“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the death that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20).
“The Eternal Kingdom,” according to the wisdom, God has endowed the Apostle Paul with, has already begun (II Peter 3:15). “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For, he has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that everything has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” (I Corinthians 15:22-28). Yes, it is a description of the end time that is in progress, and that Christ’s work is also still in progress. Death will be totally defeated, when the last believer has entered the kingdom (Revelation 6:9-11). All the dead will rise and stand before the Judge, whether good or bad (Revelation 20:11-15). Paul, to the Roman Christians, had this warning, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self–seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:5-8). If one continues to sin, then grace cannot abound (Romans 6:1-4). Grace was granted so man can become useful again for what is good (Ephesians 2:4-10). By the way, in the original Greek there were no comas or periods but a running text.
Before Christ retires and resumes a status of leisure, He will deal with His arch-enemy Satan, avenge Satan’s followers for the harm they inflicted on God’s people and on the earth. It is not only the believer in Christ and in God that has suffered, but so has creation. It too groans for deliverance from man’s abuse. Paul had this glimpse of hope for the world, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjects it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from the bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbearing right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:20-25). At Armageddon, Christ will imprison Satan and his cohorts for a thousand years. The earth will have a thousand years to recover and those that died hoping for a better world with Christ shall be in charge of its recovery (Revelation 20:1-6). Satan will be alone to go free but then doom himself forever.
The sermons about heaven I heard and preached were linked with Paradise, the Bosom of Abraham or some beautify garden. I, too, had glimpse of such a garden for a split second. Jesus has opened the door and we get in on faith, grace and love. God cannot change nor can He retract His commitment, but man can change and take God’s promises for granted. What man believes and loves may not necessarily comply with God’s love. Far too many love God without loving their fellow human beings. The man that wrote down the message of Revelation also wrote a Gospel and these words, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (I John 1:3-6). Long before Jesus came, man had disobeyed “God’s Commands and Words” and nullified for himself the right to be in the “Eternal Kingdom.” The closer one lives to the Commands of God and leads a life that is as close to Jesus as possible, the closer one shall be to God in eternity. It is for that reason that heaven, in Revelation, is a completely new world with a new capital and a source of life unheard of. John tells us what Jesus allowed him to see (Revelation 21:1-22:5).
“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. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 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!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. 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 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.’”
The next vision describes the new capital of the new world with splendor of riches and cubical size. The City has twelve gates named after the twelve tribes that rest on twelve foundations of Jesus’ apostles. The gates were out of pearls and the streets were out of gold. Everything was transparent like crystal. The New Capital was the heart and pulse of the new world. God and Christ played a new role. Man no longer had to be taught what was demanded of him. “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will the gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” It will be a magical world of spirits and not of flesh and blood (I Corinthians 15:35-57). Regarding the question what the new life will be like in heaven, Jesus gave this answer, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not a God of the dead but of the living. “When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching” and so should we be (Matthew 22:23-33).
The last vision is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden (Revelation 22:1-5). It is what John Milton called, “Paradise Regained.” It is a return to the world before the fall, when God and man lived together in harmony and devotion. The tree regarding the knowledge of good and evil (or death) and Satan will no longer beguile the inhabitants of the eternal kingdom. The source of life that sustained the material world shall also sustain the spiritual one. Life shall continue in a manner that was similar to earth but without the desire to disobey God. “Then the angel showed me the river of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”