Bible Verse: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’” (Revelation 21:3)

Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:1-27

This story is far from over. There is a final and glorious sixth act. The curtain will rise one more time and this time it will not fall. In the pages of the ancient library called the Bible, we see glimpses of the future, particularly in the book of Revelation and a few select passages of Paul’s writings. Woven through are hints of what is still to come, clues to the final, glorious act in God’s story.

Here is what we can piece together. One day Jesus will appear again on center stage and announce that Act Five is over. Then he will come to rule and reign as the rightful King of all people. How is this new life described in the Bible?
It will be like:

a beautiful city descending from heaven,
a radiant bride just wed to her groom,
a joining of God and his people in eternal covenant,
a land where lion lies down with lamb,
a world where all nations live together in harmony and peace,
a mountain from which a life-giving river gushes and flows into a beautiful valley where the trees of life line the river’s banks.

Over and over again, the ancient books of the Bible paint joyful, hopeful images of the perfect world our hearts long for.
Even nature celebrates the renewal that Jesus will usher in. Animals, birds, fish, plants, the land, the sea, the sky, and the earth itself will be restored to wholeness and peace. The transformation leaves nothing untouched or unchanged.

Jesus, the resurrected one, will raise all who have died so that they can join those who are still alive. He joyfully welcomes into his new creation all those who have humbly embraced his love, forgiveness, and life-changing power. Sadly, those who have willfully chosen to reject God’s grace and mercy will be left out of the picture. They will face judgment, but not from a vindictive judge. They will be judged by the one who has the perfect, intimate knowledge, wisdom, and grace to see clearly and judge justly. He alone will decide who is righteous and who is not. I am glad that is not my call.

The earth will be transformed, recapturing the vision of the Garden of Eden, but with one important difference: the tree of “I will decide for myself what is right and wrong” will not be there. Instead, God will plant many “trees of life” to nurture and sustain his people for all eternity. It is the beautiful, simple, and secure world God originally envisioned, now miraculously and completely realized.

In this vision of the future we see that there is no temple, no rite, and no ritual. Religion has disappeared forever in the new heaven and new earth. Finally, only love will guide humanity, which is being renewed into an ever-deepening experience of love, joy, and peace. Could it get any better than that?

— Tim Day in God Enters Stage Left
Copyright © 2013 by Tim Day

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