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The Transparency of Heaven

When it comes to the Bible’s depictions of the new heaven and the new earth, we can learn just as much about what is not there as we do about what is there. Before any other description, we read that in the new heaven and earth, “there is no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1). This may leave us puzzled until we consider what the sea represents to us. Even with all our modern technology, a staggering 95 percent of the world’s oceans remain untouched and unexplored by mankind. We have developed telescopes to explore the expanses of the heavens, and we have put thousands of satellites in orbit around the earth. But right here within our own reach there is an impenetrable frontier God has placed as a reminder of our limitation. The crushing pressure of the ocean’s depths prohibits us from exceeding a 5-percent knowledge of it!

When the new heaven and earth come, God removes the sea, as well as the veil of unsearchable, untouchable mystery it represents. Recall the joyful declaration of Paul: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). In a split second, our understanding, knowing, tasting and seeing, will undergo an unfathomable burst of input when the kingdom of God fully appears. Every mystery will be revealed, and still, our eternal existence with The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb will be one of forever knowing more of His endless glory and goodness.

When John writes of the New Jerusalem he saw, it is surprising that details of the city’s physical beauty and grandeur are not immediately given. The first thing he writes is that this city has been “made ready as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). The first words spoken from the throne say nothing about structure or geography! But rather, “the tabernacle of God is among men…they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them” (21:3). The city of God is not about geography or physical beauty. It is a people who know and walk with God.

Even the physical elements speak volumes, like the gold of the city and its street, which is noted multiple times as being “pure.” There are no impurities in this city. Just as the gold found there has been completely purified in the fire, the bride of Christ who dwells there has been purified completely through the fire of trials and testing and the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit. She has submitted to this process and work of God, coming out the other side beautiful and pure. The gold looked to John like “clear glass” or “transparent glass” (21:18, 21). This is unique, because one would think that pure gold has much beauty to show. Yet, this gold is like transparent glass that does not show itself but rather the beauty of what is behind it. In the same way, the beauty of God’s people is only the beauty of God radiating through them. This pure bride has been made ready and is no longer lifting up anything of herself, no longer showing off in any form, simply existing as a transparent, clear picture through which God Himself can be seen and worshiped.

John confirms the purity of this city, declaring that “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying” shall be found there (21:27). Where there is no sin and no darkness to separate us from God, there is no need for a temple to limit the glory of God to one location. John saw no temple (21:22), because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are fully present – everywhere. Where is no limit to God’s presence, there is no need for sun or moon. God Himself is the Light that fills the place, always. There is no night. God is preparing believers for this place even now. Even today He says, “Behold, I am making all things new” (21:5).

Alex Mack

Teaching Pastor

The Rock Church

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