We continue to discuss the new heavens and the new earth. What does prophecy suggest they will look like? What does this mean for us now? We begin with the bride of Christ as she is presented in the book of Revelation. Then we turn to the glory of the city which comes from the kings of the nations and discuss who is and who is not allowed in this city. We close by exploring the immense scale and beauty of our imaginings of the new heavens and earth.
Who’s the bride?
Let’s go back to bride. The church is the bride of Christ. We saw that in Ephesians. And the city is the bride. How can both of those be true? There seems to be some kind of a union here between city and people.
Let’s just think about it for a minute. What do we love about cities? The people in them. What else? Each has its own personality. We love cities because there’s a 24-hour Walgreens. Why is there a 24-hour Walgreens? Because there are a bunch of people who need that, right?
We like cities because there’s a Starbucks every 200 feet. Why is there a Starbucks every 200 feet? Because there’s a bunch of people, and they like Starbucks, right? There’s people serving each other everywhere. There’s energy in the city, right? There’s constant motion of people doing things for each other. It’s really cool.
Why do we hate the city? It’s so busy! It’s so congested! The lights never go off! There are people buying drugs at three o’clock in the morning, and the lights are on, and I can’t see the stars! Right?
In this new earth, I think the picture that we’re getting is somehow there’s going to be a merger between what we love about cities and, maybe, what we love about the country, which we’ll see a little bit more in a minute.
All I’m doing is just throwing out words. I don’t even know what they mean, really. We’re just being given a glimpse of—this is something new and unbelievable. I just get real excited about this.
Is there a sun and a moon?
Let’s go back to Revelation 21:22. But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.
There may be a sun and a moon; there may not. If there is, it’s not necessary. If I were going to guess, I would guess there is one, sun and moon. They’re only for outside the city. That’d be my guess. It’s only a guess.
We talked about this in a previous session, the idea that the Lamb provides the same amount of light and energy.
The sun provides all the energy in the world. It doesn’t matter what kind of energy you’re talking about. It emanates from the sun.
Nuclear, arguably, would be an exception.
Hydroelectric power. How does that come from the sun? Like a dam, water running down a river. Gravity? Gravity’s the earth. How is that impacted by the sun? How did the water get up on the mountain in the first place? The water cycle. The key to the water cycle is evaporation. The energy for the water cycle comes from the sun. The evaporative energy.
How about oil and gas? Burning oil or gas? Wood. It’s a plant, right? And what do plants to? They absorb the sun energy. It’s photosynthesis. What you do when you burn a plant is you’re releasing the solar energy that was trapped there some time in the past.
What else? Whale oil. People burn whale oil. Whales eat algae. Algae’s from photosynthesis.
It really doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. All the energy comes from the sun, and here we’re told we’ve got the sun in our presence.
How about geothermal?
Geothermal. Where does geothermal come from?
Well, there’s heat within the earth too. Do you think it all came from the sun?
Hmmm. Good point. It might be an exception too.
If we’ve had the sun in our midst, how would we feel about that? We’d be fried to a crisp. We wouldn’t feel for long, right? All the earth has to do is move toward the sun just a tiny bit, and we all burn up because it’s so hot. Here you’ve got the sun in our midst. We talked about this a little bit earlier.
This clearly signals something’s different, right? Light, heat, energy all emanating from a person, and now we are enjoying it. There’s something really different going on here.
I put out the speculation that perhaps this is the Lake of Fire. That there are these immoral men also on the new earth and not allowed in the city.
They’re actually—as opposed to Jesus making something that’s the lake of fire, perhaps it’s a direct emanation, not just—you know, in him all things consist—as someone pointed out to me after that session—but perhaps the sun is actually emanating life and energy and wonderness for those who are redeemed. Perhaps some quite different experience for those who are not. Just a model. Just an idea.
Moses was on the mountain in the presence of God, and he came down glowing, you know. And I think that he was being sustained through that presence, and it somehow gave him sustenance while he wasn’t eating for 40 days or drinking for 40 days.
That’s a little preamble of that.
When he came down, they had to put a veil on his face because he was hurting everybody’s eyes. Maybe so. Good thought.
The Lamb is its light.
The bummer about that is that the energy business will not have the drilling of wells involved with it.
What the oil business is today is a reclamation. We’re in the organic recycling business. We’ve got old plants that have already been mashed and cooked by the earth. We’re in the naturally-occurring biofuel business. We save the whales. We did save the whales. Now we’re recycling all that stuff.
We won’t need a recycling operation, I don’t think, in this new earth. I’m confident there’ll be plenty for us to do.
Now my favorite verse is verse 24. This is the one that fires me up the most.
Kings bring their glory into the city
And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
If you look up nations, it’s the Greek word ethnos. It’s always translated nations or Gentiles. It’s basically the same thing. Ethnos, as best I can understand, it means everybody but the Jews, in the scripture.
It could include the Jews here. Certainly, we’ve already seen the Jewish manifestation in that the gates each have the twelve tribes on there. Perhaps this is particularly intended for the nations as in “the Gentiles.”
Look what it’s doing: The nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
How does a king—let’s talk about our earth now, and let’s talk about not just kings, but countries. How does a country get glory and honor in our world? What are some ways countries are honored or glorified?
Military power. The ability to exert power. What is the basis of all military power? Technology. Innovation. The ability to fund the military. Every military’s mostly dependent on the supply chain. The ability to produce things. The industry. The level of industry.
How else does a country get glory and honor? Doing good for others. Yes! The degree to which they serve others is something that gains glory and honor.
We typically don’t give glory and honor to a country that goes around crushing other things. They get attention, but not glory and honor.
What other way do they get glory and honor? Athletics. I have a South African friend that told me the reason why they really, finally said we’ll give up on apartheid is because they were so humiliated by being left out of international athletic competitions. That’s really a powerful force.
People go to these World Cup matches and things like that. They lose their minds. Sometimes they actually kill each other over it. It’s a big deal.
What else? Anything else somebody can think of? Artistic and scientific achievement.
We’re just trying to take what we know and port it onto what we’re being told here. We’re being given some hint that all the things that we really care about—industry and achievement and connection and rooting for each other is all still going to be there.
Why would the kings bring their glory and honor into the city? Why would they do that? To cast it at the King’s feet? It could be because there’s an opportunity for Jesus to say, hey, good job, maybe an additional recognition. That would be one way. What would be something else?
Pay taxes? No, it says there’s no more sorrow and pain.
It could be because it’s an opportunity for a big gathering. One of the reasons people like the Olympics is because all the nations get together, and they celebrate. It could be something like that.
It could be almost anything.
There’s people, apparently, living outside the city that have access into the city. I don’t know about you, but that just gets me completely fired up.
The old heaven idea, the mythological-heaven idea is the most awful-sounding place. There’s nothing left to know. I already know everything. That’s part of the mythology. I don’t need to think, therefore, I suppose.
There’s nothing to do except play harps. Right? Once you master the harp, you’re just going to….I’m going to sing all the time. Sing the hymns. Sing the same hymns over and over. If you think of the radio, and after you’ve heard it ten thousand times, you just keep on….
I call it the Alzheimer’s clinic, the eternal Alzheimer’s clinic. You just drool all the rest of your life.
That just doesn’t sound interesting to me. It’s a lot better than living in a pizza oven; so it’s better than the alternative. But this is so much more robust than that mythology!
The reason we were given that mythology is because it’s consistent with Greek philosophy. In Greek philosophy, material is bad, and spiritual is good. Therefore, whatever there is good forever must be spiritual somehow. It can’t be material.
Well that’s not biblical at all.
Verse 27. So the kings are going to bring their glory and honor into the city. The gates are open all the time.
Unclean things not allowed inside the city
But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
In this little model idea I threw out, this is where I get that from because when I first looked at that coming in with my heavenly-mythology idea, I thought, who’s in the new earth who can go into the city and defile it? Who are these people?
It implies that you have unclean things outside of the city.
It implies that, doesn’t it? In my model—and, again, it’s just a model—that Ezekiel 28 passage, when it says that Satan was high, and he’ll be brought down, and the nations will walk by and say is that the man that destroyed so many things on the earth that we were afraid of? That little thing?
I kind of get the sense that one of the things that will be outside that could go in to defile but won’t be allowed to will be Satan. He’ll just be out there railing away, somehow, about how it wasn’t his fault somehow. You’ll be able to walk by and go, “Too bad.”
Why won’t he be able to go into the city? Perhaps it’s because the Lamb’s light is in the city, and only those who can stand walking into the sun go in there. Maybe that’s it. It doesn’t tell us. I don’t know why. I don’t know why it is.
Things are barred because it says only the things written in the Book of Life can go in. It sounds like the gates are always open but there’s always somebody at the gates. Perhaps it’s that you can’t stand the glory of God, or they won’t let you in.
Maybe there’s an angel standing there seeing whether you have a name written on your forehead or not.
Revelations 22:1. And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. There’s still fruit to eat. Fruit-of-the-month club. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
There will still be doctors, apparently. We were told there’s no more sickness, and now we’re told that there’s healing. I take from this that we would still be mortal if not for if not for the provision of God. How about that?
We’re not going to heaven to be independent of God. We’re not going to live in the new earth and be independent from God; we’re not going to live in the new earth and be God.
We’re not going to know everything. We’re going to know, increasingly, how little we know of what there is to know, the more we know. That’s what we’re going to do. Eternity’s just going to keep opening up and opening up and opening up; and we’re going to still be dependent.
The reason there’s no sickness is because everything’s preemptively provided. Sickness is healed preemptively.
That’s the way I take that.
And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
I’m going to end by telling you a story. Some of you have heard this before.
One of the pictures I have of how awesome this is going to be is my trip I took to Mount McKinley.
They put you on this airplane. Mount McKinley’s 21,000 feet. This airplane flies up to 12,000 feet.
It’s hard for me—You just have to be there. You need to do this someday if you can.
You’re five miles from the mountain. It looks like you’re right on top of it because it’s so huge. You’re 12,000 feet up. It looks like you’re at the top. There’s actually 8,000 feet more; but it doesn’t look that high because it’s so huge.
As we were flying around this mountain, Terri said she saw on my face that something was happening to me. I was being transported. I’m telling you. It was almost a vision for me.
This giant mountain. And they had told us beforehand that something like a thousand people a year climb it, and ten will die on a typical basis.
Why in the world do people want to climb up on this thing?
I’m flying up on this mountain, this beautiful, majestic thing, and I thought, I want to be down there! I like this place! This is a cool place! I want to be on this mountain!
The only problem is—and I don’t like to be cold—but I’m not going to be on this mountain because right now it’s death! But it’s life because the mountain’s full of snow, and the snow melting and going into the rivers is what keeps us alive. That’s how the water cycle works. Life comes from mountains.
If you go up on the mountain, it brings death. But not in the new earth.
Did you remember he said, “I went up on a very high mountain,” and he saw the city coming down out of God? It could be the city’s a 1500 foot tall mountain with a 1500 foot base. Maybe that’s why he’s up on the high mountain—so he can see the thing. Otherwise he would have just done this…
Maybe it’s a Mount McKinley-type place which is only four miles tall, not 1500 miles tall. It blew me away at four miles!
Maybe it’s a mountain, and instead of death being there bringing life, the river comes from the throne of God. The water cycle starts right at God. The sun is there, and we’re being nourished by the sun. We’re in this mountain.
Mountain climbers won’t have to risk their lives to get the experience that they’re after for just going up to the first story of this 150-story mountain, which would be what Mount Everest would be.
It’s going to be awesome.
The new earth—what a phenomenal image that God’s given us to look forward to.
The point of Revelation is summed up in 22:7 where he says, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
The overcomers will have a special role and a special dispensation in this new earth. The book of Revelation is telling us whatever pain that we endure here is more than worth it to inherit that reward.
Read, hear, do. That part we know. Most of the rest of it we’re just trying to grapple with something too wonderful for us to understand.