Dressed in white, I stood ready in the church foyer. As the organ struck its first chord, the doors leading into the sanctuary swung open. And there he stood, at the end of a long aisle—my bridegroom. I had prepared for that moment for months. I’d worked all summer in order to buy the perfect-yet-affordable wedding dress and veil. I wanted him to think I looked beautiful as I walked toward him to begin our new life together.
That day reminds me of the way the apostle John describes how the so-called New Jerusalem—our new place of residence when sin is no more—will approach the earth someday:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. . . . I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:1, 2).
It’s hard to visualise a brand-new earth and a dazzling New Jerusalem. In fact, 1 Corinthians 2:9 says that “no eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” But we can try to imagine and to dream. And we should. This ageing earth can look awfully beat up at times. But dreaming of our new one brings us hope. And the Bible gives us some insights on which to build our dreams. Of the many wonderful things in the New Earth, we can be sure that it will have beauty, joy and peace.
Beauty in the New Earth
We definitely need a new Earth. This one is getting old and worn out. Overdevelopment, natural disasters and a lack of good husbandry have made it almost unrecognisable from what it was when God first created it for us.
My husband went on a medical mission trip to Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. After touring the city of Banda Aceh, he wrote, “I saw total, incomprehensible destruction for mile after mile across the city, where at least 120,000 people lost their lives. An elderly missionary dentist here compared it to Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped—nothing left.”
And as if natural disasters aren’t bad enough, our planet also suffers from air and water pollution, oil spills, deforestation, forest fires, litter and global warming—a far cry from the perfect state Eden was.
Picture your favourite place on our earth. Maybe it’s a beach, a national park, the mountains or a lake. These are wonderful and meaningful places to us. But even our favourite places can be disappointing at times. We battle mosquitoes and bugs pester us. Blazing heat and pouring rain force us to take shelter. But in the New Earth, everything will be absolutely perfect. Nothing there will ever disappoint us.
And just think of what life will be like when you trade your present home for a mansion in the New Earth. You won’t have to pull weeds or spray your garden for insects. Everything you plant will grow. Earthquakes will be a thing of the past, and you can live by the sea without having to fear a tsunami might destroy your home.
The most impressive thing in the New Earth will be the Holy City, which comes down from heaven to stay here permanently. According to Revelation 21 and 22, it will be amazingly beautiful. God’s glory will shine forth from it with the brilliance “of a very precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:11). The streets of the city will be gold, as pure as transparent glass. There will be a crystal-clear river, carrying the water of life. It will flow from the throne of God, right down the middle of the city. And on either side of the river will stand a tree called the Tree of Life. It will bear 12 different crops of fruit every month, and, somehow, its leaves will heal the nations (Revelation 22:2).
Joy in the New Earth
My favourite passage about the New Earth is Revelation 21:4, 5: “ ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ ”
Think of the possibilities in this text! Every tear wiped away. If you’re crying now because of physical or emotional pain, in the New Earth every tear will be dabbed dry by Jesus Himself! And no more death, mourning or pain. We all long for that; death has touched all of our lives at some time or other, and it leaves us aching.
I have a friend who is in her last days of battling cancer. She longs to be pain free. Unfortunately, when she dies, her husband and children will still have to mourn before she experiences a world without pain. But the New Earth promises sweet relief! Is the waiting hard right now? Absolutely. But the eternal joy will be well worth the wait!
Isaiah 35:10 says that God’s people “will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Despite whatever sadness and sorrow you’ve had to endure here, gladness and joy will overtake you there!
Peace in the New Earth
I’ll never forget September 11, 2001. Not because it was my birthday and not because my family had planned a fun party for me. But because that’s the day our world changed forever. My husband had risen early and turned on the TV just as a plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center. He came into our bedroom and gently shook me. “Honey,” he said, “I think you need to come and see this.”
I sat on the couch with him and watched in shock and disbelief as the towers fell. Peace, as we’d known it, was gone. I spent the rest of that birthday grieving, yet trying to appear calm, as I answered our seven-year-old daughter’s questions.
I thought back to the day when she was born. My husband held her close and lovingly said to her, “I’m really sorry, sweetie, that I don’t have a better world to bring you into. But Jesus is working on that, and someday He’ll make it better.”
Jesus is working on a great restor-ation plan. He promises, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1–4). The way is through Jesus—through accepting His gift of salvation and not holding on to the things of this earth.
Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
When the New Earth is fully restored and ready for us to live in, we will obviously notice the extreme contrasts compared to this old earth. And yet, because of all of the beauty, joy and peace that will surround us, I think we’ll feel for the first time ever, we will finally be home.