This weekend my family and I thoroughly enjoyed some rest and relaxation in Monterey, Ca. Although we didn’t drive the 17 mile scenic route or play on the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, we did spend time at the beach and the Monterey Bay Aquarium (which is a place you must visit some time – it says so in Hezekiah 3:23).
Each day we spent time as a family in God’s Word and on one of those days we traces some passages that spoke of the “sea” such as:
Job 11:7-9 – the limits of the Almighty are “broader than the sea.”
Psalm 93 – the Lord is mightier than “the breakers of the sea.”
Psalm 95:3-5 – God is greater than the sea He created.
Micah 7:19 – “You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Habakkuk 2:14 – “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
Now that’s all great stuff…simple principles and truths to remember: God is mighty, sovereign over creation, thoroughly forgiving and glorious.
But then we turned to Revelation 21:1 which says:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”
What? Did I read that correctly…”there is no longer any sea.” Huh? How can that be? Questions! Questions! Questions!
What would this world be like without a sea? No more fishing, or harbors (habas – if you are from Boston). No more psychedelic jelly fish, hammerhead sharks or lighthouses isolated on wave beaten rocks. No more sea food (now that could be close to heaven), innocent little Nemo’s swimming around or sea weed entangling propellers. No more barnacles, Spongebob or Patrick. No more giant squid, hunting for Red October or Wilson…
Seriously, at face value this seems like a huge loss! It leaves us a little confused and somewhat empty – unless, of course you have lived your entire life in Iowa’s cornfields and never experienced the tranquility of contemplating by the seaside.
So, what do we do with this? How do we imagine surviving or life without a sea? What is going on here?
Well, there are generally two views regarding this, but let me first say that any time we are looking at prophecy we must be careful to not say what isn’t in the text or to avoid what seems to be obvious. Also, prophecy is often a cloudy and incomplete picture, so we must be mindful that we may not have the complete picture. Also, in this text, we have a one-off description of the eternal state without any supporting or clarifying data from other passages.
All that said, we shouldn’t throw out hands up in despair and give up…no, we should seek to come to some understanding and then consider the implications…so here goes.
Some take this passage as “Symbolic“. There seems to be a symbolic connection with evil and the sea. For example, the ESV Study Bible notes say,
The sea was no more does not mean there will be no bodies of water in the new earth (cf. 21:6; 22:1–2) but refers to the source of earthly rebellion, chaos, and danger—the sea from which the beast emerged (13:1; Dan. 7:3). This symbolic (or literal) source of rebellion will no longer threaten creation’s perfection.
Others take this passage as “Literal“. They say that the sea will be removed, but there will remain bodies of water, but that the source of all of those bodies of water is found in the River of Life (22:1-2)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
I would tend to agree with the more “literal” understanding that what man needs and is sustained by is the water of life that comes from the throne of God. Yet, there is something symbolic about that, isn’t there. It reminds me of Psalm 1:3-4 where we are told that we are to be like…
…a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Those who are God’s will be sustained by Him, in life and throughout eternity. There is something very comforting in this. God’s presence and power, nurture and strength are all sufficient for us now and even in the perfected creation we long for.
One final implication is this: We can often come to passages like this and feel a sense of loss simply because what we have learned to love in this world, which is a gift from God, may not be present in heaven. A few example to add to our discussion would be hunting (lion sits down with the lamb), marriage (we will not be married or given in marriage), family (you may not be very interested in “great godly Grandma” when you arrive)…etc.
These all seem like losses to us, but when we compare them to the reality of being with Jesus and gathered together for worship around the throne they pale in comparison. The Godhead will be our focus in heaven and we will not want for anything else. We will be complete and satisfied through and through.
So, live life for God’s glory today, but always in light of eternity. It always tends to change your perspective of things…
So, the “sea will be no more”. I’m happy giving up the sea for Jesus…
I’m just glad I get to keep playing Golf!!! :0)