Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Revelation 21:1-10
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 21
The “great white throne” judgment is the final event in the history of this present earth. When this judgment concludes, the entire physical universe will be consumed by the “fire” of God’s glory (Rev 20:11; 2Pe 3:7, 10-13). Spiritual beings and resurrected humans (righteous and unrighteous) will be the only survivors. But this is not the end, God intends to replace the old universe with a new one. Once again He’ll create a universe from nothing. To do so He only needs to speak a word and it will explode into existence. And somewhere in the vast expanse of new stars and planets and galaxies, there will be a new earth made from materials which can withstand the undiminished glory of God (1Co 15:50). While it’s true that even now God is present everywhere (Ac 17:28), in this fallen world His presence is not always perceptible and at times can be recognized only by faith (Heb 11:1). However, in the next universe His loving presence will surround us with such intensity it will appear like a brilliant light (Rev 21:23).

Revelation 21:1, 2
Verse 1: John now sees a vision of the “new heaven and a new earth.” Notice he is not only seeing a new earth but a new sun and moon, along with stars and other celestial bodies. The old universe is gone. It has “fled away and no place was found for them (earth and heaven)” (Rev 20:11). In its place God will create a new universe. Interestingly, he notes that this new earth will have no sea. Though oceans cover a huge portion of this present planet and water is required for life to exist it will have no such role in the future. Apparently, the entire surface of the new earth will be habitable. Verse 2: Next John sees the place where resurrected believers will reside. It will not be a garden, as in the first creation (Ge 2:8). It will be an enormous city which he calls “the holy city, new Jerusalem” (Rev 21:16). It will visually be a beautiful place like a “bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:11-21).

Revelation 21:3, 4
Verse 3: Then John hears a loud voice announce that the alienation which has existed between God and humans since the fall of Adam and Eve will have no place in the new creation. The words God uses remind us of His tabernacle which He located in the center of Israel’s camp during the wilderness years (Ex 25:8; Lev 26:11). In Leviticus 26:11, 12 we hear Him say, “I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” But as we know sin soon ended such intimacy, as it has done throughout history. This is why it is so wonderful to hear God reaffirm His commitment to restore His relationship with us. Someday believers will dwell with Him in complete loving fellowship. Verse 4: In the new creation the terrible effects of sin will have passed away. Sorrow, death and pain will no longer exist. Even their memory will cease to torment us for, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” How He will perform this is not said, but the meaning of the words is unmistakable. He will address our memories of past events. In a tender, comforting manner He will heal our wounded hearts (Rev 7:15-17). With the words, “Йthe first things have passed away” God assures us we will carry no painful baggage into the new city, nor will anything be present to cause such things to arise again.

Revelation 21:5, 6
Verse 5: Finally, John sees the One whose voice He has been hearing. Using a familiar phrase he identifies Him as “He who sits on the throne,” meaning it is God the Father, or as Daniel called Him, “the Ancient of Days” (Da 7:9, 10). John hears God appeal to all who read this vision as though he were a preacher applying the central points of a sermon to an audience. He first turns to us who are reading John’s vision and says, “Behold I am making all things new” His words underscore how literally what we are seeing will be fulfilled, and thus they will contain both warning and promise. We are warned that this present world will certainly end and promised that a totally new creation awaits. Such realities should dramatically alter the way we live (2Pe 3:11-13). Verses 5, 6: Then God turns to John himself and commands him to “write” assuring him “these words are faithful and true.” He’s telling John He is committed to see them come to pass. Then He announces, “They have come to pass,” (literally) meaning God sees the fulfillment of these promises as so certain, He views them as an accomplished fact already.

Revelation 21:6, 7
Verse 6: God gives Himself the title, “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end…” using the first and last letter of the Greek alphabet. By this He’s telling us He is the eternal One who created the first universe and will bring it to an end. And, of course, He is also the One who will create the new universe, but in that case He will design it to never end. Verse 6 (continued): Using words that paraphrase His call to “everyone who thirsts” in Isaiah 55:1, God promises eternal refreshment to those who thirst for His presence (Jn 4:13, 14; 7:37-39). His offer refers to the Holy Spirit, not the liquid we call water. Those who long to be full of the Holy Spirit will be allowed to drink freely from a “spring of the water of life without cost.” No one could pay for such “water,” it is a free gift to those who belong to Christ. Verse 7: Turning back to a theme which runs through these revelations, God reaffirms that those who “overcome” will inherit the wonderful relationship He has promised (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 12:11). They will view Him as their God and He will view them as His children (Gal 3:26).

Revelation 21:8
Verse 8: God’s next words are directed to those who do not “overcome.” His warning applies first of all to those who will suffer persecution at the hands of the Antichrist, but also to believers in any generation, including the seven churches mentioned earlier (Rev 1:20-3:22). All who follow Christ experience opposition, but during the final seven years believers will face unprecedented assaults on their faith and lives. There will be strong temptation to be “cowardly” when threatened, or begin to doubt Jesus in a time of false “christs” doing “signs and wonders” (Mt 24:24), or to commit the abomination of worshipping the Antichrist in order to buy or sell (Mt 24:15; Rev 13:16, 17). Any believer unwilling to overcome will be forced to participate in religious practices which involve demonic sorcery and idolatry (Rev 9:21). They will also be forced to spread the Antichrist’s lies, preaching to others “doctrines of demons” (1Ti 4:1, 2). And sadly, those who choose to follow the devil in this way will eventually end up sharing his judgment in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10). They will not only die physically (first death), but also spiritually (second death) (Mt 10:28). This means they will be alienated from God forever.

Revelation 21:9, 10
Verse 9: Through the entire process of these revelations, John has been assisted by an angel (Rev 1:1; 17:1; 19:9; 21:9; 22:6, 8, 9). Here, as earlier (Rev 17:1) John identifies the angel as “one of the seven angels who had the bowls of the seven last plagues.” From this we can assume each angel must have a distinct appearance and can be recognized. It’s not certain that this particular angel has been with him the entire time, but some angel has always been assigned to him (Rev 1:1). God must have felt John needed the care of an angel, possibly for protection or strength (Da 10:10-18), but certainly for guidance. Here the angel is instrumental in helping John receive revelation. He invites John to stand beside him so he can carry him in the Spirit to a place where he will see the next vision. Once there, he shows John the future home of the people of God whom God calls “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev 19:6-9). Verse 10: From a high mountain, John is able to see the new Jerusalem, a great city where God’s people will dwell. As he watches, it descends gently until it rests on the new earth.

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