By Revelation 21 the destruction of God’s enemies is complete. Babylon was defeated in Revelation 18:20, the beast and false prophet in 19:20, and Satan in 20:10. The last two chapters give us a glimpse of the Christian’s eternal home. No doubt, this encouraged those Christians who first received the letter as they were under such heavy persecution.
Chapter 21 begins with a look at the “new heavens and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1-8). The basic idea is we will have fellowship with God. The new heavens and new earth are not to be thought of like the ones we now think of. The current universe will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:10-12). Again, the symbolic nature of the book must be remembered. The underlying truth is that the righteous will have an eternal dwelling place with God; one where we will enjoy His immediate presence and fellowship (Rev. 21:3).
Our existence in this “new heavens and a new earth” will be like none we have known (Rev. 21:4). All tears will be wiped away. There will be no death, sorrow, crying, or pain. Can we even imagine such a place? The thirsty will take of the waters of life freely (cf. Matt. 5:6; Jn. 4:10).
This picture of bliss is balanced with the stark reality of the lost. They will experience great torment in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8). Those who are guilty of “great sins” (sexual immorality, murder) along with those guilty of “lesser sins” (lies, cowardly) will suffer this eternal vengeance.
The outside of New Jerusalem is described in Revelation 21:9-21. The picture is one of great strength and stability. Nothing can penetrate it walls or shake it from its foundations. It is decorated with precious jewels and stones, having beauty beyond compare.
The inside of the city is just as splendid. In Revelation 21:22-22:5, the interior is detailed and brings great awe and joy to the child of God. The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are both the temple and light of the city. The ones present in the city are the saved of the nations; and they are the only ones. Nothing wicked or sinful will dwell in this grand abode (Rev. 21:27).
In New Jerusalem is the “river of the water of life” as well as the tree of life (Rev. 22:1, 2). The curse is removed, the curse of sin and separation from God is completely absent. It is truly paradise regained! In the endless day, the saints shall reign with their Lord.
The final segment of Revelation is both an exhortation and warning (22:6-21). The things in the book, prior to Revelation 21, would shortly take place (Rev. 22:6, 7, 10, 12, 20; 1:1; 2:5, 16; 3:3, 11). John fell down to worship the angel but was rebuked and told to worship God.
The ones who received the message of the book—destruction for God’s enemies and deliverance for God’s children—could accept it or reject it. If they rejected it, the angel declares let him be unjust and filthy still. The ones who accepted it were to continue to be righteous and holy. No other message is coming, no other warnings to be given, this is it—take it or leave it.
The Lord exhorts that we will all be held accountable according to our works (Rev. 22:12). The ones who keep His commandments will be blessed. Those who do not will be barred from His blessings. Any addition or subtraction from the book would result in a curse.
The Lord tells John He is coming quickly. John’s exuberant reply is, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Can we say the same? Are we ready for Him to come in judgment, whether in time or eternity?
Steven F. Deaton