Nearly all human beings long for peace, fulfillment, harmony, and happiness—in other words, some type of a paradise. The Greeks talked about Elysium, the land of the blessed, in which good people would be able to live without worries. Germanic tribes dreamed about Valhalla, a splendid palace where warriors would drink liquor and feast on the flesh of boars, spending their days with sports, fighting, and hunting. Muslims look forward to a garden with abundant food to eat, wine to drink, and noble virgins to serve them. Many have tried or are still trying to create a paradise of their own on this earth. In any case, many yearn for complete satisfaction and perfect bliss.
The first two chapters of Scripture talk about a paradise that humanity has lost; the last two chapters talk about a paradise that we may gain.
I. TIME AND PLACE OF THE NEW PARADISE
- (Rev 20–21) After the Millennium, when Satan and his followers will be destroyed, a new heaven and a new earth will be created (Rev 21:1).
- (Rev 21:1–2) The new paradise will be found on planet Earth, probably because it was here that the drama of redemption unfolded, and it was here that Jesus lived and was crucified.
II. THE FEATURES OF THE NEW PARADISE
1. The City (Rev 21:10–27)
The New Jerusalem reminds us of the garden of Eden and the temple, and it replaces both. In addition, it is found in stark contrast to the great but wicked city Babylon (Rev 18:10, 21).
- The wall is about 210 feet/70 meters high, suggesting security, protection, and peace (Rev 21:12, 17–18).
- Twelve gates are constantly open (Rev 21:12– 13, 21), suggesting free access for all whose names are written in the book of life (v. 27), independent of race, nationality, gender, etc.
- The size of the city is described as about 1,380 miles/2,200 km (Rev 21:16), suggesting that there is sufficient room for everyone (cf. John 14:1–3). The New Jerusalem resembles the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary (1 Kgs 6:20), also containing the throne of God (Rev 22:1, 3).
- Twelve gates and twelve foundations contain the names of the old and new people of God (Rev 21:12, 14, 19–20), pointing to God’s faithful people throughout the centuries.
- Materials such as gold, precious stones, and pearls point to the glory, beauty, and durability of the city (Rev 21:18–21).
2. The Nature (Rev 22:1–2)
- Water and fruit suggest that eternal life has been secured and all needs will be taken care of.
- The Old Testament also contains allusions to the end-time paradise mentioning a perfect earth and an ideal climate (Isa 35:6–7).
III. BEINGS INVOLVED
1. Humans (Rev 21:4, 7–8, 27; 22:5)
- Only those humans will enter the new paradise who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord and have completely committed themselves to Him. Revelation calls them “overcomers.”
- They will have taken part in the first resurrection (Rev 20:6) or will have been transformed at Christ’s second coming. Their bodies will be real bodies (concerning the resurrection body, see Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:42–44; Luke 24:36–43).
- They will be freed from all sickness, suffering, and distress (cf. Isa 35:5–6).
- They will be delivered from death, because death will be no longer.
- Because God enlightens them, they will have more and more opportunities to gain knowledge and an ever-deepening understanding of God and His plan of salvation (cf. 1 Cor 13:12). However, past events will no longer affect them negatively (cf. Isa 65:17).
- They will participate in God’s reign.
2. God (Rev 21:3, 22–23; 22:3–5)
God will directly dwell among His people. His children can see and meet Him face to face. God and humans will be reunited. We will be given direct access to the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Finally, we will be at home. This is the climax of the new paradise.
Since God will be personally present and “tabernacle” among the redeemed (Rev 21:3), the new Jerusalem will have become the temple.
God’s glory will provide light and warmth in all areas of life. Therefore, heavenly bodies are no longer necessary as sources of light.
The new paradise will surpass the old paradise by far. Satan and sin will be no more. Instead, God will live among His children. It is worth it to get there. Therefore, I make sure that my name is included in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21:27).
Ekkehardt Mueller is Associate Director for the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. This article has been reprinted, by permission, from Reflections, the BRI newsletter.