The New and Better Eden
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5)
When I think about the promised restoration of the universe and the future hope that we have in Jesus for heaven, I like to think of classic car restoration as an analogy. When most people restore a classic car or truck, they make it better than it was coming off the factory floor. They will do things like: remove all the imperfections from the body panels, implement custom fabrication modifications, they add modern technology, and the list goes on. In short, when the car or truck is restored, it is better than the original.
This is also true of the New Heavens and the New Earth we are promised in Jesus. The New and Better Eden described in the Revelation is better because Jesus is improving upon the original design. The restored creation is better in at least these three ways: It is better because it is modeled on the resurrection of Christ, it is better for having suffered, and it is better because it’s foundation is grounded in the cross of Christ.
Modeled on The Resurrection of Christ:
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is our hope. God became a man, Jesus Christ, in order that He might undo the curse and bring life not only to those who believe, but to the whole world (Romans 8:18-25). The creation will be “Ever New” in the age to come because death will be no more. Can you imagine nothing ever getting old or decaying? Life will be as it was always meant to be because Jesus defeated Satan, sin, and death on the cross. And His return will put the final nail in the coffin of death itself. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).
The resurrection life that we have in Jesus is better than what Adam and Eve had before the fall. It is better because it is redeemed life. Adam and Eve were innocent, not knowing evil. We know and have been saved from it! We have His life flowing through us, empowering us to glorify Him in all we do, say, and think. In the New and Better Eden, this life will be fully realized and the struggle that we face with our sinful desires will be no more. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).
Better for Having Suffered:
Suffering deepens our capacity for joy. As the old saying goes; “You don’t know what you have until you lose it.” It hurts when we experience loss in this age! We all know what it is like to lose something or someone. A failed marriage can give you a newfound appreciation for your new one. A low time in your finances can give you a newfound appreciation for the things that money can’t buy. A loss of a loved one can give you a newfound longing for the age to come.
So, when these things are restored, and one day they will be, we will know a joy that we never thought possible. Our broken relationships will be forever healed in the resurrection. Our priorities will be totally in line with God’s in the new and better Eden. And all those who are written in the Lambs book of Life, will be alive forever more in the next age.
Suffering also deepens our knowledge of grace and mercy. Adam and Eve knew God’s love and His blessing, but they did not know His grace and His mercy until they suffered because of their own sin. Without the self-inflicted suffering of our own sin, we would have never known the depths of God’s love. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). The life that Adam and Eve took for granted before the fall will be cherished in the New and Better Eden, because we know what it is like to not have it!
Grounded in The Cross of Christ:
Why is there so much judgment in the Revelation of Jesus Christ? It is because God’s love and goodness cannot be perfect without His justice. After all, what did Jesus come to save us from? He came to save us from His own justice for the due penalty of our sins.
In the New and Better Eden evil must be reviled. It has to be seen as the opposite of righteousness and have no place in the life that we live in Christ. Evil has to be remunerated. It has to be paid for, and that is why Jesus died for our sins once and for all on that old rugged cross. And Evil has to be removed; it has to be excluded from the New and Better Eden. Evil has no place in our future, and that is why we long for Jesus’s return.
As Christians we are always looking forward because that is where our hope is. We are not meant to long for what has been, but for what is yet to come. We join with John in the closing of the Revelation and cry out, “Come Lord Jesus Come!”