I saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning,
wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”
The one who sat on the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new.”
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
To the thirsty I will give a gift
from the spring of life-giving water.
The victors will inherit these gifts,
and I shall be their God, and they will be my own.
The mother of this passage may be Isaiah 65:17ff. The notion of God erasing evil and starting over with the faithful is not new; witness the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or God’s impatience with Israel and the offer to start fresh with Moses (Numbers 14:11ff).
Not only will God will God do away with tears, pain, and death, but also that oldest adversary, chaos (cf. Rev 21:2; the sea). The end of tears is a longtime promise of God (Isaiah 25:8ff, and so many other passages).
More Isaiah with the promise of water to the thirsty. The promise of Christ, too, in John 4:10ff and John 7:37-38.
This is a message of optimism–for the believers who first heard this in the late first century, as well as for mourners today. At its root, this is a message of grace. Those who have been judged as faithful will be comforted, satisfied, and will inherit the grace of eternal life as adopted sisters and brothers of Christ. It’s a good and true message, knowing that mourners and deceased will be reunited in a restored creation. An easy message to preach, in a time of extreme difficulty and grief especially.