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Apr
09

Second Eden: The Garden of Forever

By

heart.tree

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:1-5, NLT).

The Bible begins with a garden and ends with a garden. It is the goal toward which all creation is moving. Sometimes people ask the question, “What is the meaning of life?” The short answer, for me anyway, is to view life as a gift from God whereby we come to know Him and enjoy him forever. The final garden of Scripture is a picture of life in eternity with God.

Before the end comes the end of evil. Revelation 20 describes the climactic end of evil. It’s not the conquest of evil, for that was achieved by Christ on the cross. With the coming of Christ comes the cessation of all evil in the world. On the heels of that end comes life forever with God in the garden.

The first thing the Apostle John wants the reader to know about heaven is that everything there is new. He writes of a new heaven, a new earth, and a new city (Jerusalem). At the same time, all that is old is gone forever. When John speaks of the newness of second Eden, he intends for us to understand that its not another of the same kind. It’s not a re-mastered or remixed edition of the old. It is new in kind. There is enough continuity that makes it recognizable, but this new heaven and new earth is the unveiling of a totally transformed and redeemed place. Everything that was lost in original Eden will then be redeemed and renewed.

The second thing John cites is that this city is holy and new, separate and unique from anything we have known or experienced. The fact that it is a city reminds us of the communal nature of our faith. And the fact that it comes down from God helps us understand that it is a gift. It’s not like our city’s growth which is often described as building up. It comes down from God. It’s beauty and presentation is like a bride prepared to come down the aisle.

The purpose of all of this is to restore God’s presence among his people…the kind of presence Adam and Eve enjoyed in original Eden where God came and spoke freely with them in the cool of the day. God is so vested in this new city that He calls it his home. Home is a place of consolation, and we find consolation from God as he wipes away all tears from our eyes. They are not tears of joy, but the tears that came from sin’s distortion of God’s purposes for people. This is such a vivid and certain image that God instructed John to put it in writing. It’s going to happen this way!
John pauses at this moment to share an invitation. The new heaven, the new earth and city have been unveiled for us so that we might live with hope. But there are many who are without hope.

“It is finished! I am the Alpha and Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be there God, and they will be my children” (Revelation 21:6-7).

This is Jesus’ invitation to find life and experience immortality in his presence in eternity. But the invitation implies a choice.

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshippers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

In short, all are invited, but not all will accept the invitation. We may be tempted to read verse eight and then use it as an instrument of judgment or to make it a point of arrogance. But that’s not the point. The point of included verse eight is to remind us that as the people of God we are on mission. While we may be comforted and even inspired by John’s images of heaven, we must be reminded that we are called to carry the message to those who need the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Categories : Gardens

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