All Things New
E. J. Strange, Bridgwater
IN the story of Creation we read that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The voice of God was heard amidst the darkness and chaos, saying, Let there be light, and light was. Out of the confusion was created a scene of order and beauty, of which God could say it was very good. The first creation, marred by sin so that even the heavens are not clean in God's sight, is to pass away with a great noise and the elements are to melt with fervent heat. This final cataclysm will take place, as we have seen, at the last dread day of judgment before the terror of the face of Him who sits upon the throne.
Yet oat of this upheaval of the universe shall emerge the eternal scene of such indescribable blessedness and beauty that we can look at it only " through a glass darkly." We dimly see the outline but the splendour of its detail will be known only when we see " face to face, and know as we are known."
The last two chapters of Revelation give us this outline of eternal beauty, and in them we see the final fulfilment of God's purposes and the summing up of the Word of God. Here we see the full fruit of the work of Christ upon the cross, His sorrow, pain, and death. Here He sees to the uttermost of the travail of His soul and is satisfied in that God becomes ' all in all.'
In this paper we shall consider the summary of the eternal state, as described in Rev. 21. 1-5, and we see in these few verses a New Creation, a New City, a New Covenant-Relationship, and a. New Condition of Life.
A New Creation. " I saw a new heaven and a new earth." In his second epistle Peter tells us that this is what we are looking for and the new creation is the abode of righteousness. Righteousness and peace go hand in hand. Both are absent from the world but will be the permanent characteristics of the New Creation. So wonderful will the new creation be that the old shall not be remembered nor come into mind (Isa. 65. 17).
" There was no more sea." In Isaiah the sea is taken as an illustration of the restlessness of evil men. " But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters east up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa. 57. 20, 21). In the new earth all will be at rest.
In the Gospel stories of the storms on the Sea of Galilee, the sea was the element used by the evil one. On one occasion lie used it in a determined effort to destroy the boat in which were the disciples and their sleeping Lord. He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea.
In the Revelation it is from the sea that the wild beast, the monster of iniquity, emerges. " I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea" (Rev. 13. 1).
Thus, whether we regard the sea as a picture of evil humanity, spewing out its filth, or as an element used in hostility to the work of Christ, in the new creation there is no more sea.
A New City. We shall consider the detailed description of the city in our next paper, if the Lord will. We notice here the brief statement, " And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem ..." This is the city for which Abraham and the heroes of faith looked, " a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God " (Hcb. 11. 10). This is the city for which we ourselves look, " for here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come" (Heb. 13. 14). This city is holy, heavenly and happy.
Holy. In contrast to the earthly city, Babylon the Great, whose sins reached unto heaven, the new Jerusalem is the holy city.
Heavenly. Her origin is heavenly. Men said, " Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven " (Gen. 11). So they built upon the earth upwards, to try and reach heaven. How futile ! The Lord had them in derision. The New Jerusalem is built in heaven, and comes down from God out of heaven.
Happy. She is supremely happy, for she comes prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Of the old creation it has been said, " It is like a bride who, already completely adorned for the marriage hour, has seen her bridegroom die on the appointed day. There she now stands with the fresh garland on her head, in bridal attire, but her eyes arc full of tears." There will be no tears upon the face of the New Jerusalem. Rather, as an adorned bride, there will be the light of eternal and radiant happiness in her eyes for the eternal Lord is the Bridegroom of her heart.
A New Covenant-Relationship. The purpose of the old covenant was that God might dwell among His people. The glory that shone between the cherubim in the Holy of Holies was the symbol of the special presence of Him whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain. Alas, Israel by sin and folly broke this covenant-relationship and in a vision Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord leave the temple and the city (Ezek. 11. 23). Again the glory of the Lord visited the earth in the person of the Word made flesh who tabernacled amongst us, full of grace and truth. " We beheld his glory " (John 1. 14). It was the great crisis of the world's history. They crucified the Lord of glory. ' Ichabod ': the glory has departed.
The New Covenant-relationship, established by the blood of Jesus, has this ultimate purpose, " Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God." In the days of eternity, men shall be able truly to say, " Immanuel—God with us."
A New Condition of Life. Since the abiding presence of God is assured, then the conditions of life must be fundamentally changed from those which prevail now. We have finite minds and, because we are compassed about by sin and infirmity, we can but dimly visualize the eternal realities, the unspeakable glories of the new crea¬tion. The passage before us emphasizes the presence of God, and, therefore, the absence of certain things with which we are familiar. What things will be absent ? Everything which now burdens us, and causes us to groan ; everything which now causes grief and breaks human hearts. Just as a mother picks up her child and gently hushes its sobs and wipes away its tears, so God will wipe away all tears from off all eyes. The things that caused the tears, death, sorrow, the suffering of bereavement, the agonizing pain, all will be gone. The former things are passed away.
" He'll bid the whole creation smile. And hush its groan."
" Behold," says God, " I make all things new " (Rev. 21. 5). "He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (v. 7). " We are more than conquerors through him that loved us " (Rom. 8. 37).
" Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, he diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless " (2 Pet. 3. 14).