So now what’s left? Only the best, of course. That which those who love God have all been waiting for has finally come—the stupendous New Earth with its new and beautiful atmospheric heavens. And something even better than that, the gigantic, beautiful Heavenly City known as New Jerusalem, which John the Revelator could apparently only compare to the most beautiful thing that he had most likely ever seen before: a bride in all her beauty coming to her wedding.
But we have gotten ahead of the story here. We will look in detail at that amazing Heavenly City in the next chapter, but first let’s cover the New Earth and what—from the few glimpses that the Bible gives of it—it is going to be like. But then again we are not strictly limited to what the Bible says, for Saint Paul states, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9–10). So we will cover what the Bible says as well as let the Spirit extrapolate on some of these things and explore what God has revealed to others about that wonderful place. If anticipation is 50 percent of enjoyment, then we can have half the joy of being there now!
John the Revelator “saw a new heaven and a new Earth, for the first heaven and the first Earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1). The Earth today is clothed in its surface and its atmosphere, but as we read earlier, during the Battle of Gog and Magog at the end of the Millennium, God burns off the surface and the atmosphere. He then creates a beautiful New Earth with new heavens—this is the ultimate “anti-pollution/clean air act.” He will re-create the surface of the Earth to be like the beautiful Garden of Eden—not like a paradise, but the Paradise of God.
He will have to re-create the water and soil and plant life, although the Bible specifically states there will be “no more sea.” There is at least one river that we know of, that we will discuss later, and since this New Earth is going to be absolutely beautiful, it would seem there would be lakes.
We really don’t know if He will have to re-create all the animal life. He could have saved enough aside somehow, as He did in Noah’s Flood, to repopulate the Earth. Since He is going to re-create grass and trees and every sort of beautiful flower and plant, it would seem reasonable to believe that He will populate it all with not just people but also with animals and birds, and fish in the streams and lakes. He put many of the animals on Earth to be pets and companions for humankind, so it stands to reason that we’re still going to enjoy animals in the New Earth as well.
The New Earth will be the most beautiful place known to man. Earth as originally created was lovely, but then there was an especially beautiful place called the Garden of Eden. This time it would seem the whole surface of the Earth is going to be like that garden. Perhaps He might even consult those whom He has brought to Heaven as to what they would like!
Today, more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, so without seas there will be lots more room for the billions of resurrected folks of all the ages. The Bible also says that “every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth” (Isaiah 40:4), so there will be much more habitable and arable land.
The Earth’s current population is now over seven billion. So if all the righteous of all ages are going to be living on the New Earth, there would be a lot more than seven billion people, especially if many of those who are initially confined to Hell are rehabilitated and allowed to live on the Earth. But consider this: If a population of seven billion were all gathered together on the Australian continent (which is the smallest of the Earth’s continents), each person would have a living space of around 1,100 square meters (about 11,840 square feet). Now that is a lot of elbowroom! It roughly corresponds to a population density of four people per acre. And if you consider that Australia takes up less than 0.4 percent of the Earth’s surface area, then you can see just how much more room there is, even when considering a proportion of that is not habitable. So even if the total population of the New Earth is 10 times as much as the current world’s, there would still be a lot of room for everyone; over six acres per person when you consider that much of the space now taken up by oceans, deserts, mountains, and other uninhabitable land will be habitable.
“And there shall be no more Curse” (Revelation 22:3). Although much of the Curse has been removed during the Millennium, on the New Earth it is going to be completely gone. The last vestiges of the Curse, specifically death, will be defeated. “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). “There shall be no more death” (Revelation 21:4). All will be new and perfect and pure and the way God intended for it to be in the first place.
The Lord re-creates the Earth’s surface into the most beautiful heavenly land that man has ever known. It will be similar to the beautiful countryside of some places of the Earth today, with rolling greenery, fields and forests, streams and lakes, but it will be far better. There will be no more storms, no more great catastrophes and cataclysms or disasters, but all will be beautiful and peaceful, the very Paradise of God that all men have always longed for. The Millennium was a precursor of the New Earth—almost there, but not quite. The Curse was still partially there, and not everyone was submitted to God’s laws of love. But on the New Earth, for the first time in Earth’s history since the Garden of Eden, all will live together in perfect peace and love and harmony.
The world is going to be similar to the way it would have been if Adam and Eve had never fallen. All the inhabitants have been resurrected, and although they have bodies similar to what they had before, it is a good guess that the bodies must be different in that they are created to live forever. The gradual catabolism or wearing down of our bodies that we now experience must be gone.
In the original Garden of Eden there were two very remarkable trees. One was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is the one that Eve and then Adam disobediently ate from that brought about their fall and banishment from the Garden. And the reason given for their banishment was that they had to be prevented from then eating from the second tree, the Tree of Life.
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
Therefore it seems that Adam and Eve could have lived forever if they had partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Life. So if humankind then could have lived forever if their bodies were nourished with this fruit, if it was the missing ingredient to corporeal immortality, then look what the book of Revelation says will be available once again in the Heavenly City:
And [the angel] showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street”—or, in other words, in the middle of the river, probably on islands—”and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Here is a beautiful river that flows right out of the throne of God and through the center of the Heavenly City, which must be like a beautiful park with all these trees. And the trees are undoubtedly the same kind as the Tree of Life that stood in the Garden of Eden, and now there are many of them.
David the Psalmist once wrote: “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High” (Psalm 46:4). Surely this river of life is what he must have been referring to, as there is no river flowing through the old city of Jerusalem. It seems the prophet Ezekiel also caught a glimpse of this wonderful river and these heavenly trees and described them thus: “Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:12).
The fact that leaves are for healing (or medicine) seems to indicate that there will still be some sort of sickness. Why would the Lord provide medicine if it isn’t to be used? But if the Curse is no more—and sickness and disease are previously referred to as part of the Curse—then this would seem to be contradictory. So rather than physical healing, we can assume that the people who live on the New Earth, outside the Heavenly City, will be in need of spiritual healing.
Some of the inhabitants of this New Earth are not spoken of in the highest terms. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the City. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Revelation 22:14–15).
This is almost a carbon copy of the list of people who previously had been confined to the Lake of Fire at the Great White Throne Judgment. As we discussed in the previous chapter, it seems that after some of these people serve their time in the Lake of Fire and repent of their evil ways, they are then allowed on to the New Earth. However, it seems they still have a ways to go in being totally rehabilitated. Once they get right with God and start following His rules, then they have the right to the healing and physical immortality contained in the Tree of Life. And since these trees grow inside the Heavenly City, it would be logical that the inhabitants of that city are the ones who are responsible to administer the leaves of healing to those outside.
The City had no need of the Sun or of the Moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
The Heavenly City won’t need these lights. Yet the Bible says that the Sun and Moon will be established forever: “Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: his seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the Sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the Moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky” (Psalm 89:35–37). So on the New Earth, away from the City, the Sun, Moon and stars will evidently be visible and there will be daytime and nighttime on the Earth; as well as seasons as the Earth orbits the Sun.
And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in [the Heavenly City’s] light, and the kings of the Earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
It is a good guess that the “saved” mentioned here does not refer to those of us who have received Jesus’ salvation in this current era and who therefore have residential rights to the Heavenly City, but instead to the people saved from the punishment of the Lake of Fire who are on the outside of the City. The wonderful celestial light of the Heavenly City shines on them because their leaders—kings, as they are referred to here—bring the glory of these nations into the City. In the last chapter we found that the Book of Life contained the names of the people who were given the privilege of living on the New Earth. It seems that those who are rehabilitated from Hell are not accorded the privilege of entering into the City; that is unless their names can eventually be written in that book. Exactly what the glory of the nations would be isn’t revealed. Perhaps it is some sort of tribute, although why the Lord would want earthly tribute from these nations is rather baffling. Perhaps it has more to do with bringing the glorious reports of all that has been accomplished in their nations, and their praise and thankfulness to God.
And what will those who enter into the Heavenly City see? Read on.