Revelation 21:1 - 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.
This verse in Revelation always gives me pause. No sea? Why would there be no oceans in the new heaven and the new earth? I confess it, I'm not at all happy with that idea. I grew up next to the Pacific Ocean, and I miss it desperately—the seafoam hissing around my ankles, the little brown crabs digging themselves into the sand. The darkening blue sky as the sun sets over the waves and the first stars come out. How could God not have oceans in His new creation?
But maybe I've got hold of the wrong end of the stick when I take this verse so literally. After all, Revelation is probably the most symbolic book in the whole Bible. And out of this whole book, the new heavens and new earth has to be the most difficult for John to describe to us. John is trying to explain in words things God conveyed to him in a vision—and he's describing a place that doesn't even exist yet—a place we won't really understand till we're there. Chances are high we're dealing with a symbol.
So maybe we should look at this through John's eyes. What does the sea mean to John? Well, for starters, it means separation. John is in exile. The government has condemned him to live on a tiny island, the Isle of Patmos. All of his friends and relatives are on the other side of the sea. The churches he loves and wrote to in Revelation 1-2 are there, on the land far away, barely visible across the water. The sea is John's prison, his jailer—because of it he can only imagine the people he loves.
If we think of the sea as separation—well, we understand that very well, don't we? After two years of this pandemic, we know the pain of loneliness and isolation very well. It is definitely not something that belongs in God's new creation. One of the many, many things Jesus came to set right is our alienation from God and each other—our broken relationships, ruined by sin and evil. "It is not good that the man should be alone," God said at the beginning (Genesis 2:18b), and He took steps to create a woman, another person.
It is not good that all of us should be alone either, trapped in grief and trouble and sorrow and sin—and so God sent Jesus, His own dear Son, to become one of us and to bring us back into God's family again. God wants us home with Him, as His dear children—not exiled on a desert island somewhere, with no one to love us and no one to love. That is why Jesus died and rose again—to destroy that evil that separates us from God and each other, and to bring us together in God's kingdom. And when He comes again, there will be no more loneliness and separation—only love.
WE PRAY: Lord, help me when I am lonely. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. What do you do when you are feeling lonely?
2. How has God helped you during a time when you felt isolated or alone?
3. How could God use you to reach out to someone else who is feeling isolated?
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