“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” The newly created order–the new heaven and earth–will not be under a curse as was the old creation. Thus, there will be no guilt, strife, struggle for survival, sickness, sorrow, and death. In New Jerusalem where God will abide, His throne will make the entire city a temple in which His people will worship Him as His priests. Remember how Moses could not see the Lord’s face and live (Exodus 33:20–23; 34:29–35). But in the new heaven and earth you will see God face to face because He has made you a member of His immediate family and you will bear His name. Therefore, let the Holy Spirit begin to sanctify and prepare you in this present life for the life to come in which you will see God face to face.
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” The Greek word for “home” (monē meaning dwelling place) used in this verse is the same word used for for “many rooms” in vs. 2 of this chapter: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” In vs. 2 Jesus gives the assurance that each of His followers has an eternal dwelling place with Him and He is going there to prepare it. In vs. 23 Jesus and the Father come to dwell (by the Holy Spirit) with those who love Him and keep His word so that His followers can prepare for their eternal dwelling place: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (vs. 15-16). Jesus gives us an assurance for this life that there is an assurance of eternal life with Him. The Holy Spirit (and Father and Son) dwell with us to help prepare us for our eternal life with Them. In other words, you will dwell with God then because He dwells with you now so that you will be prepared to live eternally in the place Jesus has prepared for you!
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” The greatness of the new covenant exceeds the old covenant revelation at Mount Sinai because the new is mediated by Jesus, the Son of God. It’s almost like the Hebrews writer is saying that you are staring heaven right in the face so it is all the more important to accept the new. With the new covenant believers actually confront heaven, the place where God resides, and they participate in worship with innumerable angels and the great assembly of those who have died in faith and are already in God’s presence. We now live at the intersection of time and eternity where the Divine Will has crossed the path of human history–the point in time and space where eternal life begins. The eternal reality, the cosmic convergence of one’s physical life with eternal life, has been activated in the lives of those who have faith in God!
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Although resurrection is a future event, those who have been redeemed by Christ have died to their own self and have taken on a new identity in Christ. This new identity is now “hidden with Christ in God.” “Hidden” in this context means to protect, preserve, or keep secure in the sense that one might hide something valuable to keep it safe. Thus, the individual identities of the redeemed of Christ are safe with Him. Jesus guards our identity; He knows who each of His redeemed are and He is saving a place for each of us in heaven. The place we call heaven is an assurance that our new identity in Christ is sustained by God so we may obtain full possession of it when we are resurrected. So resurrection life is at work in you now! We live life in the present as those who are on their way to heaven. As each day passes our lives grow more blessed as we draw nearer to the One Who is the source of our new life and new identity. Therefore, you should “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (vs. 2).
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” The Apostle Paul says in another place that when those who belong to Christ die, they go immediately to be with God (II Corinthians 5:6-8). Here Paul says that his life in this world is about serving Christ. Paul seems to have a death wish. He says death is an advantage because when he departs this life through death then he goes to be in the presence of Christ. So we pass through death of the physical body on the way to full possession of eternal life, which is obtained through bodily resurrection when Christ returns at His second coming. The place we call heaven is an intermediate and temporary state or place where the Christian’s identity in Christ is preserved by God as he or she is on the way to being resurrected and obtaining full possession of eternal life. Thus, what we are and do in the present life in the body matters because it is preserved by God in heaven when we die and then reaffirmed in the future eternal life when we are resurrected.