Question from a reader:
Do you get excited about the idea of living as a resurrected being on a New Earth? What specifically do you look forward to?
Answer from Randy Alcorn:
The first two and last two chapters of the Bible are perfectly symmetrical bookends, revealing and culminating God’s eternal plan for mankind and for the earth.
Genesis 1:24 ff.
And God said, “Let the land [earth] produce living creatures according to their kinds...And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth...”
27 So God created man in his own image...28 God... said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the earth.... 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
7 The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground [earth] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees
...that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life... A river watering the garden flowed from Eden... through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are there.)....The LORD God put man in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
A world of natural wonders, trees with fruit, a great river, treasures in the forms of precious stones and minerals. And God would come down to walk with them in the cool of the day.
Then what? Sin and death and curse, and people thrown out of Eden. It appears God loses, God will have to abandon his plan for physical men and women ruling a physical earth. But in Genesis 3 he promises a man will be born who will smash the serpent’s head and reclaim a fallen world.
What do we find in the last two chapters of the Bible? A return to the first two chapters. It talks about a great city, an architectural wonder with walls and gold and precious stones:
The nations will walk by [the Lamb’s] light, and the Kings of the Earth will bring their splendor into [the city]. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut...26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it ....22:1 the river of the water of life...flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.
(This is culture!!! People of every tribe, nation and language.)
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. [God’s] servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face.... 5 And they will reign for ever and ever.
Forever and ever: not just a thousand years!! (Again, the doctrine of the New Earth does not require a particular doctrine of the millennium.) To reign means to rule, to have dominion. Sound familiar? Exactly what God told the first man and woman he wanted to do. Rule the earth, and steward the creation and care for the animals and be God’s image bearers who create and invent and utilize resources and make art and music and technology and culture to the glory of God.
Satan will not thwart God’s plan for righteous humanity to rule the earth!
* People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:14-16).
Are you longing for a better country? If you love Jesus, and you long for God’s country, Heaven, then God is not ashamed to be called your God...and He has prepared a city for you.
For more information on this subject, see Randy Alcorn's book Heaven.