Take a moment to read 2 Peter 3. There is a good reminder of the grace God shows in His slow coming. The main part I want to focus on today is v10 onward. Is this fire a refining fire? All will be destroyed so that new life can come from it? In verse 13, Peter says we are looking forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth, where righteousness dwells. This is keeping with the promise. When was the last time you heard someone talk about new heavens and new earth as the promise God gave to us? How is this different from the typical view of the afterlife that you often hear?
In our reading of Paul yesterday (1 Cor. 15), we looked at seeds being sown in this life to then be reaped in the next. N.T. Wright, a prominent New Testament scholar, in his book Surprised by Hope, talks about how we should live our life in view of the resurrection, “The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God's future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God's kingdom.”
God’s mission is to establish His Kingdom here on earth. That was His purpose for the Garden, for Israel, and His mission for the church. This is found in the Lord’s Prayer and is at the core of Christian living taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). The Gospels point to God’s Kingdom on earth. Paul and Peter point to the “New Heaven and New Earth” (you can find these teachings in other places in the New Testament). With all of this in mind, let’s take a moment to look at the picture John paints about the next life at the end of Revelation.
Revelation 21:1-10, 22-27; 22:1-5
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth” is a reference back to Isaiah 65:17. The prophetic hope was in God restoring His creation (Look back to Isaiah 11). The old order of things has passed away and “there was no longer any sea.” This is an odd saying. I love the sea! In the Jewish worldview though, the sea represented the place where all evil came from. John is proclaiming that evil has no home anymore. Which direction is the New Jerusalem going? What is significant about Jerusalem? The Temple was located there. It is the place where God’s presence was found. Where is God’s presence in this New Jerusalem? Is there a Temple in this New Jerusalem? Why? From the beginning of creation to the end of Revelation, the entire story is about God’s presence being with His people!
John again points to Isaiah (ch25), “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Immediately after that, the one seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” What does this newness look like? Or, going back to my question from Monday, “What would you change about the world to make it perfect?” That’s what Jesus is doing in making everything new!