In this final chapter, Carson first explains what it means “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” from the Sermon on the Mount (Mt.6:21). He explains that it means we are to choose our treasure, not guard our hearts. Here Jesus presupposes that our hearts will follow our treasure.
The term heart is that aspect of our being created in God’s image that contains what we think, cherish, and who we are. It’s not merely our emotions. The heart is that apparatus of the soul where we eat, drink, breath, sleep and dream of (x).
Our imagination lingers on those things we treasure most. Unfortunately, good things become bad things when they keep our appetites only on the present state of affairs, at the expense of the new heaven/earth that are forthcoming. This however does not happen in places like the Sudan/China where persecuted believers await the deliverance from said evils.
Moreover, unlike the Greek dualism of salvation—consisting of the flight of the soul from the earthly and transitory to the spiritual and eternal, the Biblical view is where—man is always placed on a redeemed earth, not a heavenly realm removed from earthly existence.[i] The future of this earthly existence is specifically described in the book of Revelation.
Second, Carson explains the forthcoming New Jerusalem. When the scriptures describe the New Jerusalem being built like a cube, we must understand that its’ symbol laden. The only place a cube is found in all of scripture is the tabernacle—the Most Holy Place. This is where the Ark of the Covenant lay, the place of meeting with God—on the Day of Atonement. This was the place where God manifested his glory when the blood of sacrifice was poured on it.
The New Jerusalem, the entire city is a cube which is a way of saying that we will forever be in the presence of God. We will no longer need a mediating priest, neither a blood sacrifice, equivalent when the veil was rent in two after the crucifixion. So not only is it described as a cube, but it’s also described in terms of negation—what is not there.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev.3-4)
Carson is of the view that the reason we speak of the New Jerusalem in terms of negation rather than in a positive description is because it’s easier to describe it negatively in light of the effects of the fall in our lives. The negative description assures us there will be the absence of: tears, pain, mourning, death and nothing bad. The positive side is incalculable pleasure. We have yet to experience anything like this!
There are also many things missing from this city: the temple, sun and moon, impurity. The reason for the temple missing is because God Himself will be there. Here the heart of God is revealed for in a real sense we’re in His heart!
The sun and moon are lights no longer needed in light of Gods glory and the Lamb our lamp. The ancients were given structured times through these two lights. Moreover, they experienced much danger when night came—hence cities were closed at night for safety. Thus when it comes to this city there will be no more danger, curse, sin or rebellion because God is in the midst. Thus, an immaculate perfect moral state will obtain. Such a thought is utterly foreign to any of our references to life. And yet, an absolute God-centeredness will be the norm because that is the way it should be. This means that the culture in the new heavens and new earth will be infused with absolute shalom—whose measureless source is the God of heaven and earth.
When it comes to the best feature of the New Jerusalem, is the its’ peacefulness. This peaceful habitation of the lion and the lamb will be amazing. It’s the unfettered, unhindered beatific vision that will be most joyfully glorious. It is the contemplation of the manifold perfections of our spectacular, unimaginable God. Here, we see face to face and live for our sins have “been burned away”.
Third, Carson explains what means to live now in light of the new heaven and the new earth. He points to the need that we understand that all I have is Christ; to live is Christ and to die is gain; God alone is our true heart’s desire; it is truly making it our aim to: love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and you’re your strength.
Friend, are you ready for the new heaven and the new earth? I’d like to say yes honestly and truly. I fear that this world and the cares of this life want to drag me down so often. I want to be more vigilant, resting in His grace that empowers me to say no to ungodliness and embrace the holiness purchased for me to walk in by Christ’s blood. Lord, help me thirst for the new heaven and earth and help me be the light that I am. (SDG)
[i] Mounce, The Book of Revelation, NICNT, pg. 368, © 1977 Eerdmans Publishing House]