Revelation 21:1–8 (NKJV)
After the final judgment of mankind and the relegation of Satan, the beast, the false prophet, and the lost to the lake of fire, the scene changes abruptly to a picture of the new heaven and the new earth, with the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. The newness and holiness of all things new is breathtaking.
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, 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 heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”Revelation 21:1-4
John here sees a new heaven and a new earth. He describes the first heaven and earth and the see as being no more. There was a destruction of the earth and heaven and sea to the point of it being uninhabitable during the seven bowls of judgment from God noted earlier. However, this seems to hint that the earth and heavens no longer exist, that an utter destruction and annihilation have occurred. In the old earth and heaven’s place came a new heaven and a new earth. This New Jerusalem could be the new heaven and earth, simply stated in a different way with more detail. However, some scholars identify the New Jerusalem, adorned as a bride, as the bride of Christ. This seems to be an unlikely thing, in that the bride (or the saints) actually lives in the city in further descriptions. Therefore, we will assume that this New Jerusalem is the home of the saints, and is a new and improved heaven and earth in which the Bride of Christ will dwell. This New Jerusalem also contains the tabernacle of God, and He intends to dwell, or tabernacle, with them. Perhaps this rendering really should read that the dwelling of God is with them. Only those who are “His people” are in the city, and they are His and He is their God. The very tender and emotive statement that God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes” is a repetition of this promise from Revelation 7:17, and is followed up by further promised that there will be no death, sorrow, nor crying in heaven, this New Jerusalem. Additionally, there will be no pain, and the former tools of discouragement and suffering are not welcome nor allowed in this beautiful, serene, and holy place.
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”Revelation 21:5-8
6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Then God spoke from His throne and declared “Behold, I make all things new.” This declaration is affirmed to be truth and faithful, its veracity guaranteed by the nature of the speaker Himself. He instructs John to record this promise and statement, and then further declares its reality by saying “It is done!” God describes Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He offers the water of life freely to anyone who thirsts. It is clear that a greater regime has taken the reins over a new heaven and a new earth, and the old, temporary, limited rule of Satan on earth has been ended permanently. The rightful God, the One who always was God, the eternal God, is now visibly on the throne for all to see. Those who served Him during Satan’s reign of terror are now comforted, rewarded, and given a home in the New Jerusalem. He says that they will inherit all things, and that they will be His people and that He will be their God. This offer of covenant is stated here for the second time, signifying the certainty of God’s promise.
The next passage, however accurate and just it may be, is chilling in its declaration of the punishment of the sinful. God gives a laundry list of sinful lifestyles and practices that have disqualified the sinners from entry or citizenship in the New Jerusalem. While these practices in and of themselves do not disqualify (for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God), the evil heart that leads one to operate normally within these sinful patterns does. These named sins are representative of patterns and lifestyles that reflect a heart that is not submitted to God. Cowardly men and women do not have the courage of a child of God. Their hearts are fearful and weak. Unbelievers do not have faith in God, and therefore have hopeless hearts. Abominable individuals have hearts of darkness. Murderers harbor malice in their hearts. Sexually immoral people have hearts that serve the flesh rather than the spirit. Sorcerers and idolaters have given their hearts to Satan and his purposes. Liars have no truth in their hearts and deceive with their words. The bottom line is this: those who do not have hearts dedicated to the Lord and His purposes are lost, rebellious, and sinful. They cannot enter the perfect rest of God for His saints. They are destined for a lake of fire, the second death, which will never end. Get on the right side and live in holy relationship with God. He is the only way to the New Jerusalem!