Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
John 21:7-14; Revelation 21:1-14; Zechariah 9-10; Haggai 1-2
The ultimate destiny of the world is a new heaven and a new earth. This is the future hope that should impact our lives today. Whether persevering in present suffering, or holding true to our ethical commitments, a vision for the future is essential. We all face trials and temptations, and can overcome them. Revelation 21 paints a vision of a time without tears, an end to pain and death, and the satisfaction of our deepest longings. The God of the universe will come down and wipe away our tears, just as any good father would for his children. The old way of pain and corruption will be done away.
At the same time, the vision is not one of total destruction of all we know. Heaven is not presented as an immaterial aether in the air. Rather, the Holy City comes down out of heaven to a new earth. This future remains earthly and physical. This has implications for how we view life on earth. The Creation is God’s and is good. We should respect it as such, not exploiting it as if it was ours to do with as we wish. We have been given the earth to develop and care for (Genesis 2:15), not strip and destroy.
Because of human sin, the earth is not the way God intended. We live amidst the old order of things. We have longings which cannot be satisfied in this present world. We have thirsts which will only be satisfied in the future. But this life offers tastes of what is to come. When we are stunned by the beauty of this earth, we get a glimpse of the beauty of the new earth. When we rejoice in this earth, we taste of the joy to come. When we see goodness, faithfulness, or love in others, we see partially what will be complete in heaven. When we feel God’s presence with us, we sense what it will be like to be with him fully. We can celebrate these tastes, and give thanks for them.
Sometimes we try to quench our thirsts with drinks that cannot satisfy. The things of this world will never satisfy us no matter how much of them we have (Haggai 1:5-6). This is the source of much pain and disappointment in this life. Only the water of life can quench our deepest thirsts, and this is available as a gift without cost by believing in Jesus (Revelation 21:6; John 6:35).
Having tasted the water of life, we should live according to the ways of life. We are heirs of an amazing future. That future is being prepared now and should give us hope. Those living according to the world system are preparing a future in the fiery lake (21:8). We who look forward to a future in the Holy City should prepare ourselves with righteous acts (Revelation 19:8). When we truly understand our future, and all it offers, we will live accordingly. This is central to living ethically in the light of the Bible.