The Seventh “Last Thing”: The New Heaven and the New Earth (Rev. 21:1-8) -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:628 (Oct 2000)
Article: The Seventh “Last Thing”: The New Heaven and the New Earth (Rev. 21:1-8)
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Seventh “Last Thing”: The New Heaven and the New Earth (Rev. 21:1-8)a

David J. MacLeodb

Several years ago a reporter for a Chicago radio station took a survey at O’Hare Field, Chicago’s busy airport. He stopped about thirty people in one of the terminals and asked them, “Do you know for sure that you will go to heaven when you die?” The response from all thirty was “No.” A few were indignant that he would ask such a question. Several said, “No one could know such a thing as that.”1

Human destiny. What an awesome thought to cross the mind. After someone has lived out his mortal life, what then? According to a Newsweek poll, 77 percent of Americans believe in heaven.2 Yet many do not want to talk about it.

This modern response to the biblical doctrine of heaven and hell demonstrates the great gulf between the Christian faith and the modern world. The difference is between hope and despair, that is, between two totally different views of life.3 Many people say there is no meaning to life. They tell themselves that death is inevitable, a normal event of organic nature. But the truth is that death scares them.

The Christian view, however, says that the ultimate questions (the meaning of life and the threat of death) are things about which people can have great assurance. For believers the things the Bible

says about the meaning of life and human destiny are a sure foundation.4 For them death is a door to everlasting joy and happiness.5

To Christians, the world beyond this world is what makes the difference. Heaven gives meaning to life on earth because, in spite of rebellion and sin, this is God’s world. Believers face death with hope because of their assurance that heaven is their next home. This confidence toward death gives them confidence toward life. The heavenly mansion at the end of life’s pilgrimage makes a tremendous difference during the pilgrimage itself.6

Revelation 21:1–8 is all about the future life of God’s people. In these verses John presented “the last of the Last Things and the end of the visionary drama”7 of the Book of Re...

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