In Sunday’s Epistle, Jesus—the Alpha and the Omega, the one sitting upon the throne—makes the universal promise: “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) Who? Why? How? When?
Who is this who makes such an impossible promise? It is the eternal Son of God by whom all things were made! As He is creation’s source so He can and does legitimately promise to make the creation new. Yes, all things new! Our world will be renovated into a heretofore unrecognizable condition of perfection and loveliness.
Why do we need a new heaven and a new earth? After all, we see the beauty of nature, we experience the joys of life and with all our senses we encounter truly wonderful things. Yet, the verse preceding our Lord’s promise explains that we have tears, death and mourning. And it is not just humans who experience these horrible realities, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.“ (Rom. 8:22). Though still possessing vestiges of the original perfection, the entire creation is writhing as it anticipates the promised birth of a new world. This flailing condition is the direct result of mankind’s fall into sin. Even as man was created to be lord of this creation, so in his fall all creation fell.
How then would the Son of God make all things new? He could simply wipe the slate and start again, but He does not do this. In His love for mankind He desires restoration. The only way to accomplish such loving restoration is to destroy the root of the world’s corruption. Thus the Son of God had to conquer sin and death by shedding His life-blood for mankind’s forgiveness. Appropriately Revelation 1:5 initiates the book of Revelation with these telling words: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” Dying on the cross is “how” the Son of God begins the renovation of our polluted world.
When does this universal renewal happen? It began in Christ’s resurrection! Alive from the grave there stands a man who cannot physically die again! Only in this One can all things be made new. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17a). He will not restore the creation with sinners as the residents, thus He has paid for all sin. When do we find ourselves “in Christ”? When people are baptized they are then “in Christ”. By faith in God’s Word you realize that you have been made new, for all of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal. 3:27). You have been made new, for you have “been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col. 2:12). We have been buried and raised with Christ. We are “in Christ” and thus Christians are a new creation!
However the “when” is not finished. We still see tears, death and mourning. Though we indeed are sons of God, made new already in our Baptism, yet the entire creation will not be renovated until the sons of God have been fully revealed, when the Son of God returns on the Last Day. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:19,20). Even so, come Lord Jesus, that your renovation of the world be fully realized.