Bible Study Opportunities
The Garden City
By Jon W. Quinn
It is the future. Mankind has been raised from the dead. The living have been changed and now, with those who have been raised, possess immortal, eternal spiritual bodies. The final judgment has been concluded, and now you approach your final, eternal home for the first time.
In the present time, we read the Scripture for glimpses of what that home shall be. We realize that the things described in the pages of God's word are often symbolic and figurative. We understand that there are things too marvelous and wonderful for us to grasp presently. As we, in our imaginations, attempt to picture heaven, we know we fall far short of the beauty and wonder of the real thing.
But, back to the future, not everyone is entering the gates of the heavenly city with you. At judgment, mercy and peace were available only for those who had sought for it in their lives by obedient faith. Those who had walked in other ways than God's way had ended up at another destination than the one God's way leads to. Some had denied there would be a severe side to judgment at all. There would be no grace for those who had refused it on earth. (Hebrews 10:31; 2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 23:37,38; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
The Eternal Garden City
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." And He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. "He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”... And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper... And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple... And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 21:1-8; 10-11; 22,23; 22:1-5).
The First Step Inside Heaven
You took your first step into your everlasting hometown and you were filled with an awe that would never cease. You knew at that moment that you were where you really belonged. The world had not been your home, but this was! It was just right in every respect. It was obvious that you would never tire of this place and that nothing would ever spoil it or diminish from its beauty and wonder. You realize now that you had never really been “home” until this moment! (Hebrews 11:8-10; 13-16).
Even now, those years you had spent on the earth seemed very fleeting. All those days and experiences now seem as a wisp of vapor that has vanished away (James 4:14). Though you knew it to be so before, you see even more clearly what a waste it would have been to give up all of this for brief pleasures and riches earthly life could have afforded you had you not been as diligent to do the Father's will.
The First Desire Inside Heaven
Your new body has many new capacities. In the old body, to see God would have been fatal. But now, that is no longer true (Exodus 33:13; 18-23). Jesus had said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). Now you can approach God's throne and see first hand the source of all you are. He is your origin. Your spirit is His offspring. So, you join with the multitudes (Revelation 7:9-17) around the throne of God and see Him in His eternal form and join in praise with complete peace and confidence, sharing with others joys to the extent you have never known before. And though you are a part of a vast multitude, you are with the Father on an intimate level, for His “eyes are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 17:14,15).
Other Aspects of the Paradise City
The size of the city was great (Revelation 21:6). The word “paradise” means “park” or “garden” and refers to the restoration of Eden-like qualities (Revelation 2:7; 22:2). There is the “River of Life” flowing through it, and the “tree of life” growing everywhere.
There was also your special place. Jesus had promised you a dwelling place, or “mansion” (KJV). The word simply means “abiding places” (John 14:1-3). Its a place prepared just for you. It needs no lock and key. It has no light fixtures for obvious reasons. Light is everywhere.
Your neighbors are righteous people made perfect just like you are (Hebrews 12:23). Old things such as envy and hate are gone. Nothing like that in this city. The old things have passed away. New things have come. Welcome home!
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois November 14, 1999