Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. —Revelation 21:1
The final two chapters of the Bible are a virtual travel brochure of heaven. If you’re like me, you love travel guidebooks and brochures. My bedside table is stacked with books about places I’d like to visit and trips I’d like to make. At the top of the list is Revelation 21-22, the ultimate travel guide. It’s a description of heaven.
Too many of us have a vaporous view of eternity. We picture it as clouds, harps, robes, and never-ending worship services. But the Bible teaches that God is going to recreate the universe and give us a new planet Earth. This new Earth will be a lot like the old one, only imperishable. No sin or sinners. No sorrow or suffering. No pain or pollution. No tears. No death.
“Earth” is not a nebulous word. It’s a real place with rivers, trees, fields, and cities; the new Earth will be undoubtedly similar, only without the vast oceanic wastelands. Often when I’m visiting a beautiful place like Yosemite National Park, I think of the words of an old song that says, “How beautiful heaven must be.” Those who know Christ will enjoy the beauties of the new heaven, the new Earth, and the new city of Jerusalem forever. What anticipation!
Anticipation is the most positive of positive emotions. As children, we grow excited over upcoming events like Christmas morning, birthdays, and trips to Disneyland. As we age, we mustn’t lose that wondering sense of anticipation. I still look forward enormously to my trips, reading everything I can about the place I’m planning to see. The anticipation is as enjoyable as the actual event.
I read about one study in which volunteers were told they had won a free dinner at a fabulous French restaurant and were asked when they would like to eat there. Now? Tonight? Tomorrow? The meal was available at any time, but most of volunteers put off the dinner for a week or so. Researchers discovered that in doing so, the participants not only enjoyed the meal, but they had a full seven days of looking forward to it. As one man put it, “Forestalling pleasure is an inventive technique for getting double the juice from half the fruit.”
The dictionary defines anticipation as “pleasurable expec-tation.” The Bible calls it hope. It is certainty centered not probability based, and our ultimate and greatest hope is eternal life in the new heaven, the new Earth, and the new city.
The first earth serves as the prototype or pattern for the new earth. There’s continuity between old and new. We should expect new trees, new flowers, new rocks, new rivers, new mountains, and new animals. As our current bodies are the blueprints for our resurrection bodies, this present earth is the blueprint for the new earth. —Randy Alcorn
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