Dear radio friends,
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:1-4.
The apostle John received this vision on the Lord’s day on the island of Patmos, according to Revelation 1:10. This entire book of Revelation, given to him by the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, is of things that must shortly come to pass. Finally, in Revelation 21, you have the consummation of all things in the new heavens and the new earth. John was told to write these things, so that the church of all ages can read and hear and thus look and hope for that day when there shall be no more death. Amid the suffering of this present life, God is pleased to give His people a glimpse of glory.
How can we prepare to die willingly without looking at the book of Revelation and, particularly here, at the consummation of all things? We have here something which affords us a little glimpse of that heavenly glory that God has prepared for His people in the new heavens and in the new earth – especially verse 4 where we read, “There shall be no more death.”
We are considering, as part of our series “Preparing to Die Willingly,” this Word of God: “There shall be no more death.” God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more death. One of the best ways to die willingly is to know what is the purpose or consummation of all things. Not only to have the assurance of our place in heaven at our death, but by faith to understand what is the very glorious conclusion of all history, what God has planned for His people, that glorious covenant of God accomplished here, the tabernacle of God with men. There shall be no more death.
When we began this series several weeks ago we pointed out the universal sentence of death. Not only is death a reality which all must face sooner or later, it is God’s judgment that the sinner must die. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Death is pronounced upon the entire human race. And none can escape the just judgment of God. But our text tells us there will come a time and a place where there shall be no more death! For there will come a time when death will no longer be a reality. It will no longer exist in that place called the new heavens and the new earth. There the sentence will forever be far removed because God Himself, we read, will come and be present with His people.
Is it not true that no man can see God and live? Is it not true that God is the holy and just God, so that if indeed He comes down from heaven then all must be consumed in fire? But, notice. While indeed the unbelieving and wicked are cast into the everlasting lake of fire (we read of that in chapter 20, the last few verses, those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life are cast into the fire), now we see, as John sees, a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth pass away and there is no more sea. John saw this glorious city described in the entire chapter – this new Jerusalem. It is coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. There is a great voice which says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men.” Notice: He will dwell with them. They shall be His people. God Himself shall be with them and be their God. He is not against them. He is not come in just judgment to destroy them in His wrath. But He is come to dwell with them as their Father and as their Friend, because now there is come to pass in this consummation this glorious covenant of God, the everlasting covenant which God made long ago to His people: “I will be your God and ye shall be My people.”
Even though, of course, all men are under the just judgment of God; even though the sentence of death passed upon all; yet God has been pleased to dwell with His people in love. If you ask how that is possible, then the answer is that which has been given, I hope, throughout this series on death: It is possible only in and through Immanuel. God sent His own Son who, by His death and resurrection and ascension, makes it possible that the holy God should dwell with His people.
This is our text, too. We read that God’s tabernacle is with men, He will dwell with them. They shall be His people. We read that this people is coming down from heaven (out of heaven, literally), prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. It is the work of Almighty God. Even though it is the church of Jesus Christ gathered from all nations, John sees this holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of the hands of God, out of heaven, because it is the work of Almighty God. God is the One who has prepared this bride, not she herself. God is the One who has given the robes of righteousness to this bride, not something she worked for herself. It is true that the church is called, as that bride, to be watching and waiting for the Bridegroom. But that is possible only because the church is the wonderwork of God. God is the One who has been pleased to send His Son to die for the sins of His people, so that they will pass from death unto life, so they will have this glorious consummation where God Himself will come and dwell with Him.
So the day will come, people of God, when there will be neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. All that we now face: disease, sin, war, rumors of war, persecution, death. Imagine that. There will be none of those things. Why? Because there will be no more death. Death is the root of all our sorrows. We like to think that death comes at the end. But the reality is that death is the root of all our sorrows. Dying we die. We pine away in death. Immediately death came upon the human race. And because of that sentence of death we have to suffer greatly – diseases and thorns and thistles and all the sufferings in this valley of tears. But God Himself will wipe away all those tears from our eyes. Behold, the voice says. He who said, “Disobey Me and you shall die,” comes Himself near and wipes the tears from their eyes. He removes the sorrow of death. He makes it clear to John that death is over, there will be no more crying, there will be no more pain and suffering in the new heavens and the new earth.
He who said, “Disobey Me and you shall die,”
comes Himself near and wipes the tears
from their eyes.
Jesus said that the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents. And we know that the multitude of the angels sang in heavenly choir and joy when the Son of God came in the flesh and was born in Bethlehem. Imagine the joy in heaven when, finally, the One who sends death as the just judgment removes it once and for ever and comes to be present with His people in the new heavens and the new earth. He sent His Son to take the judgment of their death away. Now He Himself comes to fulfill it. In the great consummation of all history, when people of God from every nation, tongue, and tribe will sing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” – in that day and in that place, there shall be no more death.
Then will come to pass the precious promise of God’s Word which was spoken by Isaiah of old in Isaiah 51:11, “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”
Sorrow and mourning shall flee away. Oh, already now, I know, God’s people rejoice with that joy unspeakable, as Peter writes in I Peter 1. But who of us will deny that there are still yet so many tears, so much heaviness through manifold trials, including death, the fear of death, and the sorrow and mourning that surround death? But there shall be no more death. When? When the former things are passed away, we read, and all things are made new. In this present life there is always going to be death. I know that we have tried to increase life spans. And people are living longer. I know we do not think about death all the time and we must live our lives. I know that it is, in fact, depressing to be talking about death week after week. But the wise man says that it is good, good to go to the house of mourning – in fact, better than to go to the house of feasting, we read in Ecclesiastes. Man can try, and he has tried, but he will never succeed in spite of all his progress in medicine, to overcome death. Of course not. Just as life is the gift of God, so death is the punishment of God for men. One thing after another – if it is not cancer, it is AIDS. If it is not terrorism in the US, then it is havoc in the Middle East. That is not only due to war, but also disease and all kinds of sufferings.
Even though the child of God is passed from death unto life, and though he can rejoice now, he still faces the reality of that last enemy so long as he is in the body of this death. And he must not expect to pass from death completely in this life in such a way that there will be in this present life no more death, no more suffering, no more sin. You know, there are those who imagine such a thing as that. They think that in this present world there will come a time when there will be no more opposition against the truth, that this earth will turn to Christ, and we will have more and more a time of peace and blessing. The Word of God does not tell us that. In the light of the book of Revelation (and all of God’s Word), it must be told that in this present world more and more there will be tribulation; there will be wars, rumors of war. And even when all these wars and rumors of wars come, the end is not yet, Jesus says, for the day of tribulation must come – greater than the world has ever seen or ever will see.
You know, the text here in Revelation 21 has an interesting phrase: “There shall be no more sea.” I believe that that means that in the new heavens and the new earth all will be one. Not only heaven and earth one because God Himself comes to dwell on earth. It will be like heaven on earth – new heavens and new earth – but also there will be no more sea, no more sea of separation between the nations, between the peoples of the world. It must wait for the new heavens and the new earth. It will not take place here on this earth. Foolishly and impatiently and wickedly men try to establish an earthly kingdom of Christ, thinking that the unity of all the churches will bring about such a glorious kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ – even at the expense of truth and even at the expense of the Word of God and the doctrines of the Word of God, imagining that in that way we can usher in a glorious era in which there is no more pain and suffering.
Impossible, people of God. Impossible! We must wait for the new heavens and the new earth where there shall be no more death. There death will forever be vanquished. There sin and suffering and pain and sorrow will no longer be present. There, where there is no more separation among the nations and no more separation between heaven and earth where God dwells with His people, there will be no more death, when the bride of Christ finally comes down.
You know what that means? God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish (II Pet. 3). God is longsuffering to usward, to His people. He has destroyed the first world with the Flood. And the second world is being made ready for that destruction by fire. But until each and every one of the elect from afar off and from the line of the covenant in the line of generations – until each one of the elect are gathered – God is longsuffering. He will not send the day of judgment.
But we hear the footsteps of the Son of God. We hear Him before whom we must all stand one day. Before the tribunal of God, Jesus Christ will represent us. As He did on the cross, so also will He do when one day He comes. We do not need to fear that day. Oh, yes, the world must fear that day. They will. They will even cry out, Revelation says, to the mountains, “Fall on us,” because they will not dare to face the wrath of the holy God.
But then there will be those who come down out of heaven, from the hands of God, the bride of Jesus Christ adorned with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is not of themselves. They, too, deserve the awful wrath of God. But, no, they will dwell in the presence of God forever and forever.
Before the tribunal of God,
Jesus Christ will represent us.
It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment. Death is lurking even now in this land and abroad. It is inevitable in times of war that lives should be lost, both military and civilian. The book of Revelation, and all of Scripture, warns of terrible days. Death is a reality always, but especially in the days ahead. We must prepare ourselves, for there is a greater death awaiting those who deny Jesus Christ – far more than the physical death that comes because of war and because of the suffering of this present life. Notice in verse 8 what follows the consummation, describing the place of the godless, describing the place of those who are the unbelieving and the wicked, the adulterer and the murderer. We must not deceive ourselves and the nations by saying that the consummation of all things will be redemption and salvation universal. That is a lie. All those who are outside of Jesus Christ must face the eternal death of hell. Only the bride of Christ will have the promise of our text, “There shall be no more death.”
God is pleased to tabernacle with men through His Son. And God has given to His Son His sheep for whom He laid down His life. And His Son is coming. All those for whom He died – He is coming to bring them as His bride to eternal glory. Turn, therefore, to Jesus Christ. In Him alone is comfort in life and in death. Kiss the Son, says the psalmist in Psalm 2, lest He be angry and you perish from the way. Drink the water of life freely to be saved from this wicked world of sin and death and hopelessness and destruction, for it is Christ who died to save sinners from death. There is no mediator between God and men but the man Jesus Christ.
Come to Me, Jesus says, all ye who are burdened, heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Come, Lord Jesus, even through wars and tribulations and all the sorrows of this present valley of tears to save Thy own for Thine own glory and honor.
Oh, may the gospel of grace reach the nations, and all His beloved church be gathered. And may you who hear take heed and look in hope to that day when there shall be no more death, when sorrow and pain and suffering and tears will all pass away, and the redeemed of the Lord shall come with singing and everlasting joy upon their heads.
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.
We thank Thee, heavenly Father, for Thy precious Word. And we thank Thee that Thy Word is preserved for us so that the church of all ages may hear these wonderful promises and look in hope for the return of Jesus Christ. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.