David Reagan — The Eternal State
Chapter 21 introduces us to a vision of the eternal state, something we're not told a lot about. But what we're told here is very interesting. John says, "I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth." What happens is that God burns up the old earth. We're told in 2 Peter 3, that He will burn away all the pollution of Satan's last revolt. He will take this earth and reshape it like a hot ball of wax, and out of that fiery inferno will come the new heavens and the New Earth. An earth that will be refreshed and beautified and perfected to what God originally created before it was polluted by sin and changed by the curse.
It will probably be greatly enlarged because it is going to serve as the foundation for a gigantic city; the New Jerusalem. Just think of it! As God creates that New Earth, we will most likely be suspended in the heavens inside the New Jerusalem watching the greatest fireworks display in the history of the cosmos. And when it's all over, and the Earth is refreshed and renewed, then the Lord will lower us down to the New Earth inside the New Jerusalem. We are going to live eternally inside that glorious city located on the New Earth.
That's right the Bible never teaches that we will spend eternity in Heaven. It teaches that we will spend eternity in new bodies in a New Jerusalem on a New Earth. And it further teaches that God will come down to that New Earth and live among us: "I heard a loud voice," says John, "a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them.'" He's going to wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will no longer be any suffering; no pain, no death, no sorrow. He is going to make all things new, and we are going to live in perfect bliss in the New Jerusalem.
The rest of chapter 21 describes the incredible New Jerusalem that Jesus is preparing now. It will be shaped like a cube, 1,500 miles in every direction. It will be a city of incredible beauty. Its foundation will be made of precious stones, its gates will be giant pearls, and its streets will be made of gold. God the father and His son will live in the city with the redeemed, and the Shekinah glory of God will illumine the city.
In chapter 22 we move inside the New Jerusalem. We are told that, "a river of the water of life" will flow from the throne of God. This river is most likely a symbolic manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This river will run down the middle of the city's main street, and the Tree of Life that was in the Garden of Eden will grow on each side of the river, "Bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month."
There will no longer be any curse, for when God recreates the earth, the curse will be abolished. All of creation will be restored to the perfection that God intended when He created the original earth. And so we have a great glimpse of that eternal state where we will live eternally with God in new bodies in the New Jerusalem on the New Earth. It's only a glimpse, but it's enough to make us yearn for the glory that is to come, particularly when you consider what is said in chapter 22, verse 4. That verse says, “That we shall see God's face.” The Bible tells us that no one has ever seen the face of God. But one day we, the redeemed, will see His face! That means we are going to have intimate, personal, eternal fellowship with our Creator.
Revelation 22 says we are also going to serve the Lord eternally. The Bible does not get specific as to the nature of that service, but I know it will be meaningful and fulfilling. I can imagine, for example, that He will magnify and perfect our gifts. I can imagine that vocalists will sing as they have never sung before, and artists will paint with a majesty they never thought possible. And all will be done for the glory and honor of our Creator.
In verse 6 of chapter 22 the focus shifts very suddenly from the eternal state to the promise that Jesus will return again. Jesus says, "I am coming quickly," and then He adds, "Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book." Now notice, He says not only the one who hears the words, but the one who heeds the words. He then begins to tell us some things that we're to do as we wait for His return.
As I outline these for you, I want you to ask yourself: "Am I doing these things?" In verse 9 we are told to worship God. In verse 10 we are told, "Not to seal up the words of the prophecy." That means we are to share it with as many people as possible. And verse 17 exhorts us to yearn daily for the Lord's return. And verse 18 commands us to protect the integrity of God's Word by not allowing anyone to add to it or take away from it.
In verse 12 Jesus repeats the wonderful promise that summarizes the book's whole theme. He says, "Behold I am coming quickly." He then adds a warning He says, “He will reward every man according to what he has done.” Folks Jesus is coming back, and when He returns, there is going to be a judgment of works for both believers and unbelievers. But it will not be for the purpose of determining their eternal destinies that is determined in this life by whether or not we place our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Believers will be judged at the time of the Rapture to determine their degrees of rewards. Unbelievers will be judged at the end of the Millennium, at the Great White Throne Judgment, to determine their degrees of punishment. Yes, there are going to be degrees of rewards for believers, both during the Millennium and during eternity. Jesus said we would have various degrees of reigning authority during the millennium. And the Bible says that special rewards are going to be given to soul winners, martyrs, elders, those who exercise self-control, and those who live looking for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Well, the final words of Jesus spoken on this earth are recorded in Revelation 22:20. He says to John, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Jesus left us with a glorious promise - a promise to return soon. And notice John's response. He cried out from the depths of his heart, "Amen, come Lord Jesus!" That's the attitude we should have about the Lord's return, one of hopeful expectancy any moment.
There are many indications that we are living in the period of the Lord's return. One of those is found in Matthew 24 where Jesus told the people to watch the fig tree, which is a symbol of Israel. He said when that fig tree blossoms again we will know that He, Jesus is at the very gates of Heaven, ready to return. Well folks, for the past 450 years prophetic scholars have told people, "Watch Israel, watch Israel, watch Israel."
And people have responded with laughter, scorn and ridicule. They have said, "Israel will never exist again." Well, nobody is laughing now because Israel was re-established on May the 14th, 1948. We know Jesus is at the very gates of Heaven because He said in Matthew 24 that the generation that sees the re-establishment of Israel is the generation that will see all these things come to pass. That means we are the terminal generation.
Another sign is found in Luke 21:24 where Jesus said He would return when Jerusalem is no longer under Gentile control. Well, folks, Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 AD. They were followed by the Byzantines, then came the Arabs, the crusaders, the Mamluks, the Turks, the British, and finally, the Jordanians.
But on June the 7th, 1967, praise God, the Jews re-conquered the city of Jerusalem for the first time in 1,897 years. My friends let me say it again, we are living on borrowed time! Jesus is coming soon! He said He would, and that promise of His means all or it means nothing at all. If you have rejected Him, it means nothing to you; if you have accepted Him, it should mean everything.
Well, that's it. I hope you are convinced by now that the book of Revelation can be understood and is worthy of careful study. All I have to say in conclusion is "Maranatha!" that's the prayer of the early church recorded in I Corinthians 16:22. It is an Aramaic expression that means, "Our Lord come!" Oh yes, come quickly Lord Jesus!