And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5
In John’s vision, we have now moved to the eternal phase. Christ addresses him from His throne of complete, conspicuous and indisputable authority and sovereignty. There is no-one who can challenge His dominion anymore. The promise of God the Father to His Son, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool” (Psalm 110:1) has been fulfilled. There is no more dissent, no more rebellion, no more “we’ll-do-it-by-ourselves-thank-you”; no more Genesis 3. Christ has prevailed; He is victor, not in the degraded way people have made Him through the centuries (think Crusades etc), but truly, realistically and irrefutably.
Pause. There is a reason why these truths are revealed to us in Scripture. There’s a reason why God has been pleased to give us so many details about His future glorious plans. And it’s not so we can sit in our comfy armchairs debating pre-, post- and a- millennialism. There’s certainly a place for that and I’m not demeaning diligence in the study of the Word in any way. But Paul wrote to Timothy that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). And that should be the standard by which we judge the impact of Scripture on our lives: does it build us up in Christ, does it draw us closer to God our Father, does it equip us for serving Him with joy and competence, or does it simply inflate our academic storage capacity to the point where we think that “egghead” equals “disciple”?
With that in mind, back to the text. Christ the King, at the real end of all things declares the beginning of a new world. Not a hazy, spiritual, harps-in-the-clouds caricature; a new order. A new creation. It’s what commentators call a renewal.
Now, we can’t fully glean from the text the extent of this renewal anymore than we can pretend to comprehend how our current, soon-to-be-old world functions. But Christ’s “all [πάντα] things new” is all-encompassing. It must touch upon all of nature because all of nature is connected and all of nature is connected by and subjected to the Fall (cf. Rom. 8:20-22).
What does this mean? Aside from balancing the amount of energy and concern we ought to spend on eco-anxiety (by all means, recycle), it also stimulates our imaginations in a supremely godly and biblical manner to lead us to a meltdown of worship. How can we catch a mental glimpse of this imagery, of the world we know being completely destroyed and rebuilt to God’s unhindered and immediate glory and not fall down flat on our faces and worship Him for allowing us to be, in Christ, partakers of it?
Or, to reiterate a natural question, how can we feed our minds with this electrifying hope and continue living as if we have none (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13)? Answer: we can’t. So, let’s start feeding non-stop (cf. Rom. 12:2). That is how these descriptions in Revelation are meant to affect us, to train us in righteousness and make us competent and equipped for every good work.
Heaven and earth are made anew. Can we read those words of the Lord and not think of 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”? The New World is not just a future hope; it has already begun with those who come to Christ. They are made new creatures (pre)destined for a new creation. It is God’s Kingdom: Now and not yet. Here and not here. Hope and experienced reality.
To say it old-school: Oh that we should behold that vision every single moment, and fix our eyes on the things that are above! (Col. 3:1-2).