Summary: People often dream of a better future, but we want it on our terms and in our timing. The Bible helps us to reset our dreams, aligning them with God’s dream for all creation and trusting in Jesus to fulfill that dream at just the right time. With our eyes on Jesus, we dare to dream extravagant dreams of how we can partner with Jesus in filling the new heavens and earth with people who have faith in Him.
Big Idea: The dream of a better future will be fulfilled by Jesus at the end of time.
Key Concepts in this passage:
- The New Heavens and Earth: The earth is recreated, restored and reconnected to heaven in a single unit: the new heavens and earth. No longer will there be any barrier between heaven and earth. Things will be much like they were in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, when there was free and open interaction between God and humans.
- The Holy City, the New Jerusalem: Represents God living with His people. Prior to this, it was not possible for God and humans to have unfiltered access with each other because of the incompatibility of God’s infinite purity and righteousness and humanity’s inherent sinfulness. With that sinfulness now removed by Jesus through the resurrection of the dead and the banishment of evil, human beings can now live in the presence of God in the City of God.
- The Dwelling Place of God: The Greek word behind the English references to God dwelling with His people is the word for “tabernacle.” The Tabernacle was the portable tent used as a place for worship and sacrifice by God’s people during the Exodus and for centuries afterward until Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem. The Tabernacle (and the Temple) represented God dwelling among His people, yet both were also places to offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. Because Jesus has now fulfilled the results of His once-for-all sacrificial death and resurrection by restoring and renewing all things, there is no longer any need for a Tabernacle (or Temple) in between God and His people. Rather than have a structure in their midst that represent God, the people have God Himself living among them.
- The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End: This is only the second time in the book of Revelation that God has spoken directly. The previous time was in Rev. 1:8. There God also said that He was the Alpha and the Omega, both the Originator and the Concluder of all things. All things for all time are in God’s hands.
Background: The events of this passage take place after Jesus has returned to earth and banished both evil and death. All human beings have been raised from the dead and judged. All that remain are those whose names are in Jesus’ Book of Life.
Ice-breaker question: Have you ever had something that you hoped for which turned out much better than you thought that it would?
Read: Revelation 21:1-7
- What do you think the new heavens and earth will be like?
- Usually in the Bible, the sea represents chaos and turmoil that is opposed to God. The sea was not a safe place in ancient times. It was the place where monsters existed, where deadly storms arose and where countless people drowned when their boats sank. What do you think John means when he writes that there was no longer any sea?
- When John describes the holy city as being like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, what is he saying about what God’s people will be like in the new heavens and earth?
- What is John saying about what the relationship between God and His people will be like?
- How will living with God in the new heaven and earth be different from living with God now?
- What comes to your mind when you read verse 4?
- Who is the one sitting on the throne?
- What does God mean when He says that He is making everything new?
- In verse 6, God says “It is finished.” Jesus also said, “It is finished” just before He died on the cross. Is there a connection between Jesus’ “It is finished” from the cross and God’s “It is finished” at the fulfillment of all things, and, if so, what is that connection?
- Humanity was cut off from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, but now God’s people can drink freely from the springs of the water of life as the children of God. All the struggle against sin, the suffering of sickness and death, the battle against the enemies of God and His people are all over. There is nothing left except to enjoy living in God’s presence forever! How does the future fulfillment of all things help us now?
This Bible Study focuses on the same passage as the sermon on Nov 24/19 from Walnut Grove Lutheran Church, Langley BC.