And The Sea Was No More
“Then I saw a new heaven and earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. Revelation 21:1
Born in California, the sea has been in my blood from an early age, as it is in my father’s. Raised in Colorado, I love the mountains as well. Will sea and mountains be in a new heaven and earth? It is hard to imagine creation, our home, or a new heaven and earth without the sea. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, from the azure blue surrounding the Greek Isle of Santorini, or the spectacular vistas along Italy’s Amalfi Coast; the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, not in a new heaven and earth? Numerous Biblical references recounted in Randy Alcorn’s excellent book, Heaven, apparently imply there will be a natural continuity between our eternal body and our eternal home to the creation God once pronounced, “very good; though sin was the great destroyer in the earth we now know. There is no doubt that sin and death will be no more in a new heaven and earth, but what does the Apostle John tell us in his vision when he says “and the sea was no more?
The sea has been for many centuries a barrier between the easy access of peoples to one another, though never a barrier to courageous adventurers. It is easily bridged today by modern ship craft and planes. When the Bible says that at the last resurrection “the sea will give up her dead, it is no small number of people who will rise from her depths. Hurricanes and typhoons, tsunamis and floods, sea battles and sinking ships or boats, rip-tides and sharks, have claimed countless numbers of lives down through the centuries. In exile John was surrounded by sea on the Isle of Patmos, and thereby separated from brothers and sisters in Christ whom he cared for as a shepherd on the mainland. The sea holds indiscriminately a fear and a dread, mystery and beauty, a calming and an inspiring affect. It can strike terror into one heart, and into another awe and peace. The presence and authority of Jesus brought calm to an angry sea and consequently the hearts of his disciples. Though you may live far from the sea, the sea is in one way or another in the blood of us all.
One certain aspect in John’s holy vision of what waits the believer in the new heaven and earth is the removal of separation between believers and believers, and believers and their Savior and God; the removal of tears, and death, and pain, and mourning, though those thorns now increase our faith, test our resolve, and potentially throw us into the arms of “He who is able to save to the uttermost. It may well be that the “removal of the sea is symbolic of the removal of all these things that are the result of sin and Satan, the attempt to destroy God’s perfect creation. Whatever John’s vision communicates with regard to our future home, the life and the environment there surpasses anything you can imagine. If not a sea, there will be beautiful bodies of water below spectacular and majestic mountains, and your eyes will never cease to be awed by what God creates, and the chief gift of all, our Triune God in the midst.
The lesson in the vision is the removal of what in this life the sea has wrought as an instrument of judgment and sovereignty by a God who cannot abide evil and rebellion; but, nevertheless, loves His own who are in the world, and redeems them with His own blood. The sea as an instrument of judgment and destruction will indeed be no more. Whatever “sea is threatening your life and home now, and the pains emotionally, psychologically and physically can seem like drowning in the sea at times, take hope that the Master of the sea has promised its removal in your promised future in Him. Take hope in these words from Hebrews 6: “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul… (Hebrews 6:17-19). Without the “sea, you would not cling to the Anchor!
“Though the angry surges roll on my tempest driven soul, I am peaceful, for I know, wildly though the winds may blow, I’ve an anchor safe and sure, that can evermore endure.
“Troubles almost ‘whelm the soul; griefs like billows o’er me roll; tempters seek to lure astray, storms obscure the light of day: but in Christ I can be bold, I’ve an Anchor that shall hold.
(1st and 4th verses of W.C. Martin’s hymn, “My Anchor Holds)
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