The New Jerusalem

UntitledI am writing this article after teaching this past weekend at Hoffmantown Kids. I usually write before I teach, in order to think through the subject and be better prepared to share the lesson. Last week, I taught on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This lesson is about the New Jerusalem that God is going to bring down from heaven to the new earth. The question is, “why is there a need for a new earth and a new Jerusalem”? I am so glad that you asked that question because I want to answer it in this article. There are 5 aspects that we need to focus on in order to understand the new Jerusalem.

I. Perfect Creation

The idea that there is going to be a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem implies that the old is replaced because it is broken. When we look at the world around us, we see and realize that this current creation is broken. When we open the very first book of the Bible, we learn that the original creation was perfect. What we see now is not how things were originally created. In Genesis 1, after each day of creation, God looked at what He created and exclaimed, “it is good!” After the sixth day of creation, God looked at His creation, which now included mankind, and exclaimed, “it is very good!” In fact, I would like to include God’s Words:

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31)

Looking at our current world is like looking at an automobile junkyard and claiming that whoever made automobiles does not know what he or she is doing. Again, what we see today is not what the original creation was like. What brought about the change? Let’s find out in the next paragraph.

II. Disobedience (sin)

After God looked at mankind, He exclaimed that it was very good. Mankind was created perfect, just like the rest of creation. Something happened to change everything. After God created man (Adam), He gave some very specific commands to Adam.

16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2)

The positive part of the command was that the man could eat freely from any of the many, many trees of the garden. Many times, we go right to the negative part of a command, instead of seeing all of the positive. Adam could eat from all the trees except 1. We tend to focus on the 1, instead of the many. Mankind was created perfect, with free will to be able to choose to obey or disobey authority. God is the authority figure. There are blessings for obedience and consequences for disobedience.

In Genesis 3, Satan comes on the scene to deceive mankind through lies. He focuses on the 1 thing that they cannot have instead of all of the things that they could have. The clincher in the conversation is found in verse 5:

“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God (Genesis 3:5)

You can be your own god. You no longer have to have an authority figure in your life other than yourself. You can do what you want and there will be no consequences. You do not have to have someone telling you what to do all the time. The phrase used in verse 5, “you will be like God” is loaded. The previous sentences capture some of the weight of what the enemy meant in that one phrase. Mankind bought into the lie. The man and woman chose to disobey God, thinking that there would not be any consequences. As a result of this action, sin entered the world. Sin means doing what God says not to do. It also means not doing what God says to do. Sin is disobedience to the Word of God. Sin cursed mankind to death. Sin cursed the entire creation. The world in which we currently live is broken. This is why there is a need for a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem. What about people, is there a solution to make us new as well? Let’s find out in the next paragraph.

III. God’s Promised Solution

God knew that mankind was going to break His perfect creation. He already had the solution in mind. This is where we first learn of God’s mercy and grace. Adam and Eve deserved immediate, physical death for their actions. Mercy means, “not giving people what they actually deserve”. Can you imagine if you created something perfect and someone came in and ruined it on purpose? How would you feel? Would you want the person to fix what he had broken? God could have demanded this but He did not. Instead, God showed grace to Adam and Eve. Grace mean giving people what they do not deserve. Adam and Eve, as well as all of mankind, did not deserve a second change but, God chose to give a second chance through His ultimate solution for sin.

In Genesis 3, God, as He reveals the consequences of disobedience, also reveals His solution for the ages.

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God is speaking to Satan, while Adam and Eve are there listening. Eve hears that her seed will crush the head of the enemy. The word “seed” in Hebrew is masculine, singular. Eve was looking for a male child to come and rescue her and all of creation. Eve believed the Word of God. She was looking forward to a Savior. In Genesis 4, Eve actually believes that Cain, her firstborn son is the Savior that she is looking for to rescue her.

Then Adam knew his wife, and she became pregnant. She bore a son and said, “By the Lord’s help I have gotten a male child.” So she named him Cain. (Genesis 4:1)

Eve was about 4,000 years too early. Looking back now, we know that in Genesis 3, God was referring to Jesus Christ. Eve did not have all of the information that we have today. Naturally, when she saw her firstborn as a male, she assumed that God had fulfilled His promise. Eve had faith in the Word of God, looking forward to the Messiah. The same language is used in Genesis 12 and Genesis 15. God promised a “seed” to Abraham that would be a blessing to the world. The Apostle Paul explains in one of his epistles that the “seed” was Jesus Christ. Abraham believed the Word of God. He was looking forward to a male who would be the Savior of the world.

With the above in mind, let’s take a look at John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Jesus is the “seed” for whom all of the Old Testament believers awaited all the days of their lives. He is the “seed” to whom we look for Salvation, just like Eve and Abraham. John 3:16 is in the context of being born again. When we believe in Jesus Christ the way that Eve and Abraham did, God makes us new by causing us to be born again. John 1 teaches us that this is when we are adopted into the family of God. We become children of God by being born again through faith in Jesus Christ.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, (John 1:12)

Once we are born again, we are set up to be a part of the new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem. This is one of the many blessings of placing your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. In the next paragraph, we will examine the multiple blessings/benefits of being in the new Jerusalem.

IV. The blessings and benefits of following Christ

In Revelation 21, we learn about the new Jerusalem created by God, that comes down from heaven to the new earth.

and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Those who place their faith in Jesus Christ will be in the new Jerusalem. God’s physical presence will also be in the new Jerusalem. The earth will be restored. Jerusalem will be restored and the people in the new Jerusalem will also be restored. While in the presence of God, He will take away all pain, mourning, death, and tears. How do we know who will be in the new Jerusalem?

He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:7)

John uses “overcomer” to refer to those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. They have overcome their sin nature through the power of God. They have overcome the penalty of sin by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. These are the people who will be in the new Jerusalem, those who have been born again. Have you been born again? Have you overcome your sin nature by the power of God?

What about those who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior? What are the consequences of this choice? Let’s find out in the next paragraph.

V. The consequences of not accepting Jesus Christ

God deals with this subject in verse 8 of Revelation 21. Remember, when God teaches something in His Word, He always does exactly what He says. In Genesis 3, part of the enemy’s tactic was to lie and tell mankind that there are no consequences for bad choices. God gives us the opportunity to make choices but, He has already established the consequences of our choices. Good choices equal blessings/benefits. Bad choices equal consequences. God describes what those who reject Jesus are like and the consequences for that rejection.

But those who are full of fear and without faith, the impure and murderers, those who do the sins of the flesh, and those who use sorcery or who worship idols, and all those who are false, will have their part in the sea of ever-burning fire which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

There are 7 characteristics that describe those who have not been born again.

  1. Controlled by Fear – All of us fear but those who have been born again are able to overcome their fear through the power of God.
  2. No faith – In the context of all that we have discussed, they are people who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ. They do not believe the Word of God.
  3. Impure – This has the idea of being mixed. It means having hidden things that you do and think that no one knows about them. God is El Roi and He sees all things, even your very thoughts.
  4. Murderers – In the Old Testament, we learn that the power of life and death lies in the tongue. These people use their words to tear people down, to murder them. Those who have been born again use their words to build people up.
  5. Sins of the flesh – The Greek word to describe this phrase is “pornos”. It is the word from which we get “pornography”.  These are people who are controlled by sexuality and practice their sexuality outside of the confines of God’s plan of marriage. Those who are born again practice their sexuality as God intended, within the confines of Biblical marriage.
  6. Sorcery (Drugs) – These people seek to use magic to manipulate others, even God. It also involved illicit drugs that alter the mind. When the mind is altered, we become more susceptible to the lies of the evil one.
  7. Idol worship – An idol is anything that comes between a person and God. These people do not have a relationship with God because they have idols that they worship and serve.

The two consequences are mentioned in the text. Number 1, they will not be in the new Jerusalem because they have not been born again. They will not be in the presence of God. Number 2, they will be cast into the lake of fire for eternal punishment. This can be avoided by placing faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Have you been born again? Are any of the above mentioned characteristics a part of your daily life? Do you need to repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Are you ready to face the consequences of not accepting Christ?

May the Lord help us place our faith and trust in the Promised Messiah, Jesus Christ so that we can be in the new Jerusalem with God for all eternity!

 

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