Introduction to The New Heaven and Earth Message

We’re nearing the end of our message series called “Understanding the End Times.” God’s Word tells us that we’re living in the last days. The last days are the time from when Jesus ascended into heaven until He returns again at the second coming. Today, we’re going to look at the far future. We’re going to see what the Bible has to say about what eternity will be like for the believer.

Last Sunday, we learned that at Jesus’ return, believers will receive resurrection bodies that are designed to live forever. Believers who have died will be resurrected and those who are alive at Christ’s return will be changed to have the same resurrection or spiritual bodies.

At the return of Christ, Satan will be bound for 1000 years on this earth. During that time, Jesus Christ and believers in their resurrected bodies will rule and reign during those 1000 years, called the millennium. At the end of the millennium, Satan will be loosed and deceive the nations into a massive rebellion against the rule of Jesus Christ. Christ will crush the rebellion and all rebels and evil forces, including Satan himself will be cast into the lake of fire, which is hell. The present earth and heaven will be destroyed and God will create a new heaven and earth. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

My message is entitled “The New Heaven and Earth.” The new heavens and earth will be the home of the believer forever. It will be a place in which evil of all kinds has been removed. The new heaven and earth will be a place of perfection and holiness in which God’s glory dwells.

Notice that our eternal home is not just heaven, it is a new heavens and a new earth. The two will merge into the perfect paradise that God has designed for believers to live forever with Him in their resurrected bodies.

2 Peter 3:10, 13 (NIV)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. … But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The day of the Lord is the entire sequence of events that are set into motion at the return of Christ. There is much that we don’t have time to mention today, such as the judgments of God at His return. The present heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire and God will create a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness reigns.

Revelation 21:1-2 (NIV)  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

The new heaven and earth will be paradise restored. The original paradise, the garden of Eden was defiled by sin and the resultant curse. In the new heaven and earth, the curse, sin and evil will be completely removed. God will dwell with His people in the new heaven and earth forever.

Why does God show us what is to come? What practical purpose does it serve?

C.S. Lewis, a famous theologian said

“The Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most about the next … It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will see earth thrown in: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

2 Peter 3:11-12a (NIV)  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives  as you look forward to the day of God …

In other words, thinking about eternity, thinking about the new heaven and earth should motivate us to live holy and godly lives today. Lives that bring honor to Jesus and lead others to know Him. So, what will the new heaven and earth be like? Today, we’re going to look at some passages from the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel. In the last part of the book of Ezekiel, the prophet wrote about a glorious temple that was coming. The temple that Ezekiel saw in a vision was picture of what the new heaven and earth will be like.

If you read Revelation 21-22, the last two chapters in the Bible, you will see the vision of Ezekiel described as the new heaven and earth. So, let’s get a glimpse of eternity, things that we can hardly imagine in the new heaven and earth.

God’s glory will be there

Ezekiel 43:2 (NIV)  and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory.

What is glory? Glory is a difficult word to define. When used with respect to God, glory speaks of God’s glorious revelation of himself. Glory speaks of honor, of beautiful luminous light, of holiness, of the presence of God. In earlier visions, Ezekiel had seen the glory of God depart from the temple because of the many sins of the nation of Israel. Now, in Ezekiel’s final vision, he sees the glory of God returning, with God speaking and the entire land shining with his glory.

God’s glory will fill everything

Ezekiel 43:4-5 (NIV)  The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the gate facing east.  Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

In the vision, the glory of God came and entered the temple and completely filled the temple. In the Old Testament, the temple was the place on earth in which the special presence of God dwelt. Specifically, God’s glory was concentrated in the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant was kept. However, in this vision, God’s glory fills the entire temple, pervading every aspect of it. These passages in Ezekiel are visions, not to be taken literally. In the new heaven and earth, every aspect of the new creation will be God’s temple, for His glory will fill everything.

Revelation 21:22 (NIV)  I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

As we read previously in Revelation 21, this city, the new Jerusalem, filled with glory of God will come down from heaven into the new earth. God the Father and Jesus, the Lamb are the temple of the new heaven and earth.

God will live with His people

Ezekiel 43:7a (NIV)  He said: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.

God created man to have an eternal relationship with him, living with him in close fellowship. However, that relationship was broken by sin in the garden of Eden. Through Jesus, our relationship with God can be restored. So, God lives in the believer today in this life. However, we do not yet see God with our eyes, we are not able to touch Jesus, we are not able to live with Him in fullness, as God desires. We enjoy aspects of our relationship with God, but there is much, much more to come. As God lives with His people in the new heaven and earth forever. How should we respond?

Our response should be repentance and faith

Ezekiel 43:9-10 (NIV)  Now let them put away from me their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings, and I will live among them forever.  “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins.

What effect was Ezekiel’s vision supposed to have on the Israelites of his day? This vision of God’s glory in the new heaven and earth should have caused them to be ashamed of their sins and repent. The vision of the future should have made them turn away from their sins and idolatry to serve the one true living God. Yet, most of Israel did not repent, nor turn away from their sins. So, God’s judgment fell on them through the Babylonian empire. And when the majority of Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah, the Romans destroyed the physical temple in Jerusalem, once and for all.

In the Old Testament, God dwelt in a physical temple. Once Jesus came, the Bible teaches that God dwells in individual believers. Our bodies are a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell. The Bible also teaches that the church is God’s temple, made up of believers, where His Spirit dwells. As we repent of our sins and live holy lives for the Lord, the glory of God will fill the temple of our lives, even here and now.

As believers, we are to live lives the show people a foretaste of what life in the new heavens and earth will be like. We are to shine forth God’s glory through our lives in all we say and do. In the new heaven and earth …

God’s eternal life will flow

Ezekiel 47:1 (NIV)  The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar.

In the temple that Ezekiel saw, water was flowing out of the temple, water that, as we’ll see, was the source of a mighty river. Again, this is obviously not a physical temple with a river coming from it. It is a picture, a vision, of what life will be like in the awesome new heaven and earth. What is this river?

God’s river is the Spirit’s living water

Ezekiel 47:5 (NIV)  He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in–a river that no one could cross.

In the vision, a man took Ezekiel deeper and deeper into the water flowing from the temple. Finally, the water was so deep, it had become a river that could not be crossed. It was a river, not just to wade in or get your feet wet, but a river to swim in, a river to be immersed in. The river coming from the temple is a picture of the Spirit’s living water, flowing from God’s presence into the whole earth. What does the river do?

God’s river removes the curse

Ezekiel 47:9 (NIV)  Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.

Underline that last phrase, “where the river flows everything will live.” The river brings God’s life to everything it touches. In the original paradise, the garden of Eden, a river flowed from Eden into the earth. Yet, from Eden flowed the curse, which brought death to every aspect of the earth, as a result of sin. God’s river in the new heaven and earth removes the effect of the curse. This is specifically stated in Revelation 22:3, “no longer will there be any curse.” What else does the river do?

God’s river gives abundance and healing

Ezekiel 47:12 (NIV)  Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

The river will provide water for all kinds of fruit trees that grow along it’s banks. These are not ordinary trees that bear fruit once a year and whose leaves wither in the fall. No, these trees were bear fruit every month, they will be continually fruitful. Why? Because they are watered with the river of life flowing from the temple. The fruit of these trees will provide for food and healing. Revelation 22 calls these trees, the tree of life. The tree that Adam and Eve were forbidden from eating because of their sin, will be available to eat from, in the new heaven and earth. What should our response be to seeing the river of the new heavens and earth?

Let the river flow from your life

John 7:38 (NIV)  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

The Bible says that in this life, believers are a temple of the Holy Spirit. God’s glory lives within you. Here, Jesus says that whoever believes in Him, streams of living water will flow from that believer. What are those streams of living water? The Bible tells us in the next verse.

John 7:39 (NIV)  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

As we let the Spirit flow from our lives, He can begin to do through our lives, what will be completed in the new heaven and earth. The Spirit can bring life to everyone and everything He touches. The Spirit can meet needs and bring healing as you allow Him to flow from your life. Let the river flow from your life so that life of God can touch many others.

What will the new heavens and earth be like? God’s glory will be there and His life will flow through it like a river. The new heavens and earth will be beyond anything we could imagine or dream.

The new heavens and earth will be the fullness of the kingdom of God. What do we pray in the Lord’s prayer? “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That prayer will be fully answered in the new heavens and earth. Yet, even now, God’s kingdom comes near through the lives of believers who are fully committed to Jesus Christ.

God wants our lives to be temples that shine forth His glory. God desires the life of His Spirit to flow through us like a river, bringing life, abundance and healing to everyone around us. Let’s seek God to do our part in bringing His kingdom and will to this earth.

Message Audio, Outline & Study Guide

Understanding the End Times Message Series

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