As we finish out this series on common misunderstandings of heaven, I want to end with the end in mind, a grand image of the day when The New Heaven and the New Earth appear. There is much we don’t know, but scripture gives us more than enough to turn our hearts and minds in anticipation of that day. Here is one last view that easily robs us of the joy of heaven.
#4 Failing to realize that The New Heaven and The New Earth will Merge to create our Eternal Home.
In the previous posts, I have tried to lay the groundwork and build up to a right understanding of a single dwelling place for God and His people. We have responded to three other misconceptions. The first response, understanding the distinction between the present heaven and the present earth (see the diagram below). Second, realizing heaven is a physical place; third, that the present earth will not be annihilated. These all combine to build a picture of God’s glorious plan to bring his people into his presence.
To confuse this plan with the idea that heaven and earth will remain separate and simply be accessible to each other chips away at our perception of God’s great desire to be with us. He desires to dwell with us, to enjoy us and in turn to see us enjoying Him forever.
We see in Ephesians that through Christ, the plan of redemption was accomplished and that plan included reuniting all things in heaven and on earth.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.(Ephesians 1:7-10).
This reunion is seen in the imagery of Revelation as John describes the two coming together, being united as a bride and groom. It is the image of the New Jerusalem (New Heaven) coming down to earth so that God can now dwell in the midst of the New Earth, the place he created for his people. We will live there together for all eternity!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Revelation 21:1-3)
Anthony Hoekema affirms this idea when he says, “Since where God dwells, there heaven is, we conclude that in the life to come heaven and earth will no longer be separated, as they are now, but will be merged. Believers will therefore continue to be in heaven as they continue to live on the new earth.”
This merger is not simply semantic or a slight move in proximity that doesn’t really change anything. In reality it represents the whole point of God’s redemptive work. It is the best news we can ever hear. What should excite us most about heaven is the reality that our dwelling place will be with God. We will live in the presence of Jesus for all eternity. We don’t just get to go visit him because now heaven is open to us, rather we will live with Jesus. The New Heaven will be the New Earth and the New Earth will be Heaven and that friends should excite you.
How about you? Does the reality of living with Jesus in the same dwelling place raise your anticipation of heaven? Does knowing that He truly has prepared a place for you to be with Him increase your longing for Christ’s return?
To learn more about heaven and to strengthen your desire for our eternal home, I recommend Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven or you can click here for the audio from our Sunday School series.
Author: Rev. Wes Andrews