WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – As we walk through our first day in heaven, our eyes will open wide with surprise after surprise, and our faces will flush with joy after joy. Wow! after Wow! – sometimes shouted, sometimes whispered – will burst from our lips at what we find there.
We’ll also breathe deep, grateful sighs of relief at what we don’t find there, at what is completely missing from heaven. All the regret, disappointment, sadness, and fear that have burdened every day of our lives, now gone forever. Every tear will be wiped away, and “grief, crying, and pain will be no more.” We’ll never again experience the anguish of losing a loved one because “Death will be no more” (21:4).
One reason we’ll be free from all sorrow and distress is that no one who could cause these will be there: “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars” will be gone (Rev 21:8 NAS). We’ll never again encounter a person who could hurt us or sway us to hurt another.
None of these toxic emotions or influences will be there because they are “the previous things” belonging to “the first heaven and the first earth,” and they will have all “passed away” (Rev 21:1-4). They were part of the Genesis 3:17 curse, and you will discover on your first day in the new heaven and earth that “there will no longer be any curse” (Rev 22:3). Every remaining vestige of the rebellion of men and of demons will be gone.
These are some of the things that will be missing from heaven, but most of John’s vision in this passage describes the things that are present there: glories that will overwhelm our senses on that first day.
The physical characteristics of our new home will be awe-inspiring: “I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a precious jewel” (Rev 21:2,10-11). John saw the capital of heaven as a massive cube, 1,500 miles long, wide, and high surrounded by an outer wall of jasper 216 feet thick. “The city was pure gold clear as glass. The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of jewel … Each individual gate was made of a single pearl.” (Rev 21:16-21).
John has much more to say about the New Jerusalem. However, its main feature, the one that will make us temporarily forget all the others on our first day, is the personal presence of God the Father and Jesus at the city’s center, directly and eternally accessible to all its citizens:
“The Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple … His servants will worship him. They will see his face.” “He will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God” (Rev 21:22; 22:3-4; 21:3).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – Scripture has much to say about heaven, and it is no accident that the Lord had John close both Revelation and the Bible with the intense description in these two final chapters. According to Revelation 21:7, we shall inherit all of it as beloved children. God wants us to think on it, to yearn for it, to live in its light. Our Lord knows that the more we long for heaven, the more useful we will be on earth.