May 12, 2023: New Jerusalem

Today, we look at a Day 4 text from this year’s summer curriculum, “Holy Trinity, Wholly Love.”


Reading: Revelation 21:1-4

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”



Last Friday we talked about how we, by God’s love and invitation, are the fourth member of the Trinity, forever intwined in relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That good news gets even better as we turn our attention to our last reading from day 4 of the summer camp curriculum.

For some reason we have all been taught that heaven is up in the clouds, that when we die we will turn into angels or our spirits and float up to heaven to be with God in the clouds forever. While this is longstanding tradition within the church, it is not orthodox. There is very little (if any) description of this sort of thing in scripture.

In scripture, the situation is practically the opposite, as this reading from Revelation shows. At the end of this age (and the beginning of the new one), we will not turn into spirits but rather enjoy resurrected bodies. We will come to inhabit our bodies once again, albeit in their new, resurrected form. And we will not float up to God, but rather God will come down to us. John’s vision in Revelation is of a new Jerusalem, a new dwelling place for God. God will settle here on the resurrected and renewed earth, and it is here that we will live with God forevermore.

It makes sense when you think about it. Our salvation was never about whether we could climb up to God. We are not saved by our works. We do not climb a ladder to God with our good deeds or faithfulness or piety. There is nothing we can do to bridge the gap between God and humanity. Instead, God in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit came to be with us. God quite literally bridged that gap for us. When we could not get to God, God came to us.

The final reality, eternity, heaven, it turns out, will be another resounding affirmation of incarnation. Heaven will be an affirmation of grace and mercy. God came down to be with us once, and at the end of all things, God will come to be with us again.

We already enjoy a relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and at the end of all things, we will come to enjoy that relationship not only in our hearts, but in our bodies, on this earth, in the new city planted in the new creation.

Alleluia! Amen!

–Jim Vitale



For your prayer today, listen to this beautiful song by Andrew Peterson.