of the satisfying water of life.
- List the elements in the “new order” in verses 1-8.
- What does Matthew promise in Matthew 24:35 regarding God’s words?
- Who are the people who are excluded from God’s holy city?
- Which of the aspects of the new order is most significant to you?
- How certain can you be that this will come to pass according to verse 5?
DAY TWO: NEW CITY COMES DOWN.
READ: Revelation 21: 9-21
A. THE NEW JERUSALEM IS DESCRIBED.
An angel now gives John a guided tour of God’s new city. Because the city is made up of the saints, they are in fact described as the city itself along with the physical aspects of the city.
It appears that John witnessed the actual descent of the city straight from God in heaven. Here is what John saw:
Brilliance – It is like a jewel reflecting God’s glory.
- High walls – The walls are made of Jasper and are about 200 feet thick.
- Twelve gates – The gates are made of pearls with the names of the 12 tribes inscribed on them.
- Twelve angels – They are stationed at the 12 gates.
- Twelve foundations – They are visible above the earth and are inscribed with the names of the 12 apostles.
- Enormous size – the width, length and height are the same measurement which is about 1400-1500 miles (about ¾ the size of the United States).
- Twelve precious stones – the foundations are decorated with twelve precious stones that reflect God’s love of beauty.
- Streets of Gold – The gold that covers the streets is pure and lustrous.
Jews and Gentiles share this beautiful eternal house in loving fellowship. This revelation of a city is different from popular pictures of heaven with people floating on white clouds. With God as architect and interior designer we should not be surprised at the beauty John saw.
B. GOD IS THE TEMPLE.
John has already been told that the old order of things has passed away. Now he sees a major difference. There is no temple. In old Jerusalem the temple was the central point of their religious life. It was built on the highest mountain in their city. Obviously there was a temple in the millennial kingdom as well. (Ezekiel 40-46; Zechariah 14:20-21)
The temple was a place where sinful man could deal with a holy God in a limited way. Sanctified sinners are now able to come directly into God’s presence. We will be able to see Him face to face. How awesome is that! God himself is the temple. There is no need for the old model.
C. GOD IS THE LIGHT.
There will be no need for the sun or the moon. God himself is the light that shines eternally in this city. His light will extend to the nations. There will be no need to close the gates because there is no night. Nothing dangerous or impure will enter but only true believers will come in.
- What did Paul look forward to in 1 Corinthians 13:12?
- What did Jesus say about our future role in Matthew 25:22-23?
- What kind of earthly work will be rewarded in the kingdom? (Matthew 25:34-36)
- What surprises you about the new heaven and new earth?
- What impresses you in Isaiah’s description of the new heaven and new earth? (Isaiah 65:17-26)
DAY THREE: THE CITY HAS LIFEGIVING PROPERTIES.
READ: Revelation 22:1-6
A. THE CITY PROVIDES WATER AND TREE OF LIFE.
The angel now showed John two of the features of the new city. We are reminded of the Garden of Eden. Life has come full circle. Just as a river flowed from Eden watering the garden (Genesis 2:10), John now sees a river flowing from the throne of God running down the middle of the great street of New Jerusalem.
On each side of the river John can see a tree, like Eden, that provides life-giving fruit:
- There is much variety with different fruit each month symbolizing abundance.
- The fruit seems to symbolize the eternal life Jesus has provided.
- The leaves symbolize the healing of every kind that God has brought to all of mankind.
B. GOD IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE.
John notes the blessedness of God’s total forgiveness. There is no curse, and God is able to position his throne in the midst of His people. Prior to this His throne has been in heaven. Now He can come openly and visibly to earth. There He provides light and meaningful work of ruling over the earth for His beloved people. Adam lost this privilege and position. Jesus won it back for us. The angel pauses again to give assurance that this “paradise” will most certainly take place. God has ordained it.
- What did Jesus promise in John 14:1-4?
- Why do you think there is no night in the New Jerusalem?
- What does His name on the foreheads of believers imply?
- Why do you think the angel speaks with such emphasis regarding the truth of what has just been revealed?
- Which things are hard for you to believe?
DAY FOUR: JESUS PROMISES TO RETURN.
READ: Revelation 22: 7-11
A. JESUS REPEATS PROMISES OF BLESSING.
At this point John records Jesus’ promise that He is coming soon. Those words have given great hope to persecuted Christians down through the ages. John’s revelation is just as true as all of the Old Testament prophesies that have been fulfilled because they came from God (Revelation 1:1).
B. JOHN RESPONDS.
To have received a look into God’s future program for the earth and all of its inhabitants overwhelms John. He falls down to worship before the angel who has guided him on this tour. Again the angel refuses to receive worship and declares his servanthood is equal to all of God’s servants. John is reminded that worship belongs to God alone.
John is told to share this prophecy. When the Day of the Lord begins, it will happen quickly so all people need to be prepared. There will come a time when it is too late to change behavior. So it is wise to choose the right behavior now. John’s revelation has revealed the two choices and the two eternal destinations.
1. How does Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 illustrate this advice?
2. What advice does Peter give regarding prophecy? (2 Peter 1:19-21)
3. What advice is repeated several times in Revelation?
- Read Isaiah 52:7-8. What does this prompt you to do?
- Revelation 22:7 says we will be blessed if we keep the words of this prophecy. What does this mean to you?
DAY FIVE: JESUS PROMISES REWARDS.
READ: Revelation 22:12-21
A. JESUS PROMISES HIS SOON RETURN WITH BLESSING.
Jesus now speaks personally to the readers of this revelation. When Jesus comes, He will come as judge to reward every person for what they have done. Their acts reveal their heart response to God’s revelation of truth. Jesus is qualified to judge. He is the eternal one who was present at creation and will be present in eternity. He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Those who are cleansed and whose names are in the Book of Life will be rewarded with life. The wicked are shut out of the new city of God because of their own lack of repentance and their unbelief.
Jesus has sent his angel to prepare all people so they are without excuse. He is qualified to judge because He is the long-awaited Messiah.
B. JESUS’ INVITATION IS FOR ALL.
The Holy Spirit and the church have worked together to encourage everyone to come. Everyone is invited to be saved. The gift of salvation is free. What a gracious and loving God we serve.
C. PROPHECY ENDS WITH A WARNING REGARDING DISTORTING THESE WORDS.
Some may be tempted to tamper with this great revelation of God’s prophetic future. The penalty is grim. Those who present lies or counterfeits to God’s truth will suffer eternal loss.
For the third time Jesus promises to come soon to fulfill all things revealed to John. John closes by adding his amen – “Come, Lord Jesus.”
John pronounces a blessing on God’s people as they faithfully move toward God’s glorious city. The road to the end will be difficult for many, so they will need God’s grace to remain faithful, but the revealed glory will make the journey a joy.
- What was Jesus’ joy in hardship found in Hebrews 12:2-3?
- What did Paul say about his temporary suffering? (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17)
- What is said about altering the Word of God in Deuteronomy 4:2?
- What did Paul warn about changing the gospel in Galatians 1:6-9?
- How seriously do you take the prophetic truths in Revelation?
- Read Romans 8:19-23. Think about the freedom from bondage that Christ brings. What stands out to you?
The visions are over. John has seen everything he needs to see. He has seen Jesus in His glorified roles as head of the church and king of kings… He has seen God in His throne room. He has seen God’s wrath poured out in seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowl judgments. He has seen the defeat of God’s enemies followed by the new heaven, new earth and New Jerusalem. He has seen many become believers and many others stubbornly refuse to respond to God’s urgent call. He has seen unbelievers come under the final judgment while believers inherit the beautiful kingdom God has prepared for them.
This preview of the future has always been a special treasure for God’s children. An angel promises that it is “trustworthy and true.” Like John, we want it to come quickly!!
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK
The purpose of divine revelation is to give hope for the believers as well as information to live by.
Take time to reflect on your life choices. What can you do to better prepare for the soon coming of the bridegroom?
In the midst of all of the judgment promised in the book of Revelation, there are seven hidden jewels of blessing. Some have called these the beatitudes of Revelation. Don’t miss these great promises of blessing for God’s faithful ones.
1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is soon.
14:13 Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “They will rest from their labors, for their deeds will follow them.”
16:15 Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.
19:9 Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!
20:6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
22:7 Behold I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.
22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.
Finally, we will see God face to face and will be loved by Him perfectly for all eternity.
Revelation 21:3-4 – “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 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.”
Revelation 22:21 – The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
About the author
LaWanda Neel is a lifelong Bible student. She has served as a Teaching Leader for Bible Study Fellowship and has conducted studies for neighborhood and church groups. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Lakewood, Colorado. She spends time reading, studying, teaching, writing, traveling all around the world and entertaining her five grandchildren. This is her third Weekly Word series for Thrive Ministries. Contact her for questions or comments at [email protected]View all articles by: LaWanda Neel
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