And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor 2:9).
The Greek word translated new in Rev 21:5 can also mean renewed or restored, and includes circumstances and conditions along with appearance. It’s the same word used in Rev 21:1 referring to a new heaven and a new earth. And Rev. 21:1 is a reference to Isaiah 65:17 where new heavens and a new earth are also mentioned, along with one of the better descriptions of life in Israel during the Millennium. The Hebrew word for new in Isaiah 65:17 comes from a root meaning to rebuild, renew, or repair.
Since Jesus described His 2nd Coming as the renewal of all things (Matt. 19:28), it’s reasonable to interpret Rev. 21 as describing Heaven and Earth being restored to the condition they were in before the fall; refreshed, renewed, repaired and rebuilt for Messiah’s Kingdom. It will be like God hit the reset button to put everything back the way it was at the beginning, giving the Creation a fresh start for the Millennium.
The context of Rev. 20 also supports this interpretation since Rev. 20:7-15 is actually a parenthetical explanation of the ultimate destinies of Satan and the unbelieving world. John was simply bringing his subject to its conclusion before returning to the beginning of the Millennium to describe the New Jerusalem. We know this because John skipped forward to the end of the Millennium in Rev. 20:7 and then returned to open both Rev. 21 (Isaiah 65:17) and Rev. 22 (Ezekiel 47:12) with millennial quotes from the Old Testament.
Israel And The Church In The Millennium
Have you noticed that there’s a lot more information about the nature of the coming Kingdom in the Old Testament than in the New? That’s because even though Christians talk more about the Millennium than Jews do, the fact is that the 1000 year Kingdom of the Messiah is intended for Israel not the Church, and for Earth not Heaven.
Major glimpses of life in the Millennium are found throughout Isaiah (2, 4, 35, 54, 55, 60, 61, 65, 66) Ezekiel (40-48) Joel (3) Amos (9) Micah (4) and Zechariah (14) with other smatterings through out the Old Testament. All we know from the New Testament is found in Rev. 20-22, and, even there, portions referring to New Jerusalem describe only our physical surroundings, not our lifestyle.
In the rest of the New Testament, we find only a couple of hints, such as Matthew 19:28 and Acts 3:21, because the New Testament concerns Christian life in phase one of the Kingdom of Heaven (before the rapture), not phase two (after it). So we can read much more about life on Earth during the Millennium than we can about life in New Jerusalem. Those passages are important because they describe the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel, a promise that includes peace (finally) prosperity, land of their own and long happy life with God in their midst, but they’re not written for us.
So What About Us?
Descriptions of life in New Jerusalem are limited; no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain (Rev 21:4). Sounds great, but what do we do all day? On Earth folks will be building houses, bearing children, planting vineyards, tending sheep and otherwise enjoying the works of their hands (Isa 65:17-25). Do we just spend our time in some endless worship service? Though it’s not likely, no one knows for sure what we’ll be doing. But even though the Bible doesn’t answer our questions about our everyday activities, it does speak of our state of mind.
Become As Little Children
Jesus said that in order to enter the Kingdom, we would have to change and become like little children (Matt. 18:3). What does that mean? Behavioral Scientists have determined that the average child is much happier than the average adult, partly because children spend most of their time learning and doing new things, and partly because they haven’t yet acquired the fears and worries of adult life. By the way, Science has also discovered that while for all practical purposes the creative potential of the human brain is limitless, the average adult uses a mere fraction of that potential working toward and achieving life goals.
It is quite possible to “live the good life” without much mental effort at all. Most people invest more of their creativity in hobbies and leisure activities than in career goals.
In short, our Creator has endowed us with limitless creative potential (Deut 8:18), but since very little of that potential is needed to live successfully, we become bored and unhappy, searching for something to stimulate our creativity and get us excited again. Such is life, at least on Earth.
What’s The Alternative?
But suppose we were suddenly thrust into an environment filled with endless opportunities for exploration and the acquisition of new experience and knowledge without any fears or worries, just like being kids again. Suppose each of us would see this environment as if it was created especially for us, to stimulate our unique blend of talent and creative ability, even to the extent of being designed around our favorite shapes and colors. Suppose it was a dynamic environment, growing as we grow, to provide endless opportunity for discovery without any possibility of defeat, disappointment or failure.
And suppose we were gifted with boundless energy, always feeling better than our best day on Earth, without a hint of fatigue, sickness, accident or injury. Ever.
Ever notice how curious kids are, asking all kinds of questions about what we’re doing and why? Suppose we were given full use of the dimension of time, able to observe all of history first hand and understand how everything came to be and why it happened the way it did.
Suppose we had been divested of all fear, hatred, jealousy, envy, greed and worry, our minds filled instead with happiness, gratitude, joy and satisfaction for self and others. Suppose there were no more misunderstandings, arguments, or betrayals, and that everyone around us was just as concerned for our well being as we were for theirs. Perhaps this is what the Lord meant by becoming as little children.
Billy Graham was once asked if there would be golf courses in heaven. “If they’re necessary for our happiness,” he replied “they’ll be there.” I believe everything necessary for our happiness has been created and installed in the New Jerusalem, and that even with our supernatural abilities we’ll live endless lives of exploration and realization, joy and happiness. This is what the Millennium will be like for us.
So why doesn’t the Bible go into more detail about it? Well, the Bible was written to and for Earth bound humankind in our natural state. Even if there was a detailed description of what awaits us, it would be so different from what we’re used to that our limited minds couldn’t comprehend very much of it. And what little we could understand would make us so miserable here that we’d do anything possible to hasten our departure. In short it would make our lives here intolerable.
As it is written “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9). I think we’re supposed to read that literally.