Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)
Countless sermons and songs have convinced us of this half-truth about heaven:
Half-Truth #2: Earth is our temporary home
It is true that when we die, our “spirit returns to God” (Ecclesiastes 12:7), departing earth to be with Jesus in what theologians call the “present heaven.” The lie is that we stay there.
One of Jesus’s most famous references to heaven is in John 14:2 where he says, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” Get this: The Greek word for “dwelling places” is monē, which denotes temporary lodging.
Why temporary? Because God’s plan all along was to bring heaven to earth and live with us here! Not ultimately to “fit us for heaven to live with thee there.” This is what we see in Revelation 21:1-5 as John “saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven” to earth where God “will dwell among [us].”
But wait, Jordan, I thought the earth was going to be destroyed in the end? This idea is rooted in a misinterpretation of 2 Peter 3 which I discussed at length a few weeks ago. In case you missed that, here’s the gist: The earth will not be obliterated like the Death Star in Star Wars. It will be renewed like Te Kā turning back into Te Fiti in Moana.
Haven’t seen these great films? No worries. John Mark Comer explains this concept well without cinematic metaphor: “Heaven is not our home. Earth is. Not Earth as it is now, but Earth as it will be in the future. Our hope isn’t for another place, but another time. Yes, as followers of Jesus, we go to heaven when we die, but we don’t stay there. If Jesus is a “ticket to heaven,” as the preacher says, then he’s a round-trip ticket, not a one-way. Because at the resurrection, we come back.”
All of this brings us to the next whole-truth:
Whole-Truth #2: Earth is our temporary home until it is our permanent one
What does this mean for our work? Randy Alcorn, in his terrific book, Heaven, explains that “When we think of Heaven as unearthly, our present lives seem unspiritual, like they don’t matter. When we grasp the reality of the New Earth, our present, earthly lives suddenly matter. Conversations with loved ones matter. The taste of food matters. Work [matters]….Why? Because [these things] are eternal.”
Believer, lean into the work you do today, knowing that just like this earth, it has eternal consequence.