“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’
“And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also, He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son’” (Revelation 21:1-7).
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Sin separates. It isolates. It works hard to leave you lonely and alone. Think back to the Garden of Eden, when the world was new, and all was good in the sight of God. The Lord created Adam, perfect man, and immediately announced, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
So, God created Eve, carefully fashioning her from one of the man’s ribs, and then He brought her to the man. They were joined together, created to serve each other, to be one flesh. The Lord told them to be fruitful and multiply—to have children and thus increase the number of people together. And all the while, the Lord was there with them, too. Because there was no sin, God could walk with His people in the Garden. It was paradise. No separation. No isolation. No sin.
And what happened when Adam and Eve fell into sin? Separation. Hearing God’s approach, they hid from Him. Questioned by God, Adam justified himself by blaming the woman whom God had given—they were no longer a team together, but she was the scapegoat. And while they’d still be husband and wife, they’d no longer be working so hard at serving each other. Rather, due to sin, Eve would desire to control her husband, even as he would seek to rule over her. They’d never be as together as they’d been before sin.
That was only the beginning. As the Lord listed the consequences of sin, He told Adam what his lonely end would be: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Sin isolates. It wants to reduce you to dust. And there is certainly nothing more isolating in this world than the grave.
Between now and the grave, sin is hard at work against you. In a world where friendship and companionship are of high value, so many sins can destroy that bond. Pride persuades you that you’re a step above everybody else. It leaves you perplexed when others disagree and convinces you that they’re simply jealous and not worthy of your time. There you are, above the rest—and all alone.
Greed argues that things are more important than people, and so you’re willing to place your earning potential and latest toys over serving those around you—another good recipe for loneliness.
Certainly, too, seductive sins of immorality destroy many marriages, sometimes destroying health and leading to an early grave. Sin attacks health, too. Disease and injury cripple and slow, leaving people shut-in, homebound, forgotten. Alone. This, too, is the isolating effect of sin.
But all of this is only the small stuff. Now please don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean to diminish it—the effects of sin are terrible enough. The isolation and feeling of loneliness is real enough. It can lead to depression and sickness, and in extreme cases, even suicide and death. Just look at the huge spike in all of these mental and spiritual health categories since the pandemic began. But sin’s real goal is not just your isolation from other people and your physical death. It seeks your eternal death—eternal separation from God and His gifts and the life that He gives. Separation from God for eternity—that’s hell. Sin isolates. You know it. You feel it.
St. John felt it: when he wrote down the Revelation, he was a prisoner on the island of Patmos—exiled for his faith and separated from the Christians to whom he wrote. The Christians on the mainland weren’t faring much better but felt very much alone as they suffered persecution along with the normal trials of life.
Though ages apart, it’s still the same sinful world. You’ve got the same sinful nature, and so you know suffering. Sometimes it is because of sins that you’ve committed. Sometimes you’re the victim of someone else’s sin. Sometimes, it’s just life in a dying world. Whatever the cause, sin’s the reason for sorrow and crying, pain and tears. You can’t undo it or turn back the clock, no matter how much you’d like. There’s no “do-overs.” If only you could get back to the Garden of Eden again. If only you could start anew.
“Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). That’s what the Lord declares from His throne in our text. New. Not just a fresh copy of the same old things—but completely new and completely good. Paradise. He has paid the price to make things new. He has reversed the curse that Adam brought. Jesus Christ, true God from eternity, has become flesh and dwelt among us. He has lived the perfect, sinless life on our behalf. And He has suffered the judgment for all the sins of all the world on the cross—that is why He came into this lonely, isolated, sin-broken world.
In fact, what did Christ cry out on the cross? “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Hear the anguished cry and marvel: sin isolates and separates. Jesus had been one with His Father from all eternity, a “relationship” (for want of a better word) unmarred by sin. But what happened at the cross, as Jesus suffered for the sins of the world? He was forsaken, abandoned by God—He suffered the ultimate isolation that sin brings. On the cross, Jesus suffered hell before He died and was laid in that lonely grave.
He suffered hell and lay in that lonely grave for you. Then He rose again, proving that He has defeated sin, death, and hell. Where sin sought to reduce you to dust and leave you in the grave, Jesus has conquered sin and risen from the grave. Risen and ascended, He declares, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Jesus makes all things new. He promises a new heaven and a new earth—one in which there is no sin. If there is no sin, then there is no death. If there is no sin, there is no separation. In fact, God dwells with His people, in glory, once again—just like the Garden of Eden. If there is no sin, then there is no more sorrow or crying, for there is nothing left to cause sorrow or crying. If there is no sin, there is no more pain. These are old—former—things that have passed away, and they have no place when Jesus makes all things new.
It was comfort for John, exiled on the island; and I imagine he rejoiced to look to the time when no sea would isolate him from others. It was good news for those Christians to whom he wrote, the assurance that suffering and persecution would eventually cease. It is likewise good news for you.
The devil will use the sufferings and wages of sin to convince you that God is not faithful, that this life is all there is, that you’re stuck with the same old thing of living and suffering and dying. But it is not so: the Lord declares that, by His death and resurrection, He makes all things new. And His Word is faithful and true.
If you are facing hardship, take heart. God’s Word explains that in this sin-devastated world, even Christians can expect tribulation. In fact, many Christians will suffer specifically because they are Christians. Nowhere in His Word does our heavenly Father promise His children a painless existence. Revelation is filled with examples of Christians facing hardship and persecution.
Instead of being discouraged by this truth, recognize that during this struggle is another reason to follow your Lord! Follow the Lord because He leads through hardship. He sustains you in the face of persecution and suffering. He leads you “out of the great tribulation” that you now face in this sin-broken world, so that He may “wipe every tear from your eyes.”
Unfortunately, some false teachers have confused people by teaching that if you follow Christ, you can expect a life free from all suffering, hardship, and tears. Many people have excitedly embraced this message. But when their situation does not improve, they lose their faith and fall away from the Lord or believe that God is punishing them because they didn’t have enough faith.
Don’t listen to those false teachers! Listen to your Lord! Before going to the cross, Jesus explained to His followers: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Instead of deceiving one another with false comfort, encourage one another with the Word of Christ. Christians do not try to do away with tears but share them. As St. Paul writes: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep… Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2).
When life seems bitter or hopeless, remember that the Lord has not abandoned you. You are not alone. Gather with your fellow believers and remind one another that—amid troubles—Christ now leads you. Through His Word, Christ now assures you that He will not fail you nor forsake you.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, cling to your Savior and His promises. Where you are guilty of sin, do not seek to justify it or excuse it. To hold onto your sin is to sentence yourself to loneliness, perhaps for eternity. Rejoice that Christ has made you new, set free from sin—set free to live a repentant life in earnest anticipation of the day that He raises you from the dead.
Where you must suffer at the hands of others, give thanks that you do not suffer at the hand of God, and give thanks that He has suffered for you. Pray for your enemies, that they might be made new, too. And where you must suffer the old afflictions of this dying world, rejoice that this world is not the end—for by His death and resurrection, Christ has made all things new.
When Jesus returns, He will resurrect all the dead. On that day, Jesus will forever banish Satan and all who follow him. But those who remain faithful, those who look to Jesus as their Savior, shall be welcomed into God’s presence where there will be no separation, isolation, or loneliness. As our text declares: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). God is making all things new!
The book of Revelation offers the great encouragement that, when Jesus reappears, He will right all wrong. Whenever life’s troubles discourage us, the message of Revelation reminds us that life is not as hopeless as it sometimes might seem. Evil may now seem to triumph; however, Revelation shows that Christ our Lord will overcome and make all things new.
In this life the godless often seem to come out on top; however, Revelation clearly shows that those who hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him, even through adversity, will be the victors. The unrepentant, sinful, and unrighteous will be condemned and forever banished; but Jesus will welcome the faithful into God’s presence, to enjoy everlasting bliss and fellowship and glory!
If you are now going through challenging times in your family or marriage; if what you see on television and what you read in the newspapers discourages you; if the spiritual messages you hear in the world seem to offer you little direction and hope; then begin studying the book of Revelation, God’s message of hope to you. As you study Revelation, the Holy Spirit will reassure your heart. Each time you are depressed and discouraged by the negative things you see and hear, remember; for a Christian, life is never as hopeless as it might appear. For when Jesus returns, He will right all wrongs and welcome His followers into God’s presence. He will make all things new, beginning with you!
In the meantime, you know your Savior is not far away. He visits you by His holy Word. He has made you His—a new creation!—in Holy Baptism. As you confess your sins and receive His absolution you are renewed. And, in His Holy Supper, Christ continues to give you His body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith.
By these means of grace, Christ shares His victory with you. As one forgiven, you overcome because He has overcome and shares that with you. You cannot see Him now in glory, because of sin; but Jesus is not far off. He is with you to the end of the age when He makes all things new.
Go in the peace of the Lord and serve your neighbor with joy. You are forgiven for all your sins.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.