We jump from chapter 7 to chapter 21 in Revelation. The first two verses give us hope. Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had disappeared and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride dressed in beauty for her husband. Phillips
This statement should clear up common misunderstandings about Heaven and where we expect to spend eternity. We will be on the New Earth in the city of New Jerusalem. We will not be sitting on clouds strumming harps.
Revelation gives us some detail of the city—walls 216 feet thick and 1,382 miles long and high, forming a cube. If you drive from Denver to the East Coast, that’s about the distance. And that’s just the city. Nothing is said about the land outside, except that we can come and go through any of twelve gates. You swimmers may be disappointed that the oceans will not be on the new earth, but I’m guessing there will be plenty of clean pools.
What Revelation does not give us is detail about our lives in the New Jerusalem. No suffering sounds good, but what else? Chapter 22:1-2: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. ESV No more eating animals. We’ll be able to sleep with lions.
Look at Matthew 5:17-18. Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah — not until everything that must happen has happened. CJB
How many times have I breezed on past the underlined passage? In the words of John Klein and Adam Spears, In this passage Yeshua is explaining that Torah (the Hebrew word here for Law) will not pass away but will be fulfilled, not at the death and resurrection of the Messiah but at the end of the thousand-year reign. Lost in Translation, vol. 3 We clearly have a long wait.
I read several comments on the Rapture and can safely say that no human knows much about it. From the several Bible passages, it is clear to me that at some point Jesus will return to earth. He will be the same Jesus who ascended into Heaven. Acts 1:9-11. After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” NIV
All the efforts to count the years and guess if this happens before that have led to confusion about the end times. Let us leave it to God as Jesus suggested we should. Matthew 24:36. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. NIV
What we know is, Blessed are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city. NJB The only way to wash our robes is in the blood of Jesus.
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.