We talk and sing about it, but do we really understand what we say? When we talk about the hereafter, or “making Heaven,” some have the idea of a wonderful place somewhere “beyond the sunset,” where we’ll sing praises and strum harps day without end. Well, that’s what we learnt in Christian kindergarten. But as mature men, we should know better. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11).
How many Christians know that the eternal life we talk about so much is going to be spent here on earth? Even among those who do, there’s a blur in the vision. Yes, this great “terrestrial ball” is where we’ll spend eternity with our Lord. But it would have been refined and rebuilt – a restoration of Eden! It will, however, not be just an Eden of flora and fauna, but also of brick, steel and glass structures, of super-highways and other breathtaking creations! It’s a really big picture, bigger than we could fully portray here (I devote a chapter of my coming book The Coming Glory to it). In a nutshell, the realization on this global wonder is the ultimate purpose and goal of our thousand-year reign with the Lord in the kingdom!
Let’s look at that great promise He made: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2,3). Some have coupled this promise to the apostle John’s Patmos vision of the New Jerusalem “descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2) and imagine a grand construction project going on somewhere in glory, to be lowered upon Earth at the appointed time. Talk about building castles in the air! Truly, it could be said that such grandiose and undiscerning ideas are one reason why many Christians, in their innermost beings, lightly regard the promise of the hereafter. Their more perceptive spirits can sense something amiss, even if they don’t consciously know it. But as I said, it’s time we gave up childish thoughts.
There’s actually a relationship between the mansions the Lord promised us and the New Jerusalem City that John saw coming down. They point to the same thing, the mansions being our individual lots in the heavenly city. But there’s more to it. The vision of the city, like the rest of the Revelation, must be “spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14). The city represents a number of things, which appears to be confirmed by the fact that its descent is recorded twice in Revelation 21 (also in Verse 10). In addition to our eternal home, I believe that the meticulously laid out city also represents our organization in the kingdom – in other words, it is another version of the Armies of Heaven that John saw breaking out of the skies in Revelation 19 – and how we would operate, directly or indirectly, towards the realization of that eternal home, the “New Earth.” This is quite evident from a careful reading of chapters 19 to 22 of the Revelation. Notice that the city is “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (21:9), which is the body of believers.
As John saw the city coming down from Heaven, so would all that it represents – the redeemed saints, our dominion over the millennial kingdom, and the eternal New Earth – be realized as an agenda of Heaven. That’s why we can always talk of “making Heaven.” It will practically be Heaven brought down to earth, or “Heaven on Earth”! (See Revelation 21:1-3.) So when the Lord said He was going to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house, it was much of a figurative statement. He was partly speaking of the intercession He presently makes for us before the Father (Romans 8:34) to ensure that we possess our individual lots in the kingdom and the New Earth.
This eternal consequence of the kingdom – its metamorphosis into the eternal New Earth – is the reason why it is sometimes described in the Scriptures as everlasting (see Daniel 7:27), although the dispensation we usually speak of would last for a thousand years. And need I say that “New Earth” does not imply the creation of another. The newness is much like that of the life of the believer in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17); it implies a redemption and makeover of the old, the present earth. “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:19-21). Wow!
You could call this “Making of the New Earth” a resumption of the original “Eden Project” disrupted by the Fall. It will be the greatest physical development project that the world has ever witnessed – a thousand-year rebuilding of the present earth after its purification through the apocalyptic events that windup the present world order! The final creation will be “my Father’s house” of many mansions! (See Revelation 21:1-3 once again.) And I do not think that this eternal home of the saints would be literally built of “gold’ and “precious stones” (21:18-21) – it is the extraordinary quality of the building materials and the workmanship, and also the endurance of the creation, that are in perspective.
As I said, the picture is bigger than we could thoroughly examine here. Indeed, I have the feeling that some who read this short piece might not even catch the basic idea. No, we won’t all be hauling “brick and mortar” around. The coming kingdom is a vast agenda that incorporates a meticulous specialization of labour! Hopefully, my coming book The Coming Glory would help us better appreciate this grand thousand-year adventure ahead of us. So keep the faith, and remain posted.
God bless you always.
In the King’s Service,
David Olagoke Olawoyin.