Revelation 21: Jesus Makes All Things New

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Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation

Revelation Chapter 21: Jesus Makes All Things New 

by I Gordon

Bible Study Message Revelation 21 He makes all things newWell, another week on this crazy planet. At the time of preparing this message, Iran has just sent over 300 drones and missiles to attack Israel and Israel has retaliated with a limited strike on Iran that proves they can get past Iran's defense systems and destroy their nuclear sites if they wish. Russia even threatened to get involved and while things have eased at the moment, those that know their Bibles recognize where this ends! We may not be there yet but the day will come when both Russia and Iran, along with other countries like Turkey and Libya, will come in a joint attack against Israel. Thankfully, God is ultimately in control and His plan supersedes the wicked intent of man! Well today we are in Revelation 21 and it speaks of far better days ahead. It speaks of the day when Jesus makes all things new! Ooooh, who doesn't like new? Maybe it is a new pair of shoes or a new top. Maybe you are like me and wear the same clothes till they have holes and are stretched out of shape... but you do enjoy it when you finally get something new. Maybe it is a new job or a new start... most people like new experiences and new opportunities. Well, the good news is that so does God and He is going to replace this current world, with all its problems and corruption, with something far better. Something new. In fact, God even uses the picture of my tired old clothing in the Psalms, relating it to this current world, saying:

Psa 102:25-26 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.

So a change is coming and our study of Revelation 21:1-9 today will focus on that time. Out with the old and in with the new! So here is what we will focus on in this message: 

  • We'll start with a quick summary of the incredible future things that John saw. What would you like to see if given the chance?
  • We'll get a glimpse of the new Jerusalem - how is this new home for the new creation described?
  • We'll look at what this passage specifically tells us to 'behold' - what is it that is best of all?
  • We'll talk about 'in with the new and out with the old' - what would you like to see gone?
  • And we'll close with God's heart - what would He like to see now given what is to come?

So let's begin with what John was blessed to see!

John saw amazing things!

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

John 'saw' a new heaven and a new earth. It is easy to read straight over the things that John saw... but let's not. Put simply, John got to see some amazing, out of this world things so before exploring this new vision, let's think for a moment on what he has seen just in the last couple of chapters. John 'saw': 

  • Heaven opening and the Lord Jesus coming with the armies of heaven (Rev 19:11)
  • An angel standing in the sun and commanding the birds to come and feast of the flesh of the great and small (Rev 19:17)
  • The antichrist and the armies of the world assembled for war against Jesus (Rev 19:19)
  • An angel with a great chain coming to capture and imprison Satan (Rev 20:1)
  • The resurrection of martyred saints who came to life and reigned with Christ (Rev 20:4)
  • The great white throne from which heaven and earth fled away (Rev 20:11)
  • The unbelieving dead standing before the throne for judgment when the books were opened and their fate was sealed (Rev 20:12)

Now, I don't want to be greedy... just give me one of those visions and we'll call it even. I'll be happy. 

What would you like to see?

If God said to you "I will grant you one of those visions. Which one would you like?" Which would you most like to see? It's a hard question I know as they are all amazing. But I would likely go for the first one - heaven opening and the glorious second coming of the Lord followed by the armies of heaven. That would be a jaw-dropping sight and literally will be for the armies of the world assembled to fight Him! But what John sees next is right up there as well (yeah, ok... I might have to ask if it is ok if I can have one small, very quick, bonus vision!) for John next says

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

So the time that Jesus spoke about has come - when heaven and earth pass away. Scripture speaks of three heavens (2 Cor 12:2). Here it is speaking of the earth and the solar system and galaxies... not heaven as the abode of God. Earth received an extreme makeover at the start of Jesus' rule on earth but here a whole new creation is made1. This is the day that Peter spoke of:

2Pe 3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (11) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives (12) as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (13) But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

But fear not for He has something far better planned! As Peter writes, as Christians we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. And, quite frankly, as you look around this world, do you not long for that? The first creation was made for Adam and Eve. The second creation is made for Christ and His bride. So in this chapter we will read of a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem and the One who 'makes all things new'. And He does it for those that have become a new creation in Him.  

And there was no more sea
Now this verse says that in the new earth there will be no more sea. Many of you, like myself, will live by the sea. You no doubt enjoy it like I do. I remember preaching on this verse many years ago in church when a lady, who was intellectually handicapped, spoke up... a lot! You see, she LOVED the sea... with a capital 'L'! She had a boogie board that she always carried around and literally had to go into the surf each day. It didn't matter if it was summer or winter, sunny or storms... she just loved being in the water. So she was devastated when I read that the new earth had no sea. I tried to reassure her of all the good things that were coming. No luck. Whatever I said was answered with a sad 'so there is no more sea?' No sea meant no happiness for her. And certainly it will be different. 71% of the earth's surface is currently water. We do know that there is sea during the Millennium3, yet while there is a river mentioned in the new earth (Rev 22:2) there is no sea. 

But to the ancient Jewish mind, the image of no sea means more than just a physical sea. It is used in scripture figuratively as well to speak of restlessness (Isa 57:20), doubts (James 1:6), separation/division (Gen 1:21) and potential peril (Isa 42:2, Ps 107:23-24). It also speaks of the unbelieving nations and peoples in the world (Rev 17:15) as well as the abode of Leviathan, the serpent of the sea, the enemy (Isa 27:1). In Revelation alone we have seen that the beast comes from the sea (Rev 13:1).

So while I do take it literally, when taken in a figurative sense there is much to rejoice in. The new creation coming has no more restlessness. No more doubts. No more separation and division2. No more potential perils or wicked ones who are like the troubled sea. No. More. Enemy! Just simply perfection created by a perfect God for a then perfect people.    

The New Jerusalem - Another incredible vision!

Rev 21:2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

Just when we thought John's amazing vision's had come to an end he is given another doozy! This too would be right up there and would probably be in my top 2 of vision's I'd like to see. John saw the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven in all her glory! This will be the focus of the next study so I'll keep it brief, but for now it is good to remember that this is the holy city that Jesus returned back to heaven to prepare for His people. He said: 

Joh 14:1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (2) 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. (3) 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.

As this world descends into wickedness and craziness, it is good to remember what is coming for the believer. We were given a little glimpse of it in the book of Hebrews as well:

Heb 12:22-24 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (23) to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (24) to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

So at this point in John's vision, the heavenly Jerusalem comes down out of heaven. Many believe it will be suspended between heaven and earth as a glorious multi-colored light in the sky. We read later in Revelation 21 that the earth had no more need for the sun or moon for the city shall shine and the nations shall walk by its light! (Rev 21:23-24) This is the home of the saints. This is the marriage home prepared by Jesus for His bride, the Church. That is why the home is seen like a bride dressed for her husband. It is utter perfection. 

Behold - God with us

Rev 21:3  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,.

Now I don't want to overhype things (actually I don't think I can with this!) but things just keep getting better! This is the first of two 'beholds' in this chapter with two more in the next. 'Behold' is a 'call to attention'. It is a command to sit up and take notice of something. So what is the best part of the coming new Jerusalem? What should we behold? God dwells with man once again. In fact this point is so important it is repeated three times in this one verse! It starts by saying that His tabernacle is among men. The word tabernacle means the 'place of abode'. It is saying that this is His home... and our home (as believers). And His glory will fill the city. That is, the New Jerusalem will manifest the character and nature of God in all His goodness. It is His peace, His holiness, His love. It is the fruit of the Spirit manifest completely throughout this city. Imagine being before the God of the universe! Imagine dwelling in the same home as Him! It then says He will dwell among them and just in case we are a little slow (God knows He is speaking to humans after all!) it ends by again saying 'and God Himself will be among them.' Using my outstanding powers of insight and understanding, what I think it is trying to say is that God will live with us!   

"I do not think the glory of Eden lay in its grassy walks, or in the boughs bending with luscious fruit - but its glory lay in this, that the 'Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.'  Here was Adam's highest privilege, that he had companionship with the Most High."
Charles Spurgeon

And thus it shall be again. Jesus' prophesied name, Immanuel, means 'God with us' and so He will be!

What would you like to see gone?

Rev 21:4 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."

Now as much as there are many things we would like to see in the new heaven and earth, you've probably got a generous list of things you don't want to see there as well. There are a lot of things I'd like to see the end of and most of them revolve around those mentioned in this verse: death, mourning, crying and pain. This will all be gone. And I love how all these things are just called the 'old order' or even better, the 'first things' or 'former things'. Tears, death, mourning and pain seem permanent now but that is but an illusion. They are limited to the present reality and are definitely not in the long term plan of God. They will be gone, forever, and will never return.4 The reality is that we have all known grief in this life. We have all known tears and heartbreak. Theologian Joseph Seiss once wrote:

"Man comes into the world with a cry; and goes out of it with a groan, and all between is more or less intoned with helpless wailing . . . But the Halleluiahs of the renewed world will drown out the voice of woe forever."
Joseph Seiss

I like that! About now our brains hit the thought of eternity and everlasting joy and it is like a great wall that we cannot cross. We can't grasp an eternity of love, joy, fulfillment all in and because of the presence of God. And yet that is the truth of God. 

When we begin to talk about life after death, we’re like two infants in a womb discussing the nature of their future life. The difference between our present knowledge and understanding of what it will be to share God’s glory is no less great than what exists between unborn babes and a man in the strength of his days. . . . As Christians, we know it is indescribable and thus we can rejoice, but it will be even greater than our wildest imagination.”
English physician Thomas Browne (1605-1682)

And yes, I like that too!

No more tears in heaven (or earth)
Listen again to what the start of this verse says: 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes'. You may remember the song that Eric Clapton wrote called 'Tears in heaven'. It was written after Clapton's four-year-old son Conor fell to his death from a 53rd-floor window of a New York city apartment. You can only imagine the grief and heartbreak this caused. Clapton's song begins with:
Would you know my name? If I saw you in heaven, 
Would it be the same? If I saw you in heaven
But amongst the great sadness of the song there is this beacon of light and hope at the end where he writes:
Beyond the door, There's peace, I'm sure. 
And I know there'll be no more, 
Tears in heaven
Even Jesus wept when He saw the grief of those gathered for Lazarus' death. He understands. And He plans to do away with all suffering for all time, for both heaven and earth. And that sounds like a pretty good long term plan to me!  

The One who is going to make everything new

Rev 21:5  And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He *said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."

Now this verse gives us our second 'behold' of the chapter. Yes! He will make all things new. When you look at this world you know that everything has to be wiped and started again. And it will be. But it won't be left for fallen men or fallen angels to ruin things. The Lord has already made some things new... with many new things still to come!

  • When a person is born again they become a new creation. They have a new heart and new spirit (John 3:6, Ezek 36:26)
  • When the believer dies they go to their new home prepared by Jesus - the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22)
  • When the Lord returns at the rapture the believer will receive their new eternal resurrection body (Phil 3:20-21)
  • When the Lord returns at the second coming He will reign over a newly regenerated earth (Matt 19:28)
  • When the eternal order comes in after the Messianic Kingdom, a new heaven and a new earth is made (Rev 21:1)  

Maybe you are ready for all of this now! Maybe you feel like Pastor and Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee did when he wrote:

He is going to make all things new! This is more meaningful to me than anything else. I do not know about you, but I have never really been satisfied with this life. I have found myself frustrated, I have found myself hemmed in, and I have never been able to accomplish all that I have wanted to accomplish. I've never been the man I've wanted to be. I've never been the husband I've wanted to be. I've never been the father I've wanted to be. And I've never preached the sermon I've wanted to preach. I just do not seem to have arrived. All accomplishments seem to have a blot on them.
But He says to me, as He says to you, "I am going to make all things new. You are going to be able to start over again." I am waiting for that day when all things are going to be new and I can start over. Have you ever stopped to think about the potential of starting out all new again, of learning all over again, and never ceasing but going on into eternity?
J. Vernon McGee

So what amazing hope is contained for the believer in these words. What an incredible future awaits us! God told John to write them for these words are faithful and true. There is precious little that is faithful and true in this current world outside of God. We might think that someone is the 'real-deal' and then find out 'nope, they are a pretender'. You might be looking forward to that new 'thing' only to find that once you've got it the excitement fades really quick. But God has promised that He will make all things new and the amazing thing is that they will stay new. They won't grow old, tired or boring. Nothing will decay, spoil, go moldy, change color, start smelling, go rusty, brittle or rot...It will be new. Always. And our experience of this limitless God will always be new. Never old!     

Real hope in the here and now
As I write this I am reminded again how these words give incredible hope for the believer here and now. I have a relative that is very unwell with cancer and may be coming to the end of her life. On the weekend she wrote an email to a few of us explaining the apparent hopelessness of the situation and her need to contact a lawyer to get her affairs in order. As well as her own life, she was concerned about her daughter and the uncertainty for those left behind. It was a hard email to read. Her brother, who is an atheist, replied first saying 'Well that's a difficult email to reply to. I think it's good that you can share where you're at and where you think the future is going. You need to do what's right for you whatever that may be. I am behind you.' As I thought about his reply, it dawned on me that in the most desperate moment of his sister's life, he (being an atheist) had little to say. Certainly nothing hopeful to say about the future. I don't say that to criticize him. It's just a reality of a belief system that doesn't offer any hope for those facing such times. Now contrast that with what the Christian has. We have the hope of a God who will do what is right for His children. We have the hope of His peace in this life and if our healing is to be in heaven, we have the hope of our new home prepared for us. We have the hope of a coming new heaven and a new earth. And even for those left behind, we have the certain hope that God will be a Father and care for those needing His help. There is no comparison between the two belief systems! Atheism is a bankrupt belief system at the most important of times!    

Rev 21:6 He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End...

Here we see the One who is speaking to John - The 'I AM', 'the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End'. This takes us back to the first chapter of Revelation where Jesus said to John saying:

Rev 1:8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
Rev 1:17-18 ...Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

And I like how Jesus says 'It is done' This is the most important statement since He said on the cross 'It is finished'. The work of redemption, finished on the cross, paved the way for the new creation and here we see it completely fulfilled with these words 'it is done'. And it will be done very quickly. The first Heaven and earth took six days, followed by the day of rest, and that was only for us to be given a picture and pattern of His plan for the next 7000 years. When it comes time to create again there is no need for any delay and it will be performed in an instant. He simply says 'It... is... done!' 

The heart of God - What would He like to see? 

Rev 21:6-8 ...To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Now I want to focus on the heart of God because this section ends with both a plea and a warning. I find it very interesting that right in the middle of speaking about the glories to come, the Lord once again gives this plea to come and take the water of life, without cost. Truly His heart is for the lost. His heart is for all that don't currently have eternal life. He is giving His promises so that the believer will have hope, but also so the unbeliever may believe, overcome and inherit all these things. At the Bible study homegroup that I take, we were speaking last time about how if we were God and in charge, things would have been wrapped up by now. As we see the wickedness on this earth, and especially the manipulation and wickedness taught to our young, it is easy to see that God is fully justified in judging this world right now. And we know He will. But scripture does tell us why He is patient and waits so long (even when we ourselves wouldn't!):

2Pe 3:9-10 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

That is God's heart and that is why there is such a delay. He wants to see people turn to Him. Is that your heart as well? As much as we, as believers, can and should rejoice in what is to come, our hearts should still be focused on the lost. God doesn't want any to perish. He wants them to repent and turn to Him. He is patiently waiting giving people as much time as possible and may we use that extra time He gives to help others find the way home as well.

You will also note the warning that is given as well. 'But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.' That is, even in the eternal state, where there is a new heaven and a new earth, the lake of fire still exists. And those that will not come to God to drink from the water of life in this life, will drink from another cup in the next - the cup of His wrath. Here they are spoken of as the unbelieving, the vile, the murders etc. Everything and everyone that is not redeemed and purified will be excluded from the eternal state, And to quote McGee again:

'...the lake of fire is eternal, for it is the second death, and there is no third resurrection. It is eternal separation from God, and there is nothing as fearful and frightful as that.'
J. Vernon McGee

Again, this warning is given here, right in the midst of the glories still to come for the believer, so that we will remember the importance of being right with God and the importance of seeing people come to know the Lord. Is there someone you can pray for? Is there someone you could help find their way home to the Lord?


Well, as we conclude, let me say 'what a chapter!' And we have only seen the first 9 verses! What have we seen? We've seen that God has an amazing plan to make all things new and that which He makes new will never get old! The best part of what is to come is the very presence of God dwelling amongst His people. It is so important that scripture repeated it three times in one verse so that our slow brains might actually grasp it! He will not be hidden in a Temple or the Tabernacle. The entire New Jerusalem will be His tabernacle, His dwelling place. His presence will not be confined to one person, once a year. His presence will be with all of His people, all of the time.  

As physician Thomas Browne said (as quoted previously) "...we’re like two infants in a womb discussing the nature of their future life. The difference between our present knowledge and understanding of what it will be to share God’s glory is no less great than what exists between unborn babes and a man in the strength of his days. . . . As Christians, we know it is indescribable and thus we can rejoice, but it will be even greater than our wildest imagination.”

If you are a believer, then I encourage you, as I do myself, to do two things:

  1. Rejoice and hope again in what is to come. Set your mind on the things above and what is to come.
  2. Remember those around you that need to know the Lord and experience all that is to come. 

These two things are God's heart for today.

May God bless you.


  1. The question has been raised as to whether the earth and the starry heavens as they are today will be destroyed at this point in the future or will be simply restored to a new state of purity. Many references in the Bible suggest that the earth and the heavens, as now known, will be destroyed (cf. Mat_24:35; Mar_13:31; Luk_16:17; Luk_21:33; 2Pe_3:10-13). This is confirmed by the opening statement of Rev_21:1-27, “the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”
    The present universe was created like a gigantic clock which is running down, and if left to itself, would ultimately come to a state of complete inactivity. Inasmuch as God created the universe and set it in motion for the purpose of enacting the drama of sin and redemption, it would seem proper to begin anew with a new heaven and a new earth suitable for His eternal purpose and built on a different principle. The new heaven and new earth described in Rev_21:1-27 has no similarity to the present earth and heaven.
    Bible Knowledge Commentary

  2. Today we are divided by many factors. The sea obviously divides many countries. But even within countries there are divisions along racial, religious and social caste lines. Again, none of this will exist in the coming new earth. While the world will unite in the days of the Antichrist, it will be under a totalitarian rule. Essentially all peoples and nations will worship the antichrist and Satan as Revelation 13 states. That is NOT the type of enforced unity that you want!  

  3. For example, see Psa 72:8, Isa 11:9, Isa 11:11, Eze 47:8-20, Eze 48:28, Zec 9:10, Zec 14:8)

  4. This was pictured in the Old Testament, a day when even death would die and all tears would cease!
    Isa 25:6-9 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-- the best of meats and the finest of wines. (7) On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; (8) he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. (9) In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

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