God’s New Creation
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. 2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:[a]
Look! God’s dwelling[b] is with humanity,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.[c]
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things[d] have passed away.
5 Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.”
I have enjoyed watching Disney’s Mandalorian series. I eagerly await the next season to come. At a funeral service this week I was given the ability to share about the next season to come. To me, this is the hope of Christianity. The Bible talks about a hope that is found beyond this world; a hope that is not tied to anything natural or temporal; a hope that is rooted in a Person.
The book of Revelation is perhaps my favourite letter. The challenge in presenting it to the Western church is that many have already been told what to think and believe about its context and content. Much of our thinking has been impacted by Dispensational theology. Whatever lens you use to view Scripture, may we always be encouraged by the reading of this prophetic book. The words are faithful and true.
Within the book of Revelation John sees many things. In fact a good reading of the letter would follow that pattern, rather than a chronological one. We see what John sees. In this passage, John sees an opened heavens.
In the OT, Isaiah prophesied a prayer that contained an intercessory cry for God to ‘tear the heavens and come down’ (64:1). Jesus is physical proof of that happening, and so is the coming of the Spirit. However, on the Island of Patmos John experiences a vision of a final opened heavens. This wonderful vision contains promises that can give us hope amidst our post-modern world today.
In God’s new creation there is hope for new beginnings free from chaos and the enemies of God. John notes that ‘the sea existed no longer’. Biblically speaking, the ‘sea’ can be viewed as an image of chaos, anarchy and opposition to God (see Psalm 74:12-14, Is. 51:9, Psalm 89:9-10). The OT affirms that YHWH rules the heavens and the earth (Psalm 24:1-2, Isaiah 40:21-22) by His Spirit, which demonstrates His Power (Gen. 1:1-2). Perhaps this is why John says that death will exist not longer too. All of God’s enemies are finally absent.
In God’s new creation there are new beginnings that are real and rewarding. I love how John describes what he sees. The vision of this new heaven is ‘like’ a beautiful bride! All married couples reading this will remember the day when the love of your life came walking down the aisle. Your eyes locked and the cosmos stood still for the briefest of moments: it is breathtaking glory. This is what John sees. He describes the vision in terms of an intimate love relationship. God Himself is dwelling with us once again! It seems that God’s new creation is primarily about our loving God being united perfectly with humanity once again. It is a relationship that is real and rewarding.
In God’s new creation there are new beginnings that allow us to find our true end. John also describes this vision to be ‘like’ a city (Holy City, new Jerusalem). Within cities there are people, citizens, society, employment and culture. It would seem that this vision expresses humanity’s ability to operate and function in perfect harmony with each other and with God. This is vision of God’s new creation depicts His perfect rule operating in and through the lives of His people.
In our culture today we often hear two words that define humanity. Those two words are freedom and equality. Our postmodern world believes that we need to be ‘freed’ from any restrictions that limit ones ability to achieve their ultimate fulfillment. Capitalism can be viewed as the vision of this freedom. Similarly the goal of socialism is to bring ‘equality’ of rights to every autonomous individual so that they can pursue their self-chosen ends without limits. Each ideology (capitalism and socialism / freedom and equality) offer a vision of human life, purpose and existence. However, each of these options fail to account for one major element: the breakdown of relationships.
I believe that neither freedom nor equality are words that can take us to the heart of what it means to be human. In other words, the fundamental aspect of being human is not found in our pursuit of freedom or equality. Our humanness is rooted in our relatedness. As human beings, we are meant to live in relationship with other living beings. In fact, it could be said that our true end is found only in these bonds of mutual love. If so, then the breakdown of these loving relationships will ultimately destroy any ideology not built upon such. In other words, at humanity’s fundamental core is the need to love and be loved.
Lesslie Newbigin writes that “human beings find fulfillment not in the attempt to develop themselves, not in the effort to better their own condition, not in the untrammelled exercise of unlimited covetousness, but in the experience of mutual relatedness and responsibility in serving a shared goal.” (Foolishness to the Greeks ,122)
The context of Newbigin’s comments are rooted in his belief that humanity (male and female) is made for God in such a way that being in the image of God means being bound together in the most profound of all mutual relations: God binds Himself in a covenant relationship with men and women to which He remains faithful at whatever cost and however unfaithful His covenant partner is. If this is true, then all of humanity is called to live in these binding covenant relationships of brotherhood. Then, according to Newbigin, humanity’s true end is found in the bonds of mutual love and obedience which can only be found in the Triune God of love. In other words, the quest for what it means to be human can only be found and fulfilled in the bonds of this mutual love relationship with our loving Creator God (Yahweh). From this loving relationship we are able to reach out and love others around us. This sounds very similar to the words of Jesus: love God and love others.
I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I long for a better tomorrow, and a brighter future. I long for all situations to be free from strife, conflict and chaos. I long for all relationships to be real and always rewarding. I long for perfect fulfillment and purpose in my everyday. This is my heart’s longing. This is also my heart’s hope.
I fully realize that God’s ultimate newness for creation is yet to come. We live in this ‘already, but not yet’ dynamic tension of God’s Kingdom. However, I fully believe that God’s newness is available now, on earth as in heaven. Why else would Jesus pray such: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven“; and why else would Paul say: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
So let me ask you this: What are you looking for today? What are you seeking to find? What are you asking for? What is the longing of your heart?
If you long to be free from some of the ‘waters’ of chaos that keep circling around you that threaten to swallow your joy, peace, love and happiness; if you are searching for a love that is real, rewarding, non-judgemental, accepting and true; if you are desiring to find fulfillment and purpose in life’s pursuit, then perhaps it is time to look to God and receive His newness via His bonds of love.
Simply call out to Jesus Christ of Nazareth and ask His Spirit to make you new. This is the desire and decree from the very heart of God.
Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” (Revelation 21:5)
This is the way.