New Earth, Eden Restored


54 A New Heaven and a New Earth

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. Revelation 21:1

Jesus prepared the holy city.1 Jesus Christ Himself constructed the spectacular New Jerusalem. Nothing of beauty or usefulness has been left out. After 2,000 years of emptiness and inactivity, the city is about to be filled with the joyous, teeming, human race.

Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary was the watershed event of the everlasting covenant. Anticipation based on the prophecies became a fact to which end-time generations looked in faith. It was the crowning event of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. The Son of God was victorious. He established forever love, persuasion, and freedom as the basis for the government of God. Through art, science, praise, and song, the uncounted multitudes of humans and angels respond to the Redeemer who came, to the Father who gave, and to the Holy Spirit who made effective the grace of God in each life.

The everlasting covenant has achieved its purpose. This is not the end, but rather the beginning-the beginning of a life that has no end, with no separations, and no limit to what God’s children can learn and do.


I Have Called You Friends

The disciples had lived for three and half years learning from the master Teacher. His grace, love, and sinless personality drew to Him all who did not resist His drawing. He had become to them a friend, and their attachment to Him was deep.2 When it became apparent that He would soon leave them, their only question was: When will He come back again?3

Jesus spoke of eternal life and other glorious gifts for those who followed Him. In Revelation 21 and 22, the apostle John described the home of the saved in detail, Nonetheless, there were hints of future glory before this.4


God So Loved the World

At the creation, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Gen. 1:31). God was proud of His creation-especially the humans that He made. “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NCV). Jesus’ statement speaks of the plan of salvation laid in the council of the Godhead before the creation.

The perfection of Eden we can only imagine, yet we still see hints of its beauty in this world. Even with our most vivid imagination, we fall short of knowing what God has in store for us, for “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9, NIV).


Reigning With Him

When Jesus comes again, He takes the saints to heaven where “they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6). While Satan spends a lonely 1,000 years in contemplation of his evil course, the saints are in heaven taking part in a judgment of the wicked. During this time, all questions about the justice and mercy of God are answered. Every person must understand why some people were saved and others lost. Above all, the sorrow of the angels and the pain felt by Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross will be portrayed. The saints will shed many tears, which will be wiped away in the New Jerusalem. Through this judgment, the saints’ love and appreciation for what Christ has done will grow to such dimensions that no one will ever cross into sin. Affliction shall not arise the second time.

It is only after the judgment that Satan and the wicked are brought to life again. It is only at this time that the New Jerusalem descends to this earth, and the saints are permitted to enter. The Bible does not state the exact sequence of events, but it appears that the holy city, new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2) arrives before God purifies this earth. Satan and the resurrected wicked of all ages encircle “the camp of the saints” (Rev. 20:9) in an attempt to take the city.

It is then that Satan, his angels, and the wicked of all ages are cast into the lake of fire. Sin and sinners are destroyed for all eternity. It is a fire that burns for a short time and then goes out.5 The saints will then live in a new earth and a New Jerusalem without taint of sin or decay. The beauty of the new earth cannot be imagined. The redeemed will enjoy perfect health, boundless energy, and expanded powers of the mind. Revelation 21 and 22 describes in more detail the perfection of the new earth. Even more than the beauty of the place is that Jesus is there!

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Rev. 21:3)

Jesus, who drew all people and loved them on earth, will draw them even more strongly in the new earth. Jesus has chosen to become a human being for all eternity and live among the human race.6 What more could one ask? This is a greater gift than the riches and beauty of the new earth.

His tender compassion fell with a touch of healing upon weary and troubled hearts. Even amid the turbulence of angry enemies He was surrounded with an atmosphere of peace. The beauty of His countenance, the loveliness of His character, above all, the love expressed in look and tone, drew to Him all who were not hardened in unbelief. Had it not been for the sweet, sympathetic spirit that shone out in every look and word, He would not have attracted the large congregations that He did. The afflicted ones who came to Him felt that He linked His interest with theirs as a faithful and tender friend, and they desired to know more of the truths He taught. Heaven was brought near. They longed to abide in His presence, that the comfort of His love might be with them continually.7


Given to Humanity Forever

When Jesus came to this earth, became human, and lived as a man among men, He gave to humanity a gift that He will not take back. When He ascended to heaven, the angels said, “this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). In the following verses, Scripture more fully describes Jesus’ eternal gift of humanity:

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
“Even as a human being He will bear the marks of His crucifixion through eternity. His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, and there is the hiding of His power” (Hab. 3:4, NASB).
“And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zech. 13:6).
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).

The science of redemption is the science of all sciences; the science that is the study of the angels, and of all the intelligences of the unfallen worlds; the science that engages the attention of our Lord and Saviour; the science that enters into the purpose brooded in the mind of the Infinite”-kept in silence through times eternal”; the science that will be the study of God’s redeemed throughout the endless ages.8 This is the highest study in which it is possible for man to engage. As no other study can, it will quicken the mind, and uplift the soul.”

The themes of redemption will employ the hearts and minds and tongues of the redeemed through the everlasting ages. They will understand the truths which Christ longed to open to His disciples, but which they did not have faith to grasp. Forever and forever new views of the perfection and glory of Christ will appear. Through endless ages the faithful Householder will bring forth from His treasures things new and old.9

Affliction Shall Not Rise the Second Time In the new earth, when God’s people understand what their redemption cost, their gratitude and love will deepen, and their praise will be louder. They will dedicate their praise, songs, and creativity to return to Him the glory He gave up to redeem mankind.

Mankind will still have power of choice. If God should take away the human power of choice, then Jesus need not have made His sacrifice on Calvary. We have this promise: “What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time” (Nahum 1:9). Fellowship with Christ and knowing Him as a friend and the cost of our redemption will raise a barrier against sin in the minds of every intelligent being. Sin shall not rise again!

In this life, even the best of plans can be spoiled by faulty human beings. Will it be different in the new earth? When Jesus comes again, “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). The sinful nature we each inherited from Adam, He will cleanse. Pride, selfishness, and unbelief, He will remove. We will forget the sins we have committed. The people who were offended, those who saw the offense, and even God Himself will not remember!

With Christ enthroned in each person’s heart, he or she will gladly keep the law of God. Each person will bring forth love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, and faith. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isa. 11:9; 65:25).


Endnotes

1. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3).

2. Jesus is the believer’s friend (Luke 12:4; John 15:13-15).

3. When will Jesus come back? The question and the answer are in John 14:2, 3 and Matthew 24.

4. Hints of the glory to come are in Isaiah 60; 62; 65:17-25; 66; and 1 Corinthians 2:9.

5. The lake of fire burns a short time and then goes out (Rev. 20:10, 13, 14; Rom. 6:23; Mal. 4:1, 3; Isa. 47:14).

6. Jesus will be human for eternity (1 John 3:2; Zech. 13:6; Hab. 3:4).

7. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1898), p. 254