4) It is a Place of Rest:
When you read these chapters there is a real sense of safety and security. It is a picture of a world at peace and at rest. In the first creation account, the goal of creation was rest. Not a sleeping type of rest, per se, but a rich, beautiful enjoyment of God’s creation. At the end of the story we see the rest which was lost restored. We are set free to once again enjoy and marvel in the beauty and splendour of the Creator and of his creation.
In 21v1 John notes that there is no longer any sea. Firstly, before all the surfers faint, remember this is all picture language. These images are not meant (in large) to show us what the new creation will look like. The intention of the picture language is to show us what the new creation will BE like.
So in this instance, for the people, of the ancient world the sea commonly represent a place of fear, of uncertainty and of chaos. In the new creation it is not necessarily the sea that will be absent but fear, uncertainty and chaos certainly will be absent. It will be a world of peace, of safety, of rest and of order. It will be a return to the character of Eden.
Central to these chapters are the image of the New Jerusalem, the city of God, the bride of Christ as a massive secure city with giant walls and huge gates (21 v 15-21). The imagery itself is beautiful but when we remember that this was written in a day where invading armies, vengeance killings and marauding bandits were still very much a reality, then the idea of this huge, impenetrable city was a beautiful, comforting image. The new creation will be a place of safety and refuge, no longer will there be any danger of invasion, of plunder, of slavery, of rape, of vengeance, or of wanton destruction. No longer will there be a need to anxiously guard your property or your family, to hide from evil-doers or to fear the unknown.
But it gets better, the gates of this huge city will never be shut! City gates were shut at night! Night time, even in our days of electricity, is a time of danger, of fear and of uncertainty. The gates of the New Jerusalem will never be shut because there will be no more night. The new creation will not be a place of fear, of violence, of danger.
All these will be gone and those who practice those things will not be welcome in the city (21 v 27). It is a beautiful and paradoxical picture of this imposing, massive city- impenetrable. But yet its gates stand wide open… As if to give a powerful visual aid to Jesus’ words “To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.” (21 v 6)
Photo Credit: Olivander