This past December I had the opportunity to hike some beautiful trails in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The scenery was gorgeous and I relished the views that differ so greatly from my homeland of Northwest Ohio. As my eyes rested on the rolling hills and waterfalls, my heart was filled with gratitude and I couldn’t help but worship our awesome Creator. And though I was surrounded by such visually stunning sights, it was the air I loved the most.
Breathing in the clean, crisp, earthy air was refreshing in a way that is difficult to explain. It stood in stark contrast to a world that is chaotic, messy, and sinful: the air that filled my lungs was simple, pure, and lovely. It was completely invigorating. As I walked along the tree laden trails, I wondered if this might be what the air in heaven is like.
Now more than ever, I find myself thinking of heaven and longing for the day of Christ’s return. When I feel distressed by the current state of the world, my mind drifts to the truth filled song “Whatever May Come” by Jeremy and Adrienne Camp. The entire song is fantastic, but these lyrics always bring me to the verge of tears:
“Every wall will break, all the darkness shake, all the joy will be renewed;
So every knee let’s bow, raise a victory shout, for the King will make things new.”
The King will make things new. There does not exist a more beautiful hope than that.
This eternal hope, authored before the creation of time, was given to the Israelites in the book of Isaiah and culminates in the last chapters of the book of Revelation. By the grace of God, it is our hope as well.
After Israel was exiled to Babylon as a consequence of their rebellious hearts and rejection of God, the prophet Isaiah foretold the saving of a remnant. This saving included not only a joyous restoration to their homeland, but encompassed something far greater- the coming of a Servant and Savior. Isaiah 42:9 records these words of the Lord: “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
Again in Isaiah 43:18-19 the Lord proclaimed, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing.” The new that was promised was a Messiah who would establish a messianic kingdom- a kingdom that would include a remnant of both Israelites and Gentiles; a kingdom that would establish a new heaven and a new earth.
This Messiah, God’s Servant, would bring justice to the nations and become a light to the Gentiles. He would come willingly to atone for the sins of His people, and thereby establish a new covenant: that anyone who would believe in His name would be saved.
In the first book of the New Testament, we learn that Jesus is the promised Servant and Messiah (Matthew 12:15-21). It is he, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who will make all things new. To those who receive him, hearts and lives will be remade. For as the Lord promised in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” The Apostle Paul also made this clear in 2 Corinthians 5:17 when he proclaimed, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
While we are still on this earth we marvel in humble adoration at the beauty of our salvation- and we revel in the promise of what is to come. For we know there will be a day when Christ returns for his bride, the remnant whom he purchased with his life, death, and resurrection. Indeed, his second coming will be the consummation of all things being made new.
This great hope is found in chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation. It is here we are reminded the earth we now call home will one day pass away. And it is here we read the description of the new heaven and the new earth- of the New Jerusalem, the City of God.
Listen to these words from the Apostle John:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be nor more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:3-4).
What a glorious hope we have in Christ! While our eyes, ears, and hearts cannot imagine what God has prepared for us in heaven, God through John has graciously given us a glimpse of our eternal home:
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal…And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass…and the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb…the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever (Revelation 21:10-22:5).
As phenomenal the picture conceived in our minds of the above verses may be, all of that will pale in comparison to seeing our Creator and Savior face to face. “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:3-4).
In his magnificent book, City of God, St. Augustine so beautifully described this pinnacle of our heavenly joy: “God will be the source of every satisfaction, more than any heart can rightly crave, more than life and health, food and wealth, glory and honor, peace and every good- so that God, as St. Paul said, ‘may be all in all.’”
Yes, and Amen! Praise God that our fallen hearts are made new, that all will be redeemed through Christ, and for the promise of a new heaven and a new earth. This hope is the anchor of our souls, the hope of which we are certain. Let us therefore rejoice, for we know our Savior is coming soon! May we continue to walk faithfully with him here on this earth knowing we will someday walk with him in the sweet air of our eternal home.