There will be a New Earth (Rev. 21). Will there be animals on the New Earth? And if there are animals on the New Earth, what animals will be there? Will dinosaurs roam the New Earth?
The movie, “Jurassic Park,” painted a picture of what it might be like to mingle with some of the creatures in the fossil record. Is that far-fetched?
In the Garden of Eden, were there animals? Yes. In fact, Adam named the animals before Eve was created. When Noah boarded the Ark, were there animals? Yes. Noah and his family were told by God to gather them up. When Jesus was born, were there animals? Yes. He was born in the midst of animals. On this first Earth, there are animals. In fact, it would be fair to conclude God likes animals. So why wouldn’t there be animals on the New Earth? In a wonderful passage about the reign of the Messiah, Isaiah 11:6 states: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.”
If the New Earth has people, a river, and trees with fruit and leaves, just like in the Garden of Eden, why wouldn’t it have animals, like a wolf or lamb or leopard or goat or calf or lion?
Some might object and say you can’t take that literally. Really? How literally should we take the promise of our resurrected bodies? As literally as Christ’s resurrected body? As literally as Luke’s record that he ate fish in that body? The New Earth is going to absolutely astound you.
My neighbor and I were talking about a book he was reading, Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life. In the book the author mentions that religious people sometimes demand the most “heroic measures” when it is obvious that death is imminent. My neighbor said, “Why is that?” So the question is: if Heaven is so great, why do Christians fight tooth and nail to stay here when the medical interventions are prolonging death and not life?
Christians by and large have an un-biblical view of Heaven. The popular view makes Heaven tedious and boring. Other than escaping pain, what’s the attraction? It is pictured as permanent retirement - put out to pasture for all eternity.
If the closest non-Christians can get to Heaven is here on earth, I think many Christians believe the same thing for themselves. Enjoy life here and struggle to stay here because Heaven is going to be monotonous.
I want to go to Heaven. It is going to be an adventurous, fulfilling, growing experience. I want to stay here on Earth only as long as I can be productive for the Lord in expanding his Kingdom, in building up the church, in reaching the lost, and in communicating the Gospel by word and deed to my family. My bucket list involves souls. When I have done my job here, I’m taking a new job in Heaven. I’m interviewing for it right now.
And by the way, so are you. You are interviewing for your heavenly job right now. Already someone is groaning: “You mean I’m going to work in Heaven?” Yes. When it comes to Heaven, too many Christians just don’t get it. Pick up the Bible. Read it. You’ll get it.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
Isaac Watts’ hymn, “Joy to the World,” published in 1719, makes a powerful statement in the third verse - Christ’s blessings flow as far as the curse is found. What curse? In describing Heaven, Revelation 22:3 states: “No longer will there be any curse.” What curse? We sing about it and read about it. Of Christ it is written he redeemed us “by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). What is this curse Christ became? Isaac Watts packed a tremendous truth in that third verse. The work of Christ washes over everything accursed.
The ground, this Earth, was “cursed” by God as a result of Adam’s sin. Before the sin, Adam could eat the fruit in the Garden, including the fruit from the Tree of Life. After he sinned, he and his wife were cast out of the Garden. Now he had to sweat and work the soil. Now he had to deal with thorns and thistles. Now he had a body that was aging “for dust you are and to dust you will return." Painful toil, ground that was unproductive, and bodies that would die - that is the curse. And that is life now.
What is missing in Heaven? The curse. There you will have satisfying service. You will live on the New Earth that will not work against you. You will have a resurrected body that will never return to the dust, a body free of disease and pain. The blessings that flow from the Second Adam totally flood over any of the curse from the first Adam.
You have never seen the Earth the way God intended it. You have never seen it like Adam did. But in the Second Adam, you’ll see even more.
That doesn’t make any sense. Who would say something as crazy as that? Jesus.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Jesus said give to someone else the very thing you need. You need understanding? Then give it. Take the time to understand someone else. You need to be loved? Then give it. Love others. You need to be appreciated? Then give it. Show appreciation to others. You need others to talk to you. Then give it. Talk to others.
Jesus makes a promise to you. Identify what you need. Give that to someone else. And you will have your need met. For the person who believes he or she is too empty or too weak to do that, Jesus has more faith in you than you have in him. He believes you can do it.
It begins with action of our part. Notice Jesus began with “Do...” We go first. We take the initiative. It involves risk. It takes faith, “and without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). So step out in faith as Jesus commanded, and have your needs met.
What is the difference between guilt and shame? Though closely related, there is a distinction. Guilt has to do with what we do. Shame has to do with what we are. We understand guilt as Christians, but I wonder if we understand shame.
Some Christians believe that Jesus came to clean up their lives. They are basically good people who have done some bad things. They feel guilty. Jesus takes their guilt away. It has been my experience that this type of thinking does not lift people to the heights of real thanksgiving. Why? Because it is only half true.
Until we feel shame, we cannot experience the full joy of thanksgiving. Yes, we are guilty for the things we have done. But what about dealing with what we are? “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Rom. 3:12). What are we? Worthless. We are not good people who needed to shape up here and there. We are worthless people who Christ redeemed. We are worthless people who needed to be born again. We are worthless people who have been given worth because of God’s love.
Who would you think is more thankful for salvation? A good person with some faults or a worthless person with no redeemable qualities? And which one are you? Are you that basically good person who needs a little help to get to heaven, or are you that person whose life was rubbish until you met Jesus? Who you think you are has everything to do with how you come to the Lord’s Supper.
“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). What are you thankful for? A little help or a total rebirth?