Read Revelation 22
John’s vision of the New Heaven and New Earth, as well as the New Jerusalem, is glamorous and exciting; it is truly fun to imagine what life will be like in this time. Not much is truly known about this time and what it will be like but Scripture indicates that this will be a physical existence with our renewed bodies, those that are renewed in the likeness of Christ’s resurrected body. What we see here is that, though the New Jerusalem has everything and contains the wholeness and fullness of eternal life, there may be life and living beyond its walls. Indeed, while we get the sense that everything we need will find its source and life through the presence of God, there may be things to do in this eternal life. We are not given an indication that we will simply be laying on clouds, plucking our harps. Indeed our life may also be a perfect fulfillment of the life we are called to live now, worshiping God through the use of the gifts, skills, hobbies, and interests that we have in a new and redeemed way.
All of this, as John describes it, is “Eden restored”. This is an important image of creation being restored to its original state. It’s hard to say exactly what this means, but likely it does not mean that we’ll all be living in a garden like Genesis 1 and 2, but rather than all creation is back in the state that God created it to be. This might be best seen in the image of the lion laying with the lamb; it marks the end of striving, of predator/prey relationships, and a life in which life itself is sustained by God. This is seen in both the centrality of the river of the water of life, which flows directly from the throne of God down the middle of the “great street”, and also the availability and abundance of the tree of life, something that had been blocked and made unavailable since the fall. Eternity will be in this perfected state, all creation living in harmony and in the presence of God.
The final words of Revelation reflect, once again, the urgency of the Great Commission: “Behold, I am coming soon!” I think we often set these words aside, preferring to look at the magnificent splendor of eternity of paying attention to the many images that jump off the pages of John’s Revelation. However, Jesus’ words here are important; the time is near for Jesus’ return, we are in the “last days” now. We cannot seal up these words or waste our time in frivolous arguments about peripheral issues that don’t really matter.
As we close our study of Revelation and the whole of the New Testament, the same truth of God’s continuing work in creation remains and we much join Him in this! The angel bids John, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll because the time is near.” We too should take these words to heart as we join with the angels and the spirit who say together, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
“May the Grace of the Lord be with God’s people. Amen.”