The Christian takes profound comfort in the knowledge that even death does not separate him from his Savior. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. In Revelation 21:1-8 John takes you to an even deeper comfort. He shows you, and all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, what happens to you after the final judgment.
“‘All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth and sky and sea.’ To sing that line from this well-known hymn is to confess that the present praise of creation is not merely pre-eschatological, destined in the end for the silence of eternal extinction. The present creation awaits the eschatological voice it will receive when, free at last from its ‘bondage to corruption,’ it will ‘obtain the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.’ With this obtaining together with the sons of God, creation’s praise— beyond all sighing and in a manner beyond present comprehension— will heighten their enjoyment of that freedom and glory in the new creation of God. (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., “What ‘Symphony of Sighs’” in Redeeming the Life of the Mind, pp. 160-161).
“According to Scripture the present world will neither continue forever nor will it be destroyed and replaced by a totally new one. Instead it will be cleansed of sin and re-created reborn, renewed, made whole. While the kingdom of God is first planted spiritually in human hearts, the future blessedness is not to be spiritualized. Biblical hope, rooted in incarnation and resurrection, is creational, this-worldly, visible, physical, bodily hope.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 715).
“[A]ll who overcome the dragon, the beasts, and the harlot through humble, persevering faith are heirs of everything. The homestead they inherit is not the first heaven and earth, sin-stained and curse-infected, but the new heaven and earth in which every impurity, pain, and sorrow has ceased to be.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 307).
Keep the reality of the new heavens and earth in mind as you look for comfort in the face of death. Keep it in mind as you struggle with temptation, as you endure suffering. Nothing that you face can possibly be compared with the glory of the direct presence of God in the new heavens and earth. Take courage! Stand firm! Overcome!
From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.