We saw in last week’s blog article that Heaven (the New Earth) will resemble the Garden of Eden. This week we’ll see that although the Garden of Eden may be its prototype, the future New Earth will be far more magnificent. It will surpass even Eden in grandeur, wonder, splendor, beauty, and enchantment. Referring to the Isaiah 11: 6-9, Bible scholar and theologian Richard Bauckham put it this way:
“That a new creative act of God is envisaged [by the Old Testament prophets] is certainly right. The new creation surpasses Eden, but one could also say it realizes the potential of Eden. The original innocence of humans and animals does provide the prophet with a model for what the future will be like. It relates the future to what has been God’s will for his creatures from the beginning, and it sees that divine intention achieving its goal fully in the future, after which there cannot be another fall into violence.” (The Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation)
In terms of its physical environment, the New Earth will have many similarities to our present Earth. As Randy Alcorn points out in his comprehensive book, Heaven, “The New Earth will not be a non-Earth but a real Earth . . . with dirt, water, rocks, trees, flowers, animals, people, and a variety of natural wonders. An earth without these would not be Earth.
But the eschatological New Earth will be much more than a reinvigorated Garden of Eden. It will be Heaven itself (see part two). It will have many astonishing features that differ radically from what we experience on Earth today. There will be no seas on the New Earth (Rev. 21:1). Nor will light be derived entirely (if at all) from the sun and moon (Isa. 60:19-20; Rev. 21:23). Unlike Eden, the New Earth will encompass more than nature. There will be civilizations, including nations, rulers, and cultures (Rev. 5:9-10). Indeed, the metaphorical language used to describe the new Jerusalem (precious minerals, pearls, golden streets, etc.—Revelation 21:18-21) indicates a world that humans words cannot adequately describe.
Best of all “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” in the New Earth (Rev. 21:4). Nor will the human population include “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murders, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (21:8). In short, there will be no evil or sin or the possibility of a second Fall in the redeemed and restored New Earth because Satan and his minions would have been cast into hell “for ever and ever” (20:10).
But what makes this New Earth truly Heaven—and distinct from the Garden of Eden—is that God will dwell there with His people (Rev. 21:3)! While God visited the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8), He will actually reside on the New Earth (Rev. 21:3)! Saved, resurrected humans will see the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face and live with Him forever (1 Thess. 4:16-18; Rev. 22:3-4). ©
In next week week’s blog article, I’ll explain how we can observe in nature “hints” what the natural environment of Heaven may look like.