iBelieve: The New Earth | Study Guide: The New Earth
Tonight Lisa and I drive to Pasadena to participate in our favorite December tradition: a sing-along Handel’s Messiah. The church is gloriously decorated; there’s an orchestra and classically trained soloists. Then there’s the two of us in the back row, doing our best to hit the right notes (“do no harm” is our mantra) and participate in the glory of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
As the Christian believer considers the end of all things, and the Bible’s many promises about the new and unspoiled and everlasting earth, Handel chose this hopeful verse: The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.
How much good news is packed into this chorus of triumph from Revelation 11:15? First, the new earth is eternal. It will last forever and so will its inhabitants. Even as a mathematics professor who routinely draws sideways eights on the whiteboard to represent infinity, I cannot fathom living forever. Peering down the number line of God’s gracious eternity and knowing that the years and anniversaries and Sabbaths and Christmases will never, ever end.
Think of how deadlines press down upon us; there are more goals than time and will to accomplish them. In heaven, a vast forever spreads out before us, and we will have the vitality and energy to plunge into one rewarding activity after another. There will be unlimited tomorrows and boundless talent resources at our fingertips.
My daughter Karli is a Ph.D. graduate, leaving her daddy in the dust in terms of differential calculus theorems. I noticed in her university’s library a long row of references books and discovered that these were not the great mathematics treatises being written by bright geniuses around the world — no, these were simply the references for those term papers and published theorems. The boundaries of mathematical exploration are being continually expanded. That perhaps makes you want to sag and go watch some sitcoms on TV, but the good news is that we will enjoy an eternity of learning, of exploring, of being guided by the mind of God Himself as we chart new frontiers of knowledge and fascinating discoveries. We will never be bored, because our grand society will be led by an infinite Savior.
Secondly, this world will be our home. Not the broken, scarred, obscenely ravaged and cynically artificial place it’s become now, but the original virgin planet: the clean, untainted, brimming-with-native-life blue sphere as Christ suspended in the center of His universe. We’ll look up at night and see the same beautiful moon. The planets and stars will continue in their orbits. The sun will keep shining. We will travel to familiar places and enjoy sweet memories.
More good news: the City that is heaven will descend to earth (Revelation 21:2) and be the capital of that better land. We sometimes spiritualize away the idea of heaven, but the Bible cheerfully contradicts that vaporous heresy! Jesus, the King of the reborn earth, is a real Man! After the resurrection, His friends still knew Him; He ate meals with them and was a tangible and restored companion. And the city of God is a real place marked by an atmosphere of healing and light. It has measurable dimensions and golden streets and twelve gates — the Bible describes each as being constructed of a single pearl! (Richard Coffen points out the perhaps intended cosmic irony: pearls are created in response to an intruder, an irritant — and the glories of heaven’s welcoming gates are the end result of our sad experiment with evil.)
Other familiar things about this world, though, will be graciously erased. The scars of sin will have been taken away; the tectonic plates will never slip; the hurricanes won’t blow and the seas won’t roar. It will be a friendly world again, healed and held together by the King who reigns on the throne.
Which is the best news of all — Jesus as our eternal Lord. The new earth will be a home bathed by the mind of Christ, governed by the Beatitudes, maintained by acts of service and ministry. It will be a united and worshiping society. Revelation 22:3: His servants shall serve HIM. After all Jesus has done for us, it will be wonderful to do things for Him and offer Him endless thanks and praise.
I once preached a sermon with the title “Always Trading Up.” Our ideas of heaven are limited by sin and truncated human ideals. We can know that every essay written about the new earth – including this one – will make us blush when we take our first steps onto that pristine beach! Our word pictures and imaginations will have fallen so far short! Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:9: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. But all good things we think are invaluable in this fragile world will be better, higher, stronger, finer . . . and certainly more joyous. We needlessly fret about Jesus’ statement that in heaven, we won’t be married — until we realize we will be “like the angels,” a higher and more glorified society that surely enjoys intimate and comforting relationships and familial bonds beyond anything we can dream.
All these eternal things are real because our living Lord promises them to us. Choose every day to believe His promises. Mark every day’s path by your decision that heaven is our home, and we will be there soon.
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