The Glory of Christ in the Eternal State (2)
But the Apostle Peter in the closing chapter of his Second Epistle (2 Pet. 3:13) tells us of what lies beyond the thousand years of earth’s jubilee, and the last outburst of man’s rebellion against God and Christ. He says:
“Nevertheless WE, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
And it is of this new creation, this eternal state, that Revelation 21:1-7 tells us. The blessings and conditions of the millennium had, indeed, been great and wonderful, beyond anything that men in mortal flesh on this earth had ever known, yet they fell far short of that perfection of blessedness which it is in the purpose of God to bestow, and which according to His “plan of the ages” (Eph. 3:11; R.V., margin), He will manifest, in spite of human failure and Satanic power. The subjugation of all enemies during the millennium on earth is not the peace or perfection of heaven. Nor will it be until its close, and the Son has delivered up the kingdom to God, after all rule and authority and power has been subjected wholly to Him, and Death the last enemy completely destroyed, that the New Heavens and New Earth are called into existence at the call of God, and into them the New Jerusalem is seen to descend from heaven “as a Bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2), having lost none of her freshness or immortal beauty since her marriage day, over a thousand years before at the beginning of the millennial reign (Rev. 19:7-8).
Into this newly created and perfect scene she is seen descending and taking up her abode, as the eternal dwelling-place of God among men, in a sense of which it is said “the former things are passed away.” This is the Eternal Glory of Christ and His redeemed, a condition of perfect bliss into which no sin or sorrow, no failure or anything short of perfection will ever come—the sinless, tearless, Sabbath rest of God (Heb. 4:9) and His people. Herein righteousness “dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13), and here “God is all in all.” The glory and the beauty of this new creation, the Home of the last Adam and His Bride, excels all that eye has seen or ear heard, for it is wholly the workmanship of God. It comes into existence under His hand, and is according to His mind. As we sing—
Beneath Thy touch, beneath Thy smile
New Heavens and Earth appear,
No sin their beauty to defile
Nor dim them with a tear.
It is to a view of this Holy City—New Jerusalem—as it descends in its eternal beauty and glory that John is called, and to him it is described by an angel (v. 9) in the language of symbol and sign. The body of the glorified saints is said to be his “house from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2), a body spiritual, heavenly, immortal and incorruptible. And the symbol of a city surely suggests a community of such glorified beings “dwelling together” in perfect harmony and bliss. For in this abiding and glorified condition, no failure can enter, no lurking serpent come to spoil the fair scene. All stands secure in virtue of the Redemption of Christ, and all is as pure as it is fair. For—
The Charms that woo the sense
Are all as pure as fair.
And all while stealing o’er us
Will tell of Jesus there.
Yes, indeed. For is it now His own by purchase and by power, and now filled with His glory. For John tells us the city he saw descending “having the Glory of God.” It is the abiding home of glory, that “eternal glory” unto which God has called His redeemed (1 Pet. 5:10), and unto which He has now at last brought them under the hand of “the Captain of their salvation” (Heb. 2:10) to whom God entrusted the home-bringing of all His sons. Here they have reached their goal, their everlasting home. And from thence they shall no more go out. For the Golden City is their final above. And “The Lamb is all the Glory” of the scene. And they “see His Face” (Rev. 22:4), unveiled, yes, they “see Him as is” (1 John 3:2), gaze upon His beauty and an satisfied—
God and the Lamb shall there
The Light and Temple be,
And radiant hosts for ever share
The unveiled mystery.
That sight, these glories, the Heavenly City in its beauty, John would never forget. It would ever be present with him in his lone exile on Patmos. And, if through grace it become so to us, we shall walk along the remaining steps of the wilderness in the fair light and glory of that heavenly city, in which we long to dwell and to mingle in its happily, holy, glorified throng. Like Bunyan, when his pilgrims entered the Celestial City, and he was allowed to have a glance within the pearly gate, he closes his allegory with the words, “I wished myself among them.”
And such desire is what the vision of the Eternal Glory of Christ and His redeemed in the last glance sacred Scripture gives of them, is surely designed to form and cherish in all the people of God. And so keep awake in them throughout the watching, waiting hours, that blessed Hope, so sure, so near, so real, and cause their hearts to sing as one of years long ago so sweetly sang—
For thee my own dear country
Mine eyes their vigil keep,
For very love beholding
Thy happy name they weep.
The mention of thy glory
Is unction to the breast,
’Tis medicine in sickness,
’Tis love and life and rest.
Article series: Our Glorious LordThe Glory of Christ in the Eternal State (1)