Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:1–5)
This world as we know it will not always be the world as we know it. There is a new world coming, a world beyond our wildest imaginations — filled with beauty, happiness, truth, light, and good. It will be new — no brokenness, no pain, no strife, no sin.
God has promised in His Word...
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:3–4)
The former things — the only things we’ve known here in this life on this earth — will be gone, never to be known again. The former things, filled with hatred, greed, selfishness, sexual immorality, and every form of evil, will be destroyed and done away with. In that day, we won’t ever have any reason to grieve again. Ever. Best of all, God himself promises to be there, brighter than all the new things — the good, pure, strong, beautiful, reliable, satisfying things — filling them with more and more of himself.
Old and New
The new earth will so far surpass the old that it would be unfair to compare the two. There will be people, cities, and lots of the stuff of everyday life here, but nothing will be the same. All of it will have been washed clean from iniquity and all its consequences. This amazing place we’ve called home will unleash its fullest potential and blow away any finite, small expectations we had for it.
It will be like crossing the threshold of your first home after having only ever owned your childhood dollhouse. When your dad first assembled that house on your living room floor, it was big and beautiful and filled with possibilities. You spent months, maybe even years there, filling it, changing it, in a sense living in it with your young imagination. But now, standing inside your home, you couldn’t list the limitations of that dollhouse if you tried, not least of which that you never actually fit. Living with God in the new creation will be like that.
Your First Allowance, Your First Paycheck
In a similar way, it will be like receiving your first paycheck from your first job after years of only having an allowance. The first week that your parents gave you that quarter, you were the richest person you knew. Twenty-five cents had never bought so much pride, satisfaction, and (perceived) power. But now, holding that check — enough money to provide for you and your family for several weeks — you might not think twice about seeing that same quarter laying in the parking lot outside your office.
Those twenty-five cents were special in the context of your childhood checkbook, but they weren’t worth comparing to what was coming a couple short decades later. Having God and being with him forever will be like trading a 5-year-old’s allowance for the CEO of Apple’s annual salary for the next five hundred years.
The True Prize of Paradise
Amazingly, though, we haven’t even touched the sweetest, most important promise of Revelation 21. It’s not a new earth without conflict and suffering and crime. It’s not a new us without pride or fear or lust. The promise of promises is this, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3).
All the beauty and goodness of that heavenly place will be worthless without its King. God is the crown of his new creation, and Jesus its bright morning star (Revelation 22:16). All of our deepest longings and cravings will be filled not with the great things God has made and given us, but with God himself. John ends the book of Revelation — this great vision of the world that’s coming — with this invitation, “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:17).
When the world as we know it passes away, he — Jesus — is the fountain of living water, the God of all mysteries, the Lord of the universe, the righteous king of kings, and the crowning jewel of his new creation.